Waiting for the Cyberbarians

If cyberwar is such a threat, why is the Pentagon doing so little to prepare for it?

ROBERT HADDICK

Cyberwarfare unleashes confusion on Washington

Last month, while reviewing his career a few days before retirement, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen discussed what he sees are the two "existential" threats facing the United States. After nuclear weapons, Mullen listed cyberattacks, which, he said, "actually can bring us to our knees." During the Cold War, the United States developed an elaborate deterrence doctrine, backed up by an enormous investment in strategic nuclear weapons. Asked about similar preparation for the cyber threat, Mullen said, "We’re a long way from that right now." This week, Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kelher, commander of Strategic Command, the command responsible for the Pentagon’s cyber operations, said there still needs to be "a full conversation" about doctrine, rules of engagement, and legal issues regarding the Pentagon’s responses to cyberattacks.

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