Applying Irregular Warfare Principles To Cyber Warfare – Analysis

The cyberspace threat exists in a realm that does not conform to the physical limits of land, sea, air, and space. Unlike these traditional domains, cyberspace fosters an unpredictable threat that can adjust, morph, and reproduce without a national identity or face.1 The challenge of the military is to posture its approach to cyberspace and cyberspace threats that are initiated by faceless, borderless, and sometimes nationless enemies. These enemies manifest in a domain neither confined nor governed by the traditional norms and rules of war, which the broader military has no experience undertaking. To ensure the United States maintains cyberspace dominance and can foresee, rapidly respond to, and counter cyberspace threats, the U.S. military’s strategy and approach to cyberspace must adapt and incorporate unconventional approaches and hybrid warfare into its operational capability.

Despite its importance, the Nation’s leaders, strategists, and military planners struggle to understand how cyberspace operations (CO) fit into national security as an instrument of national policy. A significant shortcoming is due to the leaders’ lack of experience and basic understanding of what cyberspace is and what effects can be achieved in the cyber realm. Unlike the younger generation, who are considered digital natives, the majority of national and military leaders and military planners are considered digital immigrants. Popularized by Marc Prensky, the phrase digital natives refers to the generation who grew up using digital technology, and digital immigrants refer to the generation born before the advent of technology (circa the 1980s) but later adopted its use.2 While digital immigrants lack cyber knowledge, many of them understand irregular warfare (IW) and the value and importance of special operations. The many similarities shared by IW and cyber warfare (CW) can establish a foundation to guide U.S. leaders in the execution of cyberspace operations to maintain cyber superiority. ..Read more..

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