The alliance between the United States and Australia has lasted from 1908 to the present day, against a variety of threats from the Kaiser to Bin Laden. During a roundtable with with Australian civic and business people, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III called for that relationship to continue amid present and future threats, particularly in combating attacks in cyberspace.
“We are much less in a world now of ‘like on like,’” he said, using a term for conventional warfare. “We face a world now where it is much more likely to be a hybrid kind of conflict, where seemingly low-end forces could have sophisticated equipment, whether it’s improvised explosive devices that can penetrate the strongest armor, surface-to-air missiles, or whether it’s cyber capabilities.”
Both the United States and Australia have well-developed militaries that can carry out conventional operations. However, Lynn raised the question of how to ensure respective militaries are capable of combating asymmetric threats as well.
“In the U.S., it means we are spending much more on cyber defense, but also intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [and] counter-IEDs,” Lynn said. “We’re looking at long-range strike platforms to deal with anti-access tactics it looks the Chinese have developed with surface-to-surface missiles, trying to drive forces further and further from their borders and coasts.”
Lynn said of all the threats, cyber is the one he is most concerned about.
“It is the threat that keeps me up at night,” he said.“It seems to me that what you are facing right now are ‘hacktivists.’ Foreign governments, foreign intelligence services probably have more sophisticated abilities. At the same time, you could go the other direction and [consider] terrorist groups. I don’t think we’ve yet seen terrorist groups affirmatively use cyber capabilities to threaten one of our countries, but I think it’s well within the realm of possibilities.”