Op-Eds

The ever-increasing digitalisation of operational activities and weapon systems brings new challenges, risks and opportunities. Military forces the world over are working on adapting to this new environment and turning what is seen by many as a major disruptive revolution in military affairs into an advantage.

Digitalisation is in fact not new for NATO forces, which have over the years tried to leverage digital technologies to keep their edge. They have developed advanced Command & Control capabilities, integrating more and more near real-time information from multiple sensors. They have as a result been able to increase the pace of the OODA loop to gain a crucial advantage over their opponents. Regarding weapon systems, digital technologies have allowed significant progress in miniaturization, accuracy, sensors’ performance, connectivity, and target recognition. Digitalisation has also played a key role in training, mainly through simulation which has now reached a high level of fidelity compared to real operations.

Digital technology’s dramatic progress opens the door to disruption across a number of fields, by taking advantage of the vast amount of data produced in the operational chain by a multitude of sensors and exchanged through multiple high-capacity networks. The support of Artificial Intelligence is therefore key to allow operational commanders as well as combatants to make the most of relevant information extracted from “big operational data”. As far as training is concerned, it is now possible to use immersive environments mixing real and virtual reality, significantly improving the realism and effectiveness in preparing for operations.

Global digitalisation is also boosting the automation of processes, and more broadly of a majority of weapon systems and support activities. In addition, some of these technologies are now available off the civilian shelf, offering non-state actors such as radical extremists and terrorists the possibility of using drones, robots, or cyber disruption with little to no restraints nor ethical concerns.

It is crucial that we prepare our forces to face these new threats, and that we give them the tools to use emerging digital technologies in the best way possible. This implies a new approach to innovation, a renewed dialogue and partnership between all the defence players, including traditional defence companies as well as SMEs or start-ups. It also implies a permanent effort for allied forces to share their experience and the best practices, and to increase the pace of operational digital transformation while integrating legacy systems and keeping up interoperability.

The Vauban Sessions will raise these crucial questions, and I look forward to welcoming friends and partners from across the Alliance for a fruitful discussion!

General (ret) Jean-Paul Paloméros

former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation,

CEIS Senior Advisor

Cyberspace is an environment that forces need to fully understand and master. While it generates new fast evolving threats that are difficult to counter, it also offers opportunities for action that complement those conducted in land, sea or air environments. Knowing how to operate in cyberspace is therefore an operatio- nal challenge for a force. Indeed, it must be able to deter cyber attacks thanks to increased resilience; to pro- tect and defend itself through the detection of cyber incidents and the mitigation of their impact on ongoing missions; to act effectively in this intangible field, relying on adapted intelligence. Sharing and exchanging information with other NFS HQs will be essential in the pursuit of our cyber capabilities’ development within the strategic framework of NATO and our nations. Organised by Headquarters RRC-Fr with the support of CEIS, these first “Vauban Sessions” in Lille will give our sister HQs the opportunity to provide feedback on the way that we train in the cyber domain in order to enhance force capabilities like JTF, AC or LCC.

Lieutenant General Laurent KOLODZIEJ,

RRC-FR Commander

CONTACT

Email : contact@vauban-sessions.org

Phone : +32 2 646 70 43

 

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