WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates formally ordered the creation Tuesday of a new military cyber command that will coordinate the Pentagon's efforts to defend its networks and conduct cyberwarfare.
A three-page memo signed by Gates orders U.S. Strategic Command to begin plans to set up a subcommand and be prepared to provide an implementation plan by Sept. 1, and begin initial operation no later than October.
Officials have said the new command would be located at Fort Meade in Maryland, and would be fully ready to go by the end of next year. Gates said in his memo that he is recommending that the director of the National Security Agency — currently Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander — be tapped to lead the command, in a dual role with his current responsibilities. That job would be upgraded to a four-star general slot.
"Our increasing dependency on cyberspace, alongside a growing array of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, adds a new element of risk to our national security," said Gates in the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
He added that the new command "must be capable of synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment as well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners."