A Pentagon Cyber-Command Is in the Works

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Obama administration is finalizing plans for a new Pentagon command to coordinate the security of military computer networks and to develop new offensive cyber-weapons, sources said last night.

Planning for the reorganization of Defense Department and intelligence agencies is underway, and a decision is imminent, according to a person familiar with the White House plans.

The new command would affect U.S. Strategic Command, whose mission includes ensuring U.S. "freedom of action" in space and cyberspace, and the National Security Agency, which shares Pentagon cybersecurity responsibilities with the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The Pentagon plans do not involve the Department of Homeland Security, which has responsibility for securing the government's non-military computer domain.

But President Obama must approve the changes and Congress must be notified of them before they can be implemented, said this source, who has spoken with several White House and military officials. This individual spoke on the condition of anonymity because the process is still "in motion."

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the plans last night.

One question is whether the new command's leader would be a military commander with a four-star rank. The NSA is currently led by Army Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who has three stars.

News of the proposal comes on the heels of a 60-day White House review of cybersecurity efforts. Federal agency deputies are expected to meet Friday to consider the recommendations of the review team.

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson contributed to this report.

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