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US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro released the inaugural Department of the Navy (DON) Cyber Strategy on 21 November 2023.

“This inaugural strategy builds on years of lessons learned from cyber domain operations across the globe,” Del Toro was quoted as saying by the US Navy. “We are focused on aggressively enhancing our cyber enterprise, while fostering co-operational and collaboration with our allies and partners.”

In the foreword to the strategy Del Toro wrote, “The challenges inherent to the cyber domain are considerable, but failing to mitigate cyber risks is not an option. I am confident this strategy provides the DON with an effective roadmap to excel in cyberspace and compete with our adversaries on all fronts.”

The introduction to the strategy itself stated, “The next fight against our major adversary will be like no other in prior conflicts. The use of non-kinetic effects and defense against those effects prior to and during kinetic exchanges will likely be the deciding factor in who prevails. The side that most effectively sequences and synchronizes non-kinetic effects will have a decisive advantage.

“We must ensure our capabilities to project power and defend in cyberspace take top priority to ensure the success of the traditional power projection capabilities of our naval forces.”

The strategy identifies seven lines of effort that detail how the DON will pursue information and cyberspace superiority in alignment with the wider US Department of Defense’s Cyber Strategy and the US National Defense Strategy:

  • Improve and support the cyber workforce;
  • Shift from compliance to cyber readiness;
  • Defend enterprise IT, data and networks;
  • Secure defence critical infrastructure and weapon systems;
  • Conduct and facilitate cyber operations;
  • Partner to secure the defence-industrial base; and
  • Foster co-operation and collaboration.
“Failing to mitigate cyber risks is not an option,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in the foreword to the Department of the Navy’s inaugural Cyber Strategy. (Image: DON)

“Our strategy reaffirms our commitment to warfighting excellence within cyberspace,” Chris Cleary, Principal Cyber Advisor for the Department of the Navy, was quoted as saying in a US Navy press release. “We are prioritising the defence of our cyber enterprise and data while conducting and facilitating cyber operations across the globe.”

The Office of the Principal Cyber Advisor and Office of the Chief Information Officer jointly developed the strategy, ensuring it covers all facets of the DON’s cyberspace activities.

“Achieving a competitive advantage in the cyber domain is critical to strengthening our maritime dominance,” said Jane Rathbun, Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer. “The Cyber Strategy sets the DON on a course to more effectively defend our information ecosystem and emphasises the importance of our cyber workforce.”