Transcom Nominee Pledges to Address Cyber Concerns

President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next commander of U.S. Transportation Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that problems in the cyber domain worry him, and that he will emphasize operations to make that domain safer if he’s confirmed.

Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, currently the commander of Air Mobility Command -- Transcom’s air component -- has been nominated to succeed Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who has been nominated to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Transcom is an almost seamless mix of active-duty and reserve-component service members responsible for global logistics. The command also is a mix of government and private-enterprise entities. Tying it together is a communications network that must be hardened against cyberattacks, McDew told the senators.

“One of the greatest threats that faces our nation is our ability to deal with the cyber threat,” he said.

Particularly Vulnerable

Transportation Command is particularly vulnerable when dealing with commercial partners, the general said, noting that about 90 percent of the work the command does with private firms is done on the commercial networks. “That is a threat that I have got to face going forward, if confirmed,” he said.

The general said it is possible that an adversary could shut down the command’s network. “That threat is there,” he said. “I believe that U.S. Transportation Command has put some things in place to make that less likely, but as we go forward, the threat only gets worse. Our ability to deal with it must evolve and we have to find ways to do better with it going forward.”

Transcom officials have put clauses in their contracts with commercial vendors to stress the “assuredness of their network and to provide for requirements to report intrusions in their network,” McDew said. “Those are, I think, very beneficial.”

The general told the senators he is thrilled to be nominated to be commander of Transportation Command.

“These unheralded professionals are the business end that projects military power around the globe,” he said. “I cannot overstate the importance of the often thankless work accomplished at Transcom and I am humbled to be considered to be their commander.”

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