A Strategic Cyber No-First-Use Policy? Addressing the US Cyber Strategy Problem

by Dr. Jacquelyn G. Schneider

“The second category for the NFU policy is cyber attacks that threaten the control of nuclear forces. These are cyber attacks that directly impede a nation’s ability to launch—or call back—nuclear platforms. These are not cyber attacks that affect intelligence, surveillance, or warning, which may be dangerous to overall nuclear stability but are more difficult to differentiate from cyber attacks on conventional military systems (which are often entangled with these intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities)… Despite the arguments for NFU, the United States has never implemented a clear declaratory NFU policy for nuclear weapons. Does that mean cyber NFU is dead in the water? In order to answer this question, it is important to first understand why the United States has never adopted a nuclear NFU policy and to see if the arguments hold up in the cyberspace domain.”

Read the full article, originally published in the summer 2020 issue of The Washington Quarterly, here.

(Image credit: Air Force 108th Wing)

Dr. Jacquelyn G. Schneider

Dr. Jacquelyn G. Schneider

Dr. Jacquelyn G. Schneider is an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a core faculty member of the Center for Cyber Conflict Studies. She also holds adjunct positions at the Center for a New American Security. Her 12 year career also includes six years as an Air Force Officer in South Korea and Japan. Her research now focuses on the intersection of technology, national security, and political psychology with a special interest in cyber, unmanned technologies, and Northeast Asia.
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