President Obama has, as expected, nominated National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to be promoted to the rank of general and assigned as commander of the new United States Cyber Command.
The Cyber Command, announced this summer, will be in charge of cyberwarfare and the security of military networks. It will be based in Ft. Meade, Md., where the National Security Agency is also headquartered, and will be part of the U.S. Strategic Command.
Defense secretary Robert Gates urged Alexander's appointment in a June memo, when he formally created Cyber Command. A month earlier, Alexander said in testimony before the House Armed Services committee that it was vital for the military to combine some of its existing cybersecurity efforts. "The way we're approaching [cybersecurity] today does not work," he said. "We can put the defense and the offense together for the good of the department. The rapid expansion and global dependence upon cyberspace require[s] the Defense Department to evolve its warfighting doctrine to include cyberspace as a viable domain on par with the domains of the land, sea, air and space."
In anticipation of the possible creation of a broad military cybersecurity effort, Alexander this spring became acting director of the Joint Task Force -- Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO), which heads up the operation and cybersecurity of Department of Defense networks. JTF-GNO will dissolve next year, and its operations roles will revert to the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Alexander will stay on in his role as NSA director. He also heads the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, which is developing offensive cyberwarfare strategies. He was previously deputy chief of staff of the Army, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, and held a number of other senior Army roles.
In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, Alexander laid out several priorities for military cybersecurity, including preventing unauthorized access, cybersecurity training, consistency in cybersecurity management, and the use of "automated security protocols." He also mentioned the importance of working with the nation's allies and partners in industry on certain cybersecurity issues.
Alexander holds a number of graduate degrees, including a master of science in systems technology (electronic warfare) from the Naval Post Graduate School, and has won a number of military awards, including five Legions of Merit and a Bronze Star.
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