The biggest military-led cyber exercise in Western Europe has taken place in Tallinn, Estonia with 34 teams from 11 countries, including Ukraine, going into a live-fire cyber battle.
Organised by a team of cyber specialists from the British Army, Defence Cyber Marvel 2 (DCM2) was the culmination of more than 12 months of training for more than 750 cyber specialists, including Defence personnel, government agencies, industry partners, and other nations.
The exercise saw teams from across the world respond to common and complex simulated cyber threats. These included 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.
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. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Ran as a seven-day competition, participants were judged on the effectiveness and speed of their response and how quickly they identified and adapted to new threats - vital for developing war fighters for the digital age.
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, Estonia, enabling more countries to take part.
Allowing personnel from across the Armed Forces to build their skills within the cyber and electromagnetic domain, the event also offered 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.”
The exercise ensured all taking part understand the potential and risks that cyberspace provides and gave them the opportunity to experiment and develop their cyber skills. It was designed to stretch the most experienced, cyber battle-hardened specialists in UK Defence.
In third place, came Welsh Water with just a one-percent difference in scores separating the first from the third-placed teams.
The most improved team during the week was judged to be a joint Royal Navy and Ukraine team, who competed while based in the host nation, Estonia.
The most improved team who took part remotely was Kenya.
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 front-line of UK’s defence.”
Defence is committed to providing its personnel with the skills needed to respond to non-traditional threats with the establishment of the Defence Cyber Academy and launch of the Cyber Aptitude Assessment being designed to identify and foster talent.