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The Cyber Defense Review

Why Special Operations Forces in US Cyber-Warfare?

By COL Patrick Duggan | January 08, 2016

Cyber-warfare[1] is human-warfare and SOF must play a role. Even in terms of unclear interaction, such as between the US and China, investing SOF expertise into cyber-organizations helps to fill the gaps of American practice caused by elemental differences in military cultures. Whereas, principled Clausewitzian and Jominian theories inspire idealistic US strategies, China’s Sun Tzu inspired stratagems are as unpredictable and deceptive as human nature itself. Defensively oriented, US military culture favors warfare in terms of absolutes and wrestles with cyber-warfare’s ambiguity as a successful strategic deterrent. Conversely, Chinese military culture embraces and promotes ambiguity and brandishes cyber-warfare as a strategic compellent. While US cyber-warfare practice is objective and technically driven, China’s more subjective “cyber-shi[2] application is coercive and psychologically driven. Ready to help close cyber-warfare’s clear cultural gap, SOF are experts at exploiting the psychological, cultural, and societal factors that drive human behavior and are masters in unconventional warfare. SOF are purpose-built to provide unique expertise on human nature in conflict and are perfectly-suited to advance US cyber-practice better-adapted to counter adversaries in the “gray zone.”[3] By investing SOF experts into cyber-organizations, the Department of Defense (DoD) generates more asymmetric cyber-warfare options and strengthens the nation by fusing the best of competing historic approaches, in this most modern form of human-warfare.


Cyber-warfare is Human-warfare

Conflict has and always will be a human enterprise. Conflict is a clash of human wills driven by passions like hatred, enmity, and fear, and is a struggle that begins and ends in the minds of men.[4] While the human nature of conflict is timeless, conflict’s form frequently changes. Cyber-warfare is just the latest change in form, but is fast becoming a prevailing method for how human conflicts will play out. Although no universally accepted definition exists, DoD defines cyber-warfare as “An armed conflict conducted in whole or part by cyber means…conducted to deny an opposing force the effective use of cyberspace systems and weapons in a conflict.”[5] However, cyber-warfare is much broader in reality and includes asymmetric activities to disrupt, destroy, or manipulate information and communications systems, collect information about adversaries while safeguarding one’s own, and create warlike conflicts in virtual space.[6] Most important to note, cyber-warfare is like all other forms of warfare, as it seeks to influence “the will and decision making capability of the enemy’s political leadership and armed forces.” [7] Cyber-warfare is not simply a technical abstraction, but represents a virtual vehicle for tapping into the human passions that drive behavior and action. Whether directly or indirectly, cyber-warfare uses digital weapons, in lieu of physical ones, to fight battles over the hearts and minds of those who make and influence decisions in conflict.[8] Therefore, as emerging technologies continue to hyper-enable and hyper-entangle human engagements, so too, will this most modern-day form of human-warfare.


Clausewitzian and Jominian US Cyber-warfare

Carl von Clausewitz and Baron Antonine Henir de Jomini have had a profound and enduring impact on generations of US military strategists. However, there has been much debate recently over Clausewitz’s and Jomini’s relevance to cyber-warfare, due in part, to challenges in adapting US thinking for this latest type of conflict. Central to the debate, is whether Napoleonic-era strategies or “past approaches to warfare” remain valid in an evolving world of cyber-war, or whether a new generation of strategists must be educated to address the specific challenges of cyber-war?[9] Critics assert that unlike warfare of the past, the complexity, ambiguity, and very idea of cyber-warfare is something so alien to classical strategists that cyber-warfare erodes the relevance of historic theories. Meanwhile, proponents counter that cyber-warfare is a natural extension of Napoleonic-era theories, but whose wrinkles are just now being ironed out. Regardless of the merits of either side of debate, there are several challenges that bear mentioning; and while examining the timeless brilliance of Clausewitz and Jomini are far beyond this paper’s scope, there are several gaps reflected in US cyber-practice to consider.

