White House Announces Plan to Split U.S. Cyber Command from NSA
On Friday, the White House announced that it would be moving forward with a plan to potentially split U.S. Cyber Command into a separate entity, apart from the National Security Agency (NSA), a proposal introduced last year by former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who proposed the change to President Obama.
The statement released by President Trump announcing the decision indicated he had “directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations,” thereby giving the body more autonomy. Though the statement only indicated that the White House was “examining the possibility” of fully separating U.S. Cyber Command from the NSA, the proposal has enjoyed some support from members of the president’s cabinet, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Federal News Radio writes that giving U.S. Cyber Command autonomy “will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in space,” a decision that comes as cyberthreats have become increasingly relevant, both to the federal government and to the general populace, with recent high-profile cyber incidents including the Petya ransomware attack that potentially caused billions of dollars in economic losses, as well as Russia’s use of cyber tactics in its attempts to meddle in the United States’ presidential election.
Senator John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the approach to the process, saying “I appreciate the administration’s commitment today to ensuring that a future separation of the so-called ‘dual hat’ relationship between Cyber Command and the National Security Agency will be based on conditions, rather than arbitrary political timelines. While Cyber Command and the National Security Agency should eventually be able to operate independent of one another, the administration must work closely with the Congress to take the necessary steps that will make this separation of responsibilities successful, and to ensure that each agency will emerge more effective and more capable as a result.”
GovExec summarized next steps, following Friday’s announcement, writing that the split from NSA “won’t happen immediately.”
“Instead, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford will nominate a flag officer to take over the new Cyber Command as well as the NSA. That person could be Adm. Michael Rogers, who currently heads both, or someone else.Trump has reportedly asked Mattis to give him the name of a nominee. Speculation has focused on Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville as the nominee to head Cyber Command.
Once that new person is nominated and confirmed and once Mattis and Dunford are satisfied that splitting the two entities will not hamper the ability of either Cyber Command or the NSA to conduct their missions independently, only then will Cyber Command and the NSA actually split.”
Posted in General News