American Defense Operations and Cyberspace

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Article by Stefano Mele

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - Gen. Martin Dempsey - announced the release of the new Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) which reinforces the importance of space and cyberspace to military operations.

Operational access is the ability to project military force into an operational area with sufficient freedom of action to accomplish the mission.

Three trends in the operating environment promise to complicate the challenge of opposed access for U.S. joint forces:

1. The dramatic improvement and proliferation of weapons and other technologies capable of denying access to or freedom of action within an operational area

2. The changing U.S. overseas defense posture

3. The emergence of space and cyberspace as increasingly important and contested domains

The essential access challenge for future joint forces is to be able to project military force into an operational area and sustain it in the face of armed opposition by increasingly capable enemies when U.S. overseas defense posture is changing and space and cyberspace are becoming increasingly important and contested domains.

To meet that challenge, future joint forces will leverage cross-domain synergy to establish superiority in some combination of domains that will provide the freedom of action required by the mission.

The concept redefines freedom of navigation way beyond the maritime domain to include:

"Nonsovereign cyberspace, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum. U.S. access to and freedom of navigation within these global commons are vital to national interests".

The document indicates that the United States could try to dominate operations in these areas well ahead of any anticipated conventional warfare:

"Moreover, because the critical support provided by space and cyberspace generally must be in place in advance and because many operations in those domains, especially offensive operations, require significant lead time, space and cyberspace operations likely will commence well in advance of other operations. In fact, even in the absence of open conflict, operations to gain and maintain cyberspace superiority and space control will be continuous requirements".

Cross-posted from Stefano Mele

Download the Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) document here:

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Security Strategies Military DoD Cyberwar Pentagon National Security Cyber Warfare Cyber Offense Cyber Defense United States cyberspace Joint Operational Access Concept JOAC Martin Dempsey Stefano Mele
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