Jomini’s central argument to warfare, in The Art of War, was the notion of applying overwhelming force at the decisive point of battle, which could have been; features on the ground, the correlation of features to strategic aims, or the positions of forces in relation to one another.[10] To Jomini, there was a rational logic for armed battle and almost prescriptive approach to victory. Jomini believed “strategy was the sphere of activity between the political, where decisions were made about who to fight, and the tactical, which was the sphere of actual combat.”[11] As Jomini instructs, “Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point: grand tactics decides the manner of execution and the employment of the troops.”[12] Jomini envisioned battlefield geometries where proper arrangement of troops in time and space could overmatch adversaries at decisive points in battle. Jomini’s “rational and managerial” approach to military theory has appealed to generations of American generals and admirals whose optimism for self-contained battles,[13] found Clausewitz’s theorizing overblown.

More widely read than Jomini, Clausewitz’s book, On War, described the nature of war as a remarkable trinity, composed of three main elements; “primordial violence, hatred, and enmity…of chance and probability…and its subordination as an instrument of policy.”[14] To Clausewitz, there was a dynamic interaction between the three elements that needed constant balance to create good strategy. In Clausewitz’s mind, strategy was “the use of the engagement to achieve the objectives of a war” by translating political goals into military aims.[15] Clausewitz described how policy linked the statesmen to the general, the general to resources,[16] and how all in concert, implemented the nation’s strategy through decisive action. Clausewitz’s descriptive approach to military theory heavily influenced US military thinking with two ideal notions. First, all acts of war should be instrumental to their own ends. Second, physical force is the primary method for imposing a nation’s will on another. Some critics of Clausewitz, to include Sir Basil Liddell Hart, lamented that Clausewitz’s theories tended to “emphasize the logical ideal and absolute” over the practical, and lent themselves to the crude application of simplistic slogans misapplied to modern-day warfare.[17]

While there were clearly stylistic differences between Clausewitz and Jomini, there was not a great deal of separation between them on operational aspects of warfare.[18] Because both men were heavily influenced by a Westphalian world where state on state battles led to victor takes all, both strategists regularly advocated force on force engagements in structured manners. Although both strategists recognized stratagems and indirect approaches to battle, neither were advocates and consistently promoted force over guile.[19] Finally, although both men recognized, what we call today, the gray-zone between peace and war; both strategists emphasized the dichotomy of offense or defense, with Clausewitz urging weak states to maintain a defense only so long as clear balances of power favored a decisive offense.[20]

Jomini’s and Clausewitz’s influence on US military culture is mirrored by challenges in formulating effective US cyber-deterrence strategies. Cyber-war’s lack of clearly defined enemy, lack of simplicity for attributing cyber-attacks, and lack of clear borders for battle, contributes to the US’s struggle with using cyber-warfare as an effective tool for cyber-deterrence. Cyber-warfare’s lack of knowns and absolutes feeds the nation’s instinctive aversion for borderless offensive action, and are consistently reinforced by defensive cyber-strategies, [21] despite calls to re-assess them. The U.S. Cyber Command Commander, Admiral Michael Rogers, has repeatedly called for increased offensive cyber-operations as a way to effectively demonstrate strategic deterrence;[22] but, the US remains reticent about brandishing, threatening, or using offensive cyber-capabilities.[23] In April 2015, DoD published its latest Cyber-Strategy which clearly infers offensive cyber-warfare as a strategic deterrent, but remains “silent about using or threatening cyber-war as an instrument of coercion.”[24] Although the strategy warns the US will respond to cyber-attacks in a place, manner, and time of its choosing, the strategy does not establish the cost of what an attack will be or communicate triggers for punitive countermeasures.[25] Notwithstanding US cultural preferences for force-on-force engagements in structured manners; critics assert, that the absence of officially stated offensive missions, desired effects, conditions, and escalatory response indicates an absence of any coherent US cyber-strategy, other than a defense.[26] In other words, the US’s Napoleonic-era cultural-bias for dichotomous war is one thing, but the omission of strategies to cope with cyber-warfare’s vast ambiguous gray-zone is another.

Nuanced cyber-deterrence strategies are difficult to create, especially when considering the wide-array of cyber-actors and cyber-threats facing the nation. All forms of cyber-deterrence must be credible, capable, and prepared to send the right message to a rogue’s gallery of cyber-actors, from opportunistic criminals to China’s Unit 61398.[27] However, identifying and leveraging what every threat values is exceptionally challenging, as what works on nation states may not work on non-state actors. Developing effective cyber-deterrence strategies requires creativity and unconventional thinking; and as the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, explained to Congress, requires changing “both the substance and the psychology of deterrence” by changing the mind-set for how the US responds.[28] Therefore, more diverse US intellectual investment is required to produce the scope of nuanced responses needed for cyber-warfare to become a more unconventional cyber-deterrent.

