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tv   Hearing on U.S. Special Operations Cyber Commands  CSPAN  February 15, 2019 2:38am-4:40am EST

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infrastructure security, counterterrorism operations in the middle east and countering foreign adversaries in cyberspace. the hearing is two hours. the meeting will come to order. i would like to welcome general planning to who is retire, somebody told me.
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i think you are far too young to retire, but that is up to you. are westtwo sons who point graduates, you don't need to cut them loose that soon. .nd then, general nakasone i appreciate the further we have had both open and closed meetings because of the seriousness of the thing will be addressing. , the senate armed services committee's top priority is to support the effective implementation of the national defense strategy central to the nds is a growing focus on competition with russia and china. and, of course, we also had the same time don't want to forget about the threats posed by the .errorist organizations special operations support has proven effective in combating isis, al qaeda and other terrorist groups in the last 17
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years. however, they remain resilient and continue to pose a real threat to the united states and our allies. at the same time, military advancements by russia and china posed new and increasingly complex challenges to our national security. when you talk to people out in the real world in america, there is an assumption that we have the best of everything. to explain sometimes that we don't. chiefe have the general talk about how we are outgunned anyways, theyso us invancing ahead of some areas. another critical component of is developing capabilities to counter growing threads in cyberspace. the department of defense is making important progress, including television of cyber -- including the
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aversion of the cyber come in strategy. the strategy was released last year to provide a roadmap for how we will operate inside in that domain. i looked our witnesses to describe what investments will be needed to meet these objectives. senator reid? sen. reed: thank you very much, mr. chairman. general thomas, would also like to thank you for your excellent service. 39 years in service, you have during difficult times and a done it with great foresight and great dedication to the women and men you lead. we thank you for that. >> we also want to thank your family at because they served
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with you and they continue to serve with you. nice to see that your sons get good education also. nakasone,hat th congratulations, and also for your partnership with n.s.a. and other agencies recently in combating some of our adversaries in the cyber sphere. the only functional combat and command with service like responsibilities for the training, equipping and operationsf special forces, and it is appropriate that the secretary of defense official joins us today, owen west. welcome, mr. secretary, thank you. the reforms contained in the 2017 at national defense authorization act show that the
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dod has made progress in effectively integrating that departmental processes relating to budgeting, acquisition, readiness and personnel management. secretary west and general thomas, i hope you will provide your assessment of what needs to be done and how the committee can continue to support your efforts. socom continues to adjust the national security environment. this change will have implications for the departments management of assault forces, their readiness, capability and the authorities they have to undertake, as the demand continues to grow. we also have to understand that there are limits to the hardships and can ask special operations forces and their families to and you are.
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endure.- to we must view these cyber attacks with the same syrian is that same seriousness and result as review general attacks. we cannot let our guard down. we must do more to anticipate and counter these sophisticated attacks including by ensuring we are organized across the government. general thomas and gen. sits at, your command the nexus of the dod efforts to combat in this environment, and i hope you will give a full assessment of what has been accomplished, and what gaps remain. progress has been made in the last year, many serious challenges remain. dod has developed what appears to be a viable cyber strategy. this posture review will identify gaps and capabilities
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across the enterprise. advisors cross functional team is to define objectives, specific tasks, resources and time tables to correct them. when completed these activities should greatly increase the department's cybersecurity and the effectiveness of cyber command. the fiscal year ndaa explicitly 2019 established that unacknowledged activities in cyberspace conducted below the level of armed conflict are a legal form of so-called traditional military activities. the ndaa also provided authority to the president to take action against sustained campaigns of specific adversaries against the united states. including russia's malign influence campaign. this legislation along with the recent presidential directive provided dod and cyber command with the needed authority to plan and conduct more vigorous actions in cyberspace to defend the country. to support such operations cyber command has developed an operational concept to employ
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so-called consistent engagement -- persistent engagement in a line with the national defense strategy. i hope it will provide an even more effective model of engaging our adversaries without and do risk.- without undue i know that with their leadership, we will continue forward. thank you very much, gentlemen. : thank you very much, senator reed. we now have opening statements and we are going to try to confine our remarks to five minutes. we will start with you, general thomas and work across to gen. nakasone. sorry, we will start with secretary west. thank you,est: chairman. senator reid, chairman in half, just interest members of the
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committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify alongside my partner. has's command of socom safeguarded the nation for years. i look forward to working with general clark when he assumes command . ourbreath and capability of russia operations force is astonishing. in over 80 countries, this force tackles our challenges in the most hostile environments. in the past two years, 23 soft personnel have been killed in action and many more have sustained life altering injuries. representing just 3% of the joint force, soft has absorbed over 40% of u.s. casualties in this time. this sacrifice serves as a powerful reminder that special ops are in the risk business. their families carry the burden
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of individual tragedy so we can prevent national tragedy. this is an inflection point. first, the section 922 legislation has reinvigorated the partnership between my ocom.e and s the soft enterprise is in the midst of transformation. something special operators have always done very well. any transformation starts with people. in november, general thomas and i issued the first ever joint vision of the soft enterprise, challenging professionals to innovate in pursuit of decisive competitive advantage. special operations should be viewed as an integral part of the joint force. , designed to quickly and cost-effectively solve risky problems that don't lend themselves to mass or scale. general thomas has made tremendous progress in reducing
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the strain caused by a high operational tempo and demand. at the height of the wars, a large proportion of the force was spending as much time overseas as within the united states. willyear, over 90% of them spend as much time in the u.s. as of a will in deployment. i'm proud to report to you that our special operations force is neither over stretched nor healthy, but very poised and a blur to defend the nation foes. against increasingly adaptive foes. despite this clear progress we general thomas and i are concerned about serious ethical failings by o members of our sof coming 80. these incidents have our full attention, and they do not reflect the true nature of the sof professional. i would like to thank general thomas for 39 years of service, much of it in combat. from 2001 to 2013, he deployed every year except
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for one in which he was wounded in iraq. nationire to defend the is an inspiration to us all. he epitomizes quiet professionalism as a public official but in leading his troops, and we can't pentagon doors, he is not shy. he consistently demonstrates blunt intellectual integrity that has personally inspired me. our nation will miss him. his wife barbara less so now, and probably less in a year. mr. chairman, i am grateful for the opportunity to testify today and i look forward to your questions. chariman: thank you, mr. secretary. now, general thomas. hen. thomas: chairman in secretary reed and it established members of the committee, i am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today on the posture of united states special operations command. i'm privileged to be here today with assistant secretary owen west as well as my friend and teammate general paul nakasony e from cyber com. since its inception we have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with the world class team at u.s. cyber command and have forged the type of partnership reinforced in combat that ensures our absolute collaboration and cooperation
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in our shared mission. to fill thetinues world's most capable special operations forces. we are an integral part of the joint force and integrated into every facet of the national defense strategy. our numerous successes over the past years would not have been possible without the support and resources provided by the congress and for that i thank you. for the last 18 years, our number one priority has been the effort against violent extremist organizations. as part of the joint force, we continue to be the main effort or major supporting effort in ,fghanistan, syria, iraq, yemen libya, the sahel, the magreb, lake chad lacen and the philippines, everywhere isis and affiliated organizations are we are relentlessly pursuing them to ensure this country never , ever and yours another that should never endures another
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-- to make sure this country never, ever endures another , 9/11. we remain focused on finishing this effort by with and through our many coalition partners. at the same time, again, as part of the joint force, we are endeavoring to provide a more lethal and capable special operations force to confront peer competitors. u.s. socom is already well oriented to the challenges of great power competition, particularly in the competition space short of armed conflict. our sof network integrated with interagency and international partners is focused on producing orthodox -- unorthodox yet complementary capabilities and solutions in support of u.s. policies and objectives. will real -- we continue to maintain strong and during international partnerships while leveraging authorities and core expertise to convert indigenous mass into combat power to deter, deny, disrupt and ultimately defeat our adversaries. to build a more lethal force, strengthen our alliances and partnerships and reform for greater performance and efficiency, we are be shaping and focusing our current forces and capabilities while
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simultaneously developing new technological and tactical approaches to accomplish the mission of the sof will face in the future. the joint solic u.s. socom sof secretary west mentioned is our guide to move us forward. the emergency security challenges will require socom to be an organization of empowered sof professionals globally , networked, partnered and integrated and relentlessly seeking advantage in every domain for the joint force in the nation. in addition to our service-like responsibility to man, train and equip the special forces forces over the last few years socom has experienced development in our role as combat and command. we are assigned the role as a coordinating authority for three major global mission sets,
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counterterrorism, encountering weapons of mass destruction and recently messaging countermessaging. these roles require us to lead planning efforts, continually assess joint force progress towards campaign objectives and recommend improvements or modifications to our campaign approach to the secretary of defense. in parallel, u.s. socom has begun pursuing an aggressive partnership with the other combatant commands with global portfolios. leverage designed to our respective capabilities towards providing more agile solutions to the dut dod. sof has a long tradition of solving problems, adapting to changing conditions and fielding innovative technology and tactics to give us the decisive advantage in combat. we believe this traditional continue to serve us well. we are increasing our investments in a wide spectrum of emerging technologies to include artificial intelligence, machine learning, automated systems, advancing robotics augmented reality, biomedical , monitoring and advanced armor and munitions development just to name a few. we are in the formative stages
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of establishing an experimental force which are more coherently focus and integrate our future force development in the pursuit of the required your competitor eerabilities -- pp competitor capabilities. leveraging our proven ability to rapidly develop and field cutting edge technology flowing from our focus on the tactical edge of combat this joint experimentation initiative will bring together innovative efforts from our tactical formations to ensure that commanders combat requirements are addressed with the most advanced concepts and equipment available. finally, in 44 days, i am scheduled to relinquish command of the greatest special operations force in history. i know that sounds a bit haughty . but the men and women of u.s. socom back that statement up every day. they represent the best that america has to offer. an exceptionally dedicated, effective and resilient group of warriors and problem solvers. i'd like to publicly thank them for the opportunity to be their teammate. it has been an incredible privilege to serve with them over the course of 39 years of service. i'd like to personally thank pat
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major pat macauley, our -- oured senior enlisted socom senior enlisted adviser appearing with me today. pat is the epitome of the pest that u.s. sof has to offer and in a few short months will conclude 30 years of faithful service to the united states army, united states special operations command and the nation. during his distinguished career, he's husbands wired with his on thel courage battlefield, his moral and physical leadership. he represents everything that is great about this command, most importantly, our people. thanks again for the opportunity to appear before you today. i look forward to your questions. jim and fish tank you, general thomas. gen. nakasone. gen. nakasone: thank you, mr. chairman ranking member reed and , distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your enduring support and the opportunity to testify today about the hard working men and women of the united states cyber command.
