Despite Pentagon plans already in motion for more than a year to open the new Department of Defense Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, a key seat still needs to be filled.

Much needed attention

The office, mandated by Congress to increase the military’s attention on cybersecurity, is intended to have a single official to remain accountable.

Currently, Ashley Manning is holding the office until a nominee is found. Manning has held a variety of senior positions at the DoD, including the Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, and the Deputy Head of Strategy, and oversaw the development of Defence’s contribution to the UK Integrated Review strategy.

The opening of the OASDCP is expected to happen as early as today, which comes just one week after a statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Defense Budget, March 11.

In the Defense Budget, the DoD announced a critical investment into long-range fires, vital space capabilities, and cybersecurity. Cybersecurity alone accrued $14.5 billion in funding. 

House Testimony

In March of 2023, John Plumb, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, testified to the House Armed Services Committee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation. 

“Today, the United States faces diverse threats both internal and external to cyberspace,” Plumb said. “As Secretary [Lloyd] Austin has said since his first days in office, the People’s Republic of China is the Department’s pacing challenge and Russia remains an acute threat. This is as true in cyberspace as it is in other warfighting domains. Other persistent threats arise from North Korea, Iran, and transnational criminal organizations—many of which work to tacitly advance the interests of their host nations. These adversaries use cyberspace to conduct malicious cyber activity against the Department of Defense Information Network and U.S. homeland, weaken Allies and partners, and undermine U.S. values, institutions, and interests.”

Dr. Plumb also serves as the Principal Cyber Advisor to the Secretary of Defense, according to his bio on the Pentagon website. 

Testing and Data

In early 2023, the Pentagon hired the RAND Corporation to advise on the creation of the new office. The study was expected to take up to a year to complete but would create the necessary data on how to fit this new office into the already complex DoD structure. 

The results of that report were submitted in October 2023, but at that time it was likely to be months before a nomination is made and confirmed.

With the establishment of the office underway, a nomination is expected to follow soon.

Mieke Eoyang, who currently holds the role of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of Cyber Policy, has been an obvious candidate, but several sources have stated that due to Eoyang’s past as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill and as an MSNBC commentator, concerns have been raised about her not making it through the confirmation process in a narrowly divided senate.

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Aaron Knowles has been writing news for more than 10 years, mostly working for the U.S. Military. He has traveled the world writing sports, gaming, technology and politics. Now a retired U.S. Service Member, he continues to serve the Military Community through his non-profit work.