Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pentagon: Cyber Offense Part of U.S. Strategy

Via Washington Post -

The Pentagon is prepared to launch cyberattacks in response to hostile actions that threaten the government, military or U.S. economy, according to a new policy document submitted to Congress this week.

The report, obtained by The Washington Post, is the most detailed document so far from the government on its emerging cyberwarfare program, and it warns that adversaries attempting cyberattacks against the United States “would be taking a grave risk.”


The report is more explicit than the Pentagon’s cyberstrategy released in July, which focused on the importance of deterring attacks by building defenses that would “deny” adversaries the benefits of success. In the latest report, the Pentagon states directly that it “has the capability to conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our nation, allies and interests.”

When defense-based deterrence fails to stop a hostile act, the report says, the Pentagon “maintains, and is further developing, the ability to respond militarily in cyberspace and in other domains.”

James E. Cartwright, the recently retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the report “is a good start at documenting how the U.S. will both defend our interests in this vital domain and deter those who would threaten those interests.” Cartwright had publicly stated in July that a strategy dominated by defense would fail.

In May, the White House released an international cyberstrategy declaring that the United States reserves the right to use all necessary means — diplomatic, military and economic — to defend the nation against hostile acts in cyberspace. But it said that the United States will “exhaust all options prior to using force whenever we can” in response to a hostile act in cyberspace.

This week’s report was issued in response to a congressional requirement to answer key cyberwarfare policy questions by March 1, 2011. There was no explanation in the report for why it was months overdue.


DoD Cyberspace Policy Report: A Report to Congress Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, Section 934 (Nov 2011)

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