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i'm honored to lead them. i'm also honored to sit alongside these great leaders, assistant secretary of defense west and general tony thomas. 420, my congratulations to you and barb for your steadfast service to our nation. it's been a tremendous journey for you and i've enjoyed our partnership and friendship. my personal best wishes to you, tony, and your family. as of the commander of u.s. cyber command, i am responsible for conducting cyberspace operations supporting three cyber attacks,- defend the department of defense information networks, and enable our joint force commanders in pursuit of your mission objectives. in the cyber domain, we are in constant contact with our adversaries who continue to increase in sophistication, magnitude, intensity, volume and velocity, and remain a threat to national security and economic well-being. the national security strategy and national defense strategy highlight the return of great power competition. beyond near peer competitors
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rogue regimesia, like iran and north korea continue to grow capabilities, using aggressive methods to conduct malicious cyberspace activities. adversaries have until recently acted with little concern for consequences. the department of defense cyber strategy identifies the need to defend forward hearing day-to-day competition with our adversaries. this strategy aims to maintain our superiority in cyberspace through production of infrastructure and networks. a u.s. cyber command implements the dod strategy by adopting persistent engagement, persistent presence, and persistent innovation. this past year witnessed the elevation of the u.s. cyber command to comment status. our progress ensures ability to execute our mission requirements for the department, in defense of our nation. 2018 midtermf the
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elections posed a significant strategic challenge. ensuring a safe and secure election was our number one priority. it drove me to establish a joint u.s. cyber command national security agency effort we called ." e russia small group it tested our new operational approach with the organization and direction from the president and secretary of defense. group of noblel partnerships in action across the government to counter our strategic threat. our response the most traded the value of a tightknit relationship between u.s. cyber command and the national security agency, bringing together cyber capabilities, interagency partnerships and the willingness to act. to persist, we enabled critical interagency partners to act with unparalleled coordination and .ooperation we contested adversarial actions, improving early warning and threat identification in
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support of the department of homeland security, the federal bureau of investigation, and others. we printed and engaged with allies in public and private sector is to build resiliency. for the first time, we sent our cyber warriors abroad to secure our operations allowed for us identify and counter threats as they emerged to secure elections and prevent similar threats interfering in those partners and allies. the russia small group effort demonstrated that persistent engagement, persistent presence , and persistent innovation enables discuss success. effective cyber defense requires a whole of nation effort. information sharing plays a violate role enabling everyone , including government agencies, to defend networks. therefore, we are sharing computer malware we fund during routine operations with the private sector and the broader cybersecurity community. we have posted numerous malware samples for crowd source
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analysis. we believe our actions will have a positive impact on kbrofgt cyber security globally. our actions are impacting our adversaries. our shift in approach allows to sustain key competitive advantages while increasing our cyber capabilities. as we review lessons learned from the midterm elections, we are focused on potential threats we could face in 2020. looking forward, we need to build a warrioreth ohs similar to the other war fighting domains. cyber warriors will be in constant contact with our adversaries. there are no operational pauses or sanctuaries. we must ensure sufficient capability and capacity. people, technology and infrastructure. which we are decisively focused on now. through persistent presence we build a team of partners that enable us and them to act more effectively complex and rapid pace of change in this environment requires us to leverage cyberexpertise brewedly across public and private
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sectors, academicia and industry. therefore, we are prepared to increase effectiveness and capabilities through persistent innovation across the partnerships. cyber-defense is a team effort. critical teammates such as the national guard and reserve are integral parts of force they provide strategic depth and provide the nation of a reserve capacity of capable cyber warriors. finally, improving readiness continues to be a focus area. i work with the services and department to accurately measure and maintain readiness, manning training and equipping and certainly ability to perform the mission. after a year of change and progress, we see 2019 as the year of opportunity. we have much work ahead as cyber, matures. trusture america and the you place in them and with your support they will accomplish the tasks our nation expects. thank you for inviting me on behalf of u.s. cybercommand and continued support. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, general nakasone.
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first of all, i think we've all pretty much zoiddecided in commission, the national defense strategy commission, is kind of the blueprint that we are using in in committee to start this off. let me address the two-levels of threats that we're talking about, first of course the level of threat would be the peer competition that we have out there. then the terrorists element that's out there. it's very alive today. so, starting off with maybe a response from both generals on the first one. so, -- socom and cybercom most effectively support our efforts against china and russia? and talk a little bit about any deficiencies in terms of resources that you would be suffering in order to carry out these goals. general thomas? >> chairman, you highlighted at the outset the challenges to
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maintain the focus on the counterviolent extremist effort while shifting to the focus of the national defense strategy. i would tell you that it's burdensome in terms of resources but something that we can and will manage going forward. i'm lucky on two accounts. one, my predecessors focused on russia and china as emerging threats before the national defense strategy and already committed resources to that effort. so, i appreciate the investment that preceded me. i also appreciate some new authorities that have developed in this house, which enabled us to approach the problem differently, but similarly to the way that we approached the counterterrorism problem. so resource that is enable some unique, unorthodox approaches to peer competitors, especially in that space that we call competition short of conflict. the big arm wave, but arguably the most important phase of deterrence. >> yes, thank you.
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general nakasone. >> chairman, i would offer in terms of our ability for near peer or peer competitors, our most important thing right now would be to enable our partners, whether or not they're joint force commander in cyberspace or partners are other members of the interagency. our work with the department of homeland security and the federal bureau of investigation is an example i think of the enabling aspect that we will do against near peer competitors. >> yeah. >> i would also offer that the fy 19 national defense authorization act was critical for us as u.s. cybercommand. it gave us capabilities and authorities that were important for us as we looked to further enable. that included the ability for us to rapidly deploy elements of our force to the department of homeland security. the ability for us to look at networks that are not part of the department of defense network. and the other piece of it that was critical is, as ranking member reed mentioned, is the
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idea of cyber as a traditional military activity. i think those are areas that are going to help us immensely with near peer competitors. in terms of our shortfalls and challenges, the areas we are focused on is continuing to ensure that the force that has been built, the force that is ready, the force that will operate has the required infrastructure, the sensors, the locations, the capabilities to address the number of different threats to our nation. >> i appreciate that. i'm going to read a quote from dan coates and ask for a response, secretary west and general thomas. he said, "isis still commands us -- commands thousands of fightners iraq and syria and maintains eight branches more than a dozen networks and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world and will exploit any reduction in ct pressure to rebuild key capabilities, such as media production and external operations." do you agree with that?
