The head of U.S. Cyber Command is trying to push offensive cyber warfare down to the “operational tactical level” in the next five to 10 years.
“Offensive cyber, in some ways, is treated almost like nuclear weapons in the sense that their application outside a defined area of hostilities is controlled at the chief executive level and is not delegated down,” Navy Adm. Mike Rogers said. “We should be integrating this into the strike group and the amphibious expeditionary side. We should view this as another tool kit that’s available to a commander as the commander is coming up with a broad scheme of maneuver to achieve a desired outcome or end state.”
Rogers, who spoke at the West 2017 naval conference in San Diego, said the obstacle to such a shift is not a“concern about the handling of “super-secret stuff.”
“It’s more can you get the authority, can you get the rules of engagement right that would allow you to actually employ it,” he said. “Just as we have come up with a series of processes, controls and oversight” for the use of kinetic force to ensure “we address the strategic impact with tactical application, I think that we can do the exact same thing over time with cyber.”
In the next five to 10 years, Rogers also wants to change how his organization allocates its capabilities, which are high demand and low quantity like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets. His command’s cyber teams are currently aligned with specific combatant commands, services and functions, an arrangement he aims to alter.
“The reality of not having enough means we have got to treat this just like we do ISR,” Rogers said. Cyber would be allotted “based on a risk and a prioritization model, not, ‘hey, we have locked everything down, these belong to this organization, these belong to that organization and, oh well, you’re on your own.’ That’s something … we’ll be working on the next year, and I’ve teed up some ideas to the leadership.”