National Security

An Aspen Security Forum Mid-Year Reflection on ISIS, Cyber Security, and Global Instability

April 8, 2015  • Homeland Security Program

US soldier

Each year, the Aspen Security Forum brings together top government officials, industry leaders, thought leaders, and journalists to discuss the most pressing homeland and security issues of today.

In preparation for ASF 2015, which will take place July 22-25, 2015 in Aspen, CO, the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Program, with support from Intel Security, released the 2014-2015 Mid-Year Report to reflect on last year’s top security issues and provide an update on how they have played out in the current landscape. Below are brief summaries of some of the topics covered in the report, which is available to read and download.

Global Instability is at an All Time High

With US security threats stemming from the growing crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries, US military officials are paying close attention to the impending sequestration talks.

At the 2014 Forum, Chief of Staff of the United States Army General Ray Odierno described modern life as one of the most “uncertain times” in recent history, thanks in part to the speed of movement of information dissemination — “how quickly people can be informed,” he said.

Also, the US military is facing serious budget cuts, calling into question whether the US can provide the measures to combat the growing security threats.

Cyber Security is the New Counterterrorism

According to top officials, cyber-attacks are fast becoming one of the United States’ most pressing security issues as the government lags behind on cyber security measures. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin highlighted the complexity of the cyber threat, stating that “Al Qaeda, nation states, and criminals are preparing for major cyber-attacks against US infrastructure that could be comparable to the devastating September 11 attacks.”

Privacy advocates are watching Congress to see how proposed legislation for the government to prevent and respond to cyber attacks will affect citizens.

The ISIS War is Just Beginning

At the 2014 Forum, security officials agreed that the ISIS threat is only beginning and will not be resolved anytime soon. As radicalized Westerners continue to flock to the conflict in the Middle East, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson believes that ISIS will one day attempt an attack on the US homeland. “When a terrorist organization acquires territory where they do training, they almost always try to attack the United States.”

Read and download the full Mid-Year 2014-2015 Report.

Watch the 2015 security conversations live as they happen on stage — visit the Aspen Security Forum site to register to attend this year’s event, July 22-25, in Aspen, CO.