Combating Complexity: Offensive Cyber Capabilities and Integrated Warfighting
29 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2016
Date Written: February 2016
Despite recent work challenging offense dominance in cyberspace, scholars and policymakers still view offensive operations as dominating defense. Why do these sides come to very different conclusions about the nature and utility of offensive cyber capabilities? Disagreements are due to a poor specification of the logic of offense dominance and scope conditions. Offensive advantage is taken as axiomatic, generalizable to every instance of conflict. Advantage is then assumed to directly translate into battlefield effectiveness. Operations should instead be viewed as an interaction between offense and defense. Defensive actors have agency and the role of countermeasures in imposing cost and delay on attackers is under-theorized. Design and deployment processes are complex, costly, and vulnerable. Attacks against high-value targets require significant time, skill, and information. Operational complexity is even greater when cyber operations are properly understood in integrated war-fighting.
Keywords: Cybersecurity, Offensive Cyber Operations, Military Technology, Integrated Warfighting, Military Effectiveness
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