From the Editor:
Something came across my desk last week and I felt that it was important enough to share in this week's newsletter. Before we get to that, however, I wanted to let everyone know that we've brought on Jason Torran to help out with the newsletter.
NATO Preparing for Future Conflict in Europe
We've seen an increase in rhetoric from NATO countries, whose leaders are explicitly concerned about future Russian incursions into Europe. Simply put, Russian rhetoric signals that its operations in Europe are far from over, and NATO countries, in return, are preparing for war. But where NATO, and the U.S. for that matter, is especially lacking compared to their Russian adversaries is counterintelligence and electronic and cyber warfare capabilities. Based on significant amounts of open source reporting, we assess that Russia's asymmetric capabilities -- especially electronic and cyber capabilities -- are currently outmatching NATO's ability to counter attacks. That's why we see the rush to play catch up before a potential conflict breaks out. We absolutely believe that a hot conflict between NATO and Russia is possible. Because European nations have been so reliant on the U.S. for defense of its continent, and U.S. budget cuts affecting overall military readiness, we should be preparing for several things should war break out.
Last fall, we reported that NATO was opening up a counterintelligence (CI) school in Poland -- the first CI school specifically focused on preparing NATO partners to defend against Russian intelligence operations. The project was spearheaded by Poland and Slovakia, and both countries are experiencing significant amounts of Russian intelligence activity inside their borders. The center is undoubtedly aimed at reducing Russian influence and identifying Russian assets operating in Eastern Europe.
Earlier this month, Denmark quietly announced that its Defense Intelligence Service issetting up a school to recruit and develop hackers for national defense. This "hacking academy" is going to be producing personnel who are more and more likely to be using their skills against Russian adversaries. It certainly looks like NATO countries are preparing for further conflict with Russia.
Should war break out, there are some implications that are likely to be felt at home. We expect the possibility that cyber attacks will affect the U.S. homeland, as well as European nations. Any option to degrade U.S. command, control, communications, and decision-making that Russia has is an avenue that will be seriously considered. That could mean cyber attacks against economic or financial targets, or military command and control hubs like bases or satellites. We could even expect psychological operations targeting the American public. Given Russia's stiff upper lip through criticism from the "global community" during its Ukraine and Syria operations, we should expect that Putin does not cave into pressure, even as his actions against the U.S. also affect the world. In other words, a war fought in Europe will certainly affect us here at home, even if indirectly. Systems disruption, including of the oil/energy and financial sectors, is a scenario for which we should be preparing, especially if conflict is likely to break out. We'll continue to monitor the situation for our subscribers.
Samuel Culper | Editor