Rules of Engagement for Cyberspace Operations: A View from the United States

Journal of Cybersecurity 3(1), March 2017

32 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016 Last revised: 9 Aug 2017

See all articles by Robert Kehler

Robert Kehler

U.S. Air Force (ret.)

Herbert Lin

Stanford - Center for International Security and Cooperation; Hoover Institution

Michael Sulmeyer

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA)

Date Written: June 15, 2016

Abstract

Cyber weapons provide U.S. forces with operational choices that were previously unavailable. To use these weapons with greatest effect, the U.S. military seeks to integrate them into its operational toolkit within a common framework of principles that apply to all weapons. While the U.S. military has had decades of operational experience formulating rules of engagement (ROEs) for kinetic weapons, several characteristics of operations in cyberspace complicate the formulation of cyber-specific ROEs. Sensitive issues related to command and control and escalation of force play important roles in shaping cyber-specific ROEs. The paper’s conclusion is that a paucity of similar experience with cyber operations will hamper the formulation of ROEs for cyber weapons unless special efforts are taken to impart such experience to civilian leaders and military commanders.

Keywords: Rules of Engagement, Command and Control, Escalation, Offensive Cyber Operations, Cyber Weapons

Suggested Citation

Kehler, Robert and Lin, Herbert and Sulmeyer, Michael, Rules of Engagement for Cyberspace Operations: A View from the United States (June 15, 2016). Journal of Cybersecurity 3(1), March 2017 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2835633 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2835633

Robert Kehler

U.S. Air Force (ret.) ( email )

Herbert Lin (Contact Author)

Stanford - Center for International Security and Cooperation ( email )

Encina Hall, C-236
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650497-8600 (Phone)

Hoover Institution ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
6504978600 (Phone)
6504978600 (Fax)

Michael Sulmeyer

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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