Hagel to target cyber in quadrennial review

sphere of binary data

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, highlighting the cyber domain as a growing concern, says he plans to address it in detail in the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review.

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event Nov. 5 in Washington, Hagel said that the threat of terrorism has "metastasized," particularly as adversaries gain access to technologies where the U.S. previously enjoyed a strategic advantage.

"Destructive technologies and weapons that were once the province of advanced militaries are being sought by non-state actors and other nations," Hagel said. "This will require our continued investment in cutting-edge defensive space and cyber technologies, and capabilities like missile defense, as well as offensive technologies and capabilities to deter aggressors and respond if we must."

Hagel said that as DOD officials' focus shifts toward the QDR, due in February 2014, competing concerns compounded by extensive budget cuts require "a much-needed realignment of missions and resources," and he outlined six top priorities to guide the planning process.

Among those priorities is the protection of investment in emerging military capabilities, including cyber science and technology, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"As our potential adversaries invest in more sophisticated capabilities and seek to frustrate our military's traditional advantages – including our freedom of action and access – it will be important to maintain our decisive technological edge," Hagel said. "That has always been a hallmark of our armed forces, even as war has remained – and will remain – a fundamentally human endeavor."

Other priorities include institutional reforms, assessing the force planning construct, balancing the military, addressing personnel and compensation issues and preparing for a "prolonged military readiness challenge" triggered by hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts. Hagel warned of potential national security implications related to the readiness problems.

"The Strategic Choices and Management Review showed that the persistence of sequester-level cuts could lead to a readiness crisis, and unless something changes we have to think urgently and creatively about how to avoid that outcome – because we are consuming our future readiness now," he said. "We may have to accept the reality that not every unit will be at maximum readiness, and some kind of a tiered readiness system is, perhaps, inevitable. This carries the risk that the president would have fewer options to fulfill our national security objectives."

About the Author

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

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