The shroud of secrecy that surrounds US cyber-capabilities further complicates cyber-deterrence strategy formulation. Unlike nuclear deterrence, where the adversary’s knowledge of mutual assured destruction was the main point,[29] for cyber-weapons to successfully deter, they “must achieve visible results against the adversary but not reveal enough about the capability for an adversary to create a defense.”[30] Since every cyber-action risks revealing capability, every US cyber-response must be weighed against threats and anticipated security gains. Proponents for greater cyber-transparency assert that credibly revealing US cyber-capabilities in a systematic manner alters an adversary’s psychology by changing his risk calculations and deterring future actions; therefore, transparency’s benefit outweighs its costs. Conversely, opponents chide that the more cyber-capabilities the US reveals, the more risk the nation assumes, because threats will develop countermeasures. Regardless of perspectives, if the US is to employ cyber-warfare as a more coercive deterrent, it must develop a holistic strategy for weighing both psychological and technical acts against its competing needs of secrecy and credible action.

Perceived attempts to project Napoleonic-era principals into cyber-strategy are another dilemma of US cyber-deterrence. Some believe, that strategies emphasizing freedom of movement, firepower, and protection of networks in cyberspace are mistaken views, derived from an outdated clash of wills paradigm.[31] Unlike China, the US has a “narrow focus on gaining the most advanced cyber capabilities confuses means and ways with strategic ends” as opposed to China’s views on cyber-warfare as a means to a broader end.[32] Critics argue that the lack of US cyber-warfare theories emphasizing offensive strategies under ambiguous conditions is problematic, and “currently, strategists working on cyberspace plans are simply cobbling together a variety of capabilities with little to no understanding of why.”[33] Additionally, projecting decisive-battle notions into cyber-strategy may inadvertently fuel ad-hoc pursuits of cyber-weapons as an easier solution to a graver problem. Thus feeding America’s widely recognized “national tendency to gravitate toward technical solutions rather than abstract solutions.”[34] Therefore, at the risk of forcing Napoleonic-era templates onto unleavened cyber-strategy, greater emphasis is needed in crafting theories that envision cyber-warfare as a means for broader cyber-deterrence.

The US has amassed a strategic advantage in cyber-space by using a pull approach to collect information about adversaries. Data oriented, US cyber-practice is technically driven with an objective focus on reducing digital-unknowns. While classified US cyber-activities are beyond this paper, the Washington Post reports that the US owns cyber-capabilities and an “espionage empire with resources and a reach beyond those of any adversary.”[35] The Post describes how the US has built a vast cyber-collection infrastructure whose sophisticated technology harvests so much data that two separate data centers had to be built to keep pace with cyber-processing demands.[36]  Conversely, while DoD’s 2015 Cyber-Strategy clearly does not discuss espionage or surveillance activities, it does affirm DOD’s continued commitment to “develop intelligence and warning capabilities to anticipate threats.”[37] DoD’s strategy underscores continued investment in cyber-intelligence and cyber-attribution tools that “unmask an actor’s cyber-persona, identify the attack’s point of origin, and determine tactics, techniques, and procedures” of state and non-state actors with the ability to strike US interests.[38] So while not explicitly stated, DoD’s preferred approach for maintaining cyber-advantage is sharply focused on the objective factors of adversary capability versus shaping his human behavior.

In preparation for cyber-war’s ambiguity and varied threats, DoD is rapidly building robust cyber-organizations. Despite aggressive expansion, DoD can be more effective cyber-organizations if it assembled more diverse expertise. DoD’s 2015 Cyber-Strategy outlines a robust plan to grow Cyber Mission Force of 6,200 military, civilian, and contractor personnel arranged into 133 teams, aligned as either; Cyber Protection Forces oriented on defensive measures, National Mission Forces defending US interests, or Combat Mission Forces supporting Geographic Combatant Commanders.[39]  Providing details on force composition, the Commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER), LTG Edward Cardon, has outlined ARCYBER’s growth of 4,700 cyber-workers by 2019, and has shared his vision of Army Signal Corps officers managing communication systems, Army Public Affairs staff overseeing information operations and social media applications, and Military Intelligence units collecting and recording top-secret data.[40] Underpinning DoD’s urgent call, cyber-warfare’s ambiguous and asymmetric nature poses a wide variety of threats to the nation. While DoD’s recruiting focus is understandably on engineering, computer science, and cryptology expertise, cyber-war’s ambiguity and diversity of threats clearly indicate a role for SOF.


