WASHINGTON: In the budget wars between the services, “hybrid threats” and “AirSea Battle” have become rallying buzzwords of two opposing camps.

On one side, Army leaders talk of hybrid threats, whose blend of guerrilla tactics and high-tech weapons pose the greatest plausible threat on land, now that Soviet-style tank armies are extinct and the nation has largely sworn off large-scale counterinsurgency. On the other, Air Force and Navy leaders speak of AirSea Battle as a way to coordinate their expensive hardware in a high-tech war with regional powers like China or Iran. Keep reading →

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: The American military is intrigued by the offensive uses for cyber-warfare, but it is struggling to figure out how to do it. What impact can cyber weapons have on the battlefield? What organizations should take the lead? And who makes the decision to pull the trigger? Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →

Over the past two months the President and the U.S. military have been in discussions or negotiations that have resulted in multiple Executive Orders that frame offensive military operations in cyber space. Media outlets are now reporting that President Barack Obama more than a month ago signed executive orders that detail how the military may weave cyber capabilities into U.S. war fighting strategy.

The cyber warfare executive orders are said to lay out how and under what circumstances the U.S. military can use offensive cyber capabilities against our adversaries, as well as how cyber weapons can be used to collect intelligence against other countries. These orders are the culmination of efforts over the past two years. A few weeks ago multiple articles and blog postings about our cyber warfare strategy reported that the United States could respond to a cyber attack with real-life military retaliation – taking a bits and bytes gets bombs and bullets approach. The strategy coincides with comments like one attributed to a U.S. military official in a recent Wall Street Journal article, who suggested, “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

The Pentagon has still not released the strategy, but officials, including Deputy Secretary William Lynn, in recent speeches have suggested a variety of tactics that might include, for instance, transmitting computer code to another country’s network to map out paths of potential offensive cyber attacks, if approved by the President. Keep reading →