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Cyberspace Actions in a Counterinsurgency

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This work addresses the insufficiency of United States Department of Defense joint doctrine for incorporating cyberspace operations into counterinsurgency COIN campaigns. This insufficiency is addressed through the use of a matrix, which aligns the cyberspace actions described in joint cyberspace doctrine against the COIN tenets outlined in joint COIN doctrine. Each intersection of cyberspace actions and COIN tenets is explored, first by listing the effects that the cyberspace action can produce in support of the COIN tenet. Each list of effects is then evaluated to determine the degree to which these effects are accounted for by current doctrine, whether these effects have been seen in actual COINs, and how significantly these effects contribute to a COIN campaign. To facilitate open discussion, we draw only from unclassified sources. We find that existing doctrine does not address many types of missions and operations that can produce effects in support of the COIN tenets. The intersections with effects that contribute most significantly to a COIN campaign, but are least accounted for by current doctrine, are prioritized we then propose additions to current doctrine that account for the insufficient guidance. We conclude by addressing the limitations of this mapping and suggesting future research.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Government and Political Science

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