Cyber, Drones, and the Private Sector: Challenges for the Next Administration

As the military prepares for the transition to the next administration, the three service secretaries on Monday detailed their concerns about the challenges posed by weaponized drones, cyber threats, and working with the private sector.

The civilian officials told a gathering hosted by the Center for a New American Security that new technologies and working within severe budget constraints will also be major issues for the next president, as will the major threats of terrorism and foreign powers like Russia, China, and North Korea.

One area that needs to be swiftly addressed by the new administration is the threat from drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, that are weaponized. Several recent incidents in Iraq and Syria of cheap, small drones with explosives placed on them have proven the damage they can do, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, pointing to “a week or two ago there was a situation – four killed, not U.S. citizens — from one of these small unmanned systems. So it is a problem.” And earlier this month, an ISIS-linked drone rigged with explosives killed two Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and injured two French military personnel in Iraq.