Army’s Cybersecurity ‘Greatly Concerns’ Wormuth After Pipeline Attack

Army Secretary nominee Christine Elizabeth Wormuth smiles as former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel introduces her during a Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing, May 13, 2021.

Army Secretary nominee Christine Elizabeth Wormuth smiles as former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel introduces her during a Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing, May 13, 2021. AP / Andrew Harnik

Biden’s Army Secretary nominee told the Senate she’d fight deep troop cuts and support long-range fires and new measures against sexual crimes and extremism, if confirmed.

The Army’s ability to confront cybersecurity threats was a major focus Wednesday during a hearing for the nominee to become the service’s secretary, following a ransomware attack on a major pipeline that has caused panic buying at gas stations along the East Coast. 

“I am greatly concerned, frankly, by the threats that we face in the cyber domain. All you have to do is look at the long gas lines that are probably happening in your neighborhood right now,” Christine Wormuth told senators on the Armed Services Committee, who are considering her nomination to be the next Army secretary. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to lead the largest U.S. military service.

The chaos is affecting regular soldiers, including on Fort Bragg, N.C., where just one gas station is open and fuel fill-ups are limited to 10 gallons per car, according to the official XVIII Airborne Corps Facebook page.

The military faces its own cyber threats not just targeting networks and software like the SolarWinds hack, but also weapons. None of the weapon programs evaluated in fiscal 2020 were found to be survivable against relevant cyber threats, said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who referred to comments made by Raymond O’Toole, the acting director of operational test and evaluation, during an April 28 readiness hearing.

“I’ve been on the readiness subcommittee for over eight years, and we get routine reports on service readiness…However, we don’t measure how ready our forces or weapons systems are to counter cyber threats,” Kaine said.

Wormuth said she will take cybersecurity seriously, and believes cyber threats are a serious issue when it comes to the integrity of the Army’s modernization programs and secure communication networks.

The Army must do a better job of explaining its cyber opportunities to potential recruits, in order to develop a larger cyber-skilled workforce, Wormuth said. 

Army Cyber Command has about 16,500 soldiers, civilians, and contractors who conduct operations worldwide, according to its website. It operates from Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and regional cyber centers in Arizona, Hawaii, Germany, Korea, and Kuwait.

Wormuth’s nomination comes at a challenging time for the service, which is facing potential steep cuts to its budget and a reckoning following the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, with dozens of recommendations from the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee.

If confirmed, Wormuth said, she will “lead as a hands-on secretary,” working closely with military leadership and ensuring that soldiers and Army civilians have the best quality of life possible, which would include improving housing, healthcare, childcare, and spouse employment opportunities.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure we have a healthy command climate at every Army installation that fosters Army values and ensures the well-being of our people. There is no place in our nation’s Army for sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, extremism, racism, or other harmful behaviors that inhibit readiness,” she said.

One of the areas of concern for the service’s 2022 budget are cuts to the Army’s end strength to make up for minimal growth to the defense budget’s topline and priorities in the other services. Wormuth said she will advocate against deep cuts to the force because she does not want to see a return to 15-month deployments and using stop-loss policies, which were necessary at times to keep numbers up in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

“I don’t think anyone would be well served by looking at the Army as…of just a bill payer,” she said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville on Tuesday said he and acting Army Secretary John Whitley have reached an agreement to keep the total number of active-duty soldiers at 485,000, due to the resources the service is anticipated to receive in the 2022 budget. McConville had previously said he would like to grow the force up to 550,000, based on an Army analysis.

Wormuth told senators Thursday she agrees with the Army’s assessment that long-range precision fires are still the service’s top priority, not only because of their importance in the Indo-Pacific theater, but in Europe as well. 

“It’s the highest priority in my view because of the need to address the anti-access area denial challenges that we face in both Europe and Indo-Pacific. And given the quite sophisticated integrated air defenses that we’ll likely be facing, I think it behooves us to develop capabilities that allow us to strike targets from very long distances,” she said.

Air Force Gen. Timothy Ray, the leader of Air Force Global Strike Command, recently called the Army’s pursuit of this long-range weapon capability a “stupid idea,” expensive, and redundant, since the Air Force already has that capability.

However, Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in response that the Pentagon’s new joint warfighting concept emphasizes that every military service will need to be able to defeat an enemy’s long-range missiles.

“This means you want each service to bring those long-range fires; so, the joint warfighting concept succeeds if all of the force can apply fires wherever they happen to be, wherever the target is, whatever the lines of conflict, that is the joint warfighting concept,” Hyten told Defense One in April.

Research and analysis are still needed to determine whether the Army’s long-range fires will be economically feasible once the concept becomes reality, Hyten said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.