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What is Cross-domain deterrence?

Cross-domain deterrence (CDD) is the use of capabilities of one type to counter threats or combinations of threats of another type in order to prevent unacceptable attacks. Examples might include using air power to retaliate for terrorism or cyber disruption of military command and control. CDD is not a new problem—actors have long combined disparate means to pursue political goals or evade their opponents’ deterrent threats—but the complexity of CDD in the contemporary world makes understanding it more important than ever.

The Importance of Cross-domain deterrence research?

The emergence of new military technology, such as cyber warfare or anti-satellite and space-based weapons, and the interdependence of threat technology with civilian infrastructure, creates major challenges for conventional frameworks for deterrence. A wide range of political actors, from rising powers like China to regional spoilers like Russia and Iran and even non-state actors, now seek to leverage emerging threat capabilities for advantage against powerful actors like the United States, which in turn look to exploit the same technologies to safeguard their interests. While strategic actors have employed a variety of means such as naval and land forces to pursue coercive objectives since antiquity, the rise of threats to space and cyber infrastructure makes deterrence particularly challenging for policymakers and theorists today. Non-military coercive options such as economic sanctions or population flows, as well as the growing influence of non-state actors in global politics, further complicate the strategic calculus.

Our Institutional Partners 

The Cross-Domain Deterrence Project studies the effects of increasing political and technological complexity on the theory and practice of deterrence. We aim to develop an analytically sound and empirically grounded logic of CDD and to articulate its relevance for contemporary national security policy. This multi-disciplinary project is a collaboration between the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation; the University of California, San Diego, Department of Political Science; the University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy; the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Our Sponsors

We are supported by the Department of Defense Minerva Initiative and the Office of Naval Research under Award Number N00014-14-0071. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website or in our publications are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Defense or the Office of Naval Research.

  • Department of Defense
  • Minerva Initiative
  • Office of Naval Research

For more information on the Minerva Initiative see

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