Today, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the current director of the National Security Agency, will go before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss his appointment to head the U.S. Cyber Command. For close to six months, Alexander’s appointment has been delayed due to concerns over the role of the NSA and the military in providing cyber defenses outside of the .mil and .gov networks.
Alexander has already provided written answers to the Senators questions, which the Washington Post has posted here. In his written responses, Alexander says that the mission of USCYBERCOM is “integrating cyberspace operations and synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment; providing support to civil authorities and international partners; directing global information grid operations and defense; executing full-spectrum military cyberspace operations; serving as the focal point for deconfliction of DOD offensive cyberspace operations…”
If the Senate were to confirm him, Alexander would “be responsible for directing the operation and defense of DOD’s military information networks.” He sees his biggest challenge is improving the current defense structure of the military’s networks. Alexander also says that it will require “real-time visibility of intrusions,” a capability which DHS is currently working to deploy with Einstein III.
Alexander also believes that the current legal landscape is acceptable to operate effectively.
“Given current operations, there are sufficient law, policy, and authorities to govern DOD cyberspace operations,” he wrote.
He also promised to limit the effect of cyber offensive operations to civilians. “It is difficult for me to conceive of an instance where it would be appropriate to attack a bank or a financial institution, unless perhaps it was being used solely to support enemy military operations,” Alexander wrote.