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Thomas Wingfield, DoD Cyber Official, Discusses Cyber, information Integration

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Thomas Wingfield
Thomas Wingfield

Thomas Wingfield, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy in the Trump administration, said that the Department of Defense (DoD) should work to align cyberspace and emerging operations within the larger information environment, C4ISRNet reported on Friday. “If cyber as a domain is in its adolescence, then information is surely in its infancy,” Wingfield said. 

In Nov. 2019, Wingfield noted that his third policy priority for the job was to help integrate cyber and information as doctrines and domains. He stated that adversaries see information and cyber as a coherent whole and are moving forward with speed and confidence.

Wingfield said that cross-functional teams can be limited and create confusion. To remedy this challenge, he recommended that the DoD appoint two deputy assistant secretaries of defense, with one heading cyber policy and the other charged with information operations.

Under Wingfield’s plan, the assistant secretary of defense would be the principal adviser on both topics, which would preserve their separate spheres of expertise at the working level, while ensuring integration before presenting information to the secretary of defense.

“But we should be thinking in terms of defining the problem we want to solve, then mapping out concrete next steps,” he added. Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense and 2021 Wash100 Award recipient, pledged during his confirmation to reevaluate the department’s posture within the information sphere and how it conducts operations.

Austin committed to the cybersecurity review and to joining the ongoing review of SolarWinds impact on DoD. He also indicated in his responses to advanced policy questions that the U.S. needs to be more proactive in cybersecurity and operations to counter persistent malicious cyber campaigns by China and Russia.

"I believe the Department must effectively counter these campaigns by taking proactive action to: generate insights about the adversary's cyber operations and capabilities; enable its interagency, industry, and international partners to create better defenses, and; acting, when necessary, to disrupt adversary cyber actors and halt malicious activities," Austin wrote.

"Any intrusion operation is of great concern to the security of our systems and country," Austin said. The SolarWinds compromise is "greatly concerning, as it impacts a wide swath of American public and private networks."

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