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DOD Develops Secure 5G Mobile Telecommunication Network Strategy

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The Defense Department is developing a secure 5G mobile telecommunication network strategy, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said during a Pentagon news conference today.

A woman speaks to reporters at the Pentagon.
Pentagon Briefing
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord speaks to reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon, May 10, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 190510-D-ZZ999-002

Ellen M. Lord addressed a range of topics, including advanced wireless systems, such as 5G.

Why This Is Important

A 5G network would be 100 times faster than current networks.
A 5G network would be more resilient and less susceptible to attacks.
A 5G network would dramatically improve military communication and situational awareness.

Importance of Cybersecurity

A soldier takes notes while looking at a laptop screen.
Network Traffic
Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Russel analyzes network traffic during exercise Cyber Shield 19 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. April 7, 2019.
Photo By: Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. George B. Davis
VIRIN: 190407-Z-XR817-009C

Discussions are ongoing with the nation's allies and partners regarding the critical importance of secure networks to national security and military-to-military interoperability.

Malicious activities by China are a serious and growing concern. For example, China is attempting to erase research and development gains by the U.S. in cybersecurity and other areas critical to national security. One way they do this is by investing in U.S. companies with defense-critical technologies in order to extract information.

The other concern regarding China is its employment of 5G through companies that answer to the Chinese government, such as ZTE and Huawei. While DOD proscribes procurement from these companies, allies and partners who choose to do so are likely to end up with vulnerable systems.

Industrial Base Vulnerabilities

Service members look at laptop screens.
Cyber Course
Students of cyber operations study their course materials during exercise Cyber Shield 18 at Camp Atterbury, Ind., May 8, 2018.
Photo By: Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. George Davis
VIRIN: 180508-Z-XR817-035

DOD is tightening its requirements that the supply chain — including subcontractors — maintain cybersecurity and produce systems that are hardened against cyber attacks.

The department is particularly interested in small- to medium-sized companies that are incubators of innovations. Many of these companies do not have the resources to stand up robust cybersecurity safeguards. DOD will work with these companies by offering them a secure cloud environment in which to work.

An overhead view of an airman working at a laptop.
Cyber Shield
Pennsylvania Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Christian Axenie conducts network surveillance during exercise Cyber Shield 19 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. April 7, 2019. Portions of this image have been blurred for security purposes.
Photo By: Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. George B. Davis
VIRIN: 190407-Z-XR817-513C

DOD will also soon stand up an organization called the Trusted Capital Marketplace, a public-private partnership that pairs private capital with small and medium innovative companies that promise to deliver critical emerging technologies.

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