of a four-part series exploring what U.S. Cyber Command will need to operate on its own, separate from the National Security Agency.
As important as a platform is to conduct missions, so too are tools. As mentioned in Part II, U.S. Cyber Command as a war-fighting organization will require different tools than the National Security Agency, which serves as an intelligence organization. Cyber Command’s tools would be meant to be attributed to the Pentagon in a war scenario; obfuscating attribution won’t be a necessary endeavor.
“The tools are different. Tools designed to reside and extract information might be different than tools designed to delay, degrade, disrupt and all that,” Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, told C4ISRNET in a recent interview. Hayden also commanded the first military and offensive cyber-oriented organization — Joint Functional Component Command-Network Warfare, CYBERCOM’s direct predecessor.
Hayden said the purpose of a powerful overlap in tools for both the NSA and CYBERCOM lies in network penetration. “If you separate them, would you then force Cyber Command to develop its own penetration to foreign networks? Which does suggest a deconfliction problem, but I don’t think an unmanageable deconfliction problem,” he offered, highlighting what he characterized as one argument — though not compelling, in his opinion — against an NSA-CYBERCOM split.
Most agree that CYBERCOM and the NSA will remain closely aligned even after the inevitable split, considering the NSA is still a combatant command-support organization and provides the requisite intelligence necessary to execute cyber operations.
However, according to some, intelligence operations are more difficult in cyberspace than the physical world, adding credence to the need for a conjoined CYBERCOM to rely on network penetration from the NSA for its offensive work.
“In physical space, intel is generally easier,” Hayden said, using an example of identifying Soviet intercontinental…