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Brian Mazanec, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at GAO, goes over what he and his colleagues found when looking at the 5G National Strategy

The Department of Defense will pay 15 vendors $600 million to test 5G technologies at five military installations. The department calls it “Tranche 1” of its 5G initiative.

Brian Mazanec, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at GAO, is looking at 5G across government. He and his colleagues released a report assessing the National Strategy to Secure 5G against six key characteristics for effective national strategies.

Mazanec explained that 5G is a transformative emerging technology that introduces a lot of risks for national security. The purpose of the government having a strategy for it is to manage these risks.

The GAO report found that although the strategy contained some of the key elements, it was missing others and only partially addressed most of the six characteristics. “More work needs to be done to ensure that we have a sufficiently robust and detailed national strategy,” said Mazanec.

There is also a requirement for an implementation plan that goes along with the strategy, according to Mazanec. He is hopeful that the plan will fully address all elements of the six characteristics so “they can plug those gaps that we identified in the national strategy.”

One of the most important elements missing from the strategy was an identification of organizational roles, said Mazanec. And with issues like the attempt to link 5G to COVID-19 or the ban on Chinese vendors from 5G networks in Sweden, “there is a key role for cyber diplomacy, but the State Department is not mentioned, [and] DoD is not mentioned explicitly,” Mazanec stated.

“We’re hoping in the implementation plan they really identify clear organizational roles for the whole-of-government response. It’s necessary for really a wicked, complex problem like 5G.”

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