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July 28, 2022

“Put Cyber At the Top of Your Priority List,” King Urges Top Pentagon Nominee to Strengthen Cyber and Electronic Warfare Defenses

Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission gets commitment from defense candidate to ramp up “red teaming” efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King, Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), today pressed a top Department of Defense nominee to prioritize America’s cyber and electronic warfare defenses. In a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, King urged Milancy Harris – nominee to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security – to make sure the country’s cyberdefenses are ready for any potential threat or conflict, specifically emphasizing the importance of testing systems (referred to as “red teaming”) for vulnerabilities. As Co-Chair of the CSC and a member of the Armed Services Committee, King has made more red teaming a top priority, repeatedly pressing officials and nominees to grow the critical security efforts.

“One thing that I'm very worried about is cyber and electronic warfare, and resiliency in the face of cyber-attacks. I hope that you will have put cyber at the top of your priority list because nothing else works if we are disabled in terms of cyber or electronic warfare attacks,” said Senator King. “One strategy I think it's very important is red teaming. Everybody thinks they're invulnerable until they're not. And I'd like your thoughts on the issue of cyber and cyber resiliency.”

“Senator, thank you for the question. I agree with you both in the criticality of our intelligence and intelligence analysis to support the warfighter and also in the need to ensure that we are giving cyber and cybersecurity the attention that they deserve,” replied Ms. Harris. “If confirmed, you have my commitment that I will ensure that we are giving the proper analytic attention to that and prioritizing the types of intelligence sharing that will facilitate a broader understanding of the challenges we face in the technology environment today.”

“In a modern conflict, the first 30 minutes is going to be all about cyber and electronic warfare and trying to blind the opponent. So I think that should be a very high priority,” concluded Senator King.


Continuing his questioning, Senator King asked Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale – nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy – to better integrate small businesses like those across Maine into the defense acquisition process. King also invited her to the state to see firsthand the significant contributions of Maine’s industrial base.

“I'd like to see more emphasis on smaller firms and trying to develop the acquisition process so that smaller firms can compete and participate in the Defense Department acquisition process,” said Senator King. “I'd like to invite you to Maine where we have a diverse defense industrial base where we have large facilities like Bath Iron Works, Pratt Whitney, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. But we also have many smaller firms that participate. And I think it would be useful for you to see that kind of universe of the defense industrial base. And I know you realize how important it is to maintain the industrial base in a vigorous and healthy acquisition atmosphere.”

“Thank you, Senator. I appreciate our discussion that we had. I also enjoyed learning our mutual love for road trips across the country. I would be more than delighted, if confirmed, to visit Maine,” replied Dr.Taylor-Kale. “I've done similar trips in my capacity as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing to Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Pennsylvania, other states where there's industrial base and innovation.”

“Maine’s better than any of those, just to be clear,” concluded Senator King.

As Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), and a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, Senator King is recognized as one of Congress’ leading experts on cyberdefense and is a strong advocate for a forward-thinking cyberstrategy that emphasizes layered cyberdeterrence. Since it officially launched in April 2019dozens of CSC recommendations have been enacted into law, including the creation of a National Cyber Director.

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