Conspiracy

What the Announced NSA / Cyber Command Split Means

Cyberwar and cyber intelligence are diverging, as are Cyber Command and the NSA. Here’s what that means for the man who leads both entities, the future of signals intelligence collection, and cyberwarfare.

The move to elevate Cyber Command to a full Unified Combatant Command and split it off from the National Security Agency or NSA shows that cyber intelligence collection and information war are rapidly diverging fields. The future leadership of both entities is now in question, but the Pentagon has set out a conditions-based approach to the breakup. That represents a partial victory for the man who directs both Cyber Command and the NSA.

The move would mean that the head of Cyber Command would answer directly to the Defense Secretary and the National Security Agency would get its own head. It’s a move that many have said is long overdue, and its exact timing remains unknown. So what does the split mean for the Pentagon, for Cyber Command, and for the future of U.S. cyber security?

The split will give the commander of Cyber Command central authority over resource allocation, training, operational planning and mission execution. The commander will answer to the Defense Secretary directly, not the head of Strategic Command. “The decision means that Cyber Command will play an even more strategic role in synchronizing cyber forces and training, conducting and coordinating military cyberforce operations and advocating for and prioritizing cyber investments within the department,” said Kenneth Rapuano, assistant defense secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security.

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