The Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) Partnership for Peace and Outreach (PfP & O) Committee and the Unione Nazionale Ufficiali in Congedo d’Italia (UNUCI), recently conducted a successful Seminar on Hybrid Threats. Thirty officers and distinguished speakers from ten NATO nations attended this important event, which focused on adapting defence capabilities utilizing Reserve forces in Hybrid Warfare. The participants included the former Chief of the US Army Reserves, Major General Roger Sandler, USA (Ret), and immediate past CIOR President Lieutenant Colonel Dimitar Popov, of Bulgaria. The National President of UNUCI, Lieutenant General Rocco Panunzi, after welcoming the participants, attended with interest many sessions. Also, the Mayor of Chianciano Terme, Mr. Andrea Marchetti, welcomed the participants and graciously invited them to enjoy their stay in the City, especially the spas for which Chianciano Terme is named.
The Under Secretary of State of the Italian Ministry of Justice, Dr. Cosimo Maria Ferri, took part in the Seminar and during his presentation drew insightful parallels between the cyber threat to the West and the Italian struggles against the Mafia especially in the field of “money laundering. Dr. Fulvio Mancuso, the Deputy Mayor of Siena, explained the specific interest public authorities have regarding cyber threats and security. The Chairman of the PfP & O Committee, Major (R) André Roosen, pointed out that Reservists are an essential part of resilience as NATO nations respond to hybrid threats and cyber war.
Dr. Antonio Albanese, from Italy, and Dr. Vedran Obucina, from Croatia, focused on “Cyber Jihad,” which has its origin from al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham
(Daesh), and the other name for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). After a general briefing on the different movements that compose Islam (Wahhabism, Shia, Sunni, etc.), the roots of some of the current conflicts in the Middle East were explored. They then concentrated on how Daesh displays manifestations of the Sunni caliphate, which utilizes several elements attributed to hybrid warfare. Implementing communication warfare and conventional acts of war are connected in a loop which feeds the “brothers in the West,” giving them hope, and ways to attack “infidels.”
A presentation by Rumanian Colonel Craisor-Constantin Ionita, and Albanian Colonel Suzana Jahollari, outlined their countries’ approaches towards hybrid threats, particularly cyber threats. .
Hybrid warfare has become one of the hottest topics on the NATO landscape. Dr. Guillaume Lasconjarias, from NATO’s Defence College in Rome, said that we have to understand what these threats are and how they work. We have to define a common policy and a means to properly address and respond to this challenge. He covered the nature of hybrid threats and highlighted how NATO has addressed this new threat.
Commander Dr. Lars Otte of Germany briefed on his country’s approach. He presented different categories of cybercrime spying and compared it to “Cyber-Jihad”. Dr. Otte is a Reserve officer within the new Directorate-General Cyber/Information Technology (IT) at his Federal Ministry of Defence. This new military service will be implemented next year,
Swiss Major (R) Phillipe Leo dealt with one distinct element of hybrid warfare – mobile forensics. He highlighted a unique case study on how the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) operations in Lebanon were badly damaged in 2011 after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of U.S. spies by means of basic mobile forensics. The capacity of certain hostile organisations to monitor mobile communications (computer, cell phone, etc.), or abuse it for their own propaganda, requires trained and capable operators. Everyone listening to his of words will now view mobile phone usage in a different way.
Throughout the Seminar participation by attendees, each a citizen-soldier possessing expertise from their civilian occupation and their military Reserve background, which greatly enhanced each discussion of Hybrid Warfare scenarios. This valuable contribution demonstrated the value-added Reservists play as NATO seeks to develop solutions for strategic and tactical Hybrid Warfare operations.
Italian 1st Lieutenant Dr. Massimo Franchi provided an academic overview of hybrid threats indicating that the majority of international conflicts that have evolved from symmetric to asymmetric to hybrid ones. Moreover, researchers agree that the cyber is playing an increasingly important role in all hybrid conflicts.
Providing the attendees with real-world exposure to the Italian military, the 186th Paratrooper Regiment “Folgore” hosted the Seminar participants for a visit at their headquarters in Siena.
Major (R) Roosen drew a positive conclusion for the PfP & O seminar by stating that the thesis, “Reservists are an essential part in resilience to hybrid threats and cyber war,” was confirmed, and we have to use reservist’s expertise and build up a Cyber Reserve. Major (R) Roosen was pleased that former Partnership for Peace countries had attended and gave some insights into how they handle such threats. He then closed the seminar with “Special thanks to UNUCI and the Italian Reserve officers who have done excellent work in organizing and carrying out this seminar, especially the strong leadership of past CIOR President, Lieutenant Commander Giuseppe “Pino” Imbalzano. ”
Future PfP & O Committee Seminars will now pivot to focus on CIOR’s outreach objectives.