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New Navy Strategy Adds Cyberspace to Warfare Domain

The strategy lists secure, survive and strike as the primary principles for defense in cyberspace.

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Photo Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kegan Kay/DVIDS

The U.S. Navy released its Cyberspace Superiority Vision identifying three main principles that will guide the service in its pursuit of cyberspace superiority: secure, survive and strike.

This vision goes hand in hand with CIO Aaron Weis’ Information Superiority Vision principles of modernize, innovate and defend. While the Information Superiority Vision focuses on ensuring the availability of information from any place at any time, the Cyberspace Superiority Vision is about enabling military action through non-kinetic capabilities in cyberspace.

The “secure” pillar is foundational to the vision and requires constant investment in cybersecurity defenses as adversaries develop new vulnerability exploits. The Navy envisions that it “consistently fields best-in-class cybersecurity safeguards, retains its excellent cyber talent and cultivates a professional cybersecurity and cyber-warfighting culture.”

“This is the one that we really work hand in glove with the CIO organizations in their defending pillar, which is all about … zero trust, identity management, all the things we’re doing to Project Overmatch,” Navy Principal Cyber Advisor Christopher Cleary said at the Trellix Cybersecurity Summit last week.

The “survive” principle requires training the Navy workforce to be able to respond to cyber attacks that will inevitably occur.

“Our systems are under attack all the time,” Cleary said. “We have to ensure all the critical infrastructure around us is designed to be attacked, designed to be resilient, designed to be survivable. And arguably, we haven’t done as good of a job on that.”

The “strike” pillar requires the Navy to view cyberspace as a warfighting domain and to treat it the same way it treats its maritime, air and land domains.

“The services have some responsibility to acquire capabilities to allow us to maneuver in and through cyberspace, which is really what the strike piece is all about,” Cleary said. “Because offensive cyber operations is now this new warfare domain that we are to one degree or another still in the infancy of trying to race.”

The document aims to get the message out to those in the Navy and Marine Corps who “don’t consider … why these things are important and, more importantly, why it’s important to their mission.”

“As we … continue to embrace this new domain across all of those three pillars secure surrounding strike, I want our adversaries to be every bit as concerned … pointing evidence over non-kinetic capabilities as they are … pointing over kinetic [capabilities].”

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