NATO readies to launch first-of-its-kind integrated cyber defense center

A senior official briefed DefenseScoop about the plans, on the sidelines of the alliance's Washington Summit.
A general view shows security fencing set up outside the Washington Convention center where the NATO summit will be taking place in Washington, DC, from July 9th to the 11th. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP)

In a move to collectively confront adversarial threats to NATO’s communications and computer networks that continue to intensify, allies are set to formalize and unveil plans this week for the creation of a new, first-of-its-kind integrated cyber defense center, the White House revealed.

On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington on Wednesday, a senior official from the alliance familiar with these plans briefed DefenseScoop on leaders’ strategic vision for the new cyber hub, which will be set up at the coalition’s military headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

“The idea is that there are multiple aspects to it. One is information-sharing — just ensuring that all allies know what the others are doing, making sure that they are on the same level and that they exchange knowledge. Another part of it will be developing [capabilities] together. And the third one is kind of focused on defense of cyber attacks and so on,” the NATO official explained. 

While allied leaders hinted earlier this year at their intent to launch it, this announcement will mark the official path to establishment for the new cyber shop.


Ahead of the summit on Monday, NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Gen. Chris Badia warned that the alliance’s cyber capability is “not at the level it should be.”

Malicious cyber events disrupt the alliance daily, and in recent years its member states have been working fervently to boost their shared situational awareness and resilience against digital attacks. 

At the NATO summit in Vilnius last year, nations endorsed a refreshed concept to enhance cyber defense in the context of overall deterrence, and reaffirmed the Cyber Defence Pledge.

Building on those and other activities, the newly planned integrated cyber defense center would physically co-locate personnel from across NATO’s members in Mons to supply the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) with nonstop visibility into existing and emerging threats in cyberspace that could pose risk to military operations.

“There will be people working in cyber defense. There will be people working on cooperation within the alliance. And there will be people working on and looking into the future capabilities and assets [we need] to develop,” the NATO official said.  


They also confirmed that this new cyber center will essentially operate separate from — but likely in cooperation with — tech- and cyber-focused Centers of Excellence.

“The Centers of Excellence are super important for NATO, but they are independent of NATO. So basically, it’s allies [pitching them and we say,] ‘This sounds very good,’ and then we give it NATO’s sort of stamp of approval. But it’s not a NATO thing. This one is a NATO thing, which means that it’s very differently staffed and differently structured. There will be civilian and military leadership working together in it. So, it’s a very different kind of setup than what we have now,” the official told DefenseScoop.

Alliance leadership is aiming for the new center to be fully operational by or before 2028, they also confirmed.

When asked about funding for the new entity, the NATO official told DefenseScoop that, at this point, “it’s nearly impossible to put a number on it.” But broadly, they added, investments to back it will come from allies’ common funding budget and voluntary national contributions.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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