Cyberwar Plan

US cyber-warfare planning and activities have advanced beyond defensive measures. At some point, simply sitting back and waiting for an attack while piling resources into massive firewalls and other defenses, like the Maginot Line in WWII, no longer makes sense. It becomes necessary to develop at least an awareness of offensive techniques in order to correctly understand defense and eventually this leads to creating an actual offensive capability.

The Cyberwar Plan – []

At the request of his national intelligence director, Bush ordered an NSA cyberattack on the cellular phones and computers that insurgents in Iraq were using to plan roadside bombings. The devices allowed the fighters to coordinate their strikes and, later, post videos of the attacks on the Internet to recruit followers. According to a former senior administration official who was present at an Oval Office meeting when the president authorized the attack, the operation helped U.S. forces to commandeer the Iraqi fighters’ communications system. With this capability, the Americans could deceive their adversaries with false information, including messages to lead unwitting insurgents into the fire of waiting U.S. soldiers.

Former officials with knowledge of the computer network attack, all of whom requested anonymity when discussing intelligence techniques, said that the operation helped turn the tide of the war. Even more than the thousands of additional ground troops that Bush ordered to Iraq as part of the 2007 “surge,” they credit the cyberattacks with allowing military planners to track and kill some of the most influential insurgents. The cyber-intelligence augmented information coming in from unmanned aerial drones as well as an expanding network of human spies. A Pentagon spokesman declined to discuss the operation.


“We have U.S. warriors in cyberspace that are deployed overseas and are in direct contact with adversaries overseas,” said Bob Gourley, who was the chief technology officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency and is a board member of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association. These experts “live in adversary networks,” Gourley said, conducting reconnaissance on foreign countries without exchanging salvos of destructive computer commands. “Like two ships in the same waters, aware of each other’s presences, it doesn’t mean they’re bumping or firing on each other.”


Students of cyberwar find parallels between the present day and the early 1960s, when the advent of intercontinental missiles ushered in not only the space age but also an arms race. Like outer space then, cyberspace is amorphous and opaque to most, and inspires as much awe as dread. In this historical analogy, experts have embraced a Cold War deterrent to prevent the cyber-Armageddon that military and intelligence officials have been warning about — mutually assured destruction.

The Maginot Line
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