U.S. Strategic Command/Joint Cyber Center
The United States’ ability to project military power globally is the backbone of its commitments to allies and partners and serves as a deterrent to adversaries who oppose the rules-based international order.
Those commitments and promises are upheld by maintaining superiority in all domains — land, air, sea, space, the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace — throughout the spectrum of conflict. Without a robust cyber defense, there is risk of losing advantage across other warfighting domains. Success relies heavily on defending assets critical for projecting military power against malicious cyber actors.
During a recent Global Storm, a series of exercises to demonstrate and validate the interoperability, lethality, second-strike capability and global presence of U.S. nuclear forces to conduct their strategic deterrence mission in the Indo-Pacific, U.S. defensive cyber forces ensured the integrity and security of critical cyber infrastructure.
Two Cyber Protection Teams (CPT) deployed to Hawaii with a twofold mission: identify and, if necessary, mitigate malicious cyber activity on networks and systems; and harden the system against cyberattacks.
The CPTs focused on systems that enable the nation’s Nuclear Command and Control (C2) and demonstrated their ability to rapidly prepare and deploy to defend crucial strategic capabilities. The operation ensured protection of critical Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) capabilities.
The U.S.’s global reach capability is heavily contingent on preserving strong partnerships with allies and partners to maintain military superiority, and on ensuring all commitments and promises are honored.
As advancing technology continues enhancing U.S. strategic deterrence, leaders are more reliant on unfettered access to near-real time data to operate effectively. This highlights the importance of a robust cyber defense that ensures access to and confidence in data integrity.
The U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) mission to deter strategic attacks relies on maintaining a credible, safe, effective and global combat capacity that is prepared to win wars if required. This responsibility is heavily dependent upon a resilient NC3 enterprise, which comprises robust, complex and interoperable systems that must be defended by the nation’s cyber forces.
Meanwhile, adversaries continuously seek vulnerabilities in military capabilities to deter, deny, degrade or disrupt the U.S.’s capacity to command and control its nuclear forces.
USSTRATCOM works with U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) agencies to ensure the availability of NC3 when needed. The U.S. nuclear triad of long-range bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and its supporting strategic systems, are the backbone of the nation’s ability to project military power and deter adversaries.
New technology heightens the potential for vulnerabilities and cyber threats in critical infrastructure sectors, and NC3 is no exception. The DOD hunts for threats, hardens networks and assesses vulnerabilities on military cyber infrastructure. The U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) directs CPTs to conduct such missions worldwide to ensure critical systems are protected from cyber threats. USSTRATCOM’s partnership with USCYBERCOM results in reliable and secure networks supporting the nation’s strategic forces, equipment and ancillary infrastructure.
The cyber domain remains congested and contested. Continued advancements and implementation of defensive cyberspace capabilities will ensure that U.S. critical infrastructure remains hardened against cyberattack and will continue to support U.S. commitments to its allies and partners.