WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D- Md.) were joined by Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Col.) today in introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs the president to elevate Cyber Command to a Combatant Command. U.S. Cyber Command it is currently a subordinate unit to Strategic Command.
Congress established US Special Operations Command to address a rapidly growing need, strengthen the warfighter, and to unify forces. Today, with cyber threats being one of the fastest growing national security threats we face, the need for another Combatant Command is no different.
The amendment will elevate the command so it can respond to one of the fastest growing threats facing our nation and ensures that Cyber Command is a national commitment receiving sufficient support to complete the ever expanding cyber missions our warfighters face.
“We live in a digital world where the online battlefield can be as dangerous as the front lines. We need to make sure our military is always ready and able to fend off continuing and relentless attacks from terrorist organizations, foreign governments, criminals and others who wish to steal, corrupt, or manipulate our critical digital and traditional infrastructure,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Elevating the U.S. Cyber Command is an essential step toward protecting our national security. It also recognizes the stellar work being done at Fort Meade protecting American citizens and our military around the globe.”
“America is fighting a cyber war every hour of every day. Maryland is our nation’s epicenter of cyber security,” Mikulski stated. “Ft. Meade already is home to the U.S. Cyber Command, NSA, the U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet and the Defense Information Systems Agency. Elevating CYBERCOM to a Combatant Command will give those charged with the defense of our nation more of the tools they need to protect .mil. It also means more cyber jobs at Fort Meade making the nation safer and Maryland’s economy stronger.”
The amendment is similar in the House NDAA and requires the President, with the advice and assistance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, through the Secretary of Defense, establish a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces responsible for assigned cyber missions.
The full text is available below:
ESTABLISHMENT OF UNIFIED COMBATANT COMMAND FOR CYBER OPERATIONS.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF CYBER COMMAND
Chapter 6 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
ESTABLISHMENT.—with the advice and assistance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President, through the Secretary of Defense, shall establish under section 161 of this title a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces. The principal function of the command is to prepare cyber operations forces to carry out assigned missions.