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Report: Officials Propose Making Cybercom Full Combatant Force

Site: FBI.gov

Officials plan to recommend that the U.S. Cyber Command be made a full combatant force on par with the European and Pacific Commands, the Washington Post reports.

An unnamed official told the Post  that Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will recommend the change to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

While officials do not expect opposition to the proposal, the final decision will be up to President Obama.

The move would put the Cyber Command on the same level as regional commands and give the cyber group direct access to both Panetta and Dempsey for resources, among other things, the report notes.

Established in 2010, the Cyber Command has 750 employees, which the Post notes is far fewer than most of the nine U.S. military combatant commands.

The group largely lacks offensive methods, which officials are currently debating.

Officials suggested to the Post that elevating the Cyber Command’s status would potentially make other nations view the U.S. as a military cyberspace aggressor.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Campbell, head of the military’s first cyber defense unit, told the Post the change would emphasize the importance of cyber in the U.S. strategy.

The change would also shorten the chain of command, he said.

Several issues may arise if the Cyber Command is elevated, including who would head the command.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander heads both Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

James Lewis, director of the CSIS’s technology and public policy program, said NSA does a bulk of the Cyber Command’s job and that the government should consider splitting the positions when Alexander retires.

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