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NATO Cyberspace Capability

A Strategic and Operational Evolution


Jeffrey Caton


This monograph examines the past and current state of NATO’s cyberspace defense efforts by assessing the appropriateness and sufficiency of them to address anticipated threats to member countries, including the United States. This analysis focuses on the recent history of NATO’s cyberspace defense efforts and how changes in NATO’s strategy and policy writ large embrace the emerging nature of cyberspace for military forces, as well as other elements of power.
In general, the topics presented are well documented in many sources. Thus, this Army War College Strategic Studies Institute monograph serves as a primer for current and future operations and provides senior policymakers, decision-makers, military leaders, and their respective staffs with an overall appreciation of existing capabilities as well as the challenges, opportunities, and risks associated with cyberspace-related operations in the NATO context. The scope of this discussion is limited to unclassified and open source information; any classified discussion must occur within other venues.
This monograph has three main sections: • NATO Cyberspace Capability: Strategy and Policy. This section examines the evolution of the strategic foundations of NATO cyber activities, policies, and governance as they evolved over the past 13 years. • NATO Cyberspace Capability: Military Focus. NATO cyber defense mission areas include NATO network protection, shared situational awareness in cyberspace, critical infrastructure protection, counter-terrorism, support to member country cyber capability development, and response to crises related to cyberspace. This section explores these mission areas by examining the operations and planning, doctrine and methods, and training and exercises related to NATO military cyberspace activities.
• Key Issues for Current Policy. The new Enhanced Cyber Defence Policy affirms the role that NATO cyber defense contributes to the mission of collective defense and embraces the notion that a cyber attack may lead to the invocation of Article 5 actions for the Alliance. Against this backdrop, this section examines the related issues of offensive cyberspace, deterrence in and through cyberspace, legal considerations, and cooperation with the European Union.
This monograph concludes with a summary of the main findings from the discussion of NATO cyberspace capabilities and a brief examination of the implications for Department of Defense and Army forces in Europe. Topics include the roles and evolution of doctrine, deterrence, training, and exercise programs, cooperation with industry, and legal standards.
NATO cyberspace activities face many challenges that must be assessed and prioritized on a recurring basis by policymakers.