As senior US officials warn that cyber attacks on vital systems would be considered "acts of war" eliciting a real world military response, one professor at the National Defence University surmises that battles of the future might be fought by guys hunched over keyboards in dark basements, rather than strapping lads toting M-16s.
In light of recent cyber attacks on Google apparently launched from China, online tensions - the possible precursors to outright conflict - have been spreading from chat rooms, to Gmail accounts and into the meeting rooms of military decision makers in recent weeks.
"We operate in five domains: air, land, sea, outer space and cyberspace," says Dan Kuehl, a professor of information operations at the National Defence University in Washington. "An ever increasing amount of what we do has dependencies on cyberspace; a guy typing on a computer is one of the new faces of war," Kuehl told Al Jazeera, stressing that he is not speaking for the US government or his elite military university.
"A response to a cyber-incident or attack on the US would not necessarily be a cyber-response. All appropriate options would be on the table," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said recently.