Gen. Paul Nakasone assumed the directorship of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, now officially a unified combatant command, from Adm. Michael Rogers in a ceremony May 4.

In doing so, Nakasone became “the primary guardian of our nation’s cyber domain, said Patrick Shanahan, deputy secretary of defense.

The ceremony, held at the newly unveiled Integrated Cyber Center and Joint Operations Center, marked the elevation of Cyber Command to the 10th combatant command and the first new combatant command since Africa Command came online in 2007.

A wide range of high profile guests including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, Rob Joyce, special assistant to president and cybersecurity coordinator on the national security staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff and Essye Miller, acting DoD CIO, were in attendance.

Shanahan, who presided over the event along with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, told Nakasone that “Adm. Rogers has built capability and integration. Your challenge is to build scale and to strengthen our arsenal of cyberweapons, cyber shield, cyber warriors.”

Rogers explained during the ceremony that four years ago the organization he took command of was given a structure and a plan.

“Our job,” he said, “was to take that structure and that plan, build it out, create a vision, operationalize this idea and ensure that it was integrated with a broader set of activities executed by the Department of Defense.”

Nakasone called the elevation “a day of new beginnings, of renewed partnerships and of our enduring commitment of the defense of our nation.”

“Today we start writing the opening chapter for U.S. Cyber Command as our nation’s newest unified combatant command,” he said. “From defensive operations protecting our networks to offensive operations against ISIS and other adversaries, CYBERCOM has matured rapidly.”

He added: “Our team now has both the challenge and more importantly the opportunity to build a combatant command from the ground up. The elevation today marks a proud day for CYBERCOM and the nation and I am fortunate to be here to lead you into this next chapter of our great history.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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