U.S. Joint Cyber Force Elevated to Newest Subordinate Unified Command

The Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) officially became the Department of Defense’s (DoD) newest subordinate unified command during a ceremony at U.S. Cyber Command Headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland on December 19, 2022.

What is a Subordinate Command?

A subordinate command is authorized by either the Secretary of Defense or the President. It is established to conduct a portion of the mission or tasking of their parent command.

The elevation of CNMF marks the evolution of a “persistent, professional cyber force,” officials said. The unit is responsible for national security priorities, such as election security, ransomware, cyber espionage and other operations.

CNMF is the U.S. military’s joint cyber force charged with defending the U.S. in cyberspace, including offensive, defensive and information operations. U.S. Army General Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, who presided over the elevation of CNMF, has previously suggested the Cyber Command would engage in offensive cyber actions against adversaries where necessary.

Nakasone, who previously served as a CNMF commander, explained what distinguishes the command:

“This [CNMF] command is so special because they’ve always been on the cutting-edge in terms of the operations we’ve conducted. This is the command within U.S. Cyber Command that has always taken that first step forward. The future holds a lot for the Cyber National Mission Force.”

CNMF commander Maj. Gen. William Hartman, said the new designation reflects the success of CNMF in election defense, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, counter-ransomware operations, global hunt operations and support to “thousands” of operations of national significance.

Hartman extolled the work of the Cyber National Mission Force:

“What this designation is really about is the maturity of the Cyber National Mission Force as a forward-looking organization to defend the nation. It’s about building a sustained readiness model that enables us to stay in a fight. It’s about our people: how we develop a dynamic model to recruit, assess, train and retain the world’s most talented cyber force.”

Origins, History

CNMF was established in 2014 and since then has participated in, or responded to, almost every national crisis the U.S. has faced, officials said. The unit was established to meet the U.S. Cyber Command’s need for an agile joint force that would engage adversaries in cyberspace.

Initially, CNMF was composed of 21 teams, 13 Cyber National Mission Teams and eight Direct Support Teams. Today, CNMF has 39 joint cyber teams organized in six task forces. It includes 2,000-plus Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Guardians, and NSA and DIA civilians.

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