U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after Senate and House negotiators released the final conference report to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019. The compromise bill includes Senator Sasse’s Cyberspace Solarium Commission. 

"This is a critical piece of this year’s defense bill and an important step on cybersecurity," said Senator Sasse. "The Cyberspace Solarium Commission is an opportunity to set America’s cyber doctrine before it’s too late. This is a major victory for those who have been sounding the alarm on cybersecurity. Washington is late to the game – we don’t have a playbook and our enemies are already on offense. This is the new frontier of warfare and America cannot fall behind. The hardest work is still ahead."  

Background on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission: 

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission has been included in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019 negotiated between the Senate and House.

The United States does not have a coherent cyber doctrine. We do not effectively deter attacks. We do not know how to best organize our government, increase coordination between government agencies, or recruit and retain top talent and expertise for the defense of American interests in cyberspace.

To meet these challenges, Senator Sasse has proposed a Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Loosely modeled on President Eisenhower’s 1953 Solarium Commission, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission is designed to develop clear consensus on a strategic approach to protecting and defending the United States in cyberspace. While 21st century threats are more complex and dynamic than the 20th century threat of Soviet Russia, our lack of clarity in the cyber domain makes the imperative for a new “Cyberspace Solarium” greater. America needs its government to do the hard work of developing an intellectual, political, and military framework to defend the nation from cyber threats.

If enacted into law, the 14-member commission will be composed by representatives from the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and private sector who have demonstrated knowledge, expertise, and experience in both the cyberspace and national security fields. 

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission will guide a deliberate, structured debate that will produce a final report that outlines a path forward for the United States Government by September 1, 2019. This report will be submitted to the congressional defense committees, the congressional intelligence committees, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The Commission’s membership will be fourteen individuals who have demonstrated knowledge, expertise, and experience in both cyberspace and national security fields. Members will be: Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Deputy Director of Homeland Security, Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, three members appointed by Senate majority leader, two members appointed by Senate minority leader, three members appointed by Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two members appointed by minority leader of the House.

A more detailed one-pager is available here. 

Historical Background on Eisenhower’s Project Solarium:

Under the Eisenhower Administration, Project Solarium produced the strategy that would guide American policy for much of the Cold War.

In May 1953, President Eisenhower established a secret panel of experts to review Cold War strategy and develop a range of policy responses to address the growing threat from the Soviet Union. This became known as Project Solarium and is considered one of the best examples of American long-term strategic planning for national security.

President Eisenhower commissioned three teams of experts, including Russia expert and strategist George Kennan, the author of “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” to advocate for an assigned policy approach and develop options for the United States Government to pursue. The White House was given three strategies: containment, deterrence, and rollback.

President Eisenhower eventually decided to combine the work of all three teams and issue a new security directive, NSC 162/2, that provided the foundation for his “New Look” at U.S. grand strategy.