The new transatlantic centre of excellence in Helsinki provides member countries with support in countering hybrid threats. Having long traditions and lots of expertise in hybrid issues, Finland makes an excellent site for the cooperative organ.
With the transatlantic security environment amidst a significant change, nine EU and NATO countries established The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) in Helsinki in April. It brings together experts from both sides of the Atlantic, as the United States is one of its establishing members. The membership of the Centre has continued to expand over the past months, and it is a prime example of the deepening cooperation between the EU and NATO.
Hybrid threats stem from a variety of state and non-state actors using both conventional and unconventional methods, including diplomatic, political, military, economic, technological and social processes. The emergence of them requires cooperation in the form of sharing best practices as well as building common resilience against the threats.
Finland was a natural location for the Centre, with its own comprehensive security model well equipped to tackle disinformation campaigns and other kinds of hybrid threats. The Finnish whole-of-society approach, in which all key stakeholders including the private sector are involved in maintaining national security, has long traditions dating back to post-World War II years.
Keeping all citizens informed is important when it comes to hybrid threats, as they are even more often targeted at regular citizens than traditional weapons. That is why the Hybrid CoE performs matchmaking of a sort, too, bringing together expertise from all parts of society, from all its member countries.
The Hybrid CoE provides countries with research, analysis, consultation and joint exercises. For example, the Centre has consulted several European states ahead of their upcoming national elections. The actual operative work, however, is done in the member countries themselves. The Centre has also been involved in planning joint NATO exercises, for example by feeding in different scenarios concerning hybrid issues.
As one of its many forms of action, the Hybrid CoE is currently developing an e-learning game together with a Finnish university. The game is set to release next spring in multiple languages, teaching children critical media reading skills.
Executives from the Hybrid CoE visited Washington, D.C. last week. Having met with numerous decision makers on the Hill and in the administration, the Hybrid CoE representatives were very content with the positive reception they met with.
According to the Chairman of the Hybrid CoE steering board, Jori Arvonen, American politicians have been well aware of hybrid issues and shown support for the Hybrid CoE. He is pleased to see the good transatlantic cooperation getting even stronger and backing the Centre's important work in Helsinki.