US military chief warns over 5G development progress

Published March 22, 2019, 9:19 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

America’s top military officer urged industry Thursday to strengthen efforts to build the next-generation wireless network based on 5G technology, saying armed forces security would depend on it.

General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says Islamic State continues to replenish its decimated ranks in Syria (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
General Joseph Dunford

Faced with a tough challenge in telecommunications development from China, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said American industry “needs to step up and dominate 5G, because it will be in our national interest to do so.”

“If we don’t get out in front in that regard, we won’t be able to trust 5G and we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage,” Dunford told a forum at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Systems based on 5G technology “have to be trusted,” he said, making the dependence on foreign technology — like that of market-leading Chinese telecoms firm Huawei — a security risk.

“This is why I think American industry needs to step up and dominate 5G because it will be in our national interest to do so,” he added.

Dunford was alluding to negotiations between European countries and Huawei, which hopes its 5G technology, more advanced than its rivals, will be deployed around the world.

The US government though has deep suspicions that Huawei’s technology would offer the Chinese government the ability to monitor traffic, making it a security risk.

The US government has urged allies not to adopt the technology, pressuring Germany most recently to avoid it.

“Whether it’s 5G or not, today and in the future, our ability and our willingness to exchange information intelligence with partners is going to be based on their ability to protect that information,” Dunford said.