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Pentagon unveils its new cyberstrategy. Well, some of it, anyway.

The Pentagon – belatedly, perhaps – outlines its 'Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace.' A slim unclassified document emphasizes a defensive posture, leaving many questions unanswered.

The Pentagon has released a 13-page document outlining its new cyberstrategy. Though a first step, the strategy does not focus on offensive cyber weapons development or cyberwar strategy.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File

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Land. Air. Sea. Space. And now, officially, Cyber, too.

The Pentagon on Thursday unveiled its first ever “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace,” officially – some say belatedly – staking out its turf in the digital realm of networks and computers, an arena that analysts say has been militarized for years.

The document outlining the strategy emphasized its defensive – albeit proactive – posture, indicating only by omission the presumed offensive capabilities of a nation seen by many cyberwar experts as the world’s preeminent cyber superpower.

Some analysts were quick to criticize the unclassified document as shedding little light on the full and true nature of the Pentagon’s new cyberstrategy.

Recent leaks of some elements of the policy document led to its early characterization as focusing on circumstances under which the United States would retaliate with bombs, if it came under serious cyber attack.

But this slender 13-page document stresses measures to enhance US cyberdefenses, with nary a mention of offensive cyber weapon deployment, development, or cyberwar strategy other than the broad mandate to make “cyber” a full-fledged “operational domain.”

“Far from ‘militarizing’ cyberspace, our strategy of securing networks to deny the benefit of an attack will help dissuade military actors from using cyberspace for hostile purposes,” Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said Thursday at the National Defense University in a speech characterizing the new strategy. “Indeed, establishing robust cyberdefenses no more militarizes cyberspace than having a navy militarizes the ocean.”


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