Secretary of the U.S. Army visits JBER, talks about Alaska's place in the Military

JBER, Alaska (KTUU) — Cyber warfare was one of several hot topics of discussion for the Secretary of the U.S. Army, Dr. Mark Esper during his trip to Alaska this week, which included visits with soldiers at JBER Wednesday after trips to Ft. Greeley and Ft. Wainwright.

Secretary Esper was joined by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan as they toured Alaska military bases.

"What I like to say, our Army, our strategic location, our training, it sells itself,” Sullivan said. “We just need to get the leadership up here to see it on the ground."

At a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Secretary Esper spoke about the importance of Alaska's geography in an era of "great power competition" and the role of the military in Alaska in combating what he called 'near peer threats' like Russia and China.

Channel 2 asked Secretary Esper how the army is keeping up with cyber warfare in the wake of a malware attack in July that knocked services offline in the Mat-Su Borough and City of Valdez, described by some familiar with the attack as an Advanced Persistent Threat — the kind of cyber attacks most often perpetrated by nation state actors.

Secretary Esper says being prepared for combat on the battlefield, and in cyberspace, is all part of the mission.

"A lot more work to be done there,” Secretary Esper said. “We are thinking hard about how we integrate cyber into our formations from the brigade levels and above. So that on a future battlefield, that is a capability that a commander will have it at his hands to really fight the fight across the entire spectrum of conflict."

Secretary Esper says cyber warfare is a newer domain for the U.S. armed forces, but he says they are in the process of building and expanding the robust technologies they need to fight the fight.

Sen. Sullivan says he will also host Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson within the coming week.