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let's start with you, mr. secretary. >> mr. chairman, i do. >> um-hum. general thomas? >> i do, but i would add in context, we have crushed the physical caliphate, the terrain they formerly maintain add sanctuary drew resources specifically oil resources has been badly diminished. but any continue to be a threat. process and i agree with the scope of the assessment as provided by the dni. well, and you know we get a variety of reports in terms of the effectiveness of the various isis, al qaeda, terrorist operations. yes we want to make sure everyone understands the peer competitors are important but so is the other. >> thank you major macaulay for
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your services we recognize non-commissioned officers the service the back bone i think the winning edge that we have. so, thank you. secretary west and general thomas, if you could elaborate on the challenges that still face you in implementing 922 , that would be very helpful to us and if anything we can do to help make 922 the whole issue of creating a service-like sector under the ads so secretary west, please. >> thank you, senator reed. well, and i 22 certainly reinvigorated our relationship. -- 922 certainly reinvigorated our relationship. but it's also very timely. because our basic task is to help institutionalize ussocom within the joint force and the pentagon while keeping unique attributes. but it has come along simultaneously with the national defense strategy.
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and so this year, general thomas and i have co-signed four separate letters, one of which was to align socom's fiscal strategy to achieve the nds. this body has been very supportive. i think we are very adequately supported. i think the task is really left up to us to slowly build the business and achieve our object -- objective. >> thank you. general thomas, your comments. the outset the owen referred to me as his teammate, which i appreciate because technically, he is my boss. in legislation, as you know affected by the last year and with one of my hats on as for the man training and equipped and responsibilities, he literally in the chain of command and we have braced that going in which i think that integrates with the department more optimally.
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and so the conceptually we've certainly been able to drive the relationship i think to a much more enlightened level. i think asd so/lic provides a critical function for us for interrogation with the department and it's been a pleasure working with owen as we developed out what we think the intent was. thank you high pressure thp thank you general nakasone thank you for your service and your great efforts with respect to the last election and looking forward to the next one. one of the areas is social media. and we have talked about it and we've talked about it also -- you've talked about it with the intelligence committee. there were two independent reports commissioned by the senate intelligence committee that looked at social media, not just particular platforms, but the cross-movement of information on the platforms. do you think it would be helpful having studies like this for your use? and should we contemplate trying to provide you the authority to do that? >> so certainly, senator, what we found with those reports is it provided a window on the adversary that we hadn't seen. as you know, our focus on intelligence is outside the united states.
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we're on foreign intelligence, so we were able to capture. but having the reports done in terms of what was done within the united states, very, very helpful in terms of being able to understand exactly what our adversary was trying to do to build dissent within our nation. >> so, if we can somehow institutionalize that maybe the proper format might be through the intelligence committee, but the reports are useful to you and complement your direct activities. >> those reports certainly provided a window on the adversary that was very telling. >> in one of the issues that came into context in social media is that the issue -- will they voluntarily take steps appropriate and necessary? no. my understanding is that they do take down sites that have been identified. but i also don't think they identify to the consumer that these sites were either fraudulent or malign. is it something that they should be doing, in your view? >> so, senator, what we were
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able to do was declassify information about our adversaries and pass that through the national security agency to the federal bureau of investigation. the fbi specifically worked with those social media companies, and so i would defer to the bureau in terms of their ability to do what you stated there. >> fine. again, gentleman, thank you for your service. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general thomas, thank you for your service to this country and congratulations on your retirement. general nakasone, thank you for your service to the country, as well. over the years, many have talked about deterring adversaries in cyberspace and the broader question of cyberdeterrence is often compared to nuclear deterrence. i've said this before. i don't think that's a good comparison at all. you made a similar point in a recent article where you argued that deterrence in cyberspace results from the employment of cybercapabilities, not the threat of employing them.
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something you described describe as persistent engagement. you mentioned earlier that this committee and the white house have provided cybercom with additional authority in the past year. can you tell us what impact the changes have had? >> senator, a year ago i appeared before this committee for my confirmation hearings. in that year, let me just trace , i think, the major elements that have helped our command be able to be more effective. first of all, a national strategy on cyberspace, a department charity on cyber posture review. the key piece i would offer is the fy 19 national defense authorization act. that recognized cyberas a -- of cyber as a traditional military activity that provided us the blin of being able to operate outside of our department networks. and the idea that we would enable other elements of our interagency. tremendously helpful.
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and then i would say the last piece is the work of the president to bring a new policy to bear in terms of how we operated offensively in cyberspace. have you been able -- in cyberspace. >> have you been able to put your theory of persistent engagement into action? >> senator, we have. our number one priority was the defense of the midterm elections. we utilized all of the capabilities, the strategies, and our new operational concept persistent engagement to ensure a secure and safe election. i -- election. >> i appreciate your classified briefing on that the other day. i think it was very helpful for members to hear that. is it your view that imposing costs on adversaries through persistent engagement. is that going to have a deterrence effect? and can you -- or do you think there is any connection between a cyberdeterrent and also a nuclear deterrent? i saw you shake your head when i mentioned that in my opening to your question. senator, i would -- to your question. >> senator, i would offer that
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my view on nuclear deterrence is much different than on the idea of cyberengagement and being able to prevent our adversaries from accomplishing their goals. as i mentioned, in nuclear did -- in nuclear deterrence, the power that a nation state has is through the threat of the use of the weapons. what we're seeing in cyberspace is our adversaries are operating below a level of armed conflict every singledy. to steal our intellectual property, leverage our personally identifiable information, challenge our institutions. and this is where i believe being able to operate either to enable other elements of the interagency or operate outside of our national borders against our adversaries is important. i -- is important. >> i would say from your and you canu, correct me on this -- but that you don't believe then that cyber is a substitution for the
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deterrence we achieve through the nuclear enterprise. >> so i believe that cyber is overall one element that our nation is going to use to achieve deterrent effects against adversaries. but there are other elements, other powers of our nation that will also bear on adversaries that attempt to operate below the level of armed conflict. >> last year i discussed the adequacy of the size of the cyber mission force with your predecessor, and he testified that, quote, "we're probably going to need some level of additional capacity over time. and that's something i'll be talking to my successor about. i think that it's going to be a key thing for him during his time in command." so how adequate do you believe the size of the force is compared to the threat that we are seeing today? and how do you measure force adequacy? >> senator, we are looking at as we measure our rrdness against what we -- we consider a number of different adversaries both near peer and rogue states, we
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believe that the teams that we have created right now is the building block for that. we are also, as you know, building a series of defensive teams in the army reserve and the national guard that are going to be a strategic depth for us. my sense as we continue to operate more as our dears continue couldn't to brof dma that there will be requirements that will probably be outside the 133 teams we have right now. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you, very much mr. chairman. general thomas, when we had the new overall defense and national security strategy that put more focus on near peer competitors or peer competitors. there was an implicit hydraulic effect that efforts were going up on the conventional peer competitor and down on c.t. do you see any reduction in the
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c.t. threat around the world or should it be -- the hydraulic effect, it seems to me, is not a good idea. because we maybe feel good today, but the c.t. threat is still there, is it not? >> senator, i think the c.t. threat is in the throes of transformation. as i mentioned this time last year, we had just taken raqqa at the capital of the caliphate but had substantial maneuver operations and challenges to push through to the destruction of the defeat of the physical, caliphate was much closer now. somebody played it out tom if you wanted to put a grasp on in physical terms it's twice the size of the base i'm stationed mcdeal air force base tiny. down to last dozens of square kilometers. >> the c.t. threat in between
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2001 and 2010 wasn't measured in territory, measured in terrorist threat. that's still there isn't it. >> well and you're correct. i would offer that in our efforts to defeat isis, we have considerably diminished their ability to export the threat to the united states and to our western axis in the throes of in transformation right now they still have very dangerous. and i could highlight the specific groups that we consider to be external threats to the united states and are truly the kind of focus. >> and there is a growing c.t. threat in afghanistan. is that right? >> i wouldn't label it as growing. in fact, we made huge progress against isis, which is the primary threat in afghanistan. i would offer more regional instability in afghanistan but not external threats. thank -- threats. >> thank you. general nakasone, you've
