Carter highlights $35B in planned cyber investments

By Tony Bertuca / March 1, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, during his latest West Coast trip intended to strengthen ties between the Pentagon and America's high-technology sector, touted the Defense Department's plans to invest $35 billion in cyber capabilities over the next five years.

"Defending our networks and weapon systems is job one for DOD in cyberspace -- they're no good if they've been hacked," according to a transcript of a speech he made Tuesday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

"DOD's second mission in cyberspace is to help other agencies defend the nation against cyberattacks from abroad, especially if they would cause loss of life, property destruction, or significant foreign policy and economic consequences," he continued. "And the third mission is to provide offensive cyber options that can be used in a conflict -- as we’re doing now against [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]."

Carter's speech comes on the heels of comments he made Monday at the Pentagon, in which he made clear the United States was engaged in cyberattacks on ISIL.

R&D commitment

Meanwhile, Carter sought to convince tech entrepreneurs that DOD was serious about innovation.

"A common theme across our budget is that DOD has to innovate to be competitive in a competitive world -- as I often say, we in the Pentagon need to think outside our five-sided box," he said Tuesday. "That's why, to give just one measure, we're spending $71.8 billion on research and development next year alone. For a little local context, that's more than double what Intel, Apple, and Google spent on R&D last year combined."

Carter noted that this was his third trip to the Bay Area since becoming secretary.

"When I gave a speech at Stanford last April, I discovered that it was the first time a secretary of defense had visited Silicon Valley in almost 20 years," he said.

Carter said DOD and Silicon Valley were already linked in ways that can be easily taken for granted.

"When someone orders an iPhone, they buy a device that brilliantly harnesses breakthrough technologies that were seeded by DOD and government investments," he said. "Chances are, they order it using the Internet that DOD, industry, and academia helped create together. The phone gets packaged in Asia, then shipped over an ocean our Navy patrols to ensure that shipping goes unimpeded. And it's tracked from start to finish by GPS technology, which DOD could not have invented or launched without a robust, innovative private sector."

In an attempt to increase the partnership between DOD and the commercial tech sector, Carter in April established the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to be the Pentagon's Silicon Valley outreach team. As previously reported by Inside Defense, DOD is planning to stand up a second DIUx team in Boston this June.