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NATO planning new exercise to align electronic warfare, cyber ops

NATO is planning a new cyber defence exercise that will seek to align more closely electronic warfare (EW) and operations in cyberspace, Janes has learned.

The exercise would aim to bridge a gap between operations through the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) and across cyberspace, said Group Captain Neale Dewar of the UK Royal Air Force, operations branch head at NATO’s Cyberspace Operations Centre (CyOC).

While the two areas are technically separate, the increasing focus of a number of armed forces on integrated cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) underscores the close relationship between the disciplines: an attack through the EMS could be used to disable or jam a communications system, for example, damaging an operator’s efforts in the cyber domain.

Gp Capt Dewar said that the planned exercise currently does not have a title and that a range of other aspects have yet to be finalised, but that NATO believes the first iteration could take place by the summer of 2022.

“I think those from the electronic warfare world have always considered themselves to be a bit of a ‘Cinderella’ service – when cyberspace came along, all of a sudden, all the interest swung to cyberspace,” Gp Capt Dewar told Janes . “But of course, the EMS has never gone away, and is absolutely integral to doing anything in cyberspace in a wireless environment.”

Such an exercise would help NATO allies develop “suitably qualified personnel and give them not just the tactical operator skills or the technician skills, but build them up to what it means to … link [such] operations into overall strategic goals”, he said.

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