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described the progress that you have made in this year. i'm on my way from here to a hearing on the security of the electric grid and the energy and natural resources exit. and it seems to me a classic case of cross jurisdiction. and if you could describe your replace of cybercom and nsa to fbi, dhs, utilities, how do we be sure what you know and are able to do is protecting us because you don't have jurisdiction within the united states? >> senator, for the energy sector, the lead for the securing of that critical infrastructure is the department of homeland security. they work very, very closely with the sector specific lead, which is the department of energy. where we tie in is we tie in on the u.s. cybercommand side, providing enabling support to the department of energy and the department of homeland security if requested. right now what we are doing is sharing information, sharing information very clearly about what we know about foreign adversaries that may be attempting to get -- >> do you share that information
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with the utilities? >> we share that with the department of homeland security and specifically the department of energy. >> let me ask about structure. sharing of information, is there a regular structure? is there an organizational chart of these relationships where you meet regularly? or is it sort of ad hoc? >> we have put into place within the department of defense a path finder program to look at this element. and so we've established a regular meeting with the secretary of security agent the department of energy working with them and the dp much homeland security to share the information regularly. >> and finally, you talked with senator fischer somewhat about deterrence. and you're talking about a persistent engagement, which is in effect telling the enemy, we're there. engagementheory of -- i think you used the term engagement pressure and innovation. is that intended and will it change an adversary's calculus
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when they come to decide whether to launch an cyber-attack on the electric grid or financial system or elections? >> senator, we think it will. through two different means, one is through building resilience in terms of what we are able to provide to our partners and their knowledge of our adversaries. but two, also imposing a cost on the adversary. that's -- that's -- the adversary. >> that's what i want to hear about. >> yes, the ability to the identify where they operate from, the tools they are using, to be able to provide that the cost that the adversary has to think twice in terms of can any conduct and exploit -- an exploitation or attack against our critical infrastructure. >> the calculus is if they can do it. but shouldn't the calculus be if they do it, they will be responded to in a forceful way? >> that comes with cyberand all -- cyber and all the elements of
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our nation that can be brought to bear on the adversary. >> i think that's important. it doesn't have to be cyberfor cyberit can be other elements much national power. thank you, general. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. chairman. assistant secretary west, many of us on the committee are working through the president anticipates decision to withdraw forepersons from syria. it's appears a fair amount of work to be done there. i'd like to know from your perspective and sof perspective how would you characterize victory in syria, what does that look like and what do you need to get there? >> excuse me, sorry about that. sir, i'd be cautious to use the word victory but it's important not to diminish what has happened there.
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as general thomas said, the physical caliphate did at one time attract over 40,000 foreign fighters into that territory from 100 different countries. they can no longer do that. but this will be a very long war. isis is quite expansive in terms of its global territory. but it now becomes of an insurgency. >> general thomas, let me ask you the same question. what does winning look like in syria? have we won? are we satisfied with where we are in terms of sof's mission there and what you feel that you have been tasked to accomplish? >> senator, again, i'd be hesitant to use the term winning . the reasonable objective to reduce the threat in the area and maintain persistent capability so that an external threat can't emanate from the area in the future. having said that, this is the most complex battle space i've experienced in 40 years. my recent trip there had our forces operating in and around syrian regime forces, russian forces, turks and surrogates,
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iranian revolutionary guard forces, lebanese hezbollah and isis. i think the objective is to reduce the threat and be able to maintain some sort of sustainable security there. >> just on the point about reaching a point where the external threat can't emanate from the region, are you satisfied, general, that we're at that point? we're at an external threat can't emanate from syria. i do -- from syria. >> i don't think we're there yet. we are on the verge of dpishing the threat and then in the process of determining what the residual capability needs to remain in place in the region to ensure that we are securing that objective. >> let me ask you, general, about recruiting and retention. you talk about in in your prepared testimony. you talk a lot about the significant strain on sof over the doubling of the size of the force, and the significant deployment demands.
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tell me about where you think we are in terms of recruitment retention, what additional tools or help that you need to make sure that your forces is ready, is rested, is healthy, and is getting everything they need to be able to do the significant and demanding and dangerous work we asked them to do. >> senator, over the years, we have aspired to grow the special operations force that the nation needs, but have not dropped standards at all. so it's a little bit of catch 22 here. you know, part of our mantra is you can't create this in a hurry and people are the most important asset. >> we have had challenges of late and i attribute to a number of causes as much the downsizing of the army for recruiting special forces. but there are some very good initiatives in place to rectify that and try and address our recruiting shortcomings. i think we're trending in the right direction, but it has been
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challenging the last year or two in terms of getting the numbers in that we would like to have. but cognizant of the fact we won't drop standards. >> is it your sense general -- i'll put the same question to you, secretary west. but general, is it your sense under the nds and reprioritization of great power conflict that demands on sof will be the same, will increase? i mean, what's your sense of as you think about your pos touring -- your posturing and your needs under the nds? what do you see the demands for the forces that you command? >> i think that departmentwide, we all can take away the nds highlights there is not a respite in terms of national security challenges. we've had an 18-year ongoing struggle, longest in the history of the united states. that has not come to a conclusion yet so we have some work left to do there. we have had the reemergence of peer competitors as a priority a , and existential threat and
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clearly a focus for the department. that's across the department. i get good guidance from the department in terms of where they want me in terms of prosecutor priorities and affects as part of the joint force. as a global combatant command that provides forces to the six agree javanka demands this is our daily challenge but one we embrace. >> thank you. very good. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hawley. senator duckworth. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you so much for being here today. you're the you operate in is not just one geographic areas but also the environments around the world the men and women you lead the heroism is battle is not fully understood by the american public. i'm grateful for the opportunity to hear about the challenges you face. so i'd like to take this opportunity to thank general thomas for his 38 years of
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service. as you come to the end of your time in uniform, i wish you the best of luck on your next phase of your career. since the committee began hearing testimony from military leadership in this year, much of the conversation has been ensuring our forces are legislatele and agile so that they provide a credible deterrent reducing the probability of armed conflict with peer adversaries yet special operations and cyber forces are uniquely tailored and achieve effects against the adverse adversaries in a variety of situations that are just short of war itself. could each of you briefly discuss conceptually how special operations and cyber forces can exact a toll short of armed conflicts and what kind of restructuring with the special operations and cyber communities will they need to do in order to dominate these gray space conflicts? >> thank you, senator. certainly, you're correct in the nature of war doesn't change but its character has changed
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radically in the last 15 years. i'll take general nakasone take on the cyber portion. in terms of special operations tactics where sof traditionally thrives, we see the nechl employee these. i'll let general thomas talk specifics on provisions. but when we talk about competition short of armed conflict, dealing with partner nations, problems that need to be quickly solved and agilely solved in a cheap manner, you're really talking about sof. there is a real role that general thomas will be able to describe it. >> thanks, senator, and thanks for your service, as well. senator, we're actually very excited about the opportunity that the nds and the specific subject of competition short of conflict offers for us. and in conjunction with paul and others, in terms of winning that critical phase. and winning, in that case is not -- we don't think it's a defeat as the moniker implies.
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it really ensures that our united states policies abobjectives are pursued and successful. we think it's a combination of information operations, influence operations, partner capacity, cyber operations in conjunction with paul, the whole array of sometimes described non- kinetic activities that we -- that really are an art form that we are excited about employing in the future and hope to play a substantial role there. >> thank you. general nakasone, on tuesday, admiral davidson highlighted to this committee the need to enhance the cyber defense of our logistical networks, which touched the commercial industry that we help contract for support both in the u.s. and overseas. can you provide examples of what might be affected and how we might be able to harden the network when it comes to organizations such as transcom? you know, we have this long, logistical tail that must support our forces no matter
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where they operate from. they are vulnerable and we overlook the organizations. and how does that transcom fit into the priority for cyber security? >> senator, general lions and i have not only had discussion in transportation command, but i've been out to visit him. we see the ability for us to project our strategic elements in the world as being something that's uniquely suited for our nation and a tremendous capacity. what we are doing at u.s. cybercommand is ensuring that we understand the networks that he has to operate on, the platforms that he is utilizing and most importantly, the data. because it's data that we want to make sure we can secure. the challenges you point out is making sure that we have enabled our partners -- and these partners are oftentimes private sector partners that we work with the department of homeland security and other sectors to ensure they have the information upon which they understand the threats to them and they can build more resilient networks and protect their own data. >> thank you, general.
