Opening Statement by Ranking Member Reed at SASC Hearing on Cyber Strategy, Policy, and Organization
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and I want to join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses. General Clapper, General Hayden, and Admiral Stavridis all have significant experience and expertise in cyber from their service in the military, the intelligence community, the private sector, and academia.
Russia’s campaign last year to influence our election and undermine faith in our democracy and the objective truth of the news has been matched, or surpassed, by its years-long efforts to undermine democracy and the free press in Europe, the NATO alliance, and European unity.
Russia’s ambitious and aggressive use of information as a weapon adds a whole new dimension and urgency to the task of confronting and deterring hostile actions through cyberspace. We heard testimony two days ago from Admiral Rogers that the Russians are still actively trying to influence our domestic politics, and are very likely to attack our mid-term congressional elections next year. There is not a moment to lose in addressing this challenge to our national security.
However, as Admiral Rogers also acknowledged earlier this week, Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Forces are neither trained nor tasked to operate in this “cognitive” dimension of information warfare. By the same token, the elements within the Defense Department that are responsible for information operations have no cyberspace responsibilities or expertise. This disconnect is replicated across the other disciplines that make up the totality of “information warfare,” and across multiple organizations in the Defense Department and the interagency.
Additionally, I would like our witnesses to consider the advice of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Cyber Deterrence. Prominent former officials, such as former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Miller, served on this Task Force and have testified to this Committee twice this year. They advocate rapidly developing the ability to conduct operations through cyberspace to threaten, quote, “what key leaders on the other side value the most,” which in the case of Russia could include their own financial well-being and status, in order to deter influence operations and cyberattacks against us.
The threats that we face call for leadership and action. To date, however, despite the many large-scale and impactful cyber events of recent years, the Executive Branch has not acted to create an effective, whole of government capability to defend against and ultimately deter damaging cyberattacks. Congress, challenged by the overlap of committee jurisdictions and concerns of numerous outside stakeholders, has also been unable to design and impose the comprehensive solutions that this problem requires.
However, it is imperative that there be a renewed effort. We must fashion an effective, integrated, and coordinated capability to detect and counter the kind of influence operations that Russia now routinely and continuously conducts. Likewise, we must act to ensure that our military, and our government as a whole, has a strategy and capability to deter such actions through the demonstrated ability to conduct our own operations of this type. And we must also act to bolster the resilience of our society in the face of attempts to manipulate our perceptions and our decision making.
I know that each of you think deeply about, and have recommendations to address these critical issues. I look forward to your testimony and discussion on these urgent matters.