Pentagon pushes for offensive cyber ops in new attack strategy

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington (Reuters / Jason Reed)

The Pentagon is unveiling a new document outlining the United States military’s strategy regarding its ability to launch offensive cyber-attacks against foreign targets.

Ashton Carter, the recently confirmed US secretary of defense, is expected to speak of the report during a lecture at Stanford University in California on Thursday when the 33-page document is officially released.

The strategy says the DoD “should be able to use cyber operations to disrupt an adversary’s command and control networks, military-related critical infrastructure and weapons capabilities,” according to an advanced copy seen by the Associated Press.

“The United States must be able to declare or display effective response capabilities to deter an adversary from initiating an attack,” Reuters quoted from a preview of the report.

According to AP, Carter told reporters traveling to Stanford with him on Thursday that the new strategy is “more clear and more specific about everything, including offense” that was otherwise included in the DoD’s last edition, the ‘Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace’ published by the Pentagon in 2011.

“It will be useful to us for the world to know that, first of all, we’re going to protect ourselves,” Carter told AP, noting that deterrence efforts now include “a threat to retaliate against those who do us harm.”

In October, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said during a panel discussion in Washington, DC, that the US was not yet prepared to handle a state-sponsored cyber-attack and said that policies must be enacted that give the government guidance to launch online assaults of their own.