Cyber Command hits speed bump

Senate panel wants clarification on matters related to Alexander's nomination

The Senate Armed Services Committee this month put the brakes on the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command by requesting more information on its relationship with the National Security Agency, reports Bill Gertz at Washington Times.

Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, who is NSA’s director, has been nominated to four-star rank and to lead the Cyber Command. If approved, he would command both the NSA and Cyber Command and be promoted to full general. The Cyber Command’s headquarters would be located at Fort Meade, where NSA is currently headquartered.

In June 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved the creation of the Cyber Command as a unified, subdivision within the U.S. Strategic Command that would be responsible for protecting 15,000 computer networks across 4,000 military bases in 88 countries.

The committee has raised a number of detailed questions regarding the department’s plans for Cyber Command, including its relationship to the NSA, and has said that it would like all answers provided before considering Alexander’s nomination, U.S. Strategic Command officials said.

Although most concerns over the initial operating capability of the Cyber Command have been addressed, questions still remain about its future role and makeup, reports Lance Whitney at CNET. In addition to what the Cyber Command’s relationship be with the NSA, another matter is whether Alexander will be able to successfully juggle both jobs at once. Yet another concern is whether there will be other four-star generals in the wings capable of succeeding Alexander.

The committee is awaiting responses on the issue and will schedule a confirmation hearing after its questions are answered, said Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

DOD officials met recently with committee staff members, and the department plans to answer additional questions, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Curry, a Strategic Command spokesman.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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