By Calvin Biesecker

The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security yesterday announced an agreement to improve joint operational coordination and program planning for the nation’s cyber security, including more clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of both as well as sharing personnel in the security mission.

A joint statement by Defense Secretary Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that cooperation is needed in protecting critical networks against state and non-state actors.

The five-page agreement “formalizes processes in which we work together to protect our nation’s cyber networks and critical infrastructure, and increases the clarity and focus of our respective roles and responsibilities,” the joint statement said. “The agreement embeds DoD cyber analysts within DHS to better support the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and sends a full-time senior DHS leader to DoD’s National Security Agency, along with a support team comprised of DHS privacy, civil liberties and legal personnel.”

Another example of cooperation stated in the memorandum calls for DHS to receive DoD requests for cyber security support and consider DoD requirements. Likewise, U.S. Cyber Command is expected to received DHS requests for cyber security help and consider DHS requirements.

The agreement doesn’t alter DHS and DoD authorities for their respective cyber missions.

The new framework “is not intended to replicate or aggregate unnecessarily the diverse line organizations across technology development, operations, and customer support that collectively execute cybersecurity missions,” the memorandum says.

Rather, the statement says, the two departments will leverage technologies and personnel to “improve economy and efficiency” while carrying out their missions.