What is the intersection between cyber and irregular warfare? Should the United States consider cyberspace a typical or exquisite domain? How did the counterterrorism fight serve as a proving ground for the application of these emerging capabilities?
Episode 40 examines the character of cyber warfare, both in its relationship to irregular warfare and in its applicability to broader national security approaches. Our guests begin by establishing the types of activities that can be actioned in the cyber domain, explaining how the United States leverages cyberspace to achieve effects from the tactical to the strategic levels. They draw on the experience of Joint Task Force ARES to illustrate how cyber activity was effectively executed in the fight against the Islamic State, and then apply these lessons to the contemporary security environment and strategic competition among great powers.
Dr. Jacquelyn Schneider is a Hoover fellow at Stanford University, a former senior policy advisor with the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and a reservist currently assigned to Space Systems Command.
Admiral Mike Rogers retired from the US Navy in 2018 after nearly thirty-seven years of naval service, rising to the rank of four-star admiral. His career culminated with a four-year tour as commander of US Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency. Admiral Rogers is a senior fellow and adjunct professor with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University’s Public Private Initiative and a member of the advisory board of Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security. He also serves as a senior advisor at the Brunswick Group.
The hosts for this episode are Shawna Sinnott and Abigail Gage. Please contact them with any questions about this episode or the Irregular Warfare Podcast.
The Irregular Warfare Podcast is a product of the Irregular Warfare Initiative, a collaboration between the Modern War Institute at West Point and Princeton University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project—dedicated to bridging the gap between scholars and practitioners to support the community of irregular warfare professionals.
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Image credit: Bill Roche, US Army Cyber Command
The cyber guy's insistence on only using "attack" for certain things is reminiscent of the terminology during GWOT – enemy combatant etc.
That distinction is actually really important for the military. "Attack" is loosely defined in both the UN charter and Geneva conventions. Very very roughly – as a signatory to the UN convention, the US is prohibited from using force (attack) against the sovereignty or independence of any other country. And if we attack another country, they are authorized to use military force in self defense.
So under our old definition of CNA (computer network attack), almost everything that DoD might want to do – that international law would permit if we did it without technology – all of a sudden becomes a war crime because we used the internet.
But the CYBERCOM J5 doctrine writers really really love talking about cyber attacks.
Interesting the one thing not asked and not answered is why they think JTF ARES was effective. They can talk a lot, but in terms of ROI, USCYBERCOM is a gold-plated buggy whip.