By: Zack Duvall
The Trump administration, working with intelligence leaders from the NSA and military leaders from all branches of the armed services, is in the final stages of establishing the U.S. Cyber Command as its own operational entity.
Currently, all U.S. cyber operations, to include cyber warfare against foreign adversaries, fall under the jurisdiction and authority of the National Security Agency, which critics say impedes the ability of military based cyber operations to be launched by the U.S.
Supporters of the move by the White House, that includes bi-partisan support from Democrats in Congress, say that the rate at which cyber threats are growing, highlights the need for the U.S. to ‘revamp’ its cyber security and put a stronger emphasis on the military application of the cyber and IT field.
“Right now I think that its inevitable, but it’s on a very slow glide path. A new entity is not going to be able to duplicate NSA’s capabilities.” Jim Lewis, a cyber security expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said of the news.
Lewis and other experts in the field, with knowledge of the plan by the Trump team, explain that even though the move is much needed and one that will greatly improve national security, it will not be without its hiccups and without needing funding that could amount to billions of dollars. They point to the fact that the NSA employs hundreds of mathematical, technology, and cyber experts and the fact that the NSA has one of the world’s most powerful computers as being “extremely hard to duplicate” and would take time to develop for an independent organization.
The plan by officials to split Cyber Command from the NSA is expected to leave the NSA as strictly an “intelligence gathering” agency with a focus on data collecting and logging as well as “other anti-terrorism” related activities with an emphasis on homeland defense as opposed to global operations.
The independent U.S. Cyber Command would focus on military and tactical purposes that would include launching offensive cyber operations that would include disrupting various military systems of foreign enemies and dismantling online recruiting efforts by extremist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
U.S. Cyber Command was established in its current form under the Obama administration in 2009 in an effort to address the growing threat of cyber espionage and attacks. It is currently based in, and operates out of, Fort Meade, Maryland as a sub unit of the NSA under the U.S Strategic Command.
A senior White House official said that the final plan for the establishment of the new agency would be announced in the coming weeks, although no definitive date was reported.