The move will occur once a four-star commander to be nominated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is confirmed by the Senate, said Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security.
President Donald Trump on Friday elevated the USA military's Cyber Command, which oversees the defense of the military's information networks and conducts offensive cyber-operations, putting it on the same level as other combatant commands that operate in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.
"Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under sections 161 and 167b of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct that U.S. Cyber Command be established as a Unified Combatant Command", the order said.
With the elevation, Cyber Command takes its place among the other unified commands, which include the regional commands that divide up military responsibility around the globe, as well as functional commands including Special Operations Command, Strategic Command and Transportation Command.
"While we welcome this elevation, there is much more to be done to prepare our nation and our military to meet our cybersecurity challenges".
The head of both Cyber Command and the NSA, Adm. Mike Rogers, had expressed some reluctance about the split but also was already looking past it in his last detailed remarks on the subject back in February. "He will announce recommendations on this matter at a later date", the White House statement says. Its new title will let CyberCom use computer networks for military purposes without having to get permission from the U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for nuclear weapons and missile defense.
Congress called for Cyber Command to be elevated to a unified combatant command in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The two organizations have sometimes competing objectives - for the NSA to collect intelligence, and for Cyber Command to achieve military objectives in cyberspace.