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i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator duckworth. senator cotton. >> thank you, gentlemen for your appearance here today. generals thomas, let's start with syria. we talked a little bit about state of the fight there and the great advances our troops have made, a little bit about what will happen when our troops dprt -- depart syria. one thing that's been on my mind is all the bad guys currently being detained in syria. some of your colleagues have testified before the committee that that number would go into the hundreds. we don't have to be more specific here in that setting. they've also testified that while some of those detainees are front line untrained canon fodder, some are also external operation plotters and master bomb makers and other really bad guys. is that your understanding as well? >> senator, without getting into
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specifics on the number, it's actually closer to a thousand than it is hundreds. already in detention with more to potentially come. a huge area of concern for us especially because they're being maintained by the non-nation state that's otherwise known as the syrian exactic forces. how we resolve this foreign fighter, mostly foreign fighter detentions from, i think i lost count, but it's in the dozens of countries that have contributed to it. but how we reduce that threat and have the people properly detained and handled over time of is par mount importance for the problem. how are we going to do this or that? pretty aggressive action ongoing with state department and with other partner nations to specifically reduce that threat. i'll give kudos to some countries a surprising number of countries who recently stepped up some smaller countries that had capacity challenges but that have nonetheless assumed the burden, started to assume the burden and we with state
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department primarily are trying to assist them in reducing this problem. >> i know it's not in your area of operations but we have empty beds of guantanamo bay, don't we? >> we do. >> maybe we should consider that for some really bad guys in syria. while we are talking about syria let's contrast syria and afghanistan. or specifically afghanistan sam or some other places where we have a serious terrorist threat . said we will have troops in iraq for a while because we need to to watch the threat of iran and counterterrorism. that's next to syria places like yemen and somalia we have freedom of action on seas for troopers. contrast the ct mission in afghanistan which i think is 800 orp 900 miles from the nearest sea and the challenge that we would face there if we significantly drew down our troop presence in the conventional forces for your forces in special operations. >> thanks, senator. truthfully, we look in a global
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context. and as senator king pursued earlier, the external threats adversaries have been cigarettely diminished and we are focused on them specifically. there is a larger counterinsurgency effort that is into its 18th year, but with a specific focus to potter ambassador khalilzad's effort to drive that to reconciliation. so, you know, a distinctly different, as you mentioned, problem. but correlated in terms of the global threat and the conduct -- conductivity. >> hard to get after the terrorist organizations in afghanistan to are troops if we didn't have a physical presence in afghanistan. isn't that right? >> access and placement are key. something you can't establish in a hurry necessarily if you leave it. i probably failed to answer senator king's question earlier. the way we look at the current context is very similar to 2011. so the recent annual assessment we did reflects one al qaeda and
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iraq was badly down, but not out , we pulled out of iraq at that point we know in less than two years time they were isis running the deck through anbar. how we finish that threat or at least contain it going forward is of critical concern. troopswatch true of our is true of enemy forces, as well. it helps them to have a safe, secure physical base from which they can carefully plot attacks outside of that base? >> yes, senator any thrive on sanctuary and actively seeking sanctuary right now if they lose the toe hold in syria and other places. >> general nakasone, quick question about the 5g network? what is the status of your conversations with counterparts around the world that chinese companies like white way enzi te zte posted hours?
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-- pose to ours? >> for fifth generation wireless on u.s. cyber and we have certainly talked with our partners and our allies with that. in terms of the director of national security agency of which i am -- we have also worked that through the department of state as they have made engagements with our allies throughout the world. >> thank you. my time expired. general thomas, i don't think you'll be appearing here before us again. you're smiling at that i can tell. i want to thank you and thank you your wife barbara for many years of carrying the ruck sack of responsibility for our nation. you have earned the opportunity and privilege to pass it on to the next man. >> thank you, senator cotton. senator kane. >> thanks mr. chair and thanks to all of you general thomas i offer my congratulations as well. i want to ask you a question and the others may want to comment too about an important aspect of our military operations which is building partner capacity. as i've traveled in armed service codeles, i've been often been struck positively by
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the response of our allies to the partner capacity we work we do with them all over the globe. there's a crs study, congressional research study in 2016, that analyzed about 20 instances of building partner capacity and their conclusion was gnat results are sort of mixed in terms of effect. i've always viewed the partner capacity issues, whether we're doing work in the field and other nations or whether bringing foreign military leaders here to go to the army war college, or other institutions as it's great to build strong relationships. you build them with young officers and later they might be a minister of defense or prime minister or president. but as you are finishing your time, your lengthy career, what are the sort of metrics we should be looking at in the building partner capacity investments we make through dod to see whether they're successful or not? just share kind of lessons learned on that, please. >> thanks, senator.
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great question. i guess my first point of reflection is how drastically different the approach to partner capacity and really partners is from when i first started. had very little to any contact points, established relationships were checkered. often when countries were deemed to behave badly, the first point of separation was to separate imet schooling and things like that. great difficulty to keep them close and work the capacity if you don't have the point of contact. over the years, the establishment and expansion of our contacts and true partners has been extraordinary. i tell our younger officers, you in a period of time of international recommendations and partners that i didn't grow up in. please don't lose sight of the potential. to your point on success, though, it is -- you know we
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should assess constantly how worthwhile what's the return on investment for the various efforts? again, i think the report card is better than probably the american public knows. and it's both with established nations, you know, and the russia threats is a good case in point. we've had persistent presence in every country in the european land mass with russia for the last five to six years and are thriving there. but even with untraditional partners, i reflect back on the syrian defense democratic forces , which started, as you know, seed corn of a couple of hundred is now 60,000 strong has done most of the fighting and dying in syria in in support of theest. rmts lost hundreds of thousands of people an extraordinary force cobbled together through a partnering effort. i'm more inclined to see the potency and results than unfortunate shortcomings. >> secretary west. >> senator, the national defense strategy requires us to answer this question. >> secretary mattis says by with and through any time he was with by with and through other
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nations i heard him say that many times i know that's an important part of the strategy. >> since there must be resource allocation, we must look at number one the nature of the threat, local forces who do not demonstrate intent or capability do not deserve the same resource allocation as do those enemies with the capability and the public declaration they will strike us. number two, as general thomas said, what are the odds of success of training this force? how long will it take? and how well connected are they to the people and to the government? >> general nakasone, how about the cyberrealm? talk about the partner capacity activities and engagement with them. >> i would add to the importance of building partnerships as our national defense strategy , as indicated. my perspective in terms of what i've seen in the cyberspace campaign is it provides three critical elements. first of all, intelligence we may or may not have by ourselves.
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secondly, capability that our nation may or may not have. third thing, unique placements around the world that's critical for us giving us greater reach as a nation. >> i will follow up with this in other hearings as well because i think it's important. it is a significant investment. it's a part of the dod budget not massive but has massive up side if we do it right and make sure we analyze the in metrics correctly i'm asking a question general nakasone for you but let me preface. i'm on the health education labor committee. we are reauthorizing the higher education act this year. part of that is analyzing workforce and skills gaps. public service loan forgiveness and other things to fill gaps . one area we look at is cyber professionals, whether in the dod side of the house. dhs side of the house or in the private sector. so the question i'll ask is if you have any suggestions for us as we work on higher education reauthorization programs you think are successful to enable us to train and recruit and
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retain the cyber professionals that we need. i'll ask that question for the record. >> thank you, senator. >> thanks, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator. senator rounds. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you for your service. general thomas, we appreciate all of the hard work you put in and our service to our country. i'm curious with regard to the middle east, we have talked a lot about syria and the challenges that we have there. what about with regard to iraq at this point? i know we talked about the fact that we're going to have forces remaining in iraq in the near future. the president indicated that there is the capability to be able to move back into the syrian areas. but within iraq itself, what is the current state of play with regard to isis, specifically within northern iraq?
