Should Cyber Command and the NSA Have Separate Leadership? How to Decide

Should Cyber Command and the NSA Have Separate Leadership? How to Decide
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Should Cyber Command and the NSA Have Separate Leadership? How to Decide
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
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Summary

The elevation of U.S. Cyber Command in 2018 to a unified combatant command has reignited the debate over whether to terminate the dual-hat arrangement, wherein the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) simultaneously serves as the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command. This debate over whether to end this arrangement has gone on for years now, with many believing that a split is both inevitable and necessary to improve the cybersecurity of the United States, while others maintain that splitting the organizations could either have a detrimental effect on cybersecurity or would result in multiple inefficiencies. This Backgrounder lays out the arguments for, and against, a split, with recommendations for a decision that is based solely on enhancing U.S. cyber operations.

Key Takeaways

Cyber Command has long relied heavily on the NSA for mission support, manpower, equipment, and know-how for the command’s military operations.

Cyber Command has developed since then, operationally and in manpower, and is now capable of more autonomy in its ability to conduct operations.

There is a debate on separating the two organizations, which operate under a single boss. The decision should be based solely on enhancing U.S. cyber operations.

The elevation of U.S. Cyber Command in 2018 to a unified combatant command has reignited the debate over whether to terminate the dual-hat arrangement, wherein the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) simultaneously serves as the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

This debate over whether to end this arrangement has gone on for years now, with many believing that a split is both inevitable and necessary to improve the cybersecurity of the United States, while others maintain that splitting the organizations could either have a detrimental effect on cybersecurity or would result in multiple inefficiencies. Ultimately, this decision should be based solely on whether a split would actually enhance the cyber capabilities of the United States.

Read the full report at The Heritage Foundation.



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