NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Workshop – Cognitive Warfare Concept

September 27, 2022

Workshop - Cognitive Warfare Concept


HQ SACT conducted a working level Solution Scoping workshop for the Cognitive Warfare Concept in Madrid. The Spanish Joint HQ hosted and supported this event.

This was the third workshop conducted in 2022 as part of the research phase of concept development. Focusing on Problem Definition, Solution Generation, and Solution Development respectively, the three research workshops have seen attendance from 167 people from 20 NATO nations, 10 NATO Centres of Excellence (COEs), Science and Technology Organization (STO), Industry and across the NATO Command Structure.

Some of the take-aways from the workshops are:

  • NATO needs to seize the initiative in the Cognitive Dimension
  • Cognitive Resilience is vital to our societies and forces
  • NATO and nations need a capability with distributed sensing (including local cultural, social knowledge) and central sense-making to understand the information environment.
  • The Cognitive Dimension poses many challenges similar to Cyberspace.
  • Emerging Disruptive Technologies introduce serious challenges and new opportunities.

With this Madrid workshop, the Cognitive Warfare Concept effort have completed the research phase. The initial findings and solutions will be reflected in an exploratory concept in early 2023. Following further refinement, testing and validation, the final Cognitive Warfare Concept should be delivered by summer 2024.

The central idea of the Cognitive Warfare concept is:

The Alliance must seize the initiative in the Cognitive Dimension, recognising the threat of persistent cognitive attacks and the resulting risk to the Military Instrument of Power (MIoP), and take proactive steps to shape the environment and contest the threat of Cognitive Warfare.

The Cognitive Warfare Concept is a Line of Delivery (LoD) and a ‘Jump-Starter’ in SACT’s Warfare Development Agenda (WDA), approved by Nations as the implementation vehicle for the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC).

The Cognitive Warfare Concept is organised under the Warfare Development Imperative (WDI) Cognitive Superiority.

The inclusion of Cognitive Warfare in NATO’s Warfare Development Agenda highlights the importance of military preparedness in a dimension where adversaries persistently attack the Alliance below the threshold of Armed Conflict, with malign intent to undermine cohesion, trust and democratic values.