Military hard at work on cyberspace rules

DOD still working out the kinks in cyber operations

Cyberspace has been established as a military domain, to be considered the same as land, air, sea or space — but defining it like the other domains is one problem facing the Defense Department as it sets up shop in the cyber realm.

“The first thing we have come to grips with is the nature of the domain," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory Brundidge, director of command, control, communications and warfighting integration, U.S European Command. "It’s admirable to want to describe it as the same as the other domains, but it’s distinctly different — it’s not natural." Brundidge spoke at the AFCEA Northern Virginia chapter's Warfighter Support IT Day in Vienna, Va.

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While the other domains tend to be defined by boundaries, there are none in cyberspace, and it’s an issue that is proving sticky in a culture that hinges on delineation.

“We love boundaries. Our democracy thrives on it,” Brundidge said. But in borderless cyberspace, defining attributes rely more on connectivity, and that’s part of what makes it so difficult to operate and defend.

“The power comes from connectivity; the vulnerability comes from connectivity,” Brundidge added.

He also noted struggles to establish the command and control of cyberspace and the governing structure of military organizations.

“The command and control of cyber is a big debate,” Brundidge said. With U.S. Cyber Command, it’s a sub-unified command in control of combatant commands, he said, which is atypical of DOD organization.

“We’re working through the command and control of cyberspace and cyber operations," he said. "There’s a natural tension of what’s going on in a given area and how that relates to cyber. How do we organize to do command and control of what happens in a [given] region?”

One possibility is the concept of regional cyber commands, but that is an option that is still only a vague consideration so far.

“It won’t happen tomorrow, but it’s something that’s a big debate,” Brundidge said. For now, DOD must focus on understanding the nature of the cyber domain and establishing what’s needed for unity of effort. “In cyber, we’re all on the same team. If we get this stuff right, we will in turn be stronger together.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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