A new research piece from the Heritage Foundation argues in favor of retaining the current dual-hat command structure for the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, currently headed by Gen. Paul Nakasone.

James Di Pane, Research Assistant in Heritage’s Center for National Defense, laid out several arguments for keeping the current structure, and suggested that the White and Congress shouldn’t assume that terminating the dual-hat arrangement is an inevitable outcome despite persistent policy arguments that favor a split.

Di Pane also suggested refining the criteria for determining whether terminating the dual-hat arrangement is in the best interest for U.S. security. Any plan to either retain or change the current arrangement should be hammered out with the participation of the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees.

“This plan should involve the anticipated costs – both for personal and infrastructure – and have a timeline,” Di Pane writes.

Whether or not the command structure is split,  Di Pane said Cyber Command should continue to work towards being able to operate independently of NSA. Increasing that independence, he said, will require fewer NSA tools to be used by Cyber Command, thus reducing the risk of adversaries discovering those tools.

“There are compelling arguments for both sides of the dual-hat question,” Di Pane writes. “Today, the logical course of action is to maintain the dual-hat arrangement.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.