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Sept. 10, 2015
Notes from the Pentagon

Mike Rogers: Cyber security danger is growing
Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, is warning the dangers of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare are increasing.

“Our nation is being challenged as never before to defend its interests and values in cyberspace,” Adm. Rogers said in a report made public this week. “Adversaries increasingly seek to magnify their impact and extend their reach through cyber exploitation, disruption and destruction.”

The four-star admiral is intent on moving quickly “to build our military capabilities” as the key element of “the nation’s war fighting arm in cyberspace,” according to the report, “Beyond the Build: Delivering Outcomes through Cyberspace.”

The Fort Meade, Maryland-based command, co-located with the National Security Agency that Adm. Rogers also directs, is integrating cyberwarfare capabilities into other war-fighting commands for use “when significant cyber attacks against the nation require DoD support,” Adm. Rogers stated in an introduction to the report.

The report says the United States is losing its technology edge to adversaries and competitors in cyberspace. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed the problem in a speech in St. Louis Wednesday.

“Nations like Russia and China are modernizing their militaries to try to close the technology gap and erode our superiority in every domain — air, land, sea, space and cyberspace,” Mr. Carter said in a speech. “And at the same time, our reliance on things like satellites and the Internet has led to real vulnerabilities that our adversaries are eager to exploit.”

Cyber Command has been bogged down in legal restrictions since it was created in 2009. Obama administration policymakers have sought to curb the command’s authority and rules of engagement because some officials oppose giving the a military command a large say in one of the most critical national security arenas. Instead, the White House has designated the Department of Homeland Security, which others argue lacks the expertise of Cyber Command and the NSA, the lead agency in government cybersecurity.

Beyond defending against attacks, the U.S. Cyber Command is prepared to “conduct offensive cyber operations” that will “shape our operating environment in peace, crisis and war,” the report said. Cyber warriors include commanders who are “always in real or imminent contact with adversaries.” The report says that cyberwarfare forces “must be ready” for action.

“Cyberspace is a dynamic domain which changes every time someone connects a networked device. The only certain feature of this environment is uncertainty, which makes agility a necessity. War-fighting skills remain critical — they just have to be faster and partnered.”

The report provides a rare public look at inside the Cyber Command’s focus and strategy. The command is among the more secretive military units within an increasingly opaque military establishment.

U.S.-Russian friction in the Arctic
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Tuesday he is concerned by increased Russian military activity in the Arctic, where Moscow has been seeking to set up bases and expand its influence.

Asked about Russian military operations in the Arctic, Mr. Work said after meetings at the Norwegian Defense Ministry in Oslo that “there is a lot more activity going on in the High North than we have seen in the past several years in terms of aviation activity.”

Meetings with Norwegian and Swedish defense officials discussed how the Russian activities “could potentially cause a problem over time,” he said.

“Russia has made clear its interest in the Arctic, and our interests are like I believe all of my colleagues — that we would like to keep the Arctic non-militarized as much as possible, and that all nations can benefit from it,” Mr. Work said. “We do not want to see some type of big security competition in that region.”

As military activities increase and the U.S. and Russian militaries interact in the region, “we just don’t want to see any problems or miscalculations or accidents,” he said.

Russia has been building up military forces in the Arctic, creating a new Arctic Command last year and bolstering forces for its Northern Fleet. It has also added two brigades of ground troops in the region. Soviet-era bases in the Arctic also are being reopened.

Russian strategic nuclear bomber flights in the Arctic also increased dramatically in recent years and included mock bombing runs against U.S. missile defenses in Alaska, according to Pentagon officials.

“Russia’s strategic goals in the Arctic are to secure current and potential energy resources located in the region and to maintain military superiority above the Arctic Circle,” writes Heritage Foundation analyst Luke Coffey in a recent report. “Although the threat of armed conflict among the Arctic powers remains low, the U.S. should consider the implications of Russian militarization in the region in light of Moscow’s recent aggression in Ukraine.”

U.S. activity has been limited to studying the region and the security dimensions of increased military activity. The office of the director of national intelligence recently held a strategy meeting of analysts to assess the problem, the Los Angeles Times reported.

President Obama, during a recent visit to Alaska, made no mention of increasing military activities by Russia in the Arctic. Instead, the president focused solely on what he termed the “threat” of climate change. The president’s visit also coincided with an unprecedented deployment of five Chinese warships to the Bering Strait, in a not-so-subtle strategic message.

Countering Christian genocide
Christians worldwide are facing the prospect of genocide as a result of the rise of Islamist radicals and their supporters in the Middle East, according to Robert Maginnis, a former Army lieutenant colonel and author of the new book, “Never Submit.”

Groups like the Islamic State are committing atrocities against Christians, including beheading children who refuse to convert to Islam. Iran, under the Islamic Republic, also has become a threat to Christians, says Col. Maginnis, a West Point graduate and Washington-based national security affairs analyst and commentator.

President Obama’s policies in the Middle East have contributed to the growing threat to Christians, he argues.

“This is truly a wake-up call,” the author says. “Americans want to believe the best about the Islamic world, but the reality is Islamists want to either dominate and take over, or kill us — all non-Muslims and especially Christians.”

Col. Maginnis, an evangelical Christian, outlines in stark detail in the book the atrocities being committed against Christians in the Middle East that he says are part of a growing genocide similar to what occurred against Jews in the World War II Holocaust.

Muslim immigrants to the United States also pose a threat and can provide a base for Islamist terrorists to operate in the future, he warns.

The threat to the United States from Islamists seeking to undermine constitutional democracy is “existential,” he states.

“American Christians should participate in a ‘Never Submit’ campaign that engages their government and politicians seeking national office in order to help save fellow believers in the Middle East,” he writes.

Col. Maginnis faults the Pentagon for failing to recognize the ideological threat posed by Islamist terrorism, and for adopting politically correct policies that have limited effective action against the threat.

The Obama administration’s strategy of relying on regional partners to fight the Islamic State while providing intelligence and airstrikes is not working, he notes.

Until the terror group is defeated, the Pentagon should help provide security for Middle East Christians by creating safe zones and providing arms, Col. Maginnis says. “American Christians must pressure the government to lead,” he says.

Christians also must lobby political candidates regarding the issue of genocide in the Middle East by providing information on the problem.

“We need to raise up leaders who are going to understand the threat and do what is necessary to counteract that threat,” he said in an interview. “If we don’t do something very soon, what we see happening now in Western Europe is going to come to the United States, and it’s going to come a lot sooner than people expect.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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