Article: Fighting Power, Targeting, and Cyber Operations

This article aims to contribute to the operationalisation of military cyber operations in general, and for targeting purposes (either in defence or offence) in particular. The position of cyber operations in military doctrine will be clarified, their contribution to fighting power conceptualised and the ramifications on targeting processes discussed. 

Cyberspace poses unique challenges and opportunities; we distinguish new elements that may be utilized for ‘targeting’, namely: cyber objects and cyber identities. Constructive or disruptive cyber operations aimed at these non-physical elements provide new ways of attaining effects. Assessing the outcome of these cyber operations is, however, challenging for (military) planners. Intertwined network infrastructure and the global nature of cyberspace add to the complexity, but these difficulties can be overcome. 

In principle, the targeting cycle is suitable for cyber operations, yet, with an eye to (a) effectiveness of offensive and defensive operations, and (b) legal obligations, special attention will be required regarding effects in general, and collateral damage assessment in particular.

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