When NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander steps down in the spring, he is expected to be the first and last NSA chief to also share the position of head of Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), according to officials familiar with discussions in the Pentagon.
The Pentagon is drawing up various proposals for Alexander’s replacements, with the leading option being to appoint a civilian NSA director for the first time in the agency’s history and a separate military officer to head up CYBERCOM.
Though the NSA Director is historically a military position, the creation of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) civilian post to oversee them on top of the Pentagon provides considerable confusion, since CYBERCOM is a totally military command with no DNI oversight.
Splitting the two may distance the Pentagon further from its historical role in the NSA, but would solidify its hold on the Cyber Command, which aims to engage in “offensive” operations on the Internet and may prove to be a hugely powerful position in its own right as the US looks to be more aggressive on that front. It would also shield CYBERCOM from the ongoing NSA scandals.