BUCKLEY AFB: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told reporters today that ISIL is under tremendous pressure from the United States — “from every single direction, the north, the east, the west and the south” — and the terrorist group has lost every engagement with allied forces over the last six months. That apparently includes in cyberspace.
“I’ve got to tell you right now it sucks to be ISIL,” he told us on his plane en route to the 32nd Space Symposium. “Those guys are under enormous pressure. Every time we have gone after one of their defended positions in the last 10 months, we have defeated them. They have left. They have retreated. They are hunkering down.”
That includes using all the instruments of national power, including for the first time, the use of what Work called “cyber bombs.” He credited Defense Secretary Ash Carter with being “extraordinarily innovative in his use of our capabilities against ISIL. So for example, we are dropping cyber bombs. We have never done that before. It is the first time he has given Cyber Command guidance we’re going to go after ISIL. Just like we have an air campaign, I want to have a cyber campaign. I want to use all the space capabilities I have.”
Carter hinted at the use of cyber weapons when he spoke at the Center for International and Strategic Studies on April 5: “I’ve also brought Strategic Command and Cyber Command into these operations as well, to leverage their unique capabilities in space and cyber to contribute to the defeat of ISIL.”
My colleague Mike Gruss of Space News asked Work for more details about the use of space capabilities and the deputy declined to provide specifics.
I’ve asked for more information about what constitutes a “cyber bomb.” We’ll see if we get any information.