Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Tuesday unveiled the Pentagon’s budget proposal for fiscal 2017, which included $7 billion for cyber operations.
Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, Carter said the nearly $583 billion defense budget to be released next week as part of the administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget request will include a significant investment in cyber, with nearly $35 billion devoted to cybersecurity over the next five years.
“Among other things,” Carter said, “this will help further improve the Department of Defense’s (DoD) network defenses, which is critical, build more training ranges for our cyber warriors, and develop cyber tools and infrastructure needed to provide offensive cyber options.”
The Pentagon’s budget proposal also reveals a renewed focus on Russia and China, which Carter called the nation’s “most stressing competitors.” The budget will allow the US to counter threats from its major competitors not only militarily, but in cyber space as well.
"In this budget we’re taking the long view," the secretary said. "We have to. Even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.”
“Not just the usual air, land and sea, but also particularly in the areas of cyber, space and electronic warfare, where our reliance on technology has given us great strengths but also led to vulnerabilities that adversaries are eager to exploit,” he added.
The budget will also support cyber operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Just last week, Carter encouraged US Cyber Command (Cybercom) to “intensify the fight” against ISIL. Cybercom is charged with supporting interagency partners in the whole-of-government effort to counter ISIL messaging.
“The effort to accelerate the campaign to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL includes targeting their use of the Internet to spread their message of hate, recruit fighters and inspire acts of terror,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.
The increased cyber budget complements the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy issued in spring of last year to strengthen DoD’s cyber defense and cyber deterrence posture. The Pentagon said the major drivers behind the strategy were the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks and President Obama’s direction to DoD in 2012 to collaborate with other US government agencies to defend the nation against cyber threats.
The 2017 budget request also includes $71.4 billion for research and development accounts, $8.1 billion for underseas capabilities, $3.4 billion to support the European Reassurance Initiative—quadrupling the fiscal year 2016 amount, and an added $5 billion in new investments for space. Through these investments, the Pentagon hopes to drive innovation, build the “most lethal undersea and anti-submarine force in the world,” improve strategic capabilities, and enhance the department’s ability to counter threatening actions in space.
“With so many commercial space endeavors, he added, “we want this domain to be just like the oceans and the Internet: free and safe for all."