WASHINGTON — Lackland AFB in San Antonio is being selected by Air Force officials as the headquarters for a new cyber command, an official close to the selection process said late Thursday.
The Air Force is expected to make the selection official today, but lawmakers representing states and cities with potential sites were being notified in advance of the announcement.
Lackland was selected by the Air Force as the best of several other candidates for the headquarters, which would mean an influx of infrastructure, security and 400 staffers.
The headquarters will include the commander's staff and an operations center.
The operations primarily will focus on defending Air Force computers against cyber attack and preventing computer disruptions.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said selecting Lackland was “great news for San Antonio.”
Hutchison said Lackland “and its dedicated military personnel have the unique and varied attributes that made it the obvious choice.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he was surprised to hear Lackland was selected, because a Louisiana site was considered the front-runner.
“This is a good surprise,” Wolff said, adding that it comes on the heels of last week's announcement that Medtronic Diabetes Therapy Management and Education Center is moving to San Antonio and will hire 1,400 workers over five years.
The selected site for the cyber command now must undergo an environmental impact assessment.
A final announcement of where to place the command will come later this summer, after the assessment is conducted, said Carla Pampe, a spokeswoman for the command in Louisiana.
Alternative sites also will be announced, should the finalist site be eliminated by the environmental impact assessment.
The temporary location of the command is at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, La. The Louisiana base was one of six finalists.
Other potential sites were Langley AFB, Va.; Offut AFB, Neb.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; and Scott AFB, Ill.
Hutchison and Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, led efforts to sway Air Force officials to locate the command at Lackland, where existing missions are located.
When Lackland was named a finalist in January, Gonzalez said the Air Force base was “well-positioned” to get the command because of existing work there.
Lackland is home to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, the Cryptologic Systems Group, the 67th Network Warfare Wing, the Information Operation Center and the Join Operation Warfare Command.
In addition, the University of Texas at San Antonio has cyber-related research, and the National Security Agency's Texas Cryptologic Center is in San Antonio.
Wolff said landing the command at Lackland also would boost local efforts to get “more jobs here with NSA.”
“This is a positive step toward that effort,” Wolff said.
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez agreed, saying, “The Air Force cyber center is a major component of security, but it also will have some other components for the private sector, which will trigger other forms of jobs.”
Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, said the command would be a “a good incubator” for business.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and the entire Texas congressional delegation signed onto a letter urging the Air Force to put the command in San Antonio.
And Hutchison, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and military affairs, touted San Antonio as the location for the center in a March meeting with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.
In the selection process, the Air Force considered factors that included existing cyber activities, network capabilities, infrastructure and security.
San Antonio demonstrated it had the networks and infrastructure to become a national center for cyber security, Hutchison said.
Hutchison said she would work with Congress, the Air Force and San Antonio leaders to “ensure a smooth and efficient transition process so we can stand up this critical new command as quickly as possible.” San Antonio to get Air Force cyber command