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17 Jan 18. Which of these leaders will be the next head of Cyber Command?
With the reported retirement of Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, government and defense industry sources have floated several names as potential successors.
It’s likely whoever is nominated as the new leader of Cyber Command, will also likely service as director of the NSA, like Rogers.
Here are four officers that have been mentioned for the job and how they’ve discussed the cyber landscape:
Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of Army Cyber Command
Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commanding general of US Army Cyber Command, speaks during a media roundtable at the AUSA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. (Mike Morones)
Background: Nakasone has been thought to be the front runner in this race, sources said. The Cipher Brief has also tapped the general as the leader of this pack. Nakasone has served as the director of intelligence for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and as executive assistant to Gen. Keith Alexander, the first commander of and stood up Cyber Command.
Prior to his most recent position, Nakasone led the Cyber National Mission Force at Cyber Command.
Their thoughts: Nakasone has also taken the unusual step of speaking frequently about the offensive cyber efforts undertaken by Cyber Command against the Islamic State group – capabilities that were long known to exist but rarely discussed in public. Nakasone also leads the joint task force charged with bringing the cyber fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Joint Task Force-Ares. That task force has faced some criticism for its effectiveness, but Nakasone has said he believes the program is on the right path.
Nakasone has addressed how in creating a cyber warrior class, DoD and Cyber Command sought not to stovepipe their workforce into certain roles, namely offense or defense. From their perspective, the relationship is symbiotic and both sides are equally imperative.
“This is the piece we’ve always talked about: how do we ensure this workforce we’re developing doesn’t get stovepiped into one or the other because what we always believed as we were standing up CYBERCOM is that the most effective piece is that the offensive is going to inform the defense and the defense is going to inform the offense,” he said.
“Now we are taking a look at are we true to our form to be able to assign people from the defensive side to the offensive side and the offensive side to the defensive side.”
Nakasone has also discussed how the rapid pace of cyberspace – which occurs a milliseconds, much faster than operations in the physical world – has led to occasions where DoD is “outrunning our headlights.”
“We’re learning so much, whether or not it’s with our forces, with our doctrine, with our strategy; we are well forward of where we thought we would ever be,” he said at the CyCon U.S. conference in Washington Nov. 7.
Nakasone referenced the progress DoD has made standing up of a cadre of dedicated cyber warriors and the employment of such forces.
Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, deputy commander at U.S. Cyber Command
Background: Stewart was nominated to serve as the deputy commander at Cyber Command over the summer. Most recently he was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency after having served as the commander of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and a variety of DoD and Marine Corps intelligence positions.
Their thoughts: Prior to his official departure from DIA in August, Stewart said in a keynote in St. Louis that the U.S. is preparing to fight wars of the past.
“Today we’re largely preparing our network defenses for a peacetime environment or a low intensity conflict against threats like hackers, non-state actors, terrorists or nati