Pentagon Cyber Official: Cybersecurity Requires 'Whole of Government' Approach

Robert Butler, DoD

In line with an agreement between the department secretaries last fall and the recently released International Strategy for Cyberspace, the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security are sharing cybersecurity information, capabilities and expertise, a Pentagon official said.

Robert J. Butler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs last week about the Obama administration’s legislative proposal to protect the nation’s computer networks, the Armed Forces Press Services reported.

The new strategy calls for DHS to spearhead the effort to protect citizens, the nation’s critical infrastructure and the federal government’s computer networks. While DoD would retain continue protect its “dot-mil” domain, it would work closely with DHS and the departments of Justice and Commerce to better protect the Internet.

Protecting computer networks requires a “whole of government” approach, Butler stressed, and the Defense and Homeland Security departments already are doing that. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and DHS  Secretary Janet Napolitano laid the foundation for the collaboration in October with their agreement to share operational planning and technical development, he said.

Since then, Butler said, the collaboration has grown into joint coordination at U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., and the sharing of information, capabilities and employees.

As an example of such collaboration, Philip Reitinger, undersecretary of homeland defense for national protection and programs, said DHS, DoD and NSA officials meet regularly and have weekly teleconferences to coordinate cybersecurity.

DHS will stay “operationally synched” with DoD, and both departments and NSA will deploy cyber experts to work at each others’ sites, Reitinger said.

To ensure a steady supply of cyber experts in the future, Butler said, DoD supports various high school and college competitions such as the CyberPatriot, as well as coaching and mentoring programs in cybersecurity.

“This is not only about today; it’s also about tomorrow,” he said. “Secretary Gates has made this a big priority.”

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