The former inaugural chief software officer at the Pentagon said he believes the United States has already lost the technological battle against China.
Nicolas Chaillan, 37, who worked for three years on a Department of Defense-wide effort to enhance cybersecurity and became the first chief software officer of the Air Force, resigned last month in part due to his belief that the U.S. is getting outmaneuvered by foreign powers.
“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it’s already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion,” he told the Financial Times in an article published on Sunday, adding there was “good reason to be angry.”
Chaillan argued that the emerging technological advances and developments pose a much more important aspect to defense than commonly thought of military hardware, such as fighter jets.
Some of the U.S. cyberdefense systems are at a “kindergarten level,” he said, later noting that China is angling to dominate the military sphere in the future. Even though the U.S. still spends more than three times on defense as the Chinese do, Chaillan said much of that funding is being spent on the wrong things and that bureaucracy and regulations play a role in it, too.
A spokesperson for the Air Force told the Financial Times that Frank Kendall, the secretary of the Air Force, discussed Chaillian’s recommendations for future technological developments following his resignation, which he announced on LinkedIn on Sept. 2.
Following the birth of twin children last year, he “realize[d] more clearly than ever before that, in 20 years from now, our children, both in the United States’ and our Allies’, will have no chance competing in a world where China has the drastic advantage of population over the U.S.”
He said “a lack of response” from Department of Defense leadership was “certainly a contributor to my accelerated exit,” and Chaillan urged military leaders to put people with experience in technology in those positions instead of a career service member in charge of identity, credential, and access management. Chaillan also accused military officials of having not “walk[ed] the walk” when it comes to prioritizing their effort to improve the Pentagon’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
The former defense official also told the outlet he plans on testifying in front of Congress in the future regarding cybersecurity and China’s head start.
Last year, SolarWinds, an IT company that runs network management systems the thousands of clients of which include the Department of Justice, the Census Bureau, the Department of Veterans Affairs, NASA, the Pentagon, the State Department, other federal agencies, and hundreds of companies and governments, acknowledged that its systems had been compromised from a cyberattack, though the U.S. pinned it on Russia.
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Original Author: Mike Brest