Cyber Command Stands Alone

Aug. 24, 2017  |  By Holly Dragoo

Seven years after its formation, U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), the military organization chartered to pursue combat in the digital domain, has become a stand-alone command, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. The move officially formalizes the split between CYBERCOM and the National Security Agency (NSA) and moves it out from underneath the direction of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), traditionally responsible for unconventional domains such as information and space warfare. The timetable for implementation is still not clear as Congress will need to first confirm the new head of CYBERCOM before it can begin the separation process from NSA.

IISP Analyst Holly Dragoo: "A long time in the making, it’s finally happening. I’m not 100% sure this is a good thing, to be honest. On the one hand, CYBERCOM has been maturing under the auspices of NSA leadership and expertise, at significant cost. To relieve the burden of training staff, shared resource planning and such would be a massively freeing efficiency cut to both. On the other hand, a ‘conscious uncoupling’ of the two organizations won’t necessarily decrease the level of coordination needed on operations, nor will it help the existing communications gap that exists even as they are co-located; it can only go downhill from there. Information warfare needs cyber-focused intelligence to achieve domain goals. Time will tell, but (before it gets better) I fear there will be a drop in quality of CYBERCOM operational planning, a potential shift in staff from one group to the other, and an increase in bureaucratic hurdles to clear for the two to collaborate; not to mention heightened tensions over the civilian-or-military leader debate for the intelligence community-focused NSA. Let’s hope they don’t drift too far apart."



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