The Senate unanimously confirmed Lt. Gen Paul Nakasone as the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency in a voice vote Tuesday.
Nakasone will take over as the head of the military’s preeminent cyber war-fighting organization, Cyber Command, and take the reins at the NSA, the nation’s premier signals intelligence agency, under what is a dual-hat arrangement.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Nakasone advocated that Cyber Command be prepared to “impose costs” on adversaries in retaliation to cyberattacks. His hawkish approach to cyberspace was welcomed by members of Congress who have been critical of previous administrations for a lack of cyber deterrence policies.
Nakasone went on to say cyber readiness would be his top priority if confirmed and that he must be able to assess the ability of cyber teams to perform their missions in combating the exponential growth in cyberthreats to the nation.
Nakosone will replace outgoing Cyber Command and NSA chief Adm. Michael Rogers, who in January announced plans to retire after a nearly four-year term.
Some believed with Rogers’s retirement, the Trump administration might take the opportunity to sever the dual-hat role and name separate leaders to the two organizations. However, it appears the dual-hat arrangement will continue, at least in the near term.
“I don’t have a predisposed opinion on this,” Nakasone said, when asked about his thoughts on the dual-hat arrangement.
Nakasone has been the commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command since October 2016, when he also assumed control of U.S. Cyber Command’s joint Task Force ARES, which provides cyberspace support to the military in its efforts to combat the Islamic State group.
According to congressional record, Nakasone was nominated for his fourth star on Feb. 8.
Cyber Command is currently in the throes of elevating to a fully unified combatant command. The elevation is expected to become official now that Nakasone’s has been confirmed by the Senate.