SECDEF Mattis to consider ban on personal cellphones at Pentagon

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is reviewing a potential ban on personal cellphones carried by civilian employees as he weighs concerns about breaches of security.

“We take threats to security seriously and are always looking into any potential additional measures to further enhance the security of our of Department of Defense personnel,” Maj. Audricia Harris, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, said.

The policy review comes amid earlier reports that fitness-tracking apps could put military personnel in jeopardy.

Reports noted that the review was triggered by a couple of instances where civilian employees brought personal cellphones into secure areas.

One Pentagon official told a U.S. media outlet that Mattis wasn’t likely to implement the ban because the logistical infrastructure for storing civilian employees’ cellphones while they work does not currently exist at the Pentagon.

Also, as noted, employees are already prevented from bringing personal cellphones into secure, classified areas of the building. [source]

(Analyst comment: The underlying message here is that Mattis and other top Pentagon officials are concerned about espionage, which means it’s likely that the last administration either wasn’t as concerned about the matter as it probably should have been or the cyber-espionage threat has grown beyond current abilities to defend against it. Policies like these aren’t made or changed willy-nilly; it will be interesting to see if Mattis orders the change and then orders the Pentagon to accommodate for it; i.e., installing employee cellphone storage infrastructure.) 

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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