Defense chief asks for plan on cyber reform

Defense chief asks for plan on cyber reform
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Defense Secretary James Mattis is asking Pentagon leaders to develop a plan to improve support of cyber operations and information management.

Mattis issued a memo on organizational and structural reforms to his deputy and other officials last week, moving forward on reforms spelled out in an annual defense policy bill.

The guidance instructs officials to address several reforms put forth in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by then-President Obama in December, including plans to boost the military’s cyber operations. 

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“Develop an initial plan … for more optimized organizational structure and processes to support information management and cyber operations, considering the impact of the provisions in the NDAA for 2017 concerning the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command, and other relevant laws,” Mattis wrote in the memo, which was highlighted by the Pentagon on Tuesday. 

Congress aimed to strengthen cybersecurity with the defense legislation by elevating the U.S. Cyber Command — previously under the authority of the U.S. Strategic Command — to a unified command. It also put a hold on separating the dual-hat authority over the Cyber Command and National Security Agency, pending an assessment by the Pentagon.

Mattis requested that the initial plan on cyber operations and other reform-related materials be returned to him by Feb. 27. The Pentagon is required to submit an interim report to Congress on March 1. 

The memo was one of two issued by Mattis to officials to move forward with reforms and improve effectiveness and efficiency at the Pentagon. The second calls for the establishment of cross-functional teams to review operations in a number of areas, including cyber and information technology management.

“I am firmly committed to addressing Congressional concerns in a timely manner and aggressively exploring and implementing reforms that best position the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department for success,” Mattis wrote in the first.