Opening Statement by Ranking Member Reed at SASC Hearing on U.S. Cyber Command
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and I want to join you in welcoming Admiral Rogers. Admiral, the frequency with which you are called upon to testify to this committee and others in the Congress is a testament to the importance of, and the severe challenges we face in, the cyberspace domain.
We have faced serious and growing threats in cyberspace from espionage, theft of intellectual property, and destructive attacks on the networks and systems that support our military and our economy, including critical infrastructure.
Now we, and our allies in Europe, are experiencing first-hand that we are also vulnerable to the manipulation and distortion of information through cyberspace, which Russia is exploiting to threaten the bedrock of our democracy and our shared international institutions.
The Armed Services Committee has for years emphasized the importance of developing the means and the strategy to deter cyber attacks. Now the scope of what we must defend against, and deter, is expanded, and the task takes on even greater urgency. In just a year’s time, we will be in election season once more, and the intelligence community has warned that Russia’s election interference is likely to be a “new normal.”
While our decentralized election system has been designated as critical infrastructure, we lack an effective, integrated, and coordinated capability to detect and counter the kind of “influence” operation that Russia now routinely and continuously conducts. We do not yet have a strategy or capabilities to deter such actions through the demonstrated ability to conduct our own operations of this type.
Secretary Carter commissioned a 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 cyber attacks against us.
Achieving a credible deterrent requires integration of capabilities and focused policy development across the Department of Defense, as well as the whole of government collaboration involving DoD, the State Department, the intelligence community, DHS, and the Justice Department. We have not seen evidence yet that the new administration appreciates these urgent problems and intends to address them.
For Cyber Command specifically, the Committee has heard concerns that our military cyber forces are almost exclusively focused on the technical aspects of cyberspace operations – such as detecting network intrusions, expelling intruders, and figuring out how to penetrate the networks of adversaries. The concern is that this focus misses the crucial “cognitive” element of information operations conducted through cyberspace – those actions designed to manipulate perceptions and influence decision-making.
Admiral Rogers, these are critical issues, and there is much work to do. I look forward to your testimony and views on these urgent matters.