U.S. Senate Votes for Independent Cyber Command

Last week, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included legislation to elevate the U.S. military offensive cyber unit into a full cyber command. Currently, Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is under U.S. Strategic Command, but shares resources, leadership and a location with the National Security Agency (NSA). The bill keeps CYBERCOM’s structure as is, including the commander serving as the Director of the NSA simultaneously. The NDAA passed with overwhelming 92-7 vote, and awaits President Obama’s signature.
The Cipher Take: The U.S. military’s Cyber Command is intended to be the country’s premier offensive-oriented, cyber-enabled warfare center. The military unit has, since its inception, been under the wing of the National Security Agency (NSA)—the country’s premier cyber-enabled espionage agency—often sharing resources and even talent. The shift to a more independent Cyber Command has come after criticisms regarding the distinct missions of the NSA and CYBERCOM, as well as the desire to have intelligence agencies led by civilians, rather than the military. The move to create a separate CYBERCOM from the NSA could help focus both organizations on their respective tasks—one for cyberwarfare, the other for espionage—giving clearer lines for budgeting and talent acquisition requirements.

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