Defensive Information Warfare

IW Deterrence

With the dawn of the atomic age came the recognition that developing strategies for deterrence and counter proliferation needed to be pursued with a sense of the utmost urgency. IW differs from atomic warfare in a number of significant ways, and therefore lessons learned from our experience in developing a workable strategy for deterrence may not apply directly to the problem of deterrence of IW attacks, but certainly may provide a starting point or checklist for consideration.

Some of the compelling issues related to the development of a deterrent to IW attacks include various means of raising the attack threshold, using offensive IW, dealing with non-state actors, taking preemptive actions, and developing potential forms of punishing attackers.

While raising the defensive threshold, thereby making attacks more difficult and costly as well as limiting the damage they can do, is widely recognized as an important component of any deterrence strategy, an issue that needs to be addressed relates to the "height" of the threshold. For example, what is more defense? When does more defense become counterproductive?

Another critical issue is whether or not having and indicating a willingness to employ a potent offensive IW capability would be an effective deterrent, and if so, in which particular set(s) of circumstances.

Given the low cost and small footprint required, non-state and even individual actors may gain the wherewithal to pose a strategic threat. How can one gain the leverage on these kinds of adversaries to deter them from launching such attacks?

Other key issues include the nature of preemptive actions that could be employed and the relationship between punishment (or retaliation) and deterrence.

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