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Lynn Seeks Ways to Strengthen U.S.-Australia Pact

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, Feb. 12, 2010 – Australia is already one of America’s strongest allies, and Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III will visit the nation to see how the alliance can become even stronger.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III talks with American Forces Press Service reporter Jim Garamone while en route to Sydney, Feb. 11, 2010. Lynn is participating in a series of meetings in Australia. DoD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Lynn will meet with Australian leaders in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra to discuss the scope and shape of U.S.-Australian military cooperation.

“Australia is a critical ally that is supporting the effort in Afghanistan in important ways, and we think we can work with them on future threats like cybersecurity,” Lynn said during an interview aboard a military aircraft.

Tomorrow, Lynn will speak about U.S. cybersecurity concerns at a roundtable discussion with Australian academics, business leaders and political leaders during a forum at the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney. The talk kicks off a five-day visit that was delayed 36 hours by blizzards in Washington.

During his visit, Lynn will discuss Afghanistan with Australian leaders.

“We are in a surge situation where we are trying to increase the overall effort,” he said. “But the Australians are making a tremendous effort in Afghanistan already.” Australia has about 1,550 servicemembers in Afghanistan and is contributing to the civilian operations in the country as well.

Lynn will discuss the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review with leaders of the Australian defense ministry. The leaders will be familiar with the document, as two Australian officers were embedded with the Pentagon’s policy office as the review progressed.

“I think they are going to be pretty familiar with the reasoning and the approach,” Lynn said. “[But] I think it is still important to discuss it with their leadership.”

“It’s important for us to compare and contrast and discuss how our reviews approached things,” Lynn said, noting the Australians completed a comparable review in May.

Looking to the future, Lynn said, many asymmetric threats and anti-access threats threaten both the United States and Australia, and the two nations can work to mitigate the effects. The deputy secretary also will discuss Australians’ leadership in the region and the threats they see.

And U.S. and Australian leaders will share lessons learned from military procurement and acquisition. “We’re going to talk with their people about their approach to acquisition reform and some of the things we’re doing in terms of fixed-priced contracting and trying to establish firmer requirements earlier on in programs,” Lynn said. Part of the Australian defense review was a pledge to modernize and recapitalize the force.

Australia also is a partner in the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program, planning to buy 100 of the fighters.

“I am planning on walking them through the changes we’ve made in the program,” Lynn said. “We really re-set the program, and tried to establish a baseline of development costs to get a more conservative estimate in production costs.” The moves are designed to give the program – and the nations participating in it – more stability, he said.

Lynn is best known in the department for his work on cybersecurity. Some Australian government sites were overwhelmed by denial-of-service attacks earlier this week. Australia has the same concerns as the United States about a cyber attack and has established a command inside its defense ministry to defend this important infrastructure.

But it is a new fight in a new environment, Lynn noted. Terrorist organizations can launch cyber attacks, he said, but attributing attacks to groups or nations is tough.

“I think we’ll get better at it, but it’s an inherently difficult proposition,” he said. “One of the purposes of this trip is to increase international cooperation, because the Internet doesn’t respect national borders. The more shared warning, the more shared resources you devote to attribution, the better we’re going to get at it.”

Still, attribution never will be perfect, he acknowledged.

Setting the parameters for a discussion of the cyber threat also is problematic. “One of the difficulties in the cyber world is the definition you use: what’s an attack? Do they have to do physical damage? Is intelligence gathering an attack? Does somebody have to get hurt? These are all questions we are wrestling with,” the deputy secretary said.

“We are in the early stages of defining the doctrine on cybersecurity, and I think even the basic concepts of what constitutes an attack and what’s an appropriate and proportional response are things we are still working through,” he said.

These issues must be raised with allies, he said, but it is hard to do so until the United States can define for itself some of the basics.

“It’s something we are working on in the interagency process -- with the Department of Justice on the legal concepts, and working with the Department of Homeland Security on how we protect both the ‘dot-gov’ world as well as critical infrastructure in the private sector,” Lynn said.

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William J. Lynn III

Related Sites:
State Department Background Note on Australia

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