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DOD stands up a new civilian-facing cyber policy office

The nominated head of the new Pentagon office is awaiting confirmation in Congress.

The Pentagon opened its Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy on March 20, the Department of Defense announced in a Friday notice.

The office, which was mandated in a must-pass 2023 defense policy bill, aims to give the U.S. military a more civilian-facing role into the world of cyber policy. It will be headed by Ashley Manning — the former acting deputy assistant secretary of defense — on a temporary basis until a permanent nominee is confirmed.

President Joe Biden last Friday tapped Michael Sulmeyer to be assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy and head up the new office. His confirmation still awaits consideration in the Senate.

The FY2023 defense package required that the presidentially appointed cyber position be created amid concerns that the Pentagon wasn’t focused enough on bringing forth a civilian lead to tackle such matters. Sulmeyer previously served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and Cyber Command, according to the White House.

The new office is responsible for coordinating the Pentagon’s cyber strategies, overseeing the military’s cyber operational budget, cyber workforce development and private sector outreach, among other areas.

The Pentagon this week unveiled a new Defense Industrial Base cybersecurity strategy to help centralize DOD’s cyber resources and improve outreach with defense firms that contract with the U.S. armed forces’ cyber institutions.

The U.S. military’s cyberspace oversight is currently anchored to CYBERCOM, one of several unified combatant commands that amalgamates service staff across several branches. The head of the cyber operation also has joint command of the National Security Agency, focusing on defending Pentagon networks and offensive military operations in cyberspace.