Ahead Of China Trip, Urges Military Restraint In Cyberspace
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[March 29, 2014]
By David Alexsander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Defense Secretary
Chuck Hagel, pushing for openness ahead of a trip to China, said on
Friday in an unusual live broadcast from a secretive base the Pentagon
would exercise restraint in using the military in cyberspace and urged
other nations to do so as well.
In his first remarks on cybersecurity since becoming defense
secretary last year, Hagel told a retirement ceremony for Cyber
Command chief General Keith Alexander that the Pentagon sought to be
"open and transparent" about its cyber capabilities and intentions
with both allies and competitors.
"The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace," Hagel he
told an audience at Fort Meade, Maryland, the home of Cyber Command
and the NSA signals spy service. He said the United States wanted to
promote the qualities of the Internet that have made it a "catalyst
for freedom and prosperity."
"Consistent with these efforts, DoD (the Department of Defense) will
maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside of
U.S. government networks. We are urging other nations to do the
same," he said.
The speech was seen as an effort to ease strains and shape the
dialogue over cyber issues ahead of Hagel's China trip, which
follows recent reports that the NSA for years accessed the networks
of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Hagel travels to China after next week visiting Hawaii, where he
will host defense ministers from ASEAN, the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations. He then heads to Japan, China and Mongolia. The stop
in Beijing will be his first as defense secretary.
Defense officials say that while all nations spy on each other for
security purposes, behavior over the Internet has become
increasingly problematic, with some governments snooping for
commercial gain and engaging in other worrisome behavior.
"It's exactly one of the reasons that we're trying to be more
transparent about everything we do in cyberspace," a senior defense
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"We want the Chinese, just like we want our allies and others around
the world, to understand what it is we're doing in building a cyber
force at CyberCom, understand how we operate, understand the
policies we use, like the policy of restraint," the official said.
Hagel's remarks come as the Pentagon is in the process of beefing up
its force dealing with cybersecurity, expanding it from about 1,800
people today to more about 6,000 by the end of 2016.
The so-called Cyber Mission Force is divided into a large number of
teams working in three primary focus areas: major national threats
to the nation, defending Defense Department information networks and
supporting combat missions.
Officials say about 13 teams will help protect the nation from major
cyber threats, a job that is primarily handled by the Department of
Homeland Security and the FBI. Another 68 teams will protect Defense
Department information networks and 27 teams will work supporting
the combat commanders.
(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Dan Grebler)
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