Press Release

Johns Hopkins APL Contributes Expertise, Leadership to NATO STO Space Deterrence Wargame

Tue, 03/07/2023 - 16:15

The NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) hosted a classified wargame in February as part of a multinational research project that aims to develop an Alliance Space Deterrence Framework. The exercise was held Feb. 7-9 at the STO Collaboration Support Office (CSO) in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

The wargame was held as part of a Research Task Group (RTG) formed under the STO Systems Concepts and Integration and System Analysis and Studies panels.

“The value of the NATO Alliance really shined throughout this wargame,” said Susanne Wirwille of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, the NATO task group chairperson and the director of the wargame. “Players from political and military leadership positions from across the Alliance built on their national strengths to generate an orchestrated approach to deter threatening and hostile behavior against allied space capabilities.

“The ability of the national players, combined with the skills and products of our dedicated task group members — experts from across the allied nations and NATO — resulted in an engaging wargame played through vignettes deeply rooted in current data and trends. We found the construct beneficial to national decision-makers and effective at testing our framework.”

Through its work, the RTG aims to inform national considerations of potential approaches to deterrence against space threats, as well as inform future discussion in NATO to address policy and legal frameworks. NATO declared space as an operational domain in 2019, alongside air, land, sea and cyber, recognizing its increased importance to security and prosperity across allied nations.

Last month’s wargame brought together political and military representatives from capitals and national delegations to NATO, in addition to representatives from NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation and the Joint Air Power Competence Centre. The activity leveraged ACT’s expertise in wargaming and operational analysis, as well as the policy, legal, technical and deterrence expertise of the RTG.

“The NATO Science and Technology Organization is continuously researching how new technologies will evolve in the next 10-20 years, and the defense and security implications of these evolutions,” said Bryan Wells, NATO chief scientist, in his opening keynote address. “This wargame is a vital way to explore the options available to decision-makers as space technology develops in the future.”

Wirwille said the team will analyze the results over the next few months, focus on improving the space deterrence framework and test it through another wargame in 2024.

The wargame was the first of several that will be held under the STO RTG, which began work in March 2022.

This release is adapted from a document produced by the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO).