Military News

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dempsey: Cyber Vulnerabilities Threaten National Security



By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BRUSSELS, Jan. 21, 2015 – Cyber vulnerabilities in the private sector pose a serious threat to national security, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

While military cyber defenses are formidable, civilian infrastructure and businesses often are targeted first and "present a significant vulnerability to our nation," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said in an interview earlier this week in Rome, at the start of a two-nation European tour focused on threats to U.S. and European security.

Because of that, he said, the United States faces a "level playing field" against cyber threats.

"As the senior military officer of the most powerful military on the planet, I like to have the playing field tilted to my advantage,” he said. “I'd like the enemy to play uphill and us to play downhill." He ranks cybersecurity among his highest priorities, he added.

Legislation Needed for Information Sharing

Cyber legislation is needed to protect the nation and to allow information sharing between the government and the private sector while safeguarding civil liberties, he said. President Barack Obama has made cybersecurity a top agenda item and pressed for new cyber legislation in last night's State of the Union address.

"We haven't done enough -- that's just not internal to the military,” Dempsey said. “We haven’t done enough as a nation."

The U.S. military depends on commercial networks, so the strongest military cyber defense still could be threatened by a weak link elsewhere, Dempsey said. "We have authorities and capabilities that allow us to do a pretty good job of defending ourselves," he added. "But the vulnerability of the rest of America is a vulnerability of ours, and that's what we have to reconcile."

More than 20 countries now have military units dedicated to employing cyber in war, the chairman noted. He said he is worried adversaries will seek to exploit vulnerabilities in civilian critical infrastructure, viewing that as a "softer" target than the military itself.

Cyberattacks Are Becoming a Part of Conflict

Disruptive and destructive cyberattacks are becoming a part of conflict between states, within states and among nonstate actors, the general said.

"From the day I became chairman, I realized that on my term, cyber would become both a greater threat to our national interests, but also a more important component of military capability," he said.

While the U.S. dominates -- albeit with some constraints, whether air, space, land or sea -- the cyber domain is much different, Dempsey said, repeating that he doesn’t like that there are "actors out there who can compete with us on literally a level playing field."

The chairman noted the military two years ago stood up the U.S. Cyber Command, which committed resources and migrated capabilities to the combatant commander level.

Adversaries of the United States constantly seek to infiltrate networks and degrade capabilities, disrupt operations, or steal information, the chairman noted. "In cyber, we have competitors, and we have competitors who maybe aren’t as constrained by legal systems and freedoms as we are," he said. "It's going to be challenging to navigate this race."

Pentagon’s Top Policy Official Praises U.S.-Australia Alliance



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2015 – The long history of the U.S.-Australia alliance has been a linchpin of stability around the world, the Defense Department’s top policy official said here today.

Christine E. Wormuth, under secretary of defense for policy, discussed the importance of the U.S.-Australia alliance during remarks at the Brookings Institute.

“I think we share the view that the United States and Australia are cooperating on a range of challenges that are truly global,” she said, “whether it’s fighting Ebola in West Africa or whether it’s working together to bring security and stability to faraway places like Afghanistan.”

“Australia is a very important member of the now over 60-nation international coalition that is fighting against [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and radical extremism,” Wormuth said.

Long History of Cooperation

“The United States and Australia have a very long history of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict really since World War I,” Wormuth said. “Our security cooperation really continues to be a linchpin of stability around the world.”

That cooperation is important, she said, noting examples such as a recent hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia, and the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.

“Those are really stark reminders that violent extremism -- which is just one challenge that we’re facing together -- it’s a truly global, not just regional threat,” Wormuth said.

“It’s something that we’ll only be successful in defeating if we join the fight together,” she added.

Partners in an International Coalition

Wormuth said the U.S. is leading an international coalition to degrade, and ultimately, defeat ISIL terrorists using a campaign across multiple lines of effort -- not just military force.

“We’re not going to be able to defeat ISIL … solely through military means,” she said. The coalition must disrupt ISIL’s sources of revenue, stop the flow of foreign fighters, and work together to provide humanitarian support in Iraq and Syria in the wake of the terrorist group’s “chaos,” Wormuth said.

“And Australia is, again, a key coalition partner in that effort,” she said. “Australia and U.S. military personnel are working side-by-side in Iraq, and our two nations are also cooperating on other non-military aspects of the counter-ISIL campaign.”

Wormuth noted Australia has committed to send about 200 special operations forces to Iraq to help with the advise-and-assist mission, and around 400 Australian air force personnel associated with the air campaign.

Additionally, she said, Australia has also provided essential humanitarian airlift capability and has filled a key part of the effort to re-supply the Kurdish peshmerga.

“The fight against ISIL is obviously going to be a long-term effort,” Wormuth said. “This is not something that’s going to end in six months.”

“But I think the international coalition that we put together is strong; it’s diverse,” she said. “I was encouraged by my visit to Iraq to see that ISIL, I believe, is truly more and more in a defensive posture.”

Partnership in Afghanistan

“I think another terrific example of the cooperation that we have with Australia, in terms of global security challenges, is, of course, our shared engagement in Afghanistan,” Wormuth said.

“Australia has been playing a key role for years with the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” she said. “We’re just deeply grateful for the sacrifices that Australia has made to join us in working to bring stability to that region.”

