NATO Increases Spending on Cyber Defense

As the July 11-12 NATO annual summit in Brussels draws closer, attention is focused on whether member states will boost their defense spending and readiness across the traditional operational domains of land, air, and sea, Politico reported.

However, what many NATO-watchers are missing is NATO’s full embrace of its newest operational domain: cyberspace.

Two years ago, at the Warsaw Summit, members agreed that cyberspace is a new “operational domain in which NATO must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea.”

Since then, NATO has developed strategies on how to implement the cyber operational domain. This includes training, capability development, organizational construct, operational planning, training, exercises and strategic communications.

Furthermore, the recognition of cyberspace as an operational domain opens the way for the integration of voluntary sovereign national cyber contributions into NATO operations and missions.

Keeping in line with the other operational domains, NATO itself will not acquire offensive capabilities, but will rely on the contributions of its member nations.

In a Chatham House address last year, Sir Michael Fallon, former U.K. defense secretary, announced publicly that “the United Kingdom is ready to become one of the first NATO members to publicly offer such support to NATO operations as and when required.”

During the NATO defense ministers’ meeting last November, allies agreed on a framework of political and legal principles to guide the integration of voluntary cyber contributions from member nations.

The agreement ensures that any allied engagement in cyberspace will abide by NATO’s defensive mandate, political oversight, and compliance with international law.

Additionally to the previous frameworks, this year the defense ministers agreed to establish a Cyber Operations Centre as part of the new NATO command structure, the first cyber-dedicated entity within NATO’s command structure.

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