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12 1 2023

The NCI Agency participates in one of the world's largest cyber exercises

Cyber Coalition 2023 took place from 27 November to 1 December, in Tallinn, Estonia, as well as remotely from several other national locations, to enhance NATO, Allies and partners' resilience to cyber threats and their ability to conduct cyber operations together.

Cyber Coalition is NATO's flagship cyber defence exercise and it is a collaborative effort between Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and other NATO bodies, Allies and partner nations, industry and academia.

Unlike Locked Shields, Cyber Coalition is not a simulation of a competition. It is about collaboration, coordination and cooperation. During the exercise, NATO bodies, Allied and partner nations, industry and academia work together in order to strengthen the Alliance's ability to deter, defend and counter threats in cyberspace and across multi-domain operations.

More than 20 NCI Agency staff member provided their expertise during the planning and execution phases of the exercise, from Tallinn and other national locations. The team included cyber experts, as well as legal advisors, and for the first time ever, an acquisition team.

The NCI Agency participates in one of the world's largest cyber exercises

Additionally, the Agency deployed a NATO Cyber Defense Rapid Reaction Team through the NATO Cyber Security Centre, to the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in Northwood, United Kingdom. The role of the Rapid Reaction Team is to deploy a cyber-incident response capacity to address cyber incidents in NATO's networks. For this iteration of Cyber Coalition, the Rapid Reaction Team was deployed to MARCOM, but the NATO HQ changes every year.

"Cyber Coalition provides the perfect platform for NATO and its Allies to exercise the full spectrum of Cyberspace operations in this young domain. The exercise drives continuous evolution, adapting its scope every year to match the evolving organizational structures and operating procedures within NATO and its Allies," said Tom Koolen, exercise participant and Command and Control Subject Matter Expert from the NCI Agency Collective Training and Exercise Branch.

During the exercise, participants worked in a simulated but realistic environment, where a powerful threat actor is trying to compromise a NATO mission and critical national infrastructure by conducting advanced and sophisticated cyber operations. This allows participants to practice responding to cyber incidents in a timely and effective manner.

This year's exercise involved more than 1,000 cyber defenders from over 40 nations and entities, including 28 NATO Allies, seven partner countries, the European Union, and participants from industry and academia. Ukraine took part as a partner nation for the first time since 2019.

Cyber Coalition has been a long-planned annual NATO exercise since 2008. It provides a perfect venue for cyberspace experimentation, supporting NATO's capability development and transformation in the cyber domain.