What isnational military strategy for cyberspace ops

The DOD is aligning cyberspace operations terminology with the American Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memo highlights unintended or accidental impacts of cyberspace operations, which can cause harm or destruction to people or property not deemed military targets. It also discusses collateral effects on infrastructure, networks, information, and computers with dual purposes such as acceptable outcomes as long as they’re reasonable compared to the overall military gain. These collateral effects are classified.

FAW and WHAT: Understanding Collateral Effects in Cyberspace Operations

As technology continues to advance, so does the world of military operations. The Department of Defense (DOD) has created a memo to help clarify and harmonize important cyberspace operations terminology with language used by the American Joint Chiefs of Staff. One term that is critical to understand is collateral effects in cyberspace operations. Here’s what you need to know about FAW and WHAT when it comes to collateral effects.

FAW: What it Means

FAW is an acronym that stands for “Foreseeable and Avoidable Widespread effects.” Essentially, this means that in any military operation, it is expected that there will be impacts that are unintended or accidental. These impacts may include harm or destruction of people or property that were not legitimate military targets at the time.

The concept of FAW is important because it underscores the necessity for strategizing with caution and care, and for minimizing the potential for unforeseen harm. As technologies continue to develop at rapid rates, it is important that those involved in military operations are equipped to plan ahead and mitigate risks as best they can.

WHAT: What it Means

WHAT is another acronym that is related to collateral effects in cyberspace operations. WHAT stands for “Widespread Harmful or Adverse effects on Targeting.” This term emphasizes the potential for harm and destruction that can occur in relation to infrastructure, networks, information, or computers with a dual purpose.

It’s important to note that there are limits around WHAT and collateral effects. Specifically, as long as the collateral effects of a military operation are reasonable in relation to the overall military gain anticipated from the exercise, such impacts are not prohibited. However, it’s critical that military leaders and strategists take steps to minimize potential harm as much as possible.


Understanding collateral effects in cyberspace operations is crucial for effective military strategy and planning. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate risks or prevent all unintended harm, the concepts of FAW and WHAT are designed to help military leaders prioritize caution and mitigate risks as best they can.

At the same time, it’s important that the language and terminology around cyberspace operations remain accurate and clear. The DOD memo that serves to harmonize terminology is an important step in this direction. As technologies continue to develop and military operations evolve, it’s critical that the world of military strategy adapts to match these changes.

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