NEWPORT, R.I. - In ancient times, wars were fought on land until warriors discovered they could fight on the seas. In the early 20th century airplanes debuted as a powerful instrument of battle, proving to be an efficient and devastating third dimension of warfare.
And in the last two decades, warfare has become exponentially more complicated by the introduction of cyber warfare, a fourth dimension that allows 24-hour attacks from virtually anywhere in the world.
In a recent book titled “Wars of Disruption and Resilience: Cybered Conflict, Power, and National Security,” Naval War College (NWC) professor Chris Demchak
assesses the need of modern states to adapt and respond to cyber threats.
“The book is about the new emerging strategic climate of a densely cybered world,” Demchak said. “It is not the international system of the Cold War with defined main opponents and it is not the old world of the interwar period and before, where larger states prepared for major wars with each other. Rather, it is emerging more like a world of civil city-states interpenetrated by semi-governed badlands.”
Increasingly, the power of a large, complex, wired nation like the United States rests on its ability to disrupt would-be cyber attacks and to be resilient against a successful attack or recurring campaign. Addressing the concerns of both theorists and those on the national security front lines, Demchak presents a unified strategy for survival in an interconnected, ever-messier, more surprising cybered world and examines the institutional adaptations required of our defense, intelligence, energy, and other critical sectors for national security.
Demchak introduces a strategy of “security resilience” against surprise attacks or persistent campaigns in a cybered world that is divided between modern, digitally vulnerable city-states and more dysfunctional global regions. Its key concepts such as the ‘theory of action’ and ‘disruption’ build on theories of international relations, complexity in social-technical systems, and organizational-institutional adaptation.
“Wars of Disruption and Resilience” offers a blueprint for a national cyber-power strategy that is long in time horizon, flexible in target and scale, and practical enough to maintain the security of a digitized nation facing violent cybered conflict.
“The goal is to provide a way to reframe the coming years of conflict away from legacy notions of 'war and peace' to one involving constant not-quite kinetic, always cybered struggles among multiple actors,” Demchak said.
Professor Demchak has been a researcher within the Strategic Research Department at NWC since July 2009. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, in addition to a master’s degree in economic development from Princeton and a master’s degree in energy engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on technical challenges across nations.
By Tyler Will, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Posted by Brie Lyons
NOTE: the views expressed in “Wars of Disruption and Resilience: Cybered Conflict, Power, and National Security” are the authors’ own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Naval War College, the Department of the Navy or Department of Defense or any other organization of the U.S. government.