The Pentagon’s new top cyber policy shop could open for business as soon as next week.

The Department of Defense likely will start up the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy on March 18, according to three people with knowledge of the deliberations. 

Congress mandated the new office to increase the military’s attention on cybersecurity and have a single senior civilian official accountable for it.  

The organization will be led, temporarily, by Ashley Manning, who has held a variety of senior positions within DOD, until a nominee is found for the post, the sources said. They asked to remain anonymous to speak freely about the decision ahead of any announcement.

The move would come one week after the Pentagon unveiled a fiscal 2025 budget request that included $14.5 billion for cyberspace activities. That figure has climbed steadily over the years as digital security has become more integrated throughout the entire U.S. military.

Right now, John Plumb, the assistant secretary of Defense for space policy, also fills the office of the Principal Cyber Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. Meanwhile, a deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy has existed for years.

Recorded Future News first reported last year that the Pentagon had hired the RAND Corporation to examine how to best establish the new office within the department’s bureaucracy. That third-party analysis was delivered to DOD in September.

The same three sources said Michael Sulmeyer, the Army’s principal cyber adviser, is still the favorite to be the nominee for the post.

However, a Senate aide familiar with the situation said the current assumption is DoD won’t nominate anyone for the job this year because “it would be a wasteful endeavor with Congress deadlocked.”

The aide cited the usual backlog of nominees during an election year.

“I wouldn’t expect to see many presidential nominations other than judges on the Senate floor the rest of the year,” the aide told Recorded Future News. 

It “doesn’t really make sense to nominate a brand new ASD who will get jammed up in the confirmation process.”

The Pentagon declined to comment.

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