This article is part of a series from the Center for American Progress exposing how the sweeping Project 2025 policy agenda would harm all Americans. This new authoritarian playbook, published by the Heritage Foundation, would destroy the 250-year-old system of checks and balances upon which U.S. democracy has relied and give far-right politicians, judges, and corporations more control over Americans’ lives.

At a time of escalating global tensions and numerous verified instances of foreign interference in U.S. elections, the far right would ban U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM)—the key component in the U.S military’s arsenal for combating election-related cyberthreats—from participating in federal efforts to fortify elections. This proposal in the far right’s Project 2025 authoritarian playbook could empower foreign actors to tip the scales in U.S. elections and allow the far right to amass more power as foreign adversaries seek to divide Americans and promote extremist ideologies.

Combating foreign interference in elections has been especially critical since Russia worked to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. U.S. government investigations concluded that Russia aggressively targeted Black Americans on social media in order to disincentivize them from voting in the 2016 election—tactics reminiscent of Soviet-era strategies aimed at magnifying societal divisions, especially race-based ones. Since then, the United States has advanced a whole-of-government approach to countering election cyberthreats and foreign influence operations. This approach has focused on ensuring that all government agencies working to track and counter cyberthreats are coordinating on election-related threats and holistically responding to foreign election interference to protect voters and election infrastructure.

In order to justify their proposal, the far right brands CYBERCOM’s election-related work as “partisan,” just one example of Project 2025 and the radical right’s work to reframe civic duty and civic life—key tenets of American democracy—as partisan actions. But just as the U.S. Department of Defense works to secure American democracy abroad and at home without partisan objectives, its main cyber agency, CYBERCOM, works to secure American democracy in cyberspace.

While many other agencies help to generate insight on foreign adversaries, share intelligence, and coordinate with industry and allied partners, CYBERCOM is the United States’ best tool to actively defend against sophisticated cyber operations and disrupt malicious cyber actors. CYBERCOM’s recent effectiveness in countering election interference can chiefly be attributed to two developments: 1) congressional authorization for defense agencies to “take down [foreign] infrastructure” and “take on adversaries” in response to cyber operations and 2) an executive order by the Trump White House that authorized the military to engage in “offensive cyber operations” in the wake of foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections. The far right’s proposal to end CYBERCOM’s election-related work, therefore, goes directly against Trump-era measures to empower agencies to do this work—showing, yet again, the extreme agenda the far right is willing to push for in order to gain political power.

Since 2018, CYBERCOM has deployed “hunt forward” teams in more than 20 countries and on dozens of networks to defend U.S. national security and has even been on the front lines of providing U.S. cyber support to Ukraine—not only to help defend Ukraine but also to learn more about Russian cyber operations to better defend the United States from threats, including election interference. In 2020, CYBERCOM was responsible for finding and identifying attempts by Iranian agents to hack into systems used by local governments to publish election results. That same year, the agency was chiefly responsible for taking action against Iranian agents attempting to intimidate American voters.

Intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed that China, Russia, and Iran pose ongoing election threats and seek to interfere in U.S. elections to advance their global interests, divide Western alliances, magnify American societal divisions, and undermine the United States’ international standing and reputation. Specifically, in the 2024 “Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence cautions:

“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] may attempt to influence the U.S. elections in 2024 at some level because of its desire to sideline critics of China and magnify U.S. societal divisions.”

“Russia is contemplating how U.S. electoral outcomes in 2024 could impact Western support to Ukraine and probably will attempt to affect the elections in ways that best support its interests and goals.”

“Ahead of the U.S. election in 2024, Iran may attempt to conduct influence operations aimed at U.S. interests, including targeting U.S. elections, having demonstrated a willingness and capability to do so in the past.” More pressingly, these warnings have already materialized this year, showing that CYBERCOM’s election-related work remains vital. In April 2024, Microsoft reported that it had identified Russian interference operations aimed at undermining American support for Ukraine—with more than 70 Russian actors engaging in these influence operations this year alone. The company also reported PRC- and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked actors posing as American voters and posting artificial intelligence (AI)-manipulated content of political candidates on social media to influence American voters. Additionally, in May 2024, OpenAI reported that Russian and Chinese actors had been identified as using the company’s AI technology to “generate social media posts, translate and edit articles, write headlines and debug computer programs,” with the aim of influencing public support for political campaigns and geopolitical issues.

Elections are a matter of national security and their outcome belongs in the hands of the American people alone. America’s military cannot adequately defend the nation, support allies, and thwart adversaries if it is prevented from defending the bedrock of American democracy: elections. As long as adversaries seek to undermine and destabilize the U.S. sovereignty through election interference, the military must be fully empowered to respond, just as it would if foreign adversaries hacked power grids or launched a physical attack. An attack on American democracy is an attack on America. Paralyzing the military’s ability to respond paralyzes national security but that’s exactly what the far right proposes in pursuit of more political power and the special interests and extreme socio-political agenda that they support.

Greta Bedekovics is the associate director of democracy at the Center for American Progress.