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  • Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, makes a budget pitch before Congress on May 24, asking for 16 percent more in fiscal year 2018 than in 2017 for U.S. Cyber Command.
     Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, makes a budget pitch before Congress on May 24, asking for 16 percent more in fiscal year 2018 than in 2017 for U.S. Cyber Command.

U.S. Cyber Command Seeks 16 Percent Raise in FY18

The Cyber Edge
May 24, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
E-mail About the Author

Adm. Michael Rogers tells Congress the command needs $647 million.

U.S. Cyber Command hopes for a bigger slice of the federal budget pie to cover operating costs in an increasingly volatile and dangerous cyber domain, said Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA).

He made his budget pitch before House lawmakers on Tuesday, seeking $647 million in fiscal year 2018—a 16 percent increase from fiscal year 2017—to address mounting cyber needs.

"The pace of international conflict and cyberspace threats has intensified over the past few years," Adm. Rogers told members of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. "Hardly a day has gone by during my tenure at Cyber Command that we have not seen at least one significant cyber event occurring somewhere in the world."

The command’s budget ask will address three pressing needs, he said. The first of those includes transitioning Cyber Command to a full combatant command status after Congress last year approved the move. Since its inception in 2009, the command has been a subunified command under U.S. Strategic Command.

For now, Adm. Rogers said he supports his "dual hat" role, meaning he heads both Cyber Command and the NSA. It serves as a benefit, particularly in sharing intelligence. That arrangement, though, is on a trajectory to change. “The institutional arrangement between these two organizations ... will evolve as Cyber Command grows to full proficiency in the near future,” he said.

Legislation lays the groundwork to split the two, "which can only happen without impairing either organization’s effectiveness and ability to execute their missions," the admiral said. It’s a path he approves of, pending the attainment of certain "critical conditions" he did not list during the congressional hearing.

Cyber Command also is focused on completing the build-out of its 6,200-person Cyber Mission Force, expected to be fully operational by the end of fiscal year 2018, he said.

The budget ask will go toward developing that increased cyber manpower; enhancing the professionalization of the cyber work force; building defensive and offensive capability and capacity; and developing and streamlining acquisition processes. Defending networks against a "growing variety of advanced threats from actors who operate with ever more sophistication and precision," the admiral said, rounds out the top three priorities.

“Conflict in cyberspace is not simply a continuation of kinetic operations by digital means,” he said. “It is unfolding according to its own logic, which we continue to better understand, and we’re using this understanding to enhance the department’s and the nation’s situational awareness and to manage risk in the cyber arena.”

Defending military, national and critical infrastructure networks demands a “whole of nation” approach that brings together public and private sections, he said. He called out during the hearing the success of the Point of Partnership program in Silicon Valley and Boston, which “has proven to be a successful initiative” to connect some of the “most innovative minds in industry.”

A main concern are state-based cyber actors lobbing more disruptive attacks than ever against government, police, intelligence, the military and critical infrastructure, he said. “We have seen states seeking to shape the policies and attitudes of democratic peoples, and we are convinced such behavior will continue for as long as autocratic regimes believe they have more to gain than to lose by challenging their opponents in cyberspace,” Adm. Rogers offered in a written statement supplied to lawmakers.

Additionally, even though the United States has experienced an increase over the last year in the number of ransomware incidents—typically cases for law enforcement rather than the military—the rise of criminal actors is cause for concern within the Defense Department, he said. Criminal actors "become a military concern when malicious state cyber actors pose as cyber criminals, or when cyber criminals support state efforts in cyberspace.”

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