A novel pilot course entitled “The Contribution of Cyber in Hybrid Conflict” was organized at Hybrid CoE premises in Helsinki on 12–16 September, with participation by 34 experts from 14 countries, the EU and NATO.
The objective of the pilot course was to educate participants about key elements of cyber defence and hybrid threats, and to provide them with individual training to enable them to address the implications of the nexus of cyber and hybrid. While applicable in a wide range of environments, the course focus was set to explicitly address implications in military operations. The course also provided participants with opportunities for networking and intellectual cross-fertilization.
During the first two days of the course, theoretical content about similarities and differences between cyber and hybrid threats and how to respond to them was presented and discussed. Starting on the third day of the course, the participants were divided into groups and assigned roles to act as representatives of a fictional nation or international organization in a decision-making exercise. The purpose of the exercise was to provide the participants with an opportunity to practically apply the theoretically acquired knowledge in a simulated malicious environment.
The course concluded with a debriefing session on the exercise and closed with a ceremony in which the course certificates were handed out. The course was designed by the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Security and Defence College (ESDC), and supported by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), and the European External Action Service (EEAS). The course programme included overviews of Hybrid CoE’s and the CCDCOE’s working programmes, as well as an explanation of the differences and similarities between cyber and hybrid threats.