Army Cyber Commander to take over NSA and CyberCommand
- By Lauren C. Williams
Army Cyber Commander Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone is expected to take over joint command of the National Security Agency and the newly elevated independent combatant command CyberCom upon the retirement of Adm. Mike Rogers.
News of the long-rumored appointment broke in a congratulatory tweet posted in the evening on Feb. 13 from White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce, himself an NSA veteran.
Nakasone became the Army’s cyber commander in 2016 and previously led the Cyber National Mission Force at U.S. Cyber Command. He also has combat leadership experience, commanding on multiple levels from company to corps, and was formerly the J2, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command intelligence director in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also served under former NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander.
Nakasone is well known in the cybersecurity realm and a well-respected leader in the military community. He oversaw the growth of Cyber Command through the Army’s 41 fully operational cyber mission force teams, and the building of another 21 cyber protection teams across the service’s National Guard and Reserve components.
The appointment, which requires Senate confirmation and would also bring Nakasone a fourth star, comes as the Defense Department and Congress grapple with how eventually to separate leadership for the NSA and Cyber Command. President Donald Trump elevated CyberCom to an independent combatant command last August, as called for in the 2017 defense bill. The NDAA legislative report contemplates splitting NSA and Cyber Command, but not until the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify to Congress that such a split "will not pose risks to the military effectiveness of the United States Cyber Command that are unacceptable to the national security interests of the United States."