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The Criticality of Cyber Defense to Operational Commanders
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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The rapid expansion of cyberspace, the newest warfighting domain, presents unprecedented challenges for operational commanders going forward. The military, as a whole, is well trained and highly experienced in conducting full-spectrum operations across the land, maritime, air, and space domains, but much less so with regard to cyberspace. Responding to the increasing role and importance of cyberspace at the operational level, U.S. Cyber Command CYBERCOM recently began establishing highly specialized Cyber Support Elements CSE at the combatant commands. Given this, the question arises as to how CYBERCOM and its supported operational commanders should prioritize cyberspace operations to best support full-spectrum operations. Specifically, which cyber capabilities are most essential in achieving operational objectives offensive or defensive This paper argues that operational commanders should focus predominantly on defensive cyberspace operations, limit their offensive capabilities for dynamic cyber defense and counterattack measures only, and should not strike preemptively in cyberspace. The criticality of cyber defense to operational commanders is underscored by three factors cyber dangers, cyber dependency, and cyber deterrence.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE