U.S. Cyber Command became the nation’s 10th unified combatant command today and Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone replaced Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers as commander, and as director of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service, at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Rogers spent four years at the helm of both organizations shepherding both through challenging times, and especially growing Cybercocerm to be a force in a new combat domain.
Different Kind of Domain
“For more than 1,000 years, militaries have vied for dominance on land and sea,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan at the ceremony. “For the last 100 years, we have dominated in the air. Today we are at the dawn of a new era, facing the reality of war’s changing character: The emergence of cyberspace and outer space as contested warfighting domains, equal in importance with land, sea and air.”
Cyberspace is fundamentally different from the other warfighting domains as it is not bound by physical constraints, he said. The ability to operate in the virtual world of computers and networks, though, is just as crucial to military success as it is do take and hold ground, Shanahan said.
“The next 10 years, will look significantly different from the last 10,” he said. “The Department of Defense will ensure our military is ready to fight and win against any adversary across any domain, dominating the cyber domain at the speed of relevance.”
The cyber domain is so new that the rules for operating in it are still being written, Shanahan said. Rogers had to make educated guesses on what would be important and how would this impact other domains, the deputy secretary said. “Over four years, you anticipated the demands of the cyber domain before they were articulated. Your efforts informed this years’ National Defense Strategy — a road map for America’s military that takes a clear-eyed look at the world as it is, recognizing cyberspace as a warfighting domain.”
Old, New Threats
Rogers and the command had to adjust to the return of great power competition, the efforts of rogue states like North Korea and Iran, and the demands to foil attacks by violent extremist organizations.
“Admiral Rogers, you have tackled an explosion of threats and an explosion of technology, and explosions in demand and capacity,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan also praised the admiral for working with the services to develop cyber capacity and for his efforts to increase defenses for DoD’s cyber realm. He also thanked Rogers for “growing our assets to take the cyber fight to our adversaries.”
Shanahan said the elevation of Cybercom to combatant command status shows the domain has come of age and Nakasone now must take the command to the next level. “Your challenge is to build scale and strengthen our arsenal of cyber weapons, cyber shields and cyber warriors,” the deputy secretary said.
The deputy secretary noted that the general has worked at the NSA and Cybercom before and that experience will stand him in good stead. “You bring a wealth of practical experience as well as the proven ability to generate engagement and teamwork,” he said.
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