Army chief Milley strongly backs 'dual hat' role at Cyber Command

The 2019 Army Birthday Ball takes place in honor of the 244 Army Birthday at the Hilton in Washington, D.C., June 15, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke) 

Gen. Mark Milley at the 2019 Army Birthday Ball. (U.S. Army phot by Spc. Dana Clarke)

Filling the Defense Department's 12 leadership vacancies is vital for military accountability to civilians and overall "effectiveness and efficiency of the department," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley during his Senate nomination hearing for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff July 11.

Senate Armed Services Committee leaders, Chairman James Inhofe (R - Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), expressed displeasure with DOD's vacancies -- and lack of presidential nominations -- during the hearing.

While Inhofe worried the vacancies created undue hardship, Reed characterized the situation as a "vacuum of civilian leadership," calling on the president to quickly submit nominations of qualified candidates. But the senator also worried about organizational fit and shifting roles and responsibilities.

Milley said it was important to have permanent, confirmed leaders to reinforce civilian oversight of the military and more specifically improve the "effectiveness and efficiency of the department."

Milley also briefly touched on cyber warfare during his testimony. "Good offense is critical, it is the best defense," he said of cyber operations. "We also need to improve the network and resilience in defensive capabilities of the military and the United States at large with the infrastructure."

When asked about tightening the definition of cyberwarfare, Milley said it was something that needs "a considerable amount of detailed thought and a lot of experts as to what constitutes an act of war with respect to cyber capabilities."

Milley's written testimony homed in on cybersecurity, advising Cyber Command and the National Security Agency to continue with the "dual-hatted" leadership while seeking a cyber- review for the Joint Chiefs.

"The current 'dual hat' configuration between U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency is working well and should be maintained," Milley said, adding that if confirmed, the issue would be carefully attended and based on the best military advice.

Milley said the Joint Chiefs would benefit from a cyber readiness review similar to what the Navy conducted and reported on in March, including annual cyber training for all personnel -- military, government and contractors.

Additionally, Milley said he would require a commander's critical information report for breaches and monthly reports on cyber protection status. The cybersecurity workforce would also get professional certification and continuing education, he wrote.

When it comes to engaging below the level of armed conflict in cyberspace, Milley wrote that "operations range from intelligence collection and preparation to strengthening the security and resilience of our networks" but that timely integrated operations were a prime objective.

If confirmed, Milley said he would work to streamline the Defense Department's processes for cyber operations and make recommendations regarding force structure and the strategic environment.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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