Forthcoming assistant secretary for cyber position at DOD could encompass electronic warfare and information warfare

The Pentagon is conducting a study through an outside organization to examine how to structure the forthcoming Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy role.
River entrance of the U.S. Department of Defense. (Getty Images)

The Pentagon has not submitted a nominee for a newly created position overseeing cyberspace, in part, because it has commissioned a study regarding what that role will look like. But the job’s purview could include electronic warfare and information warfare, among other areas, according to a senior official.

In last year’s annual defense policy bill, Congress created a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy position to be in charge of the “overall supervision of policy of the Department of Defense for cyber.”

“We are moving forward on it. We just want to do it right,” John Plumb, principal cyber advisor to the secretary of defense and assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said during a hearing before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber Innovative Technologies and Information Systems Thursday.

He added that he anticipates the creation of the ASD for cyber could help address some of the retention issues facing the office of the principal cyber adviser, but he declined to offer more specifics.


“We are trying to make sure that we create ASD cyber in a deliberate manner that has the most positive effect,” Plumb. “What we’re doing is following the template that was used to create my current position — ASD for space — which is putting a [federally funded research and development center] on contract to examine what’s the proper structure, are there different pieces required, what things should be in this cyber ASD ship.”

That study is expected to wrap up in September, he noted.

News of the study, which is being conducted by the RAND Corp., was first reported by The Record.

When asked if a nominee could come in September at the conclusion of the study, Plumb indicated that could happen, but acknowledged the decision is above his level — comments which drew consternation and disappointment from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc.

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