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>> senator, i would offer that with our iraqi partners, and they have embraced the sofrp -- sovereign responsibility in terms of defend and prant we maintain persistent pressure on isis in terms where they were and where they have resurgent pressure. it continues to be a work in progress, but it's borne primarily through the iraqi forces who we have rekindled our relationship with. >> do you see evidence of their activity in northern iraq with regard to any incidences they appear to be responsible for? >> in terms of the iraqi forces, sir? >> in terms of isis impacts within northern iraq? are you seeing evidences of where any try to impact local communities, and so forth? >> they are attempting to make a resurgence in various locations. but again, i believe our forces with the iraqis very aware of where they are and addressing them accordingly. >> thank you.
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thank you. general nakasone, i appreciate the way in which you laid out today, a little bit about the activity that the men and women of cyber calm within the associated forces with the nsa and so forth, work very hard with regard to the previous election, the 2018 election. would it be fair to say that it is not a coincidence that this election went off without a hitch and the fact that you were actively involved in the protection of this very important infrastructure that we value? >> senator, the security of the midterm election was the number one priority at u.s. cybercommand and the national security agency. >> would it be fair to suggest that one of the bigger challenges you have in being able to share the story of just exactly what occurs is the fact that, in the future, there are
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every time -- can you share a bit about what the tools are and the need to protect the tools, the systems and the process that are used in order to protect an election as an example and the different types of threats that you see and that have to defend against? could you share a little bit about that? >> senator, as part of a whole of government effort, we were looking at three different areas. we were looking to ensure that we prevented interference in the election. secondly was to disrupt any attempts by adversaries to influence that election. and thirdly, to impose cost on any adversary that decided that they would attempt to interfere with our democratic processes. >> would it be fair to say there's been clear evidence in the past -- we've seen with regard to russia and in the past they've done propaganda. they've attempted to manipulate the american public. they tried to pit one side against the other and so forth. in this particular case, would it be fair to say that russia has in the past, noticed a
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capability in the cyber realm to use internet activities, social media and so forth as a way to do exactly the same thing with more sfisks than perhaps in the past? >> senators, the russians are very sophisticated adversary in using influence operations you described. >> would to be fair also to say that there have been concerns in the past and that the cyber com has worked very hard to make sure that the elections that have been held in the united states have not been impacted directly in terms of vote counts or anything like that? >> certainly, senator, again, working as part of a broad government team, that was our focus. and i give great credit to the department of homeland security, the federal bureau of investigation, and other elements of our government to work towards this. this was a team effort. >> very good. thank you. sometimes when we talk about the items, we talk about in terms of being able to impact social media, to be able to impact and
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make sure that folks outside of the united states coming in are not able to influence public opinion by perpetrating misinformation. but there's another piece of in -- of this, as well, and that's to actually be able to defend and protect the infrastructure, the physical infrastructure within the united states. while i'm on it now, would you explain to the public that there is more to it than just simply stopping bad tweets from going out. it is a matter of actually protecting critical infrastructure has a an impact on day to day lives of american citizens. senators one of the -- american citizens. >> senators, one of the things within our mission is certainly to protect that critical infrastructure in defense of the united states. you accurately portray obviously both the opportunity and the challenge that we have at our command in doing that. i would also offer that one of the things that is so important here are the partnerships that you formed. and if there is anything i learned over the past several months, these partnerships give us the real strength in being
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able to do that. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you senator rounds. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all for being here today and for your service to our nation. general nakasone, i was grateful to have the briefing that we did, classified briefing very recently, which i think was very illuminating as to the continued threats to our nation as a result of cyber, particularly meddling and interference with our elections. the threat from russia continues unabated. can you say that in public here today? >> senator, russia certainly provides a very sophisticated threat to our nation, and one that they have done over several years. >> and that threat ought to continue to concern the american people, shouldn't it? >> yes, senator, it should. >> and i said in that briefing
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-- and i've said it in newsroom -- numerous such classified briefings, that really, i wished that the american people could have heard more of what you told us. in a sense, the enemies know what they're doing. we know what they're doing to some extent. they know we know what they're doing. the only ones in the dark really are the american people. and as we enter this next election cycle, would you agree that we ought to do everything we can to make the american people aware of that threat? >> senator, we will at cyber command commit to working that. i think your point is a very important one. being able to educate the public is critical for us. the success that we had 2018, more of our nation should know
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about. >> and it was success. i think very few of the american public know about the successes. they assumed that the meddling and interference in our election system, when it occurs, simply is undeterred or unstopped. and i think, again, without going into any of the details, there are some successes that the american people should know happened. but at the same time, should know that the threats do continue, not only from the russians -- but let me ask you, whether you've seen any indication that china has sought to conduct activities similar to what we've seen in russia in
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2016 and 2018? senator, given the forum we're in today i would offer to broadly state what we see is that oh our adversaries understand how to operate again below the level of armed conflict and are taking broad lessons learned upon which they will attempt to impact our nation. >> and would you agree that the american people should know about threats, not only from russia, but other countries as well? because the tools and means and techniques are highly asymmetric, that is, they don't need to invest tens of billions of dollars to disrupt our election system. some of it is available with very little such investment. i -- very little such investment. >> i agree, senator. >> general thomas, and mr. secretary, i know we have been over this issue to some extent.
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but i just want to be clear. from your standpoint, moving special operators from syria to iraq. in other words, withdrawing from syria and moving those forces to iraq, could you say again what the impact is on our operational capability. >> senator, obviously it's easier to do our job with access and placement and proximity. and we've thrived on that being with the syrian democratic forces and enabling them to do the heavy heft lifting i described earlier. it'll certainly be harder to not have that proximity, make it it more challenging, but we're working on alternate solutions to maintain some contact and some level of support for them. >> would you agree, mr. secretary that it will make it harder but you're driving to
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overcome the challenges? >> militarily, it's more difficult, sir. but we can remotely assist and advise. and if special operations does anything, in agile force has already adapted. thank you, mr. -- adapted. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator, i would add -- i would point out too that's how we started the was we were for the in first the firstier i was in a command responsible for that and we did everything external to establish the force and provide contact. >> but there was a reason why you went into syria, which is that it enhanced your operational capability, correct. and it got us the return on investment. they maneuvered and destroyed the caliphate -- on the verge of destroying the caliphate that's the subsequent. >> thank you. thank you senator blumenthal.
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senator purdue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, gentlemen for appearing today. china, its public information they are trying to build a navy of about 425 ships within the next decade or so. and they're accelerating that it's been reported in just december that chinese hackers have been breaching naech contractors to steal pretty much everything from maintenance data to missile plans. particularly egregious report kim out later that one breach -- came out later that one breach was about a supersonic anti-ship missile that we were building for our nuclear submarine force. if they're successful, by 2030, they'll have a navy about 100 ships bigger than our navy has today. and the problem is right now that they're accelerating that development through hacking not the navy network of information but our contractor network of information. so general nakszen, how do you operate with our contractors? should this data be kept on dod networks? how do you interface with the fbi when we get into the commercial entities out there that seem to be less protected than our military networks? >> senator, the example that you cited there is one that drives
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the department and we're working with the department as a lead agent to ensure that contracts are written right. that ensure that our clear defense contractors understand the standards that have to be met, that we test the standards, working with the services, ensuring that there are proper safeguards in place that will guarantee that the information that they have that's critical for our nation is safe guarded better. >> are you optimistic you have everything you need from an organizational standpoint, funding and so forth, to help accomplish that? >> senator, i'm optimistic if i don't have what i need i'm coming back rapidly to ask for it. >> yes, sir, you've done a good job of that. let me move to the organization. right now, in august of 2017, it
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was announced that the cybercommand would be elevated to a unified command, if i'm correct. today we operate operating in a dual hat structure and it's been reported one of the reasons we have a dual hat responsibility is there is a concern about the lack of intelligence in a separate unified command versus nsa. you're still getting a lot of your intelligence through the nsa. how do you equate this relative to the long-term plan of having a unified command? does that mean we'll have a duplicate capability in terms of intelligence in the cyber command and nsa or will there always be a close relationship between the two? >> senator, the decision on the dual hat remains with the secretary. i've commented during my first 90 days i provided my thoughts on it. whatever the ultimate decision is, there will be a close partnership between nsa and cyber command. and so, that's where i see it right now, senator. >> thank you. general thomas, first of all, thank you for the leadership. you're at the tip of the spear. when we have continuing resolutions, how does it affect your operation in the field? i mean, you've been at war for 17 years. your troops.
