National security is stepped up in Aspen this week |

National security is stepped up in Aspen this week

Moderator Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent at NBC News, interviews Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford Saturday at the Aspen Security Forum.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Aspen will be abuzz this week with the most senior leaders in national security here as part of the ninth annual Aspen Security Forum.

The four-day event is filled with panels of experts and journalists discussing issues surrounding international and national security.

The forum is an offshoot of the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival. It allows for complex issues to get unpacked in greater detail than its predecessor, said Rob Walker, executive director of the institute’s Aspen Security Forum.

“We bring senior leaders on security here to discuss the issues and go on the record to help the public understand the security gaps in our nation,” he said. “There’s so much to be talked about.”

The forum kicks off Wednesday with the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray. He will be interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt about the bureau’s role in national security, and cyber terrorism and counterintelligence.

The recent headlines of President Donald Trump’s actions at the NATO summit and his visit to Great Britain this week will tie nicely into the forum’s agenda, Walker noted. Adding to the discussion will be Friday’s announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of the 12 indictment of Russian agents.

“The breaking news is in favor of our planned conversations,” he said.

Walker said people can expect to hear some breaking news come out of the forum when Rosenstein, who is under fire from the conservative base for the investigation, is expected to make a policy announcement on cyber security.

Four hundred passes have been purchased and the forum is at capacity, Walker said.

Ticketed events at the Greenwald Pavilion are available to the public for $30 on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday in the Greenwald Pavilion, NBC News’ Courtney Kube will interview John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

On Saturday, Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, will talk with Gordon Corera of BBC News to close out the forum.

On Thursday morning, the secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, will speak on the security challenges facing the nation and how the department is working with foreign and domestic partners to deal with them.

Also, Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election having an effect on this year’s midterms will be a topic of conversation, as will the U.S.’s tumultuous relationship with Russia.

“It’s a loaded agenda,” Walker said, adding people can interact with the forum on Twitter using #aspensecurity.

The public can stream online and watch the panel discussions at