The Northern Command exercise “Or HaDagan” is in full swing: forces on land, in the air, and at sea are taking part in the IDF’s biggest exercise in two decades. But while forces are drilling for war on our northern front, the IDF is moving the exercise to another battlefield – the cybernetic arena.
With its scale and scope, the Northern Command exercise is giving forces an opportunity to test their readiness in real-time. The C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate is using the exercise to drill as well. “We built the foundation of the cybernetic dimension,” says a C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate official. “And in this exercise, for the first time, we’re fully testing and practicing on the cyber level. The Cyber Defense Division of the Directorate has been very dominant in its operations.”
For the C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate, a new exercise means testing some systems for the very first time. “This is unprecedented in terms of information and communication technology, and, accordingly, the size of the challenge.” This includes keeping the IDF connected in wartime, and keeping those networks safe from enemy infiltration. On fending off cyber threats, the official says, “we want to confront the enemy before he can infiltrate the IDF network, and prevent him from getting in. Our goal is to catch him outside the network.”
One of the challenges of this exercise is the work of the cyber and computer systems during wartime. “There’s a real challenge here to create a cloud network that travels with the forces,” says the military source. “Today, the entire IDF is connected to the network. There’s no ground unit and not a single platform that isn’t connected to the network, uniting the entire operation.”
He adds, “Talking on the radio continues to be the main form of communication, and it passes through RoIP (Radio over Internet Protocol).” RoIP augments two-way radio communications by spanning large geographic areas and supporting the use of many base station users.
“In the first part of the exercise, we brought a Radio Data Network, which starts at the company commander in the tank and reaches the Chief of General Staff.…There’s no other army in the world that can compare to this radio-data communication at the tactical level and at this capacity,” he says.
The official continued to explain that the IDF has upgraded its bandwidth to be mobile. “We took capabilities that we had in the stationary world and copied them into the mobile world, maneuvering them in the field.”
“Just as this operation is exceptional in size, the same is true of the IT aspect,” the official says. “The exercise encapsulates all of the cyber training conducted in the past decade.”