Sun Tzu Chinese cyber-warfare

China’s adaptation to cyber-warfare has been easier than the US for three key reasons. First, China’s military culture is steeped in Sun Tzu stratagems which idealize outsmarting stronger opponents with deception and manipulation. Sun Tzu’s Art of War stratagems pervade China’s military thinking so profusely, that “it is easy to see the threads” of Sun Tzu’s classical writings in China’s modern-day cyber-operations.[41]  Secondly, China possesses such a deep seated cultural appreciation for the human aspects of cyberspace that “perhaps no nation state understands cyberspace, its potential and the integral nature of human activity within cyberspace better than China.”[42] China exploits its knowledge of an adversary’s psychological, cultural, and societal relationships as a way of channeling cyber-shi, a contemporary twist to an ancient Sun Tzu concept: “The Chinese strive to impel opponents to follow a line of reasoning that they (the Chinese) craft…to entice technologically superior opponents into unwittingly adopting a strategy that will lead to their defeat.”[43] Lastly, China exercises a broader definition and more subjective application of cyber-warfare than the US. Whereas the US views cyber-warfare as dissuasive and technically driven, China views cyber-warfare as coercive and human driven. In total, China has turned a cultural bias for stratagems and abiding interest in human nature into a highly subjective approach for cyber-warfare.

Sun Tzu’s impact on Chinese thinking over two millennia cannot be understated. A famous general and strategist, Sun Tzu has left an indelible imprint on military culture by way of stratagems advocating brains over brawn, the avoidance of decisive battles, and using indirect methods like trickery, manipulation, and guile to paralyze opponents. What makes Sun Tzu so unique, is his emphasis on employing stratagems in battle, which “is one of the elements that distinguish his writings most clearly from those of Western strategic theorists such as Carl von Clausewitz.”[44] To Sun Tzu, all warfare is based off deception,[45] with the highest “acme of skill” to defeat an enemy without ever fighting.[46] Understandably, when it comes to trickery and deception, the Chinese have internalized a far different interpretation of what is considered ideal in warfare than the US.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu describes a concept known as shi, or chi, which has evolved into a strategic Chinese “concept with no direct Western counterpart.”[47] In Henry Kissinger’s book, On China, he describes shi as connoting “the strategic trend and potential energy of a developing situation” where “the primary task of a strategist should be to determine the relationship of events in context versus analyzing a particular situation on its own.”[48] Another interpretation of shi is “the strategic configuration of power or advantage.”[49] Although eluding precise definition, shi’s meaning is clear. For military strategists to be successful, they must contextualize an environment’s dynamic relationships and channel its potential energy for their own objectives. In today’s cyber-landscape, adversaries, computers, and data are just some of the ambiguous associations to consider when pondering cyber-shi’s latent potential.  Cyber-shi requires flexibility and subjective interpretation, and must be used according to circumstances; as Kissinger comments, “there are no isolated events” or second chances when it comes to shi.[50]

The psychological factors that drive an adversary’s interests and behavior are vital elements for channeling cyber-shi. Penetrating digital networks, China seeks deep understanding of the complexity between how an adversary processes, perceives, and interprets information and how it influences his behavior. Extensive cyber-reconnaissance is a critical pre-cursor for mapping-out interactions and identifying network-vulnerabilities that feed human decisions. Once acquired, information can be subjectively arranged to validate whether “objectives can be realized by influencing or destroying the opponent’s cognition systems or by changing the opponent’s decision-making.”[51] Whether changing what an adversary perceives or how an adversary perceives it, China’s cyber-warfare persistently nudges an adversary to unwittingly make decisions that benefit its own interests: “The Chinese use cyber to get an opponent to make decisions seemingly for their own protection or good when in fact they are doing something for the PLA (People’s Liberation Army).”[52] Using cyber-shi, China seeks to exploit opportune human and computer interactions as a psychological force to defeat an enemy without a fight.

