Pincasso via Shutterstock

Highlights From the Aspen Security Forum

Defense One brings you a wrap-up of the Aspen Security Forum. By Kedar Pavgi

The fourth annual Aspen Security Forum finished in Colorado, and some of the biggest names in the national security community provided their insights on key trends in defense and foreign policy. Major figures speaking included Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director and U.S Cyber Command commander, and former ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen. Here are some highlights.


Mattis: U.S. Needs to Plan ‘End State’ For Syria Involvement

More planning is needed before the U.S. military gets involved in the ongoing turmoil in Syria, former CENTCOM Commander Gen. James Mattis said Saturday.

He said that any military involvement would cascade into a “very serious war,” and that officials needed to work with countries in the region to determine a course of action before engaging in an operation.

“Otherwise you'll invade a country, pull down a statue, and say, 'Now what do we do?'”

Many defense officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, have voiced concerns about ratcheting up military involvement in Syria.


John Allen Opposed to ‘Zero-Option’ in Afghanistan

Former ISAF Commander and retired Gen. John Allen said that the administration’s proposed “zero-option” in Afghanistan would set back efforts to train local forces after the planned withdrawal in 2014.

Allen said Afghan leaders “desperately want [the U.S military’s] presence after this war.”

"They don't want us in large numbers, but they want us there in enough numbers to help to continue to develop the ANSF,” Allen said.

Earlier in July, reports in the New York Times indicated that the White House was considering the zero option after relations between Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai and administration officials soured. An earlier attempt to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar was scuttled by Karzai.


NSA to Develop Mechanisms to Prevent Mass Data Theft

The National Security Agency is developing measures to increase security on the Defense Department's servers to prevent future thefts of classified data. 

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, who also heads U.S. Cyber Command, said the agency will implement safeguards to prevent system administrators from downloading data onto portable drives. "We'll close and lock server rooms so it takes two people to get in there," Alexander said. "This makes our job more difficult, it is the main reason we need to jump to the Joint Information Environment, the thin virtual cloud, because in that we can encrypt the data." 

Alexander defended the agency's programs, saying that it offered a "reasonable approach" that protected national security and civil liberty concerns. The NSA has been forced to defend its wide-ranging network of surveillance programs since former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden leaked the information through the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.


Congress Needs New Legal Authorities for Counterterrorism, says former DOD Top Lawyer

Former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson said that the members of Congress needed to go back and reevaluate legal authorities given to counterterrorism professionals since the country was no longer "in a traditional armed conflict with al Qaeda and affiliated groups," and could not use the tools of the past decade for future conflicts.

"In this period, where I think we're headed in a new direction, we need to evaluate, in Congress, what new authorities our counterterrorism professionals might need," Johnson said. "We're not just talking about drone strikes, we're talking about ability to conduct national security interrogations, pre-Miranda, and other types of things that domestic law enforcement, the intelligence community should have to go forward with the future." Much of the past decade's most controversial counterterrorism tools, including drone strikes and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, base much of their legality on the authorization of use of military force passed by Congress, now considered a target of many in the administration.


Budget No Reason to Avoid Syria, says Carter

The Pentagon’s budget squeeze would not hold back the implementation of a no fly zone in Syria, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in an Aspen Security Forum session on the future of the Pentagon. But any new military commitment would require more money from Congress, and fast.

“We would need supplemental funding, which is normal for a new contingency,” Carter said. Administration officials have so far been divided on how to approach the ongoing chaos in Syria, with factions in the government proposing additional weapons delivery and action to support the Syrian rebels.  As Carter spoke, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., upbraided Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, in a testy exchange for not joining in McCain’s longstanding fervor for more direct U.S. military intervention in Syria. Dempsey was appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing to continue as chairman for another two years. Dempsey said the administration was considering the use of “kinetic strikes” in Syria, according to the Associated Press.

Pentagon officials are in the midst of absorbing $37 billion in mandatory sequestration cuts from the 2011 Budget Control Act. Defense Department civilian employees are being forced to take 11 unpaid furlough days through the end of fiscal 2013, while funding for training and flying hours has been severely curtailed.

Already, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in June to submit a supplemental fiscal 2013 request to fund “unanticipated, underestimated war costs” in Afghanistan.  Congress has rejected part of Hagel’s earlier request to reprogram billions of previously authorized dollars that the Pentagon wanted to shift to pay for the war.

However, it’s unclear if members of Congress would acquiesce. Carter said that political support for defense funding has sharply eroded. In the case of sequestration, he said, “the path of least resistance for the political system” was to allow the cuts to go through for another year. He noted that department officials were looking at budget options that factored in permanent sequestration as a “new normal.”

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.