Op-eds

The New Triad: Op-Ed by Adm. James Stavridis (F83, F84)

Foreign Policy

Dean Stavridis The Fletcher School

The New Triad

It's time to found a U.S. Cyber Force.

Throughout the long decades of my military career, the backbone of U.S. national security was the "strategic triad" of delivery systems for nuclear weapons: ballistic-missile submarines and their associated nuclear-tipped missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles operated from silos deep in the earth, and long-range manned bombers, which could deliver nuclear bombs and eventually nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

America's reliance on this Cold War triad continues through the present day, though the systems have changed somewhat as a result of both advances in technology and changes in treaty limits, most recently reflected in the New START treaty.

As we sail more deeply into the turbulent 21st century, however, there is another triad that bears considering that will be a critical part of U.S. security in the decades to come. This new triad will be far less abstract and hidden-away than the Cold War strategic triad and much more frequently employed -- often in kinetic ways.

This "New Triad" consists of special operations forces, unmanned vehicles, and cybercapabilities. Each has an important individual role to play, but taken together, the sum of their impacts will be far greater than that of each of the parts when used alone.

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