NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO’s Flagship Cyber Exercise Concludes in Estonia

December 1, 2023

TALLINN, Estonia – NATO has concluded its largest annual cyber defence exercise, Cyber Coalition 2023, which collected 170 participants on-site at the Estonian Cyber Range as well as more than 1,300 cyber defenders from 35 NATO Allies and Partners.

Participants included the newest ally Finland, Partner Nations Sweden, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, as well as the European Union and participants from industry and academia. Cyber Coalition 2023 took place between November 27th and December 1st.

“Cyber Coalition is unique because it is the only cyber exercise in NATO that is not a competition. We all work together as a family of cyber defenders. This collaboration is what makes us stronger and more resilient to cyber threats. This year, the cooperation between all participants has been exceptional,” said Commander Charles Elliott, Cyber Coalition 2023 Exercise Director, United States Navy.

The NATO’s Allied Command Transformation-led annual exercise Cyber Coalition tests and trains cyber defenders from across the Alliance in their ability to defend NATO and national networks.

Cyber Coalition 2023 is also a perfect venue for experimentation, driving cyberspace warfare and capability development. Experimentation is used inter alia to test and validate concepts, capture requirements or explore Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, focusing on improving the delivery of next-generation capabilities, material and non-material, to the warfighters. The Cyber Coalition experimentation campaign – coordinated by Allied Command Transformation and conducted yearly in collaboration with stakeholders from NATO organizations, nations, industry and academia – conducted three experiments, aligned with the exercise scenario and the storylines:

•          The mission analysis and decomposition experiment, to help develop a methodology to analyse military missions in a way that can be easily mapped to cyber events;

•          The cyber message centre capability, to provide NATO with standard cyber message formats and with a tool, already in use by the storylines, to facilitate information sharing and automated exploitation;

•          The cyber situational awareness platform, to enable operational validation of Bi-Strategic Command understanding of the concept, the capability requirements and use cases.

Cyber Coalition 2023 is based on a challenging, realistic scenario where a powerful threat actor tries to compromise a NATO mission by conducting advanced and sophisticated cyber operations. These operations trigger the coordination and collaboration of participating NATO, allied and partner cyber defenders. The scenario helps prepare cyber defenders for real-life cyber challenges, including attacks on critical infrastructure as well as disruption of NATO and allied assets while in operations.

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne, recently said “sharing is paramount. We share best practices by creating communities of military experts. We learn how to better work together, through exercises and wargames that we make as realistic as possible through modeling and simulation. […] By working together across nations at the military level, we benefit from each other’s experience. The lessons learned from different nations help us to better prepare for and adapt to evolving threats, thereby ensuring our collective resilience.”

Cyber Coalition is NATO’s flagship annual collective cyber defence exercise and one of the largest in the world. It is planned and conducted by Allied Command Transformation under the governance of the Military Committee.