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UK leads Western Europe’s largest cyber warfare exercise


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Soldiers taking part in cyber warfare exercise
Image source: Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said the largest Western Europe led cyber exercise has taken place, with 34 teams from 11 countries including Ukraine taking part in a live-fire cyber battle.

Named Defence Cyber Marvel 2 (DCM2), it was organised by a team of cyber specialists from the British Army and was the culmination of more than 12 months of training for more than 750 personnel from defence organisations, government agencies, industry partners and other nations. 

Hosted in Tallinn, Estonia, the exercise involved teams responding to common and complex simulated cyber threats including attacks to networks, industry control systems and unmanned robotic systems – simulating some of the tactics Russia used to disrupt Ukrainian cyberspace in the early days of the invasion one year ago.

Nearly 900 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF took part along with teams from the armed forces of several other countries.

Run as a seven-day competition, participants were judged on the effectiveness and speed of their response and how quickly they identify and adapt to new threats.

Recognising threats

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, said: “The modern battlefield is evolving at an unprecedented pace, it is therefore vital that our personnel are trained to adapt quickly in this crucial domain and can recognise cyber threats with capability and speed.”

Many teams were based in their home countries but were virtually connected to a cyber range controlled in Tallinn, enabling more countries to take part.

The event also provided the opportunity to share learning and best practice across the armed forces and with other nations taking part including Italy, Japan, Kenya and Oman. 

Colonel Ian Hargreaves, chair of the Army Cyber Association, said: “The Army Cyber Association was set up by Royal Signals officers, prior to the formation of 13 Signal Regiment, as a cyber operations professional development network. It is volunteer run and entirely inclusive for any service person who wants to develop their cyberspace knowledge and skills.

“Our focus has always been talent identification, recognition and development with a big wraparound of innovation. We must innovate to stay ahead of those that would wish us harm and Defence Cyber Marvel 2 is the next evolution of our pioneering collective education.”

Potential and risks

MoD said the exercise ensured that all taking part understand the potential and risks that cyberspace provides and gave them the opportunity to experiment and develop their cyber skills.

Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes, deputy commander Strategic Command, said: “Events like Defence Cyber Marvel showcase the talent we already have in defence. They get to exercise and learn with folk from a vast array of different nations, backgrounds and specialisations - all united by a common purpose – to hone their skills to a fine edge, in order to protect our people, our prosperity and our principles.

“At UK Strategic Command we’re committed to finding and nurturing individuals with those skills, especially those who are about to finish their studies and are eager for a unique challenge on the frontline of UK’s defence.”

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