The cultural and societal systems that drive an adversary’s interests and behavior are another key element for channeling cyber-shi. China systematically seeks deep insights into a culture’s complex relationship with information and a society’s trust in data. China counts on the fact that technologically advanced nations, especially the US, are hyper-entangled with cyber-space and vulnerable to “electron-based stratagems.”[53] In advanced societal systems there is a clear military necessity for assessing cyber-human interaction, because using electron-based stratagems, like data-manipulation, can produce wide-ranging results. A form of societal and cultural exploitation, data manipulation can inflict anything from civil inconvenience to national crisis. More damaging than cyber-espionage or cyber-theft, data-manipulation undermines societal and cultural systems and poses a grave threat to US national security. The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, warned Congress of a more dangerous cyber-future, where adversaries will not simply delete or disrupt access to electronic information, but deliberately manipulate data to compromise its integrity, accuracy, and reliability.[54] Data-manipulation is a dangerous electronic-based stratagem that channels cyber-shi exploitation of cultural and societal knowledge as a coercive form of cyber-warfare.

China’s definition and strategy for cyber-warfare is much broader than the US. In Chinese, the word for cyber translates to informationization,[55] and the word for information-attack translates to cyber-attack.[56] Doctrinally, cyber-warfare is defined as a “struggle between opposing sides making use of network technology and methods to struggle for an information advantage in the fields of politics, economics, military affairs, and technology.”[57] China’s broader definition for cyber-warfare imbues the notion of a persistent “struggle” for influence across non-military fields. Whereas, the US’s definition speaks to “armed conflict” and the use of “weapons” to dominate an adversary in military affairs. These key differences contribute to contrasting national approaches and gaps in cyber-practice. China’s culturally infused interpretation of cyber as an unrestricted information conduit, naturally lends itself to national preferences for stratagems in war.


SOF in US Cyber-warfare

SOF’s role is in the gray-zone of US cyber-warfare. Specially trained for ambiguous conflict, SOF excel in complex challenges that do not lend themselves to ideal solutions. Cyber-warfare is clearly a complex gray-zone challenge that requires diverse, coercive, and unconventional thinking. As the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Commander, General Joseph L. Votel stated to Congress, “Cyber threats are an increasingly common component of unconventional strategies for which we must develop a more comprehensive approach…it is time for us to have an in-depth discussion on how we can best support our national interests in these situations.”[58] SOF’s unique “small foot-print,” operations are exercised through a global network of partners, to provide persistent engagement, partner enablement, and discreet rapid response,[59] and are perfectly-suited for advancing new asymmetric cyber-practice. SOF provide a “deterrence deficit” nation [60] the intellectual capital for unconventional options, better adapted for countering adversaries in the cyber gray-zone. As described by GEN Votel, SOF “are uniquely suited to operate and succeed in the gray-zone between normal international competition and open conflict…and it is in this area that we see our very best opportunities to help shape the future environment.”[61]

Air Force strategist Colonel John Boyd once famously quipped; “machines don’t fight wars, terrain doesn’t fight wars, humans fight wars, and you must get into the minds of humans to win battles.”[62] Col Boyd’s profound statement underscores an immutable aspect to every type of war, in order to win, one must “strive to see the world through the adversary’s eyes – to understand his beliefs, motives, and mind.”[63] SOF are the key to humans in cyber-warfare and possess the unique expertise to enter and unravel an adversary’s mind[64] with ambiguity, deception, and manipulation. SOF can exploit their abiding understanding of the psychological, cultural, and societal factors that drive human behavior and for providing unrealized opportunities in “persuasion and compulsion to shape the calculations, decision-making, and behavior of relevant actors.” [65] Adopting a discreet push-approach for cyber-warfare, SOF can channel the steady accumulation of small human and technical acts into an eventual psychological tipping point that changes an adversary’s behavior. Indirect in approach, SOF can exploit their mastery of an adversary’s psychological, cultural, and societal factors into a more human-driven and coercive from of cyber-warfare.

