The U.S. Air Force AFNet Sustainment and Operations Branch – in collaboration with the Air Combat Command (ACC) Directorate of Cyberspace and Information Dominance and the Platform One team– is driving toward developing a modern software-based perimeter that will deliver zero trust capabilities to applications across the service branch, an Air Force official said.


Raju Ranjan, technical lead for the Air Force zero trust effort, explained that the ACC is developing the concept and strategy for the Air Force to move forward on zero trust, and the AFNet Sustainment and Operations Branch is leading the integration efforts. The Platform One team is tackling the development, security, and operations.


“The Defense Department, especially the Air Force, needs this type of environment. All our competitors are utilizing the greatest and latest emerging security capabilities. And we are behind the curve. Our zero trust effort is a game-changer for the Air Force, and we plan on implementing it in every pocket of the service,” said Ranjan during FNN’s Zero Trust Summit on June 23.


The architecture is adapted from cloud-based technologies used by the Platform One team that have never been used on legacy networks in the Defense Department (DoD). It embraces a lot of modern concepts of DevSecOps, such as automation and orchestration necessary for zero trust to exist, he said.


Ranjan added that the concept also offers consistency, agility, and savings.


“Currently, our boundary stack drives significant cost, and this concept could reduce those costs by as much as two or three times less than the current price,” he said.


The goal, he added, is to use more commercial off-the-shelf products to build a stack that can give warfighters cutting-edge technology to access their resources or data from anywhere or from any place.


The team’s timeline for Air Force-wide deployment is aligned with the AFNet Sustainment and Operations Branch’s five-year roadmap, which also targets FY23 for a zero trust Air Force network.


“Zero trust is a journey. It’s nothing can happen overnight. So we are looking at every place we go, every lesson learned, what we did wrong, and what we did right because we want to get this right,” Ranjan said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.