During NCI Agency's fifth annual conference, NITEC16, from 7-9 June in Tallinn, Estonia, NATO, industry and government speakers repeatedly called for partnership between NATO and industry—not just closer partnership, but better partnership.
Estonia—known for its mastery of "e-governance," its leadership of NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, and its resilience during the 2007 cyber attacks—was a fitting location to consider the conference theme of "Building Resilience through Secure C4ISR: NATO-Industry Collaboration in a New Era."
Organized in cooperation with AFCEA and the Estonian Ministry of Defence, the event attracted more than 550 participants, including senior government, military and industry leaders, and defence and security experts. Over all three days, strong consensus emerged around the idea that the nature of cyber threats—especially their speed—creates a need for qualitatively different partnerships than in the past, marked by closer NATO-industry collaboration at early stages to solve problems and deliver solutions.
Participants heard from Estonian President H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves and several Estonian officials about their country's successes in the cyber sphere. Their perspectives were energizing as NATO and industry representatives worked hard during the conference to find new and better ways of working together.
The Estonian Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Legal and Administrative Affairs Erki Kodar described the cyber sphere as both a "force multiplier" and an "equalizer" of nations that challenges conventional thinking. Business executives emphasized the need to bring the speed of acquisition processes into better alignment with the speed needed to defend against cyber threats. Dr. Katrin Suder, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Defence, underscored the need to think beyond classic models of public-private partnership to tackle challenges in cyberspace.
Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Admiral Michael S. Rogers noted a new trend of government approaching the private sector with a problem to solve instead of asking for specific solutions. U.S. Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen elaborated on this theme, describing a shift from government-issued "requirements" to team-built "capabilities." He emphasized that government and industry teams need to work together from the beginning to deliver those capabilities.
NATO senior managers presented €3 billion of business opportunities in cybersecurity, cloud computing, command and control, and federated mission networking. Over 40 BOA sessions and over 220 B2B sessions, organized by AFCEA, were held. NCI Agency also took several steps to advance new forms of NATO-industry cooperation, including through two new initiatives.