Rotating U.S. Forces in Australia

A symbol of the close partnership with Australia, Wormuth said, is the deployment of U.S. Marines to Darwin.

“This year, about 1,150 Marines have come through Australia on a rotational basis,” she said, “and over the coming years, we are working with Australia to be able to rotationally deploy as many as 2,500 Marines on a yearly basis.”

“In addition to our Marine Corps deployments, we also have Air Force deployments in Australia,” Wormuth said.

“Between the two of those,” she said, “we think we’ll very much be able to maintain a very high level of interoperability with Australian defense forces and be able to enhance the joint ability that we have respond to crises, and again, to provide regional stability.”

Modernizing the Relationship

As strong as the relationship is, Wormuth said, the two nations need to press forward and continue to modernize it.

“One of the key things we need to do,” she said, “is continue to build on the hard-earned interoperability we’ve developed through what we’ve done together in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The two militaries have operated incredibly closely together, Wormuth said, picking up lessons learned and emerging from those two wars as a highly interoperable combat force.

Wormuth said she also thought it would be very important to continue to press forward in the areas of science and technology.

“Our cooperation there cuts across a number of rapidly evolving fields like electronic warfare, hypersonics and a variety of initiatives in the cyber domain,” she said.

Wormuth said as she thought about all that the two countries have done together and are doing now, she was struck by how closely and how well the alliance has worked.

“Because of that closeness,” she said, “I’m very confident that looking to the future we will be able to successfully adapt the alliance to whatever may be thrown at us.”

NATO Defense Chiefs Meet, Ukraine a 'Significant Concern'


By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BRUSSELS, Jan. 21, 2015 – The U.S. military says Russia has "funneled hundreds of pieces of Russian military equipment" to Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. The comments from the spokesman of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came today, on the first day of a two-day defense chiefs meeting at NATO headquarters here.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who is attending the NATO meeting, is "closely following" reports of Russian activity inside Ukraine, said spokesman Air Force Col. Ed Thomas.

"Among the most pressing issues for the group is NATO's planning and readiness to secure its eastern flank. It's been a dominant factor for the alliance since Russian forces entered Crimea," Thomas said.

He declined to discuss specifics about the reports of Russian activity, but did acknowledge a Russian role in the ongoing conflict.

"Since the September 5th Minsk ceasefire, Russia has funneled hundreds of pieces of Russian military equipment and materiel to Russia-backed separatists, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces," Thomas said.

"Russian military forces still operate in eastern Ukraine, where they play a coordinating role and provide command and control support to pro-Russian separatists," he said.

NATO Focus on Russia

In the opening session today, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, said Russia's "illegal military intervention" in Ukraine remains a "significant cause for concern."

The events in Ukraine are "shaping our thinking on NATO’s security challenges," he said.

"We have seen in Ukraine the use of hybrid warfare which combines traditional, conventional and paramilitary operations, as well as sophisticated disinformation campaigns," the Danish general said.

Because of the developments in Ukraine, the Ukrainian chief of defense was "forced at very short notice to cancel his attendance" at the meeting, Bartels said.

The centerpiece for NATO's' response to the recent Russian aggression is cooperation on what the alliance has dubbed the Readiness Action Plan.

NATO heads of state agreed to the plan at the Wales summit in September. Alliance officials say the plan will "significantly enhance NATO’s readiness and responsiveness" and ensure that NATO forces remain ready.

In the interim, NATO has established a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force coordinated by Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

NATO has already increased maritime, land and air presence in Eastern Europe as member nations hammer out a final plan. The U.S. has stepped up its presence in Eastern Europe through a variety of reassurance measures to include airborne exercises in Poland and the Baltic nations.

But NATO leaders from countries like Greece and Italy are equally focused on the security of the alliance's southern flank, where U.S. and European officials warn about the flow of extremists and the danger it poses to the region.

"The threat to Europe and the West posed by smuggling and foreign fighters returning from the Middle East requires collaborative solutions," Thomas said. "As the attack on Paris underscored, this is a threat that is real and immediate."

NATO must continue to have the capability and capacity to counter threats to its border, Bartels said.

"The growing instability in the south compounds the challenges facing the alliance," Bartels said.

Afghanistan a topic for alliance members

Coalition commitments to Afghanistan's long-term success are on the agenda, according to Thomas. "We have a willing partner in the government of Afghanistan and U.S. and coalition commitment will remain key," he said.

The alliance has opened a "new chapter" in its relationship with Afghanistan, Bartels said, noting that one year ago the alliance was focused on the International Stabilization Force in Afghanistan.

"This mandate was carried out at significant cost and with substantial success," he said. "We will always remember the sacrifice of the international and Afghan forces, who deserve our respect and our gratitude."

As of January 2015, the alliance is conducting a train, assist, and advise mission in support of the Afghan National Security Forces, Bartels said.

"We are well aware that although this is a non-combat mission, it is conducted in a combat environment," he said.

Threats in North Africa, Middle East

The chiefs of defense were also examining the "dynamic and evolving situation" in regards to regional security challenges in North Africa and the Middle East, Bartels said.

The alliance members had a session Wednesday with the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue partner nations. The group is comprised of seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

Bartels said the Thursday session will provide an opportunity to develop the military advice to NATO’s Political Guidance 2015, which will be agreed in June by NATO’s defense ministers.