Cyber Command to Become Unified Combatant Command

President Donald Trump announced Friday he plans to make U.S. Cyber Command a unified combatant command on par with U.S. Central Command and other similar independent units in the military that report directly to the secretary of defense. He also said it "demonstrates our increased resolve" against threats in cyberspace, deters adversaries, and helps reassure USA allies and partners. The split was also considered by the previous administration and has been in talks for some time.

In the statement, Trump said that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is "examining the possibility" of separating Cyber Command from the NSA and that he will announce recommendations on that possibility at a later date.

"I have directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations", Trump said in a statement.

Cyber Command had been subordinate to the U.S. Strategic Command, which is also responsible for military space operations, nuclear weapons and missile defense.

The command will be led by a four-star general; the first nominee is Lt. Gen. William Mayville, according to three defense officials.

Cyber Command was formed in 2010 from two smaller organizations subordinate to Strategic Command, the same military body responsible for USA missile defenses.

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Current and former officials said a leading candidate to head U.S. Cyber Command was Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, now director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

These "Cyber Mission Force" teams are already actively conducting operations and will achieve full operational capability by the end of fiscal year 2018.

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.

Kenneth Rapuano, who is assistant secretary of defence for Homeland Defense and Global Security, said there was no firm timeline on when Cybercom would be fully stood up as a combatant command. "We don't move fast enough from concept to capability", testified the top USA general.

Before leaving office, former President Barack Obama also said the dual arrangement should be split up.

"We must develop a clear policy and strategy for deterring and responding to cyber threats", Mr McCain said. It also defends the United States from digital threats and cyberattacks on key federal and military systems.

  • Adam Floyd