Cyber Command to Become Unified Combatant Command

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Cybercom will hold its first-ever industry day October 27 in line with its newly-obtained acquisition authority and expanded budget.

President Donald Trump is boosting U.S. Cyber Command's status in the sprawling military hierarchy in a move meant to bolster its role defending against hacking attacks and in fighting Islamic State militants in cyberspace.

But Mattis is also mulling a potential separation from the NSA, the White House said Friday, which would be a much more intriguing step for Cyber Command. Until now cyber warfare operations have been run under the umbrella of the National Security Agency, the country's main electronic spying agency, with Admiral Michael Rogers heading both. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

President Obama had also considered elevating Cyber Command and splitting it from the NSA.

Trump said the move, part of a long-delayed Pentagon plan, strengthens and streamlines operations "by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations".

Trump said he's directed Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide whether to split the unit, known as Cybercom, from the NSA. "He will announce recommendations on this matter at a later date".

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Even the first step of elevating Cyber Command to a unified command, though, sends a geopolitical message that the U.S. military has prioritized its digital offense and defense, while also streamlining recruitment and funding for this initiative.

The goal is to give Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring and collecting telephone, Internet and other intelligence data from around the world - a responsibility that can sometimes clash with military operations against enemy forces.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, praised the decision, but he cautioned that more effort is needed to confront the cybersecurity threat posed by foreign adversaries.

The military services also have their own cyber units, with a goal of having, by September 30, 2018, a total of 133 fully operational teams with as many as 6,200 personnel. "We must develop a clear policy and strategy for deterring and responding to cyber threats".

"I also 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", the senator said.

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