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and i've been around some of your troops around the world, and i would have to say the best and very best of what we have in america is in your uniform. but when we do a continuing resolution here in congress, i get the feeling that it really impacts you guys pretty directly, is that true? >> senator, that's an accurate statement. it's disruptive in terms of programming and normal operations. >> can you just describe just a couple of anecdotal examples of how that really impacts training, refitting, rotations, all of the above? >> sir, i'd be inclined because it's usually played to me, the biggest impact is in the prescription for new starts. inside a fiscal year, the aspect of a continuing resolution inhibits our agility to actually adjust to the problems. it's a fluid and dynamic environment that we live in. more broadly, it's the aspect that we're stuck in a proceeding paradigm and not able to move on to the new better ways of
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general thomas i want to echo my colleagues' comments about your toried career and 75th ranger regiment in georgia. thank you. >> i want to pick up on senator how e's questions of vulnerable we are to third party products and software. this is for you, general nakasone. there was a provision that would prohibit the use of products and services is or produced by kasperski lab and required a report to spot and address risks. can you tell me what the status
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those products and third party contracts what is the status of the report on what risks might still be there? >> i know we have connected the that to the hame take record so i have an accurate the nse to both parts of question. >> i want to pick up on the uestions about syria and detainees. theof them are suspected in .urders of four americans i don't know if you have any thing that you can tell us about their status is and what the potential is to make sure the can be brought back to united states to be tried for their crimes. ertainly that is what the families of those murdered americans would like to see
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happen. don't have an update on the status but i had for youry appreciation personal interest. your visit there and very that e commentary after happened focus the world on the roblem and spfrpl on the u.s. -- specifically on the u.s. problem. know it is in the heal wrangling of considering how we cases of that. john west will take that. thomas, i want to go back to the question of how confident that, given the stimates on the until of isis sig ighters who have gone underground and could be operating in other areas that we can contain that threat if we no
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operations in syria. >> this has been one of the most complex challenges our forces tklt widealt with in quite a while. i'm concerned that we are not there are ricted and several planning efforts with a maintaining what we have gained so far to ensure hat there's no external attack capability coming out from a many just ad actors regional or local types. trying n the throes of to do the right planning to rovide that is not a shortcoming and we have a revisit to 2011 recurrence. >> how much of a threat ontinues from turkey to the syrian democratic forcesen and heir -- forces and their continued work on the ground. >> friction is an understatement
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in terms of nning our choice of a partner force. the only , it was force available and their elationship with the turkish governme government. our , i would commend senior leaders who have been that to work through friction and stay focused on the counter-isis effort. has been a challenge, but i think we are certainly turkish sovereign interests and concerns as we on isis.sed >> i appreciate that. toope we are also continuing support our good partners with us in the arena. secretary west, i understand you are the point person at d.o.d. implementing the women peace and security act. is that correct? certainly on point,
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senatorme senator. i understand we are expecting the plan going through final approvals. when we might see the final plan for how that will be implemented and any about the u have effectiveness of being able to ourement that as we look at operations around the world? >> we are certainly supporting interagency plan. lead from the o back to the front. but this establishes the united tates as the world leader in ensuring women are part of the conflict resolution and prevention process. i want to thank you personally for the appropriation because were nder advisors that installed will be penalty. as we look at continued negotiations in afghanistan i at we will see women are the table in any negotiations. thank you rb, mr. chairman.
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you, gentlemen for being here today. on behalf of the american public like to say thank you because were of the work done americanr commands the public will never know about nor will they be able to appreciate. thank you for that. general thomas, i would like to start with you. i would like to give you an open floor or a moment to reflect your time in command. there have been many innovations time in command that you brought forward for special command.s to talkhraoeulike you be able about why they have been so important and if there is nything not yet finished what you would like to see continue in your absence. you, senator. dangerous it give me an open mic. joke with contemporaries
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forces or the armed private sector the one problem e do not have in special operations command is to spur innovation. every day and t bottom up driven and the assess and to bundle the great ideas and put them in -- drive at budget considerations. i can't recountry the extraordinary -- i can't recount initiatives and i'm more it is going where in the future. the command is poised to be more elevant for the department of defense and nation in terms of and the this country best talent the country has to offer. ut with the resources that you provide and ability to do creative solutions.
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have ea that you and i discussed that was probably the i would scribe to my predecessors how we force despite the pace and relentless pace of and that is preservation of force and family. juxtaposed to our ability to care for people with the care coalition. right now i think we have 15,000 injured members serving and prior that are part the core focus, but that has terms of kable in building resilience and i give ll the credit to my predecessors who saw that need. so much for your emphasis on that. opportunityhe great to visit with a number of your and fort at fort bragg
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benning. correspoonad coronado. ot only in supporting praerts -- operators but their families because they are such an part of the equation of why you are so successful. a contested hearing this afternoon so i will save of my questions for that time period. i want to take this opportunity generals, thank you for the command structure you have provided, the listen guidance. secretary west, thanks for taking on this very challenging there with d.o.d. we know that it is an ever part of nd influencing the d.o.d. so thank you for that. and in the short time that i remaining, general thomas, i want to thank you for your time in service. and barbara my best wishes as you move on to
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retirement. earned and well deserved. you will truly be missed. you for your leadership. >> thank you, senator. we all agree with her comments. warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to add my thank you, thomas, for your work and lay-up. last year the secretary of defense will to review members armed forces or coalition partners abused or witnessed during of detainees operations in yemen. of unclassified surgery d.o.d.'s report included quote d.o.d. has determined personal been either served or treatment n cruel or of them. when i asked about this last
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based on said that was discussions and reports of people they have on the ground. thomas, is that your understanding as well? > senator, i monitored your conversation with the general and i'm in agreement. press, e associated human rights watch. amnesty and united nations have conducted their own investigations and come to a conclusion.nt they tkerltd that our -- partners that our over s oversaw detention centers that egularly engaged in for clear and abuse. -- torture and abuse. o you find those independent statements credible? >> each of those allegations is with the utmost interest them to of pouring into determine if they are factual and we have.
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outliers are of any ed -- if e on or about e e observed violations it is plan it address it or break fact ith those forces so i would reinforce that it is a high standard. >> i appreciate that. the general said exactly he was careful about what he said. any ed him did he reach conclusions about whether our detain are engaging in yes abuse when d.o.d. personnel are not present. he was not aware of that. the question i was asking, thomas, do you find these independent investigati s those four ns, investigations, credible? >> senator, i find them of sufficient interest that it has
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with topic of discussion our partners. the hard part is it is hard for kwrl confirm whether it is the subject of discussions if we can prove this evidence it could be deal breaking. i appreciate that. i know you work hard to forces to ur partner obey the laws of armed conflict. it comes to whether they engaged in because of to be a there seems disconnect on what d.o.d. understands to be true and under reports from journalists and human rights organizatio organizations. so, i remain deeply concerned about whether our partners in treating detain yeahs n ways -- detainees are treating them with the law of
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conflict. turning a blind eye is unacceptable so i'm asking questions. if i can ask one other area, i'm concerned about the foreign nowhere is that in of special veruse operations forces. i think senator reed alluded to earlier. in 2007 special operations 149 nd deployed forces to countries under your command and strikes, ched air carried out raids, trained hopegn military all in the of removing terrorists from the belt field. battlefield. -- many of them allow violent groups to instead of treating the cause symptoms.ting the week killnk awake --
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or capture our way out of this? > i definitely do not think that is the solution. >> do you think the current pace sustainable? is >> i do, senator. e had challenges of specific parts of our formation and get to the tk to rtment directive of one parallel on cycle to back home but we have gotten that back into healthy shape outliers and plan on getting them healthy. two want to say we need think harder but nonmilitary tools as well. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. thank you, mr. chairman. to each of you thank you to your service to our country.
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we appreciate it. we do wish you well and wish your family well. service.u for the i will say the senator mentioned visited.he posts she she also visited fort campbell still are a and big part of or tennessee represented that post during my time in the house with ve enjoyed working toes military families -- with those military families. challenges that are going to be necessary for warfare and general an sone, you know cyber is enormous part of that. that it has been curious to me this week as we have wo in the dustin geographic and a.o.r.'s, rs engage in itancy to
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he discussion of how our adversaries are using the cyber to their advantage, namely of course. and we have talked some about great competitive threat that is there. question to you, general your ne, do you feel like cyber command is being properly all of the other commands in those missions? >> senator, i do feel that cyber ommand is being integrated properly into the other combatant commands. an aggressiveaken approach. john thomas and i have had a thing iociation and one think we have been able to leverage is close partnership of
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do in g that what we cyber space is supporting his in what he was trying to -- previous commands. we are appreciative of the work space evard cyber operational elements in each command. this will allow us to develop and planning expertise to ensure we get to outcomes. >> let's talk about artificial a moment.ce for just i think that strategy and of -- the t has been trategy highlights a reality that we have known for some time and i want to quote from that have you respond. i'm quieting or nations -- i'm nations other particularly china and russia are making significant for mill tarn a.i.
