Lt. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, shared the news of Knausenberger’s promotion Thursday at the virtual Air Force IT and Cyberpower event.
“Lauren’s a digital superhero, and her powers of innovation and digital transformation are unmatched,” Weggeman said. “She’s a people- and talent-focused leader who slays the bureaucratic ‘white walkers,'” he said, jokingly referring to the “Game of Thrones” villains.
The Air Force’s CIO title and its budgetary authority are officially held by the service’s undersecretary. But as deputy CIO, Knausenberger will command the SAF/CN office, leading the department’s vision for enterprise IT, cybersecurity and digital transformation.
Knausenberger comes into the role after serving as chief transformation officer and director of cyberspace innovation before that.
“The past three years serving in the Air Force have genuinely been the most fulfilling of my entire career,” Knausenberger said Thursday.
She said as deputy CIO, she plans to “stay true” to her reputation as a change agent, driving transformation and innovation and taking calculated risks. In particular, Knausenberger emphasized that everything her office does will be with the men and women of the Air Force in mind, to include growing the digital workforce through Digital U, boosting user experience and eliminating manual processes where possible.
“To our airmen: As we drive toward that digital future, we’re going to do our best to make it all about you,” she said. “You joined the Air Force to make a difference and to bring the best of what you can contribute to this incredible mission — and everything we deliver will be focused on empowering you to best serve that mission, because you’re the ones that are out there fighting.”
Knausenberger stressed the importance of empowering every airman digitally because “we’re going to need all of that brainpower,” she said.
“Because here’s the thing. We’re 10 years behind,” she said. “Our adversaries are investing heavily in technology and talent, and IT is the foundation of everything that we do, from business systems to classified warfighting networks to air platforms. And what we do now will determine whether we lead as a military and as a nation, especially with regard to rapidly enabling AI and leveraging machine-driven insights.”
Knausenberger officially replaces Bill Marion, who retired from the Air Force as deputy CIO in April. Since then, Arthur Hatcher had been filling the role in an acting capacity, but he also is retiring.