Inaugural USEUCOM exercise Cyber Unity: True to its name

By Mariah M. M. Bastin-Eickhoff United States European Command Cyberspace Security Cooperation Stuttgart, Germany Sep 15, 2023
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U.S. European Command and Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defense co-hosted a professional seminar focused on the importance of cyber capabilities Sept. 11-15, 2023, at the NATO Support and Procurement Agency in Luxembourg.

The event, Cyber Unity, combined tactics and strategies aimed to enhance Allied nations’ abilities to mitigate current cyber security threats by focusing on two scenarios: strategic tabletop exercises and tactical cyber operations.

“We are not preparing for the future,” said Dr. Sergio Coronado, NSPA Chief Information Officer. “Instead, we are preparing for the present as cyber incidents continue to increase across the Alliance.”

Malign actors seek to degrade critical infrastructure, interfere with government services, extract intelligence, steal intellectual property and impede military activities, he explained.

Cyber Unity is designed to enhance Allied cooperation on the ground with six participating Allied countries -- Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Belgium, while validating and testing cyber protection tools in a live technical environment.

While USEUCOM led the effort for the inaugural cyber exercise and seminar, Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defense played a critical role by providing the necessary virtual training environment, the Luxembourg Cyber Range by facilitating Cyber Unity 2023, NSPA looks to support NATO Allies as those nations develop their organic cyber capabilities and to increase their resilience to cyber threats.

“Attention to our critical infrastructure should be a priority and our cyber capabilities are fundamental to keep that infrastructure resilient against attacks,” said Travis Gilbert, branch chief for U.S. European Command’s Cyberspace Security Cooperation. This approach is aligned with NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept, which highlights the importance of cyber capabilities for the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture.

To honor the lives lost 22 years ago in the midst of the September 11th attacks on America, Cyber Unity participants held a moment of silence on the anniversary of that fateful day. While solemn, the reminder of that anniversary was a stark one. “NATO Allies must continue to enhance collective resilience and preparedness to ward off enemies who pose harm to Europe’s collective security – cyberspace being no exception,” said Mariah Bastin-Eickhoff, lead Cyber Unity organizer and deputy branch chief for USEUCOM’s Cyberspace Security Cooperation.

Exercises like Cyber Unity reinforce the NATO Cyber Defense Pledge, Comprehensive Cyber Defense Policy, and Cyber Action Plan by NATO’s Heads of State and Government.