September 24, 2019

What strategy should the United States adopt to defend its interests in cyberspace?

This is the charge that the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, chaired by  Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), has taken up. The CSC was authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year and organized to build consensus around a comprehensive cyberspace strategy for release in spring 2020. It takes inspiration from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1950s-era Project Solarium, in which teams of experts proposed competing strategies to create a comprehensive approach to the Cold War.

A bicameral, bipartisan, and intergovernmental body, the CSC is made up of 14 commissioners, senior experts from across the government, academia, and the private sector. Its staff is comprised of researchers, policymakers and practitioners with expertise spanning technology, economics, geopolitical conflict and law enforcement, to name a few.

Several commission staff members joined SIPA experts on September 10 for a high-level roundtable discussion, helping to meet CSC’s mandate to consult experts and coordinate with stakeholders. SIPA faculty participants included Dean Merit E. Janow, Jason Healey, Tamar Mitts, Neal Pollard, Gregory Rattray, Steven Bellovin, Peter Clement and Richard Betts.

Commissioners outlined the objectives of each task force before engaging in dialogue designed to draw on the experience of the experts in the room. Topics discussed ranged from scoping the CSC’s mission, to identifying and incorporating existing, unsolved roadblocks, to executing a cohesive national cyber strategy.

The CSC intends to use roundtables such as these along with tabletop exercises and research to strengthen its recommendations and achieve its main goal: sifting through competing ideas to identify and drive consensus around the best strategy.

— Virpratap Vikram Singh MIA ’20