The Wars of the Near Future (IV)


MUNICH/BERLIN (Own report) - The Bundeswehr University in Munich has convened a high level cyberwarfare conference. Organized by the military academy's research center's "Cyber Operational Defense" (CODE), representatives from the Defense, Interior and Foreign Ministries, the Bavarian Regional Office of Criminal Investigation as well as from several leading German arms companies are among the participants. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) recently announced the establishment of a new branch of the military, the "Cyber and Information Command" (KdoCIR) with a staff of 13,500. Like the Army, Navy, and Air Force, it will be commanded by its own Inspector General. The Bundeswehr has already launched an advertising campaign costing millions, which, according to the Minister, is aimed at recruiting IT specialists ("Nerds") for military service. The Bundeswehr is explicitly preparing capabilities for cyber attacks - a project that is massively being promoted by NATO. The "neutralization" of enemy air defenses through cyber attacks is also in discussion.

Cyber Arms Race

The Bundeswehr University in Munich has announced that its research center "Cyber Operational Defense" (CODE) has convened a cyberwarfare conference. According to its organizers, "high-level speakers and guests," including state secretaries of the Interior and Foreign Ministries, as well as Gundbert Scherf, "Commissioner for Strategic Control of National and International Armaments Activities" in the Ministry of Defense and an employee of the Bavarian Regional Office of Criminal Investigation, responsible for the war on crime in cyber space are participating at the conference, which ends today, Thursday. Employees of leading German European companies such as Airbus Defense and Space and the German Telekom are also attending.[1] The list of participants corresponds to CODE's "holistic" research approach, which - in its own description, "integrates" in its work on cyberwarfare "experts from various scientific disciplines" as well as "from business and government institutions."[2] To win the "race between the newest attack methods and their defense measures" is the self-proclaimed goal.[3]

Before the First Shot

According to CODE, its research in the IT field is focused on "new systems and architectures for intrusion and extrusion detection" in digital networks, the "analysis of vulnerabilities," the identification of malware and spyware, as well as globally localizing IP-addresses. Its work is also focused on the development of "autonomous," "self-protection" computer systems, and aerospace "threat analyses."[4] "Cyberwarfare is the war of the future," according to CODE speaker Gabi Dreo Rodosek. Hackers will seek to paralyze the enemy's weapons, radar and communications systems, as well as the energy supply before the first shot is fired in a conflict."[5]

Cyberspace Branch of the Military

Rodosek's view corresponds to that of Germany's Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU). In late April, the minister issued an "order of the day" for the establishment of a "Cyber and Information Space" Command (KdoCIR), a new branch of the military, on a par with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, with a staff of 13,500, and commanded by its own Inspector General. ( reported.[6]) Last year, in mid September, at a "workshop of experts" that she had organized in collaboration with the Bundeswehr University in Munich and the Federal Association for Infonomics, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom) in Berlin, von der Leyen, accordingly, announced that she was setting up a new "branch of the service" under the CIR Command, to consolidate the previously "dispersed responsibilities" within the Bundeswehr into a "consolidated IT architecture."[7]

The Entire Range of Skills

As the reason for her initiative, von der Leyen made reference to the perceived Russian aggression against Ukraine, in which "cyber attacks" became a "consistent companion of the implementation of conventional operations." For insurgent groups, warfare in cyberspace additionally opens "an inexpensive and effective possibility to attack the functionality of entire societies and their armed forces." However, the minister is not merely satisfied with what she sees as "self-defense" of "the Bundeswehr, this huge organization, becoming increasingly digitalized." The minister explained that because, with cyber attacks, enemies can inflict "serious disruptions and damages" in the "other classical dimensions on land, in the air, at sea and in space," the troops now require the "entire range of skills." After all, "surveillance drones" as well as fighter jets are "parallel" on mission in "aerial warfare."[8]

Attacks on IT Facilities

In its recently published "Final report," the defense minister's appointed "Cyber and Information Space Development Staff" draws similar conclusions. The report notes that the Bundeswehr must "have the entire chain of capabilities - from prevention to reaction, as well as from simple to complex attacks." Therefore, the World Wide Web has been declared a "theatre of operations," wherein the troops will have a range of "tasks" to fulfill. These range from securing their own IT and other "critical" infrastructural systems, the compilation of political-military "situation assessments," the identification of enemy "propaganda and disinformation," to influencing "opinions in the informational environment of areas of interest to the Bundeswehr and in mandated missions." "Measures for electronic warfare" and so-called Computer Network Operations (CNO)[9] - targeted attacks on enemy IT facilities - are also explicitly stipulated.

Case of Mutual Defense

In Brussels, at the NATO Defense Ministers meeting on Tuesday, western military cyber attacks were also on the agenda. According to press accounts, among the aspects discussed were the electronic "neutralization" of enemy missile and air defense systems and the targeted "destruction" of enemy computer networks.[10] At the same time, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, announced that a cyber attack on one of the member nations of the military alliance could provoke a "case of mutual defense."[11] This would be tantamount to a massive counterattack against the real - or suspected - attacker, and that not only in cyberspace.

Nerds in the Bundeswehr

With posters and ads online and in print media, the Bundeswehr has launched a massive "digital forces" recruitment campaign. The campaign, under the motto "Defending Germany's freedom in Cyber Space," costs millions and is suggesting the necessity of cyberwarfare with slogans such as "Disliking buttons will not prevent cyber terror" and "How can we deactivate warmongers in cyber space?"[12] Just last weekend, Defense Minister von der Leyen told the German press that even though the pay in the military is inferior to that in the electronic and software industries, the Bundeswehr, nevertheless, offers IT specialists "highly interesting fields of work, to which they otherwise would not have access." "For some nerds, this perspective would be compensation enough for the lack in pay."[13]

[1] Jahrestagung des Forschungszentrums CODE am 15.6. und 16.6.2016.
[2] Willkommen auf den Seiten des Forschungszentrums Cyber Defence.
[3] Forschungsprojekt Cyber Defence. Pressemitteilung der Universität der Bundeswehr München 17.06.2011.
[4] Forschung am Forschungszentrum CODE.
[5] Forschungsprojekt Cyber Defence. Pressemitteilung der Universität der Bundeswehr München 17.06.2011.
[6] See The Wars of the Near Future (I).
[7], [8] Keynote der Verteidigungsministerin auf dem Kolloquium des Cyber-Workshop. 17.09.2015.
[9] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung: Abschlussbericht Aufbaustab Cyber- und Informationsraum. Empfehlungen zur Neuorganisation von Verantwortlichkeiten, Kompetenzen und Aufgaben im Cyber- und Informationsraum sowie ergänzende Maßnahmen zur Umsetzung der Strategischen Leitlinie Cyber-Verteidigung. Berlin, April 2016.
[10] NATO Recognizes Cyberspace as New Frontier in Defense. 14.06.2016.
[11] NATO: Cyberspace wird Einsatzgebiet. 15.06.2016.
[12] Christian Stache: Zu den Waffen, Nerds. Junge Welt 07.04.2016.
[13] Die Sicherheitslage hat sich stark verändert. Interview mit Ursula von der Leyen. Welt am Sonntag 12.06.2016.