COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Retired Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, would hand over the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity responsibilities to the head of the newly created U.S. Cyber Command.
"The number of 10-pound brains in any nation is limited, he said, referring to the the difficulties the government has had in hiring cyber-experts. Speaking at the Cyber 1.1 conference held the day before the annual Space Symposium on April 11, Pace said the United States does not need to "replicate" the National Security Agency.
Army Gen. Keith Alexander wears two hats, one as commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command under the secretary of defense and the second as the director of the NSA, under the director of national intelligence. He should wear a third hat and answer to the secretary of DHS, Pace said.
There would be privacy concerns and misgivings about the U.S. military working in the domestic realm, but "it needs to be done," Pace said.
Both the NSA and Cyber Command are located at Fort Meade, Md. Cybercom is a subunified command under the U.S. Strategic Command. The NSA is a Defense Department agency whose leader answers to the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA specializes in cryptology and eavesdropping but is also responsible for protecting U.S government communication systems.
DHS has also been given the responsibility of protecting federal government computer networks as well. The Defense Department, meanwhile, only oversees its own cyber-realms.
DHS announced two years ago that it would hire 1,000 cybersecurity experts. It has fallen far short of that goal and brought on less than 300, it was revealed at the GovSec conference in Washington, D.C. last week.
Roger Cressey, senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, and a cybersecurity specialist, said that the federal government is having a hard time hiring network security professionals. The pool of graduates who have computer science degrees is small, and they are being lured into private sector jobs.
He agreed that putting all the responsibility for the federal government's Internet security needs would help the talent shortage by consolidating the responsibilities under one roof. The real expertise in the government that is capable of protecting networks currently lies in the NSA, he told National Defense.
However, the NSA might be wary of taking on new responsibilities. It "has a lot on its plate right now," he added.