Journal Article - Small Wars Journal

Twilight Zone Conflicts: Employing Gray Tactics in Cyber Operations

| October 27, 2016

In an opening that would perhaps make Rod Serling proud: There is a fifth dimension of warfare known to man as cyberspace — it is a dimension of infinite possibilities, representing an uncertain middle ground between peace and war. An amorphous realm, wherein actors are strategically employing gray tactics via cyber operations in 'twilight zone conflicts.' And while gray tactics like information operations, sabotage and economic coercion are not new to the pages of history, the medium for leveraging such tactics is.

Here, the impetus for applying a new terminology — twilight zone conflicts — is to recast how policy makers and the defense community might evaluate gray strategy cyber campaigns. A term which deftly captures the paradoxical appeal of gray tactics in cyberspace, as well as society's hopes for cooperation in this domain and its fears of conflict. This article therefore explores the emergence of gray tactics in cyber operations, their utility as a political instrument, and reasons that twilight zone conflicts are no longer a mere science fiction fantasy....

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For Academic Citation: Malekos Smith, Jessica. Twilight Zone Conflicts: Employing Gray Tactics in Cyber Operations.” Small Wars Journal, (October 27, 2016) .