Investing SOF in cyber-organizations provides diverse expertise at the ‘front lines’ of cyber-battle. A Special Operations Command-Cyberspace (SOC-CYBER)[66] led by a Colonel or Navy Captain, provides the nation strategic capabilities and expertise no other DoD service can provide. SOC-CYBER would be fully integrated with CYBERCOM to assist in managing sensitive human-driven cyber-operations targeting the most dangerous gray zone threats. SOC-CYBER would enrich perspectives during the development of national strategies, by injecting unconventional insights and asymmetric options throughout the development process. Relaying real time observations derived from SOF’s global footprint, SOC-CYBER would focus on better understanding the complexities of an adversary’s psychological, cultural, and societal dynamics, then discreetly present exploitive dilemmas which unwittingly change an adversary’s risk calculus. Pivoting on real time trends in behavior during ongoing global conflicts, cyber-organizations would be infused with a culture of adaptive mindsets to assertively counter emerging threats before they spiral out of control. SOF enhance National Cyber Mission Forces by mixing the best of technical and practitioner experience to jointly push-back against cyber-warfare’s menagerie of threats. SOC-CYBER is a critical step towards changing US cultural mindsets and presenting innovative cyberwarfare deterrence strategies to national level decision makers.

Embracing a unique offensive mindset, SOF are accustomed to being outnumbered and operating without the luxury of reinforcements for decisive battle. SOF’s wartime survival routinely depends on their ability to quickly contextualize their environment and channel emerging opportunities for their own objectives. This cultural attunement to the “shi” of their surroundings is hard-wired into SOF organizations; as alluded earlier, when it comes to being out-manned by stronger opponents there are “no second chances.” SOF are perfectly-suited to provide an enhanced perspective on offensive cyber-actions which optimize ambiguous associations between adversaries, computers, and data, while minimizing risks to force and mission. SOF’s unconventional mindset for avoiding decisive engagements while conducting offense operations applies to all types of human-based warfare, including cyber-war.



There is a strategic gap in US cyber-deterrence aspirations and cyber-warfare practice. Successfully bridging this gap, requires changing US mindsets about the evolving character of conflict and challenging deep-seated and narrow cultural preferences for principled and idealistic warfare. The US must acknowledge that cyber-warfare is, at its core, human-warfare and thus as deceptive as human nature.  Advancing US cyber-approaches better adapted for countering adversaries in this ambiguous gray-zone, requires SOF’s unique human expertise, unconventional mindsets, and discreet asymmetric options. Investing SOF into cyber-organizations synthesizes competing China-US cultural approaches and fuses both subjective and objective practice. Navigating cyber-warfare’s ambiguity, asymmetric nature, and scope of threats begs an American version of cyber-shi theory that envisions nuanced cyber-warfare as a means for broader strategy. Ultimately, adopting an unconventional mindset for cyber-warfare strengthens the US with a more coercive tool for national cyber-deterrence strategy.


[1] Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Joint Terminology for Cyberspace Operations,” Memorandum for Chiefs of the Military Services, Washington DC, 2010. 8. (accessed October 2, 3013).

[2] Mr. Timothy Thomas is an author and researcher for Ft. Leavenworth’s Foreign Military Studies Office. He is a renowned expert on China, Information Operations, and Cyber Activities.  He also refers to this idea as “shi of electrons” or “digital shi.”

[3] Phillip Kapusta, “The Gray Zone,” Special Warfare 28, no. 4 (October-December 2015), 20. (accessed 20 October, 2015)

[4] U.S. Department of the Navy, Warfighting, Marine Corp Doctrine Publication 1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Navy, June, 1997), 13-17.  (accessed October 2, 2015)

[5]  “Joint Terminology for Cyberspace Operations,” 8.

[6]  Fred Schreier, “On Cyberwarfare,” 2015, 25. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[7] Ibid., 25.

[8] Richard M. Crowell, “War in the Information Age: A Primer for Cyberspace Operations in 21st Century Warfare,” 2009, 3. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[9] Craig B. Greathouse, “Cyber War and Strategic Thought: Do the Classic Theorists Still Matter?” in Cyberspace and International Relations, ed. J.-F. Kremer and B. Muller (Heidelberg: Springer, 2014), 22. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[10] Ibid., 28.

[11] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York, NY: Oxford, 2013), 84.

[12] Ibid., 84.

[13] Ibid., 85.

[14] “Cyber War and Strategic Thought: Do the Classic Theorists Still Matter?” 29.

[15] Strategy: A History, 88.

[16] Ibid., 92.

[17] Ibid., 135-136.

[18] Ibid., 85.

[19] Ibid., 90.

[20] Ibid., 91.

