WASHINGTON — Adm. Mike Rogers, the dual-hatted chief of US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, said splitting the two agencies is a matter of "the right time" and "the right process."
Rogers, speaking at a FedTalks event Tuesday, said the decision to join the two agencies six years ago was meant to harness the NSA's capabilities, insight and knowledge. The thinking at the time was that it is faster and more effective to have a single commander over both.
"Are the assumptions that we made still accurate," Rogers said. "Have things changed? Is the environment different? Does that lead us to think we should do something different?"
"The challenge in my mind is, 'What's the right time, what's the right process so that we do it in a way that enables both organizations to fulfill their missions with minimal risk," Rogers said.
"So we are working our way through that process, and in the end it's a decision that the president of the United States is going to make, and we'll see where that process takes us," Rogers said.
The conversation comes amid reports that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are pushing for the split in order to reduce competition for resources that are currently shared by both organizations. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., has pledged to block any such effort, saying the administration has not formally consulted Congress.
Former House Intelligence Committee chair and Republican congressman from Michigan, Mike Rogers, appearing on the same panel, said there is an argument that joining the two muddles resources among them.
Instead, he said, the focus should be on effectiveness: "Does Adm. Rogers have to talk to director X at NSA to perform the same function he does today?"
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.