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U.S. Forces Practice Cyberattacks to Counter North Korean Threat

January 25, 2018, 7:00 PM EST

U.S. forces in South Korea and the Pacific are honing their capability to conduct offensive cyber operations, according to the Pentagon’s testing office, a sign digital warfare is taking on added significance as a potential weapon against North Korea.

Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in a report to Congress this week that his office is working with U.S. and South Korean forces “to develop a cyber-range environment” where they “may be able to train as a coalition force on matters of critical importance to operations in a cyber domain.”

Most attention on U.S. military options against North Korea ruler Kim Jong Un and his nuclear weapons program has focused on aerial attacks, special operations raids or, in the most extreme case, tactical nuclear weapons. But in the testing office’s annual report, Behler said U.S. forces requested its help in assessing their offensive cyber planning and execution during three exercises last year.

“The commandant commanders are maturing their operational processes for targeting and employing offensive cyber capabilities,” Behler said in a section of the report on major weapons programs devoted to cybersecurity.

Sony Hack

The testing office reviewed how commanders synchronized cyber weapons with conventional methods of attack and maneuver and integrated intelligence support. The report said the office “made recommendations to improve their critical procedures.”

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