A New Interpretation of Integrated Deterrence: Physical and Virtual Strategies


  • Jim Chen U.S. National Defense University




The integrated deterrence strategy, backstopped by nuclear deterrent, calls for seamless collaboration in deterrence across warfighting domains, using all instruments of national power, and with allies and partners. Being a warfighting domain and being closely related to the information instrument of national power, the cyber domain should certainly be included, and cyber deterrence should play a significant role in the integrated deterrence strategy. Nevertheless, as cyber deterrence seems not to be as effective as it is expected at least currently, some scholars and practitioners doubt its mere existence, not mentioning the role that it can play in the integrated deterrence strategy. This paper argues that not having deterrence in cyberspace leaves a blank spot in the strategy since some critical functionality of deterrence in cyberspace cannot easily be replaced. By recognizing the unique strategic context of cyberspace, the paper maintains that deterrent effect can actually be achieved in unique ways in this space. To further explore the unique role that deterrence in cyberspace plays within the integrated deterrence strategy, this paper proposes a multi-level and multi-aspect architecture for integrated deterrence strategy. This novel architecture is able to cover varied levels of strategic environments both below and above the threshold of armed conflict. It is also able to correlate varied deterrent measures with varied strategic environments categorized via various aspects, such as diplomacy, information, military, economy, etc. This paper shows that the inclusion of deterrence in cyberspace can empower the strategy by making the strategy flexible enough in tackling various challenges. Eventually, the strategy can make its contribution in preventing war and maintaining peace.