Image: Cpl. Jonathan Willcox
Image: Cpl. Jonathan Willcox

Pentagon’s new cyber strategy takes lessons from offensive ops, Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Defense Department on Tuesday unveiled an unclassified summary of its latest cyber strategy that serves as a modest update to its predecessor from 2018.

The 24-page document represents the overarching priorities detailed in the Pentagon’s classified cyber strategy, which the department sent to Congress in May.

“The strategy draws from our experience conducting offensive and defensive operations,” Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for cyber policy, said Tuesday during a press briefing.

“It's also informed by DoD’s close observation of the Russia/Ukraine war and the integration of cyber into large-scale military operations,” she added. “Which is to say, this is not an aspirational document, it reflects hard won lessons and truths.”

Eoyang later said that the main takeaway learned from the 18-month conflict in terms of cyberspace is that before Moscow’s invasion “there was a sense that cyber would have a much more decisive impact in warfare than what we experienced. What this conflict is showing us is the importance of integrated cyber capabilities in and alongside other warfighting capabilities.”

For the most part, the new cyber strategy, the fourth of its kind issued by the Pentagon, is a retread of the 2018 document that saw the U.S. military shift away from a responsive approach to an aggressive one that saw operators take on foreign adversaries through a doctrine of “persistent engagement.”

The strategy issues the usual warning about the dangers Russia and China pose to U.S. infrastructure and other interests, describing the threat of Beijing as a “broad and pervasive”

Eoyang said what makes the news strategy “distinct from previous iterations” is its commitment to building the digital capabilities of global allies to “increase our collective resilience against cyber attack.”

“Allies and partners are a strategic advantage that no competitor can match. Adversaries continually attempt to undermine the capabilities of our partners, and it's in our interest to strengthen the network defense of our allies and partners.”

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak

is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.