Cyber Warfare focus at Joint Warfare Centre

By Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Sébastien Dorne, French Air Force, Subject Matter Expert CIS Cyberspace, Joint Warfare Centre

We live in a digital world in perpetual evolution where communication and information systems (CIS) are everywhere: at home, at work, on us, even in us. “Cyberspace” can be defined as the global domain created by CIS and other electronic systems, their interaction and the information that is stored, processed or transmitted in these systems. State administrations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, companies and people are quickly accelerating their use and dependence on an increasing number of technologies and data. They are all operating in/making use of cyberspace.

In modern warfare, computers, networks, satellites, and other forms of CIS are playing a key role for NATO headquarters to command and control, monitor, target and communicate. In its operations and missions, NATO CIS are more than ever critical, enabling all processes and actions in the maritime, air, land, space and cyber domains. They constitute a critical asset to accomplish the mission. But this applies as well to all weapon systems and platforms, such as aircraft, ships and tanks. This applies by extension to all objects contained in cyberspace and used by NATO. NATO has for long established strong protections for its assets and networks. They are now considered globally and constitute the common ground of cyber warfare.

Cyber warfare, with the expansion of new technologies and the threats posed to NATO by multiple state or non-state actors, organizations and even individuals, is one area in which the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) places great focus. The integration of cyber defence as a new NATO capability in joint level exercises began in STEADFAST JUNCTURE 2011, but its development as a transformational warfare area has continued to dynamically evolve through as the cyber landscape changes and the threats, risks, and vulnerabilities morph. Cyber defence is now moving to cyberspace operations. In addition, the development of related concepts, and the maturing of the cyber DOTMLPFI (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities, Interoperability) strands will require continued experimentation, doctrinal development and adaptation.


"The need for more interoperability and more realistic storylines reflecting real-world threats offer many opportunities for JWC to improve the training experience for all joint headquarters."

At the Warsaw Summit 2016, cyberspace was recognized by NATO and Allies as a domain of operations. The consequences have been significant for cyber warfare. It potentially affects, to various degrees, all activities conducted by JWC today: the planning of joint-level exercises, the development of scenarios and content (the stories made up in support of the training), simulation, media, transformational activities, doctrine development; there are very few areas that may not be impacted by this change. JWC, through a comprehensive approach, is ideally placed to integrate those changes.

Over time, cyberspace operations have become pivotal to support other activities, functions and processes. The confidentiality, the integrity and the availability (CIA) of data are more than ever to be assured in Alliance operations and missions. As for any actor in cyberspace, NATO needs to carry on its missions and trust its information in a complex, continuously evolving threat environment, in a highly contested cyberspace.

JWC incorporates these challenges in its activities with a view to offering the best training experience possible to the training audiences, and in order to contribute effectively to transformational activities and doctrine development. To that end, cyber warfare is a coordinated and synchronized effort among all JWC divisions to offer a credible and challenging contested environment mirroring real-life realities and offering to the joint commanders’ situations where they face operational dilemmas.

With the rapid evolution of cyber warfare in the last couple of years, NATO strives to adapt and transform at the same pace. The creation of the Cyber Operations Centre in SHAPE (CyOC), the development of new capabilities, the need to train with realistic cyber ranges and the necessary cooperation between Allies and NATO, or NATO and EU, have created new challenges. The need for more interoperability and more realistic storylines reflecting real-world threats offer many opportunities for JWC to improve the training experience for all joint headquarters. It will keep NATO’s joint training events up to speed with regard to cyber warfare. With a long-lasting experience in joint operational training, doctrine development and transformational activities, JWC is the ideal tool to support NATO in the evolution and adaptation to the rapidly changing cyber warfare.