ESDC-led course ‘The Contribution of Cyber in Hybrid Conflict’ held for second time in Helsinki

Hybrid CoE had the pleasure of hosting the course ‘The Contribution of Cyber in Hybrid Conflict’ for the second time on 11–15 September 2023. The course was organized in cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA) under the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) framework, bringing together 41 participants from across EU institutions, 19 member-state ministries, and military headquarters.

During the first two days, the course provided participants with lectures on the key elements of cyber defence and hybrid threats, and addressed the implications of the intersection of cyber and hybrid threats/attacks and campaignsto deepen participants’ understanding of the broad spectrum of hybrid threats. Hybrid CoE experts briefed attendees on the conceptual model of hybrid threats, the nexus between cyber and hybrid threats, disinformation, hybrid warfare, deterrence, and the role of state actors such as Russia and China. Representatives from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) introduced the EU and NATO approaches to cyber, strategic communication and the cyber diplomacy toolbox.

On the remaining course days, the participants had the opportunity to practise what they had learned by joining a tabletop exercise addressing the implications of the nexus of cyber and hybrid. The roles that the participants played in the exercise resembled their position in reality, senior advisors to the political leadership. During this decision-making exercise, the participants assessed an emerging crisis situation in national teams representing imaginary countries, developed a strategic plan to fulfil their country’s policy objectives, and selected a range of actions using all levers of national power. These interlinked decisions were played out over four successive turns in an insight-rich and highly absorbing learning exercise.

On 15 September, certificates were ceremoniously handed over to participants who successfully completed the course. The course is recognized by the EU, EDA and ESDC.

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Cyber Hybrid warfare