On February 2, Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, USAF, joined INSA President Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg for a Tuesday morning Coffee & Conversation. Gen. O’Brien, who serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR and Cyber Effects Operations for the Headquarters U.S Air Force, discussed a number of topics including the ongoing pandemic, the A2/6 portfolio, and the value of diversity and inclusion.
The Air Force has not been immune from the disruptive effects of the pandemic. The transition to remote work has introduced new challenges to the workforce. Gen. O’Brien stressed the importance of displaying strong leadership during this time. To stay connected and build relationships, she holds quarterly virtual visits with the Major Commands. Although these virtual visits have been working, Gen. O'Brien looks forward to getting back on the road in the future and continuing her work in person.
Gen. O’Brien also spoke about the HQ USAF A2/6 portfolio and the effects of the A2 and A6 merger. In the Air Force, the ISR and cyber effects are the combination of its traditional ISR portfolio and its combat and expeditionary communications, spectrum management, and cyber operations. The A2/6 is the lead on ISR and cyber warfare oversight, policy, and guidance, while also overseeing NASIC. The merger aims to decrease stovepipes and promote integration that will improve the force’s readiness and capabilities for its ISR and cyber effects. These developments have also created additional synergy between the Air Force and the intelligence community.
The conversation then shifted to General Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s four action orders outlined in his strategic paper “Accelerate Change or Lose.” The actions–Airmen, Bureaucracy, Competition, and Design–aim to implement a people-first approach, speed up decision making, improve understanding of adversary capabilities, and prepare the branch to implement necessary changes.
Gen. O’Brien continued by stressing the importance of leveraging public-private partnerships to tackle data integration and analysis, a core function of the A2/6. To close, she emphasized the importance of diversity, calling it a mission imperative for the US national security apparatus. The Air Force, Gen. O'Brien shared, is proud to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion and is focused on improving its recruitment and retention techniques.
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