Trump elevates Cyber Command, considers break from NSA


Under the directive, the U.S. Cyber Command, which now comes under the Strategic Command, will join the ranks of unified combatant commands that oversee military operations in the Pacific, the Middle East and elsewhere. The digital war has not always been successful against ISIS, and continues to be a challenge for Cyber Command. In conjunction with this move, Secretary of Defense James Mattis will consider whether to split Cyber Command from the NSA and will deliver his recommendation "at a later date".

"United States Cyber Command's elevation will also help streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations", adds President Trump in the statement.

It was set up as a subunit under U.S. Strategic Command to coordinate the Pentagon's ability to conduct cyberwarfare and to defend its own networks, including those that are used by combat forces in battle.

Trump also said the defense secretary was also considering separating the U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency (NSA).

"This is definitely the right move; they were already talking about [the elevation] just for organizational reasons", says Joseph Loomis, CEO of the security firm CyberSponse, a current security contractor and advisor to multiple branches of the United States government, including Cyber Command.

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In a signing statement Obama said, however, he was in favor of the ending the dual-hat arrangement, "I strongly support elevating CYBERCOM to a unified combatant command and ending the dual-hat arrangement for NSA and CYBERCOM".

The plan has been languishing since previous year when then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sent a proposal to President Barack Obama to make Cyber Command an independent military headquarters and break it away from the NSA.

The White House statement does not name the first head cyber warrior since it remains a dual-hatted command, with the head of the National Security Agency running things. It operates closely with the National Security Agency, which is both a Department of Defense and an Intelligence agency.

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. "We must develop a clear policy and strategy for deterring and responding to cyber threats".