The United States Cyber Command is sub-unified command in the US Department of Defense, responsible for cyberspace operations and protecting US military networks. According to Reuters, the Obama administration is getting ready to elevate the organization to a unified command, which would put it on par with the other nine combat commands.
The elevation of the unit signifies a recognition of the importance of cyber warfare in the years to come. Cyber operations have grown in recent years, with the command conducting cyber attacks against the Islamic State. First established in 2010, Cyber Command is currently one of the subordinate units within the United States Strategic Command, which is charged with space operations, information security, strategic nuclear deterrence, and other similar tasks. The move will separate Cyber Command from the National Security Agency, which share a director.
The move signifies a recognition of the importance of cyber warfare in the years to come
According to Reuters, the split is partially due to the evolving nature of each respective group. Where the NSA is primarily tasked with intelligence gathering, Cyber Command’s role appears to be more active: stopping ongoing cyber attacks and launching counterattacks. The plan is not set in stone, with the exact nature of Cyber Command’s role currently under debate at the Pentagon.
A Unified Combat Command is a unit that is composed of soldiers from two military departments, and which has a broad, ongoing mission. Currently, there are nine commands — Africa, Central, European, Northern, Pacific, Southern, Special Operations, Strategic, and Transportation — each of which has defined geographical or functional roles. Earlier this year, the Pentagon requested almost $35 billion to fund offensive capabilities for Cyber Command.