AI-Based Attacks , Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Fraud Management & Cybercrime

Senate NDAA 2025 Boosts Military Cyber and AI Initiatives

Military Omnibus Bill Includes Focus on Cybersecurity, Countering Drone Technology
Senate NDAA 2025 Boosts Military Cyber and AI Initiatives
The nearly $1 trillion bill includes a significant focus on cybersecurity and military AI capabilities. (Image: Shutterstock)

U.S. senators filed a defense bill that would authorize nearly $1 trillion for the military and other defense priorities, including a wide range of cybersecurity initiatives and projects involving emerging technologies.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee officially introduced the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act on Monday after voting 22-3 to advance the bill to the Senate floor in June. The NDAA includes $923.3 billion for defense funding, with $878.4 billion for the Department of Defense and $33.4 billion for national security programs housed under the Department of Energy.

Modernization is a key priority identified in the bill, which establishes a pilot program to optimize AI-enabled software for use in DOD facilities and requires a variety of actions to improve military supply chain security. The bill tasks the Pentagon with developing a strategy for countering drone technologies and mandates that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launch a quantum scaling initiative to expand the development of defense quantum computing capabilities.

The legislation also establishes dedicated cyber intelligence capabilities within Defense to support investigations into cyberthreat actors' operations and tasks the Pentagon with developing cybersecurity strategies for managing the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability and other multi-cloud environments.

The Senate NDAA directs the DOD to issue guidance incorporating operational technology into the information assurance vulnerability management program, a federal effort to enhance the cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure sectors and ensure the resilience of mission-critical systems against evolving threats. It also requires a report to Congress on the agency's cybersecurity cooperation activities with international allies in mitigating cyberthreats to undersea cables, which supply essential global communication and data transfer infrastructure.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who filed the bill Monday with ranking member Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said in June the bill includes "significant support for technologies like counter-drone defenses and AI."

The bill would fund a "university consortium on cybersecurity" and establish an "AI human factors integration" initiative, which aims to identify research gaps in the use of AI systems in warfighting and non-warfighting environments "that may necessitate additional research within the federal government, industry or academia," according to the text of the nearly 1,200 page bill.

The bill tasks the DOD Cyber Crime Center with conducting cyber tabletop exercises alongside the defense industrial base to help identify gaps in cyber capabilities and resources. The agency would also be required to develop additional guidance detailing how its zero trust strategy applies to internet of military things hardware, which includes crucial military equipment such as drones, sensors and communications devices.

The bill provides permanent authorities to the Joint Federated Assurance Center, a coalition of DOD entities that support and enable software and hardware assurance, and requires a review of the implementation of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification 2.0.

The bill authorizes a 5.3% annual increase in the DOD's fiscal year budget. The military package will be considered separately by the House and Senate before they vote on a final, unified version of the bill.

About the Author

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta

Managing Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Riotta is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president. His reporting has appeared in NBC News, Nextgov/FCW, Newsweek Magazine, The Independent and more.

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