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Army mints new cyber research and development agreement with Estonia

WASHINGTON — The Army has signed a cooperative research and development deal with Estonia focused on cyber defense and other technologies.

The Sept. 14th agreement, signed by the Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center and the ministry of defense, will establish a working group to identify new technologies mutually beneficial to each nation, mostly in the multidomain operations sphere.

“This is part of Army Futures Command’s' mission: to discover and deliver technology. We’re reaching out to pretty much any source that we can find something innovative, whether it’s innovative thoughts and ways of doing business or if it’s potentially altering a product or modifying it for use by government and by the military,” Brian Lyttle, division chief for cybersecurity at the C5ISR Center, told C4ISRNET in an interview.

Under the agreement, the two nations will identify technological areas of mutual interest and share researchers to develop them, Robert Kimball, senior research scientist for cybersecurity at the C5ISR Center, told C4ISRNET. He noted the agreement is in preliminary stages and researchers haven’t identified specific projects yet.

Andri Rebane, director of the Cyber Defense Department at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, also told C4SIRNET in an emailed response that the joint working group will hold regular meetings to identify those technologies and explore experimentation on those they both agree to.

“The ambition is to develop long term research and development projects in cyber defense to encounter the threats from disruptive technologies,” he said.

Estonia is considered one of the most digitally connected nations in the world and has continued to up its game in the digital realm following a 2007 cyberattack, largely attributed to Russia.

The Army’s research and development community wants to chase new technology that can better serve soldiers.

“Our mission in the R&D area is to identify those technologies that will benefit the Army as a whole. Our ability to identify those technologies extends far beyond what’s available in our own government labs, in research institutions in the United States,” Kimball said. “We’re interested in new cyber technologies from wherever they exist. The Estonians have deep capabilities because of their past that they’ve spent a lot of time working on.”

Rebane explained this agreement is part of a larger partnership between the two NATO nations.

“In a more practical view the two parties can leverage their vast experience to invest into new research and development to mitigate cyber threats across the spectrum of conflict. In the long term this agreement will benefit also our other allies countering the threats emerging from the shared cyberspace,” he said.

Lyttle noted that the Army – and Department of Defense – will never fight alone and thus agreements like this help to foster greater interoperability with coalition partners.

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