September 29, 2023

President Joe Biden’s nominee to move U.S. Cyber Command and the Nationwide Safety Company is taken into account to be forged from the identical mildew as their present chief and has performed a vital position in binding the 2 entities nearer collectively, in response to former officers who’ve labored alongside him.

At his first Senate affirmation listening to on Wednesday, Air Power Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, Cyber Command’s deputy chief, will clarify how he plans to fill the footwear of Paul Nakasone, the Military basic who has received reward from fellow nationwide safety leaders and lawmakers on either side of the aisle since 2018, when he took over the 2 premier businesses for combating international cyberthreats and digital espionage.

“That is any person that may stay very calm, open-minded and clear-headed in probably the most tough or making an attempt of instances. I noticed that from Common Nakasone, I see those self same traits in Tim Haugh,” mentioned retired Lt. Gen. Charles “Tuna” Moore, who served because the command’s No. 2 till he was succeeded by Haugh final October.

If confirmed, Haugh will inherit a “twin hat” management association that has been in place since 2009, when Cyber Command was created.

Haugh’s nomination comes at a time when the Biden administration is on a attraction offensive to steer Congress to reauthorize a controversial international intelligence regulation earlier than it expires on the finish of the yr. The regulation, referred to as Part 702 of the International Intelligence Surveillance Act, permits the NSA to scoop up huge quantities of intelligence from U.S. expertise suppliers about international espionage and abroad nationwide safety threats.

The regulation, which Nakasone has been a vocal supporter of, has attracted bipartisan concern from privateness advocates about how knowledge belonging to Individuals is by the way collected and searched, notably by FBI analysts.

In the meantime, simply over 5 years after being elevated to a combatant command, Cyber Command has come into its personal, incorporating missions like election safety and ransomware and instituting its personal subordinate unit.

Each organizations can be integral to defending subsequent yr’s presidential election from international interference from adversaries like Russia, China and Iran.

Haugh seems Wednesday earlier than the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Senate Armed Companies Committee shares jurisdiction over Haugh’s nomination and is predicted to carry its listening to earlier than the August recess.

Air Power background

Haugh (pronounced HAWK) was commissioned as a army intelligence officer over 30 years in the past, rising via the ranks to steer organizations throughout the Air Power associated to surveillance and reconnaissance and knowledge actions earlier than becoming a member of Cyber Command, beginning because the deputy commander for Joint Process Power Ares — a unit that was created in 2016 to combat the Islamic State on-line.

As soon as he was introduced in to temporary senior leaders and so they had been so impressed that he was requested to attend a number of the command’s Nationwide Safety Council deputy- and principal-level conferences, in response to Moore.

That was not a “regular sort of factor to have occurred,” he mentioned. However, “due to his information and understanding of what was occurring and plenty of the problems we had been making an attempt to work via the interagency course of to get approval as much as the president, he was requested to attend these conferences.”

Haugh subsequent served because the command’s director of intelligence earlier than being tapped in 2018 to helm the Cyber Nationwide Mission Power, whose groups are thought-about to be the Pentagon’s high digital operators.

“At that cut-off date, it was very apparent that he was going to be not only a contender, however in my thoughts, the contender from the Air Power perspective” to run Cyber Command and NSA in the future, mentioned Moore, now a visiting professor at Vanderbilt College.

“Who else had the intelligence background, and now was constructing the CYBERCOM background and expertise and understanding apart from Tim Haugh? I did not see anyone like that.”

Expertise with election safety

In his CNMF publish Haugh additionally grew to become the primary co-lead of a joint election safety job pressure with the NSA, initially referred to as the Russia Small Group, that sought to guard the midterm election from international hackers. It was a completely new mission for each organizations following Moscow’s multi-pronged assault on the 2016 presidential race.

He and Anne Neuberger, the NSA’s co-lead and Nakasone’s senior coverage adviser on the time, “actually paved plenty of new floor and helped set the path in the end for what we constructed off of that small group for subsequent election affect operations,” in response to Jon Darby, NSA’s former director of operations. Neuberger is now Biden’s deputy nationwide safety adviser for cyber and rising expertise.

The work required a “totally different mindset for the 2 organizations — collectively — to give attention to outcomes. Who may really do one thing? How would we collectively inform different elements of the federal government that had the authorities to take some form of motion?” Darby mentioned.

Notably, the trouble led to Cyber Command’s preliminary “hunt ahead” missions, deploying personnel to Montenegro, North Macedonia and Ukraine to glean new malware samples and see adversary instruments and strategies firsthand.

The election “supplied a novel rallying level” to “pressure each organizations into a more in-depth working relationship and a more in-depth understanding and respect for each other” than in any other case might need been potential, mentioned Gavin Wilde, who was at NSA as a Russian specialist and was a member of the small group in 2018 and 2020.

‘Caught lots of people’s consideration’

In 2019, Haugh acquired his third star — six weeks after receiving his second — and was named because the inaugural head of his service’s first info warfare unit, dubbed sixteenth Air Power (Air Forces Cyber).

It acts because the Air Power’s part inside Cyber Command and NSA and is dwelling to a number of portfolios, together with cyber, info operations, digital warfare and climate. The group additionally supplies defensive and offensive cyber operations to sure combatant instructions, together with U.S. European Command, which has taken level in coordinating U.S. army help to Ukraine since Russia’s unprovoked invasion final yr.

The task, after his temporary stint as a serious basic, “caught lots of people’s consideration,” in response to Darby, who retired final yr after practically 40 years at NSA.

“In my opinion, it is getting the precise kinds of abilities in these senior positions, which was, frankly, problematic at Cyber Command previously as a result of individuals would rotate out and in,” he added.

Haugh is a “sharp man who is aware of each [signals intelligence] and cyber, which is a requirement for anyone that is going to be in that dual-hat position,” mentioned Darby.

Haugh had a means of constructing that extra cohesive method, together with really taking motion towards international hackers, “culturally acceptable” not solely at NSA however throughout the federal authorities the place many weren’t used to working with the then burgeoning cyberwarfare unit, in response to Wilde, now a senior fellow on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace.

“He embodies that proper individual on the proper time for the precise job.”

Challenges forward

Whereas Haugh’s nomination is unlikely to fire up a lot opposition, his listening to earlier than the Senate Intelligence Committee comes as he and over 200 army members are caught in a blanket maintain by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who is obstructing senior army promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s coverage on service members touring for abortion care.

If finally confirmed, Haugh faces challenges at each organizations that might canine him all through his tenure, together with years-long issues about Part 702 in addition to Cyber Command’s low readiness ranges, which the Pentagon has scrambled to handle, and has induced Congress to think about the thought of creating a Cyber Power.

There are additionally perennial questions concerning the dual-hat management construction at Cyber Command and NSA, regardless that the Biden administration performed a high-profile overview of the association and located it was useful to U.S. nationwide safety.

Moore mentioned individuals shouldn’t anticipate “some gigantic change” at both entity as soon as Haugh assumes command, although “I am certain there’s some issues in his thoughts that he is been enthusiastic about for a very long time that he thinks can enhance the mission units.”

“I will not be stunned in the event you see a few of these issues cope with bringing CYBERCOM and the Nationwide Safety Company even nearer collectively when it comes to how they work extra successfully and effectively,” he speculated. “However time will inform.”

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The File. He spent the final 5 years at Politico, the place he coated Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence neighborhood and was a driving pressure behind the publication’s cybersecurity publication.