US Cyber Command outlines policy of ‘defending forward’

Written by Sam Trendall on 19 June 2018 in News
News

Command vision document strikes a more confrontational tone

The US Cyber Command has outlined its vision of “seizing and maintaining the tactical and operational initiative in cyberspace”.

In a recently published command vision strategy document, the US national cyber defence organisation detailed its intention to increasingly pursue methods that put the country’s adversaries on the back foot.

“Defending forward as close as possible to the origin of adversary activity extends our reach to expose adversaries’ weaknesses, learn their intentions and capabilities, and counter attacks close to their origins,” the document said. “Continuous engagement imposes tactical friction and strategic costs on our adversaries, compelling them to shift resources to defence and reduce attacks.”


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The Cyber Command strategy proposes five imperatives: 

  • To achieve and sustain overmatch of adversary capabilities
  • To create cyberspace advantages to enhance operations in all domains
  • To create information advantages to support operational outcomes and achieve strategic impact
  • To operationalise the battlespace for agile and responsive manoeuvre 
  • To expand, deepen, and operationalise partnerships

“Our imperatives are mutually supporting, with success in one enhancing success in the others,” the command vision said. “They dictate what we must do in order to retain the initiative in cyberspace. Attaining and sustaining these imperatives creates uncertainty for our adversaries and makes them hesitate to confront the United States.”

Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia were all named as cyberspace adversaries. The command’s ultimate goal is to help the US establish and maintain dominance over these and any other sources of threat.

Cyber Command’s vision is summarised thus: “[To] achieve and maintain superiority in the cyberspace domain [in order] to influence adversary behaviour, deliver strategic and operational advantages for the Joint Force, and defend and advance our national interests.”

The US Cyber Command is one of 10 unified commands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. 

Earlier this year, the US Department of Homeland Security teamed up with the FBI and the UK National Cyber Security Centre “hold Russia to account” for what it claims has been a concerted series of cyberattacks over a period of more than a year.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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