Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Joseph F. Dunford Jr. has been tapped by the Biden administration to guide a review of the leadership arrangement governing U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, an examination that could trigger lasting ramifications for the country’s digital and intelligence operations.
The administration has assembled a small study group to scrutinize the benefits and drawbacks of the “dual-hat” leadership structure that has existed since Cyber Command was created in 2009, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
That the administration chose Dunford — who remains widely respected among national security circles for his thoughtful approach when he served as the country’s top military officer — signals the importance attached to the evaluation.
Both Cyber Command and NSA have always been helmed by the same military officer, a role currently filled by Army Gen. Paul Nakasone. That practice has been enshrined in law, but has rankled some within the clandestine community who do not believe it’s appropriate for NSA — the country’s largest intelligence agency, responsible for electronic espionage — to have a uniformed chief.
The arrangement has also caused tensions on Capitol Hill where some lawmakers believe the responsibilities of each role have grown so vast that it requires two people, particularly since Cyber Command has expanded its missions to include election security and fighting ransomware.
Nakasone has served in the role since 2018 and was asked earlier this year by the administration to extend his tour for at least another year.
A top Pentagon official testified earlier this year the leadership scheme would be revisited.
“I believe that the ‘dual-hat’ will be looked at again, just by this admin ..
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