The Birth of US Cyber Command

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday signed off on a memo that authorizes US Strategic Command to establish a subordinate US Cyber Command. That confirms the hint by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn last week during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that an announcement was imminent. He said a subunified command would not need Congressional approval, but the commander would be subject to Senate confirmation. According to the Gates memo (Daily Report obtained a copy), STRATCOM boss Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton is to establish the command “effective immediately.” Gates wants to have the director of the National Security Agency, currently Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, also serve as the head of CYBERCOM and intends to ask the President to authorize the position as a four-star slot. The deputy commander would carry three stars. Gates also indicated that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy is to “lead a review of policy and strategy to develop a comprehensive approach to DOD cyberspace operations.” In the meantime, Chilton is to develop the implementation plan for CYBERCOM, present it to Gates by Sept. 1, in anticipation of an initial operating capability for the new command on Oct. 1 and full operating capability a year later. Gates’s preferred location for the new command is Ft. Meade, Md.