Trump appointee recommends NSA, Cyber Command remain under same leader

Trump appointee recommends NSA, Cyber Command remain under same leader
© Greg Nash

Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command, reportedly told top Pentagon officials that he believes both organizations should remain under the same leader for at least two more years.

The Washington Post reported that Nakasone made the recommendation on Thursday, saying that the role of NSA director and commander of Cyber Command should remain under one leader, at least for now.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE sparked a review of whether U.S. Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s cyber warfare unit, should separate from the NSA given its growing significance after he boosted the cyber unit to a full combatant command last August.

When asked for comment, the NSA confirmed that Nakasone had submitted an assessment, but did not provide further details as to what the NSA chief had recommended regarding the arrangement.

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“As NSA Director General Paul M. Nakasone has acknowledged publicly, NSA confirms that General Nakasone has completed his 90 Day assessment on the status of the dual hat arrangement. He provided this to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their review,” a spokesman for the NSA told The Hill.  

Toward the end of former President Obama's presidency, it appeared there was momentum to end the dual NSA-Cyber Command arrangement.

“While the dual-hat arrangement was once appropriate in order to enable a fledgling Cybercom to leverage NSA’s advanced capabilities and expertise, Cybercom has since matured,” Obama said in a statement when he signed the 2017 national defense authorization bill.

The statement came in December 2017, a month before Obama left office and Trump started his tenure.

Nakasone reportedly submitted his recommendation to keep the two roles under the same hat on Aug. 5.

Sources told The Washington Post that the cyber unit could use the intelligence support provided by the NSA.

Nakasone helmed the U.S. Army’s cyber operations before taking on his latest role, where he had led the military’s cyber operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Nakasone was confirmed by the Senate earlier this year to a "dual hat" role of NSA director and commander of Cyber Command, where he now oversees foreign and counterintelligence collection in his current role.

Morgan Chalfant contributed

- Updated at 4:14 p.m.