Senate votes to elevate Cyber Command in military

The Senate on Thursday passed a final defense bill that will elevate the U.S. military cyber unit to a full combatant command.

{mosads}Currently, Cyber Command is under the authority of U.S. Strategic Command, although it shares an address — and resources — with the National Security Agency (NSA). The legislation will spin it out into its own fully fledged war-fighting unit.

The move earned swift praise from lawmakers.

“We should give our military the tools they need to do battle in the 21st century, whether it takes place on the field or in cyberspace, and elevating CYBERCOM will improve mission outcomes and make us more agile in defending against 21st century threats,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement.

But despite the overwhelming 92-7 vote to send the wide-ranging National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to Obama’s desk, it’s unclear if the president will sign it. 

The White House has taken issue with the NDAA’s restrictions on transferring detainees out of the Guantanamo Bay facility. Obama has been trying to close the prison.

The NDAA will keep a more controversial element of Cyber Command’s structure, at least for now: Adm. Mike Rogers will maintain his dual role as the director of both the NSA and Cyber Command.

It is an arrangement that most onlookers — including Rogers — expect will eventually end, but not immediately. The bill requires the Pentagon to establish conditions for what would need to happen if the positions are split.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have reportedly pushed to break up the two roles before Obama leaves office early next year — but the proposal faced fierce pushback from senior lawmakers, including Armed Services chairman John McCain (R-Az.).

Rogers has said that while he supports elevating Cyber Command to a fully combatant command, he does not believe that the unit is ready to come out from under the umbrella of the NSA.

The final draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) comes as Rogers is reportedly under consideration to replace Clapper as Director of National Intelligence under President-elect Donald Trump.

The Washington Post recently reported that Clapper and Carter are both pushing to have Rogers removed from his position at the NSA — Clapper because he believes the NSA should be headed by a civilian and Carter because of separate concerns associated with Rogers’s performance.

Tags Donald Trump John McCain Mark Warner
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