[21] David C. Gompert and Martin Libicki, “Waging Cyber War the American Way,” Survival 57, no.4 (August-September 2015): 7. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[22] Ellen Nakashima, “Cyber Chief: Efforts to Deter Attacks Against the U.S. are not Working,” The Washington Post, March 19, 2015. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[23] “Waging Cyber War the American Way,” 9.

[24] Ibid., 19.

[25] Laura K. Bate, “In Search of Cyber Deterrence,” War on the Rocks, entry posted September 24, 2015,  (accessed October 2, 2015).

[26] “Waging Cyber War the American Way,” 9.

[27] David E. Sanger, “Cyberthreat Posed by China and Iran Confounds White House,” The New York Times, September 15, 2015. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[28] Ken Dilanian, “Intelligence Chief: Little Penalty for Cyberattacks,” Associated Press, September 10, 2015. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[29] “Deterring Malicious Behavior in Cyberspace,” 65.

[30] DOD Defense Science Board, Task Force Report: Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat (Washington, DC: DOD, January, 2013). 50. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[31] Sebastian J. Bae, “Cyberwarfare: Chinese and Russian Lessons for US Cyber Doctrine,” Georgetown Security Studies Review, entry posted May 7, 2015, (accessed October 2, 2015).

[32] Ibid., 1.

[33] David Fahrenkrug, “Cyberwar: In Need of a Theory,” Georgetown Security Studies Review, entry posted February 10, 2015, (accessed October 2, 2015).

[34] “War in the Information Age: A Primer for Cyberspace Operations in 21st Century Warfare,” 8.

[35] Barton Gellman and Greg Miller, “Black Budget Summary Details U.S. Spy Network’s Successes, Failures and Objectives,” The Washington Post, August 29, 2013. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[36] Ibid., 1.

[37] U.S. Department of Defense, The DOD Cyber Strategy, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, April, 2015), 24. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[38] Ibid., 12.

[39] DOD Cyber Strategy, 14.


[41] “War in the Information Age: A Primer for Cyberspace Operations in 21st Century Warfare,” 17.

[42] Ibid., 8.

[43] Timothy L. Thomas “The Chinese Military’s Strategic Mind-set,” Military Review, (November-December 2007): 47. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[44] Thomas G. Mahnken, “Secrecy & Stratagem: Understanding Chinese Strategic Culture,” February, 2011, 24.,_Secrecy_and_stratagem.pdf  (accessed October 2, 2015).

[45]Ibid., 24.

[46]Ibid., 21.

[47] Henry Kissinger, On China (New York, NY: The Penguin Press, 2011), 30.

[48] Ibid., 30.

[49]“China’s Cyber Incursions: A theoretical look at what they see and why they do it based on a different strategic method of thought,” 5.

[50] On China, 30.

[51] Timothy L. Thomas, “Nation-State Cyber Strategies: Examples from China and Russia,” 3-4. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[52] “China’s Cyber Incursions: A Theoretical Look at What They See and Why They Do It Based on a Different Strategic Method of Thought,” 4.

[53] Ibid., 2.

[54] Patrick Tucker, “The Next Wave of Cyberattacks Won’t Steal Data-They’ll Change it,” Defense One, September 10, 2015.  (accessed October 2, 2015).

[55] “Nation-State Cyber Strategies: Examples from China and Russia,” 2.

[56] Ibid., 2.

[57] Ibid., 2.

[58] GEN Joseph Votel, Statement of Commander Unites States Special Operations Command before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, 114th Cong., 1st sess., March 18, 2015, 10. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[59] Claudette Roulo, “SOCOM Commander: Success Depends on Total Force Readiness,” DOD News, March 26, 2015. (accessed October 2, 2015).

[60] “Cyber Threat Posed by China and Iran Confounds White House,” 1.

[61] “SOCOM Commander: Success Depends on Total Force Readiness,” 1.

[62] “Cyberwarfare: Chinese and Russian Lessons for US Cyber Doctrine,” 1.

[63] Ibid., 1.

[64] Ibid., 1.

[65] U.S. Special Operations Command, Operating in the Human Domain Version 1.0, (Tampa, FL: U.S. Special Operations Command, August 3, 2015), 3.

[66] Original term coined by CAPT Phil Kapusta and Lt. Col. Charles “Gus” Flournoy during conversation with author at USSOCOM, August 2015

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  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
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  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

Army does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Army may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. Army does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Army or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.