Last week (8-11 November), and for the second time since December 2015, the European Defence Agency (EDA) provided cyber awareness training to more than 100 staff from EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA at the mission’s Operations Headquarters (OHQ) in Rome, Italy.
The seminars covered important aspects such as mission-specific cyber threats, the legal framework applicable to cyberspace, common vocabulary and best practices when using communications and information systems. They also served to inform participants about the development and establishment of EU cyber defence capabilities for CSDP military operations and missions.
The seminars also allowed the command team of OHQ Rome and the EDA to exchange views on the next steps to be taken to enhance the cyber defence capabilities for EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia and other EU-led military operations.
The seminars were conducted with the support of the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn and from SYMANTEC Corporation.
The EDA started organizing Cyber Awareness Seminars in 2014 in support of EUFOR RCA as a valuable contribution to raising cyber awareness for all the personnel of activated Headquarters (HQ) for EU-led military operations.
The EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework, as adopted by the Council on 18 November 2014, states that “Cyberspace is often described as the fifth domain of military activity, equally critical to European Union (EU) Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) implementation as the domains of land, sea, air, and space. The successful implementation of CSDP has been increasingly dependent on the availability of, and access to, a secure cyberspace. Robust and resilient cyber defence capabilities are now required to support CSDP structures and CSDP missions and operations”. The Policy Framework puts strong emphasis on cyber education and training.
EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia
EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia is only one element of a broader EU comprehensive response to the migration issue, which seeks to address not only its physical component, but also its root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution.
The mission core mandate is to undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, in order to contribute to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean and prevent the further loss of life at sea.
Since 7 October 2015, the operation has moved to phase 2 International Waters, which entails boarding, search, seizure and diversion, on the high seas, of vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking.
Last June , Operation Sophia’s mandate was extended until 27 July 2017 and also reinforced by adding two supporting tasks:
- training of the Libyan coastguards and navy;
- contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.
On 30 August and 6 September 2016, the Political and Security Committee (PSC) authorized the launch of the capacity building and training task, and the start of the mission’s role contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo respectively.