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Senators Introduce NDAA Amendment to Strengthen Cybersecurity

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) Joni Ernst (R-IA) Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs the president to elevate Cyber Command to a Combatant Command. U.S. Cyber Command is currently a subordinate unit to Strategic Command.

Congress established US Special Operations Command to address a rapidly growing need, strengthen the warfighter, and to unify forces. Today, with cyber threats being one of the fastest growing national security threats we face, the need for another Combatant Command is no different.

The amendment will elevate the command so it can respond to one of the fastest growing threats facing our nation and ensures that Cyber Command is a national commitment receiving sufficient support to complete the ever expanding cyber missions our warfighters face.

As ISIS is recruiting more and more followers online, CYBERCOM needs the ability to react quickly and engage the enemy effectively,” Daines stated. “Elevating Cyber Command will ensure that our military is always one step ahead of our adversaries in light of the increased global threats today.” 

“We should give our military the tools they need to do battle in the 21st century, whether it takes place on the field or in cyberspace,” Warner stated. “I agree with Adm. Rogers that elevating CYBERCOM to a Combatant Command will improve mission outcomes, and allow us to respond more nimbly to defend against 21st century threats.”

“We live in a digital world where the online battlefield can be as dangerous as the front lines. We need to make sure our military is always ready and able to fend off continuing and relentless attacks from terrorist organizations, foreign governments, criminals and others who wish to steal, corrupt, or manipulate our critical digital and traditional infrastructure,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Elevating the U.S. Cyber Command is an essential step toward protecting our national security. It also recognizes the stellar work being done at Fort Meade protecting American citizens and our military around the globe.” 

“America is fighting a cyber war every hour of every day. Maryland is our nation’s epicenter of cyber security,” Mikulski stated. “Ft. Meade already is home to the U.S. Cyber Command, NSA, the U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet and the Defense Information Systems Agency. Elevating CYBERCOM to a Combatant Command will give those charged with the defense of our nation more of the tools they need to protect .mil.  It also means more cyber jobs at Fort Meade making the nation safer and Maryland’s economy stronger.”

“In the 21st century, with the stroke of a key, our adversaries can have the types of strategic impacts which in the past could only be made through large scale military operations,” Ernst stated. “It’s time we recognize the significant role cyber plays in current and future conflicts, as well as the unique capabilities of our cyber warriors who defend our nation in this new dimension of warfare. Our efforts to create a Cyber Combatant Command does just that.”

“Cyber attacks are an ever-growing threat to our national security,” Blumenthal stated. “As the internet touches more aspects of our work and daily lives, our military must be equipped to defend and protect our nation. Elevating CYBERCOM to a Combatant Command will enhance its ability to protect Americans from cyber threats.”

“At a time when cyber threats are evolving and increasing, we must ensure that our military remains vigilant and agile in cyberspace,” Bennet said. “This amendment recognizes the serious and growing threat of cyber war and takes important steps to boost our cyber defense and give our warfighters the resources and capabilities they need to fight. Elevating CYBERCOM sends a clear message that we will be ready to fight any and all cyber attacks.”

The amendment is similar in the House NDAA and requires the President, with the advice and assistance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, through the Secretary of Defense, to establish a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces responsible for assigned cyber missions.

The full text is available below:



Chapter 6 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

ESTABLISHMENT.—With the advice and assistance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the  President, through the Secretary of Defense, shall establish under section 161 of this title a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces. The principal function of the command is to prepare cyber operations forces to carry out assigned missions.