Cybersecurity chief supports splitting role with NSA, but in the right way

October 19, 2016

October 18, 2016 By Jacqueline Klimas

Splitting leadership of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency into two separate roles is the right thing to do, according to the man who currently heads both of them.

But while that might be true, Adm. Mike Rogers on Tuesday said the administration and lawmakers should look at how to do it at the right time and in the right way.

“My position has always been it’s the right thing to do in the wrong way,” Rogers said at FedScoop’s FedTalks 2016. “The challenge in my mind is what’s the right time? What’s the right process? So that we do it in the right way.”

The NSA and Cyber Command were put under one leader to allow the brand-new cybersecurity agency to use the progress already made by the intel organization. Six years later, the admiral said it’s time to step up and reevaluate if assumptions that were made at Cyber Command’s beginning are still accurate or if the threat environment is different.

“It’s a sign of CYBERCOM’s maturation that we’re even having this conversation,” the admiral said.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he has “been going back and forth on this issue” and what the right path forward is. The question of splitting the position into two began because people questioned the link between an organization with an offensive and defensive military goal and a civilian intelligence organization, as well as issues of sharing resources.

“Would that make both organizations more effective? The only thing I worry about is, now does Adm. Rogers have to talk to Director X at NSA to perform the same function he does today,” the former congressman said.

Last month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, promised to block the administration from splitting the job between two people.

“I do not believe rushing to separate the dual hat in the final months of an administration is appropriate given the very serious challenges we face in cyberspace and the failure of this admin to develop an effective deterrence policy,” McCain said at a September hearing. “Therefore if a decision is prematurely made to separate NSA and Cyber Command, I will object to the confirmation of any individual nominated by the president to replace the director of the National Security Administration if that person is not also nominated to be the commander of Cyber Command.”!