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National Defense and the Cyber Domain

What is “cyberspace,” and how does it relate to military affairs? “Cyberspace” is a term that is constantly used but seldom well defined. Its characteristics are poorly understood in the larger public discussion, especially with regard to national security and military matters. This is unfortunate because “cyber” has become profoundly central to nearly everything the military does in defense of U.S. national security interests.

As a domain through which actions can be taken instantaneously, globally, and even anonymously, cyberspace provides opportunities and challenges to countries, groups, and individuals unlike those presented by any other domain or capability. Cyberspace provides someone with the ability to attack anywhere, at any time, with a keystroke. There is no need to deploy a physical force, gain physical access to a region (otherwise done by ship, plane, or overland movement), or be encumbered by mounds of equipment and supplies. An attacker acts in absolute silence, perhaps visible only to the most skilled cyber defender. There is no need to limit one’s force to specific ages, physical conditions, or body size, nor is there a need for sprawling bases, expensive facilities (like ports or airfields), square miles of training areas, extensive stockpiles of munitions, or assured access to fuel.

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