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American Forces Press Service

DoD Intel Chief Describes National Security Challenges

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014 – Protecting military networks is among many national security challenges the nation faces, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence said here yesterday.

In remarks at the Defense One Summit, Michael G. Vickers said the challenges, both unconventional and novel, are likely to be enduring and will require the attention of both the government and the private sector.

"Cybersecurity is a job for everybody," Vickers said. "It's something our companies worry about, and it's here now. It's a threat right now."

Vickers emphasized the importance of cybersecurity to defend the nation's critical infrastructure and in supporting combatant commanders in the new warfare domain. And adversaries can use cyber to their advantage, he noted.

Adversaries Can Use Cyber to Target U.S. Economy

"They can use this to gain economic advantage and … erode our economic position over a long period of time without fighting a war, because national security ultimately derives from economic security and strength," he explained.

The undersecretary also cited familiar threats, such as China and its military modernization in East Asia, Russian aggression in Ukraine and the expansion of the global jihad. And although core al-Qaida has waned, he added, some of its affiliates have grown stronger. "Now we have the emergence of [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] … the competition for leadership in the global jihad, and the threat of homegrown violent extremists," he said.

Other Challenges

Beyond cyber, Vickers cited other national security challenges, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their associated delivery systems in Iran and North Korea, as well as broader instability in the Middle East and North Africa as the Syrian civil war persists.

"A lot of these areas intersect in various ways, both in instability and global jihad or regional rivalries and civil wars," he explained. "So it's an extremely challenging landscape."

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