Supporting Jordan’s cyber defence strategy
Jordan is the most active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. Faced with new threats, the country has expressed interest in further engagement with the Alliance. Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for Emerging Security Challenges (ESC), accepted an invitation to visit Jordan in February 2015 to discuss opportunities for collaboration on new projects.
Strengthening cyber defence capabilities
Cyber threats are targeting the Jordanian Armed Forces’ information infrastructure, command and control systems, and computer-dependent defence systems. In this context, NATO has launched a flagship project to support Jordan in implementing a national cyber defence strategy.
“This project not only signifies a milestone for cooperation with a partner nation but is the first example of practical cooperation with Jordan in the area of cyber defence,” said Ambassador Ducaru.
The JAF and the NATO Science for Peace Security Programme co-hosted a “Cyberspace Conference” in Amman, Jordan from 23 to 26 February, which examined the country’s cyber capability needs in 30 tailored workshops.
More than 260 participants from 40 local, regional and international organisations attended the conference. It attracted renowned subject-matter experts in the cyber defence field from military, government, industry, and academia, as well as infrastructure operators, banking and many other private sector entities.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Jordan, Lieutenant General Mashal Mohammad Al Zaben, and high-level representatives from ministries and relevant security agencies also attended.
“This conference achieved many goals even before it started and NATO is proud to make this a real flagship project in the field of cyber defence to support Jordan,” said Ambassador Ducaru.
The Chairman stressed Jordan’s eagerness to further develop its partnership and cooperation with NATO and underlined its commitment as a partner to working with the Alliance and other regional and international parties to enhance peace and security in the region. The Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reinforced this message during bilateral discussions with the ASG for ESC.
Jordan has experienced cyber attacks against its governmental and military information networks and internet sites. With Iraq and Syria on its borders, a refugee crisis and growing threats from the ruthless terrorist organisation ISIS, Jordan faces many grave challenges. Given the current security climate in the region, the efforts to strengthen Jordan’s capabilities are timely and of critical importance.
The benefit of the SPS Programme support is not limited to Jordan but potentially has broader, regional implications. Jordan recognises international cooperation as a tool to create stability in the region.
“Jordan’s geographic location and its role in defending moderation and coexistence ideals coupled with a ready ICT sector, dictate the need for a more prominent role in cyber security technology creation and dissemination,” said the Secretary General of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Engaging in practical cooperation with Jordan
With increased ISIS activities in the Levant and direct terrorist threats towards Jordan, counter-terrorism is an area of strong focus for the partner nation. “Jordan is an island of stability,” said Ambassador Ducaru.
The Ambassador discussed the possibility of counter-improvised explosive device training for the JAF, to be led by the NATO-certified Centre of Excellence in Madrid, as part of the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative launched at the Wales Summit in 2014. He also examined the potential for sharing lessons learned in this area between NATO and Jordan.
On 9 March, the visit by the King of Jordan to NATO Headquarters in Brussels stressed the importance of relations between NATO and Jordan.