News | Dec. 1, 2011

Deterrence and Escalation in Cross-domain Operations: Where Do Space and Cyberspace Fit?

By Vincent Manzo Strategic Forum 272


Deterrence and Escalation in Cross-domain Operations
Deterrence and Escalation in Cross-domain Operations
Strategic Forum 272
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 180313-D-BD104-012

Key Points

  • Many weapons systems and most military operations require access to multiple domains. These linkages create vulnerabilities that actors can exploit by launching cross-domain attacks; the United States may seek to deter such attacks by threatening cross-domain responses. However, both the U.S. Government and potential adversaries lack a shared framework for analyzing how counterspace and cyber attacks fit into an accepted escalation ladder. 
  • The real-world effects of attacks that strike targets in space and cyberspace and affect capabilities and events in other domains should be the basis for assessing their implications and determining whether responses in different domains are proportionate or escalatory. 
  • Development of a shared framework that integrates actions in the emerging strategic domains of space and cyberspace with actions in traditional domains would give decisionmakers a better sense of which actions and responses are expected and accepted in real-world scenarios and which responses would be escalatory. This would support more coherent cross-domain contingency planning within the U.S. Government and deterrence threats that potential adversaries perceive as clearer and more credible.

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