What Is a Cyber Warrior? The Emergence of U.S. Military Cyber Expertise, 1967–2018 (Winter 2021)




Slayton, Rebecca

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Texas National Security Review


How have military cyber operations, a diverse set of activities that often differ little from civilian cyber security work, achieved the status of “warfighting”? What activities have the greatest warfighting status, what activities have the least, and why? This paper examines the establishment and growth of expertise associated with cyber operations in the individual services and at the joint level since the late 1960s. Threat-oriented activities, such as attacking adversaries or responding to adversaries that have breached U.S. networks, have more readily achieved warfighting status than have vulnerability-oriented activities, such as patching software, training users in good security practices, and other actions that aim to prevent intrusions. Ultimately, the lower status of work and expertise associated with vulnerability mitigation remains a significant problem for military cyber operations.


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