Belgian military's 'Cyber Command' to be operational in 2024

Belgian military's 'Cyber Command' to be operational in 2024
Federal Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder. Credit: John Thys/Belga.

The fifth component of the military, the so-called "Cyber Command", will be set up and operational before the end of the legislature in 2024, Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced this week.

This cyber warfare component of the military will join the army, sea, air force and medical arms of the Belgian army. As Dedonder explained when announcing the branch, the digital "cyber world" is a place of vulnerability for our societies.

“Cyberattacks, disinformation, cyber threats... These are situations that we are increasingly facing," she said recently. In light of this, the Minister has therefore recommended protecting the country’s networks and controlling this digital environment.

"We are not talking about military cyberspace and civilian cyberspace. This is unique cyberspace. And that's why we want to create a dual 'cyber' component that allows us both to protect our military but also critical non-military systems," she added. It will therefore be used for the Defence department’s missions of infiltration and counterattack if necessary.

Necessary funding

The Defence department is strengthening its technological, material, and human resources as part of this new component, which will involve a large-scale federal reinvestment in the army.

Dedonder suggests some €400 million will be needed, excluding the budget that will be needed for its operating budget and staff.

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At the end of last year, the Ministry of Defence was attacked by hackers, which resulted in mail traffic being halted for weeks. The threat continues to hang over many public administrations, highlighting the need for this branch.

"Cyber is a theatre of operations in its own right,” Dedonder said. “There is also a war going on there. So that's the whole point of having a cyber component." 

The defence ministry will be recruiting military personnel and civilians for the new component, such as analysts and agents who can infiltrate and collect information "to protect citizens". They will have access to "high-level technology," classified documents, and will be involved in "operations home and abroad."

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