US Cyber Command's status is raised to form a unified combatant command

US President Donald Trump ordered the US military to elevate its cyber warfare operations to a separate command signaling a new emphasis on electronic offensive and defensive operations

"I have directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations", Trump said in a written statement without mentioning who would serve as commander of the organization.

At a Pentagon briefing, Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will recommend a nominee to Trump to head the new Cyber Command. Elevating the agency acknowledges that Cyber Command's mission to conduct offensive and defensive cyber activities is distinct from the NSA's electronic intelligence-gathering mission.

The elevation will streamline and prioritize the cyber operation, he added.

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Making an independent cyber command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as the more traditional realms of land, air and sea.

With the elevation, Cyber Command takes its place among the other unified commands, which include the regional commands that divide up military responsibility around the globe, as well as functional commands including Special Operations Command, Strategic Command and Transportation Command.

Emphasizing the enhanced resolve against cyberspace threats, Trump, in a White House Statement stated, "Through United States Cyber Command, we will tackle our cyberspace challenges in coordination with like-minded allies and partners as we strive to respond rapidly to evolving cyberspace security threats and opportunities globally". But Mattis' recommendations will be "announced at a later date".

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The National Security Agency collects signals intelligence and is also tasked with the protection of USA communications networks and information systems.

The move would end the so-called "dual hat" arrangement in which Cyber Command is part of the National Security Agency under Navy Adm. Mike Rogers.

This tension came to the fore when President Barack Obama past year ordered Cyber Command to take more aggressive action against the Islamic State in cyberspace.

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This move was at one time also considered by the Obama administration and brings with it a renewed discussion of whether the command should be split from the NSA and aligned more closely with the military.

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