DOD to launch department-wide cybersecurity review

The Defense Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2013 is quite a bit less than the amount requested for fiscal 2012 -- $613 billion compared to $670 billion -- but that's not stopping officials from planning increased spending in some areas.

Indeed, DOD does plan to cut a number of defense IT programs, including some related to science and technology. But other areas, including cybersecurity, have seen an increase in attention – and funding, according to a budget overview released by DOD.

“We have heeded the lessons from 10 years of war and have protected and prioritized investments in areas such as cyber, special operations and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets,” Lt. Gen. Larry Spencer, director, force structure, resources and assessment, Joint Staff, said in a Feb. 13 Pentagon press briefing.

In a departure from the austerity trend, spending on cyber increased marginally for fiscal 2013, with the budget providing for at least $3.4 billion (up from $3.2 billion in the 2012 budget) for strengthening U.S. cyber defenses “including some new activities there aimed at what we know is an important area for us,” said Robert Hale, DOD comptroller.

According to the budget, the $3.4 billion will go through the Air Force to strengthen U.S. Cyber Command.

Cyber readiness has been prioritized in other areas of fiscal 2013 planning as well, with the overview outlining plans for a extensive, department-wide inspection of DOD cyber defenses.

“By September 30, 2013, the DOD will attain a passing score on a comprehensive cybersecurity inspection that assesses compliance with technical, operational, and physical security standards, on an overwhelming majority of inspected military cyberspace organizations resulting in improved hardening and cyber defense,” according to the document.

Despite DOD officials’ – including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s – repeated claims that science and technology would be an area of prioritized investment, funding in this area is down this year. The budget calls for $11.9 billion in fiscal 2013, dropping from $12.2 billion in 2012. Fiscal 2013 planning provides for $62 billion in science and technology spending through fiscal 2017.

“A strong S&T investment allows the department to focus and align content to meet new and emerging priorities,” the overview noted. “Investments were strengthened in DOD S&T priority areas such as cyber S&T, electronic warfare, autonomy (robotics), and advanced manufacturing.”

In the past, Panetta has reiterated the importance of investing in science and technology.

"With regards to the key investments in technology and new capabilities, we have to retain a decisive technological edge. We have to retain the kind of leverage the lessons of recent conflicts have given us. And we need to stay ahead of the most lethal and disruptive threats that we're going to face in the future,” he said in a Jan. 26 briefing.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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