News: The department was established in 2010.
The United States Government is planning to elevate US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) to a unified combatant command, which would make it one of the most powerful units in the Department of Defence (DoD).
The Obama administration plans, according to officials speaking to Reuters, to make USCYBERCOM one of what will be 10 overall unified commands and separate it from the National Security Agency (NSA).
According to a former senior intelligence official quoted in Reuters, the plan reflects the growing role of cyber operations in warfare and the differing missions of USCYBERCOM and the NSA.
The elevation would make it equal with regional commands such as Africa, Central, European, Northern, Pacific and Southern and special commands such as Special Operations, Strategic and Transportation.
Further differentiation between the roles of USCYBERCOM and the NSA will prioritise the former’s focus on protecting against cyber attacks and launching counter attack compared to the NSA’s focus on surveillance.
According to Reuters, the plan would make the director of the NSA a civilian rather than a military officer.
US Cyber Command was initially ordered to be established in June 2009 by the Secretary of Defense as a sub-unified command, subordinate to United States Strategic Command. It achieved full operational capability in 2010.
The unit directs the operations and defence of DoD information networks, provides support to combatant commanders for missions around the world and strengthens the nation’s ability to both withstand and respond to cyber attacks.
A particular focus of operations will be Islamic State; a senior general admitted earlier in 2016 that cyber attacks were being used against the organisation. The Islamic State has its own cyber division, known as the Islamic State Hacking Division.
There has also been tension with large nations over cyber activity. For example, the US and China have accused each other of conducting cyber attacks, which each has strongly denied.