Air Force following suit with Silicon Valley office

The Air Force announced Friday that it will open an outpost in Silicon Valley as part of the federal government’s effort to improve ties with the tech world.

Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. William Bender said the office will build on the work of an Air Force liaison who has spent a year in Silicon Valley. “I didn’t see fit to wait on” creating the office, he said Friday, according to FCW.

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The move adds the Air Force to a growing list of government agencies and departments that are placing bets on the nation’s most tech-heavy region.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon recently announced that they are opening offices south of San Francisco to recruit talent — particularly in the arena of cybersecurity — and seek collaborations with major tech firms.

Whether these efforts will bear fruit for the federal government remains to be seen.

As Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has acknowledged, it is difficult to recruit tech workers for federal posts that are typically less flexible and less lucrative than their private sector alternatives.

Tech companies also see downsides in partnering with the government, including the burden of federal bureaucracy, threats to intellectual property and lower profit margins.

Carter and his counterparts have downplayed these concerns and said they intend to market government work as an exciting and fulfilling way to defend the U.S. in cyberspace.

Bender, who became the Air Force’s CIO in September, made comments Friday that underscore a widening desire to understand how the United States will use offensive capabilities in cyberspace.

“We need to know what our offensive capabilities are so that when the president asks following a Sony[-style cyberattack], ‘What can you do about it?’… We have to have an answer to that,” he said at a luncheon hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Bender has announced a cybersecurity task force to examine the service’s vulnerability to hackers, FCW reported.