Schiff advocates for NSA, Cyber Command split

Schiff advocates for NSA, Cyber Command split
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is calling for the National Security Agency (NSA) to be split from U.S. Cyber Command. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father Erik Prince says meeting with Russian banker unrelated to Trump campaign MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said it would be “wise” to have separate leaders for the two organizations, pushing for a civilian head of the NSA during remarks at Columbia Law School in New York.

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Currently, the two organizations are both led by Adm. Mike Rogers. Congress elevated Cyber Command to a unified combatant command using annual defense policy legislation passed last year, but also required the Pentagon to conduct a full assessment before splitting it from the NSA.

The Pentagon told The Hill earlier this year that it has started assessing whether it should split up the dual-hat leadership. 

“Those are two very big jobs housed under the same hat,” Schiff said. “I think we would be wise to split up those responsibilities.”

Experts have noted that the split is likely to happen eventually, but have warned of the risks of separating them too quickly. Cyber Command was established at NSA headquarters in 2009 and has been largely dependent on the agency.

Schiff made the comments in response to a question of whether or not the federal government has the appropriate organization structure to be effective on cyber. 

More generally, he said that the government is slow to keep pace with technology and indicated that there are organizational improvements to be made.

“We’re probably not structured how we should be,” Schiff said, adding later, “we’re always going to be chasing this.”