Volume 15, Issue 2

Introduction to Special Issue

Our world is being transformed by ever more powerful and networked computing. This transformation in economic and social ties unfortunately comes with novel ways to undermine progress by exploiting the vulnerabilities in networks and systems. No government today can exercise power without acute sensitivity to the digital networks that underpin its communications, prosperity, and security. Societies and polities today seek new ways to defend themselves against those who would exploit this interconnectivity for malicious purposes. Militaries and national security establishments in particular are struggling to understand how to counter such threats. Among them, U.S. Cyber Command has engaged in an extended dialogue with thinkers pondering these questions, drawing upon experiences with interagency, international, academic, and private sector partners. We hope the articles that follow will stimulate discussions about the role of the military in cyberspace as well as the principles and concepts needed to guide strategy and operations. The integration of cyber operations and concepts into new ways of defending, fighting, and partnering will take decades and will have global consequences. These essays represent reflections by current and former practitioners and scholars who have spent time at, or who have worked with, U.S. Cyber Command. They are united in their quest to inform policy, strategy, and military operations in the cyberspace domain by questioning assumptions, reexamining fundamentals, and advancing the discourse on cyberspace.

Dr. Emily O. Goldman
Combined Action Group
U.S. Cyber Command

Volume 15, Issue 2 Editorial

Stylized Image of the Word Editorial

Spring 2016

This is the special edition we produce each year in collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA). Formerly, we worked with Neal Ziring, the Technical Director of the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), on what turned out to be a great collaborative effort. This year, we were supported by Dr. Emily Goldman and the Joint Action Group of U.S. Cyber Command. As before, this joint effort will produce a number of unique and original papers on cutting-edge areas of interest to our subscribers, that are focused on first-person, experimental, primary research from the NSA and Cyber Command.

Building a Conceptual Framework for Cyber’s Effect on National Security


Cyber changes everything; cyber changes nothing. That important, yet unhelpful, truism captures the state of debate concerning the effects of cyber technologies on national security. This ‘either/or’ pathology stems from the lack of a conceptual framework. Thankfully, this is changing. The Department of Defense’s 2015 cyber strategy presents an understanding of the strategic environment. Admiral Rogers’ 2015 vision and guidance for U.S. Cyber Command captures how cyber changes military art. Herein lies the foundation for building a conceptual framework. Based on these documents and general strategic theory, seven dicta for the further development of a conceptual framework are offered.

Cyberspace—Making Some Sense of It All


This paper provides a framework describing the characteristics and implications of cyberspace which the author defines as the meld of technology, people, and the procedures that bind the two. Taken in sum, these elements comprise a dynamic environment that hosts a global information repository of incalculable value and the means to inform and coordinate the actions of individuals, governments, critical infrastructure, and militaries.

The Role of the U.S. Military in Cyberspace


As the United States has grown dependent on cyberspace, the U.S. military has come to have an increasingly important role to play in protecting U.S. national interests in the cyber domain. In addition to operating and defending its own cyberspace resources and supporting other military missions, the U.S. military must now be prepared to defend the country as a whole. These missions require the military to innovate and to collaborate effectively with a whole host of international, governmental, and private sector actors.

Information War and Rethinking Phase 0


In the Department of Defense, both military and civilian planners use a framework that divides military operations into six distinct phases. This type of framework may no longer have the utility it once enjoyed. This shift has less to do with technology changing the nature of war and more to do with how the United States differs from its adversaries in its understanding of war. Adversaries of the U.S. understand the state of the world to be one of conflict and competition and look to strategy to impose order through hierarchy. This article considers the Russian and Chinese approaches to the use of information in war and makes recommendations on how the U.S. might respond.

Cyberspace Offense and Defense


As the newest domain of military operations, cyberspace presents new challenges and learning opportunities. The fundamental military concepts operations apply, but often in ways different from the other domains. This paper examines military concepts of offense and defense in the cyberspace domain. Much previous work attempts to map military concepts into cyberspace while avoiding the technological reality of the domain. This paper applies foundational principles from the established field of information security to make a more technologically grounded examination of cyberspace offense and defense, their relationship, and how their nature here differs from the other operational domains.

Some Thoughts on Deterrence in the Cyber Era


Although cyber is an increasingly important instrument of national policy for deterrence and coercion, our understanding of how it functions is still weak and underdeveloped. This article explores some traditional notions of deterrence that must be remembered and reinvigorated, and notes aspects peculiar to cyber that must also be explored. Traditional deterrence makes clear the importance of promises and the difficulty in telling what the other side values and fears, and how it sees the world. Cyber conflict poses special problems in the uncertainties and ambiguities involved in, and related to the lack of shared understandings about what would constitute escalation.

A Century of Convergence: Technology, Ideology, and U.S. National Security


‘Convergence’ is a term typically used to denote the conflation of several technologies. In a larger sense, convergence can signify the blending of technology, law, policy, doctrine, and capability in ways that boost knowledge and power for those who compel or defend states. The world has become globalized in the sense that virtually anyone, anywhere, can be targeted. These awesome powers of surveillance and force are still growing, but their oversight lags far behind. Ironically, efforts to limit surveillance have helped to spur the overall growth of surveillance capabilities, in part to answer the growing demand for intelligence for precision targeting. Understanding the origins and current breadth of that gap is key to resolving it.

The Search for Cyber Fundamentals


The precise rendering of how security is achieved in cyberspace has yet to be pulled together; and, despite the most recent publications of U.S. policy, there is still no settled answer to the core question of what organizing principles should drive military cyber operations strategy. This essay posits that cyberspace is a realm of activity in which new security dynamics are at work due to the revolutionary character of digital technology. The essay introduces six defining conditions that relate to military cyber operations leading to the organizing principle that cyberspace is an offense-persistent strategic environment.

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