Home Nonmilitary action Ireland eyes closer cooperation with NATO in hybrid and cyber spheres – The Irish Times

Ireland eyes closer cooperation with NATO in hybrid and cyber spheres – The Irish Times


The government is considering closer cooperation with NATO in the field of hybrid warfare and cyber warfare.

The officials plan to join the Helsinki-based European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which operates under the auspices of NATO and the European Union.

The center is dedicated to designing methods to counter hybrid threats, generally defined as aggression that falls below the threshold of military operations. These can include the use of disinformation, cyberattacks and economic warfare to destabilize an enemy state. Russia has frequently engaged in these activities against Ukraine and other European countries in recent months.

The center engages in hybrid warfare training, wargaming and research for the benefit of its 31 member states. Ireland declined to join when it was initially created in 2017 and joining now would be the latest move to forge closer ties with NATO, particularly around cyber defence.

The government recently opted to join NATO’s Malware Information Sharing Platform, which enables real-time cyberattack details to be shared between member states. In 2019, Ireland joined the NATO Cooperative Cyber ​​Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, to which a small number of Irish personnel are seconded.

These are in addition to Ireland’s membership since 1999 of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, which aims to improve interoperability between NATO defense forces and armies.

None of these initiatives imposes a collective security obligation on Ireland. The government has repeatedly stated that it does not want to join NATO and opinion polls show strong opposition to such a move. However, officials increasingly believe that Ireland could benefit from increased NATO cooperation in non-military areas.

“I think one of the things that we’re certainly very open to looking at is whether our partnership with NATO can be used to look at other things, including capacity building around cyber threats and hybrid threats. in the future,” said David Bruck, director of the foreign office’s international security policy unit.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy, Bruck said the government is “looking very carefully” at joining the Helsinki Center of Excellence.

“It’s a very, very important space there for policymakers to engage and learn from each other about how you’re addressing these issues,” he said at the event hosted by the Belgian Embassy, ​​which is NATO’s official liaison officer for Ireland.

The European Union as a whole is also working to strengthen its relations with NATO within the framework of the Strategic Compass strategy. An announcement clarifying the relationship between the two organizations is expected later this year.

Mr Bruck said “it makes sense for the two organizations to cooperate”, especially if it strengthens international peace and security. He said Ireland had historically benefited from its geographical position “on the periphery of Europe” and its policy against joining military alliances.

“As a result, for much of the state’s history, the perceived threat of conventional attack has been quite low,” he said, adding that there’s “a sense that we don’t cannot rely solely on our geographical location in terms of security”. ”.

He said Ireland has become a digital hub of international importance and is home to vital data centers and communications cables. He said last year’s cyberattack on the Health Service Executive “was a wake-up call for many of us”.