Nine months after the president first ordered U.S. Cyber Command elevated to a unified combatant command, the move was made official during a May 4 ceremony at Ft. Meade in Maryland.
Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the newest leader of Cyber Command, also assumed his new position on May 4 after the Senate confirmed his nomination on April 24 following Adm. Mike Rogers' retirement.
The Senate also unanimously approved Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty as the new commander of Army Cyber Command on April 26, a Senate Armed Services Committee official said. Fogarty will replace Nakasone as the head of the Army’s top cyber warfighting unit.
Fogarty was currently serving as Cyber Command’s chief of staff, and previously led the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence at Ft. Gordon in Georgia.
President Trump directed Cyber Command’s elevation in August 2017 with the intention of streamlining command and control of cyberspace operations under a single commander. The Pentagon’s latest National Defense Strategy and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have also highlighted the need for consolidated direction of how to handle future cyber threats outside of military operations.
“[The move] consolidates the authorities in terms of the direct synchronization of resources, training, as well as the operational planning and execution,” Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said in a statement.
Cyber Command will become DoD’s 10th Unified Combatant Command, joining the same level as Strategic Command and Special Operations Command. Nakasone, once in his role, will report directly to Mattis.
The command, which has operated as a sub-unified command under STRATCOM since 2009, will now have its operations organized under a single commander.
"USCYBERCOM will assume the responsibilities for cyberspace operations previously assigned to USSTRATCOM, including increased responsibility for synchronizing cyber training and force management, as well as allocation and apportionment of cyber forces. The commander will also gain the authority to advocate for cyber budgets, acquisitions, and to work directly with foreign partners," Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a DoD spokesperson, told sister publication Defense Daily.
Nakasone told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing that he believed consolidated authorities would help Cyber Command best execute operations against cyber threats, including potential Russian election interference.
“The move reflects the increase in cyber security threats from across the globe, recognized by the DoD in the National Defense Strategy,” DoD officials wrote in a statement. “In particular, this will help streamline command and control of time sensitive cyberspace operations. It’ll also ensure that critical missions are adequately funded and create more opportunities to strengthen U.S. defense efforts, reassure allies and deter adversaries, who will see we’re embracing the shift from traditional warfare.”
Davis affirmed that the decision to elevate Cyber Command has no bearing on the the long-discussed possibility to potentially split the dual-hat leadership role arrangement with the National Security Agency.