U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe used a senate hearing this week to stress the importance of cyber security and how China continues to steal cutting-edge technology from the U.S.
“—it’s clear the threats posed by our adversaries in cyberspace are growing. China is using cyber to steal our cutting-edge technologies, and Russia is using destructive cyber attacks in Ukraine and elsewhere to undermine the United States and our partners,” said Sen. Inhofe as he questioned General Paul Nakasone, Commander, United States Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency; and Chief, Central Security Service. one of the witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The General and others testified at the hearing entitled “The posture of United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2023 and the Future Years Defense Program.”
Other witnesses included: Christopher Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense, United States Special Operations Command; General Richard Clarke, Commander, United States Special Operations Command;
Inhofe: General Nakasone, it’s clear the threats posed by our adversaries in cyberspace are growing. China is using cyber to steal our cutting-edge technologies, and Russia is using destructive cyber attacks in Ukraine and elsewhere to undermine the United States and our partners. General Nakasone, in the face of these serious cyber threats, your stance has been consistent, and has been clear, on the benefits of the dual-hat arrangement. You know, the dual-hat arrangement, for some reason, has become controversial. I think you and I both agree on this. But why is it that that arrangement is in the best national security interest of the United States? Explain that to us.
Nakasone: Senator, thank you for the question. I begin with just 2018 when I came into the job, both as commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the Director of the National Security Agency, and I look at the change in terms of our national security today, in terms of what our adversaries in cyberspace are trying to do. We weren’t thinking about ransomware in 2018. We weren’t necessarily thinking about near-peers in terms of their capabilities in 2018 — very, very focused on coming out of the 2016 elections, obviously the midterm elections, in 2018, and then also being able to address a series of threats with counterterrorism. But over this past four years, as you’ve indicated, Senator, the world has changed considerably, and what we see is a speed, a sophistication, and a willingness for our adversaries to operate tremendously impactful within cyberspace. And so, what we have done is to continue to mature the relationship between U.S. Cyber Command and NSA. How do we bring the best of what is being done in foreign intelligence and cybersecurity to the work that is being done on the command to be able to get after our adversaries? This is what changed. And so one plus one, we don’t want it to equal two. We want it to be a force multiplier of five or ten that can get after our adversaries. And we’re not alone at this, Senator. Our adversaries are doing the same thing.
Inhofe: Thank you, that’s a great response. China views Africa as key to its global ambitions, which is why they built their first overseas military base in Djibouti. And people don’t realize that it’s not just that military base in Djibouti — that was the first [overseas] military base, period, in their history. And so, they want to build another one in west coast Africa. Now, we witnessed this in Djibouti, and the bulk of the U.S. forces in Africa are Special Operations troops who worked with our partners to build our capabilities, collect intelligence, and push back on China, Russia, and terrorist groups. We should deploy more of these troops to Africa given the growing threats that I’ve pointed out several times in Africa. General Clarke, what’s your assessment of what the Chinese military seeks to accomplish in Africa and what can our special operations forces do to confront these growing threats?
Clarke: Senator, I’ve been to Djibouti many times and also see it as a strategic location not just for Africa but what it gives for a platform for us to conduct counterterrorism missions into the Middle East with its proximity to Yemen. As a key strategic hub there, the Chinese clearly see the same thing. For U.S. Special Operations Command, in support of AFRICOM there, it’s to ensure the violent extremist elements there are disrupted, so they cannot cause a threat back to the United States. As far as our ability by being there, really, allows us to get to see and sense what the Chinese pernicious behavior is inside of Africa, with a great interest specifically in collecting resources and minerals for the future. And by being there, it helps us to highlight those for the partners with whom we work.
Inhofe: Well, I’m glad we have that opportunity. Mr. Chairman.