"How far can we go to target this network or that network?"

From John Reed, Killer Apps:  The U.S. Army is conducting a new study to identify the cyber weapons it needs to develop, the service’s top cyber officer said today.

"We’re working hard with mission command as well as with [Army Space and Missile Defense Command] to work our way through an initial capabilities requirements document to determine what gaps we believe we have [in cyber and other elecronic weaponry]. . . to support tactical and operational requirements," said Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, commander of Army Cyber Command during a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington today.

Translated into English, that means that the service will look at the specific cyber effects that it needs on the battlefield (for example, taking over an enemy’s communications networks or wreaking havoc on a base’s power supplies) and it will then figure out the new weapons it needs to produce those effects. . . .

The Army is also developing a philosophy of "active defense" in cyberspace, much as the U.S. Air Force is doing. Active defense — the tenets of which can border on offensive operations — calls for defenders to snoop the networks of potential enemies and even hunt for hackers who are bent on attacking Army networks.

Also at the AUSA conference, Lt. Gen. Don Campbell, commander of III Corps, said the service and the nation as a whole must figure out rules of engagement for cyber weapons. "How far can we go to target this network or that network or capability or system, we’re going to have to decide as a service or military," he said.  (photo: U.S. Army)