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pum urposes including regarding international norms and human rights. failure to adopt a.i. will legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced ccess to markets that will distribute to a decline in our process part and standard of growing challenges to societies that have been built individual freedom. is a prettyopinion, sob sobering assessment. each of you agree with that assessment? the xactly how do you see a.i. strategy informing your as we move forward? >> i agree with the statement that you read, senator.
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artificial intelligence, dep learning -- something something critical at cyber command. we have seen the power at the of what security agency artificial intelligence can do for our foreign intelligence cybersecurity mission. in the is where the world is eaded in terms of innovation and capability. we as the military fighting force have to have that. thing i do take a great special is u.s. operations command has led a lot of the work in artificial integrating and early thinking into how to become a more powerful force. general thomas. >> great question, senator. e could spend several hours talking about it. i agree with the s. in terms of threat. importantly i'm enthusiastic about the opportuni opportunity. schmidt rs ago eric visited our command as part of
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the defense innovation group. he said you have tremendous people and the prototype is and you are terrible machine ble for minnesota learning. it is really reoriented our embrace that phenomenon and apply its relevance it everything we do otherwise. proven so we are taking substantial embracing applied artificial intelligence and i'm excited about where we're going future. >> thank you for that. you.hank >> thank you, mr. chairman. not being here for a lot of the hearing. -- we'd three hearings going on simultaneously. i want to thank you for the quality time in north carolina.
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i want to take a question a ifferent direction and my capacity as personnel subcommittee chair. of other members covered the landscape on the extraordinary work and i thank the briefing earlier. i got a sense of progress being ade and some of that steplgs from some of -- stems from the authority you have been granted your ank you for leadership. i want to talk more about the personnel aspect. thomas look at general job of an allenging disturbing for senate because they are going to get injured. think re do i need to about in terms of family support for the members and even in wounds of war?e what more should we look at as of the personnel subcommittee to say we
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understand the dangerous job and impact on familiar? >> senator, thanks for this question and thanks for the expressed. i would challenge the term there lies the two-on-one for us -- the opportunity to do better by our future.n the while you highlighted particular career fields that are dangerous of jumping and fast roping and things we are as good weakest link and support which is and enablers broad based but the entire we didn't focus on it reca earlier. -- i think we are more focused on that and we have come to you to resources so onal we can be more thorough in the application there. we have r the support had so far. the truth is the best comment we an get on it is the sister services are emulating what you
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allowed us to do as the way they take care of their people as well. >> something else we will be alking about but briefly speaking with senator king about progress we can make on taken steps we have take a few we can pages from your back in terms of and prototyping deployment. look forward to that in subsequent hearings. that as a e can have subject. general nakasone, you have got a calendar. you mentioned in your opening statement, you are trying to competingesources and with the private sector and the n.d.a. we made progress in etting resources from the private sector into positions. what more do we need to do? i have to believe you don't have what you need in terms of expertise. hat more would you suggest we look at as a matter of policy?
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come think that we have to back to the committee and identify those critical subsets. are people within our x ce that i call 10 or 20 type people. they are 10 or 20 times better -- people iceman that are coders and analysts. how do we keep them in our force. he services do a wonderful job recruiting. we do a good job of training them. is in retaining the very best. this is where i think categories those coming back to you to make sure career path roper and that will be helpful. about in his ked capacity on cyber and we need information sooner and the private sector i had a practice testing in cybersecurity
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resources and they are even the environment where you can pretty much pay what the market rate is so i cannot go through with retention. we have to recognize they are ot skills and you have to have the soft equivalent by cyber and we need to provide you the authority to do that. but you have to differentiate as you just said, you have to differentiate between that multiple on 0 time skills and just say we're going we have you fairly and to have the extraordinary warriors in this domain. follow up with a couple of questions for the report that are to do with and business matters so will yield back my remaining 10 seconds. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service. thomas, i want to thank you for all you have done for
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our nation. of a k i have had a bit unique opportunity to not only get to know you from this i put my ut when reserve on form on as my is like 17 levels org e where i am in the chart. you have done a great job. secretary west, i appreciate the job you are doing. unfortunately, there is a very number of harvard marines proud.u are making us general nakasone, i want to ask ou on this issue of offensive operatio operations, i know you probably ccountant talk too much -- you probably cannot talk too much but you might recall a hearing a years ago where it was admitted that after the chinese hack the o.p.m. and stole over
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forms for all our top-secret operators chug of this committee, that he openly admitted we didn't them which i nst thought was a stunning admission. me, it was part of the problem. whether north korea, iran, i of years ago china certainly, russia we were the cyber punching bag. countries can do what they retaliate. we didn't can you tell me without revealing anything tkhrfd do you -- classified do you have the authority to hit back or hit costs ofer to make the those operations against our prohibitive e more articularly for a country like north korea where i'm assuming we could drop their entire grid and internet
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system overnight if we wanted to. one year ago i appeared before the committee for my confirmation and you me.ed a similar question of i think it is important that we look at what happened within year.past a national cyber strategy signed. signed.yber strategy the defense authorization act provided us greater capability within the authority hrlaw was signed. a new presidential policy that on offensive cyber and finally our ability to have a on which we operate. all of those provide a different adversaries than a year ago. >> so can you publicly state in hearing without getting into classified information that youhave the authorities and are not unwilling to undertake offensive operations that can deter whether it is chinese sf-86ng 20 million
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ourr the russians attacking election systems? >> i have the authority i need to accomplish my mission, senator. ask secretary west and general thomas, you have taken that lead over the last and tors on the mission, me this -- there's probably no more important mission for the survival of the nation, the entire republic. ,e might have threats that rise isis or al qaeda, they might rise and fall, but as long as we have a republic, to defend the mission will be in my view the most important mission. how is it going? do you need more resources? are there any things we can do to help you with the authorities, whether it is working with allies or more
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resources to undertake the mission in terms of the leadership that you now have with regard to that mission? the opportunity to perform this mission. it is a daunting and critically important mission. we had stretched, from visiting as well as paul nakasone last week, and i would offer that his mission, and this one is connected. the level of cooperation and collaboration that we enjoy with the community of action is extraordinary. we just posted our annual seminar, and we -- this mission is set in space and continue to move in the right direction. i daresay we will probably uncover some gaps in terms of collection capabilities that we need going forward, whether it is the department of defense or other entities, but the mission
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is going well. i appreciate some of the expertise that has been brought to bear. question, the return of great power competition is spelled out in the national defense strategy. how is that aligning with regard to that mission? are we focused on them? new nds mission on the soft side? soft is perfectly well suited to take on this challenge because it is cheap and provides the nation leverage. the basic task is resource allocation. we are at capacity and demand is not shrinking. this requires a new assessment of the threat and counter terror repurpose forces. thank you. >> thank you very much chairman.
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andral net to sony, february the department of justice and homeland security ,ent a joint report to congress 2000 18 election interference. before a session of this committee yesterday. conclusion of the report was as follows, quote, there is no evidence to date that any and identified activities of a foreign government had any material impact on the integrity or security of election the 2018cture used in midterm elections. are things that you cannot get into today, but what can you tell us in this public setting, this committee and the public about whether or
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the based on what you know, department of justice and the department of homeland security were correct in saying there was no such interference? senator, i agree with what you read with regards to the report. within u.s.ay was cyber command and specifically the national security agency, we looked at all the information we had on our adversary -- adversaries. we disc -- declassified as much information as we could, and we shared it with the agencies, and they had a very good picture of what we knew about adversaries that might be trying to interfere. were the extent that there concerns that a foreign government or agent had an
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impact on the election, you concur with the public department ofthe homeland security and the department of justice that there was not such interference? >> i concur, senator. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator wicker and all of the other senators and certainly the witnesses. that was a great presentation. i appreciate it. thank you so much. we are adjourned. >> thank you. i guess i will see you at lunch. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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