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Five PACAF bases open networks to social media

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christina R. Hoggatt
  • Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
The Air Force opened the Air Force network to allow access to Internet-based social-networking sites here March 30. Initial access will be available at five Pacific Air Forces bases and 24th Air Force will begin opening sites Air Force-wide later in April.

This change in policy is a result of the Department of Defense Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026 -- Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities, issued Feb. 25.

The PACAF bases with initial access to Internet-based capability sites include: Anderson AFB, Guam; Eielson AFB, Alaska; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; and Yokota Air Base, Japan.

According to the DoD, Internet-based social-networking services have become integral tools for all manner of operations across the military services and in collaboration with other federal agencies and the public.

Headquarters AFSPC is the Air Force Designated Approval Authority for the AFNET. In this capacity, AFSPC is responsible for the policies, procedures and the implementation plan for Internet-based capabilities on the AFNET. The Air Force's implementation plan will allow access while still ensuring the Air Force maintains a tight and secure network to defend against malicious activity to safeguard the missions that depend on cyberspace.

The initial phase at PACAF will involve tracking metrics from both pre- and post-access allowed periods and involve a multi-disciplinary risk assessment prior to opening the sites Air Force-wide. The assessment will help mitigate operational risk, but it will also educate AFNET experts on the guidelines that might be required for Internet-based social-networking site usage.

"As we leverage these new technologies, it is imperative that all Air Force personnel practice safe online activity to protect the network," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander. "The Air Force views the use of social media sites as a positive way to communicate and conduct business. Social media and other emerging technologies provide an increasingly important means of communication and collaboration. Providing more open access will allow the Air Force to communicate more effectively to all Air Force personnel, their families and external audiences."

According to Brig. Gen. David B. Warner, AFSPC Communications and Information director and Chief Information Officer, AFSPC worked hand-in-hand with the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer, the Air Force Network Integration Center and 24th Air Force to develop the policy and processes to allow access to these sites.

"All Air Force personnel will be allowed to utilize Internet-based social media sites via the AFNET for official use and limited personal use," General Warner said. "All Air Force personnel must use due diligence when posting information online and must always follow Joint Ethics regulations and OPSEC.

"The Air Force will limit or restrict the use of Internet-based capabilities as needed to defend against malicious activity or for operational considerations. Assuring the Air Force missions that rely on cyberspace is our number one priority," General Warner concluded.

According to various regulations, Air Force personnel cannot post any classified or sensitive information and must follow the guidelines for appropriate social media and Internet use. The inappropriate posting of information on the AFNET and any other OPSEC violations will be punishable by Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Personal use must be of reasonable duration and frequency that have been approved by supervisors and do not adversely affect performance of official duties, overburden systems or reflect adversely on the Air Force.

"We recognize the importance of allowing Airmen to have access to more Internet-based capabilities to communicate, and we will work to strike a balance between maintaining a safe and controlled network while allowing Airmen to have appropriate access," General Kehler said. "Adversaries continually try to gain access to our mission critical systems. All AFNET users must do their part to help secure operations conducted in and through cyberspace. The results of the operational assessment may drive the final timing of AF-wide implementation."

Now that these tools are available all Air Force personnel and their families can get the most up-to-date Air Force information from Web sites on the Air Force's Official Social Media Directory.

Additionally, to continue safeguarding the AFNET as well as the privacy of all Air Force personnel, there are many online training tools to help educate everyone on appropriate online activity. Those sites include:
· National Operations Security Program -- OPSEC and Social Networking Sites Safety Check list
· DoD's Social Media Hub
· U.S. Strategic Command's Social Network Training site

For appropriate use of the Internet and Social Media see the below Air Force and DoD Guidance:

· AFI 35-113, Internal Information, Chapter 15: Social Media
· Air Force Instruction 33-129 Section 2, Use of Internet Resources by Government Employees
· AFI 35-107, Public Web Communications
· Joint Ethics Regulation 2-301-Use of Federal Government Resources