Recording: The Challenge of Building a Military Cyber Force

A discussion with leading cyber policy academic Dr Max Smeets on the challenges that states face in developing offensive cyber capabilities.

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A growing number of countries are developing new capabilities and organisations to enable them to conduct offensive cyber operations, including in a military context. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine offers an ongoing case study in the use of offensive cyber in armed conflict. These developments have led to intense debates among policymakers, practitioners and researchers about the future nature of warfare and the applicability and utility of offensive cyber.

In his new book No Shortcuts: Why States Struggle to Develop a Military Cyber Force, Dr Max Smeets provides a level-headed view of where we are in the militarisation of cyberspace. The book bridges the divide between technology and policy to assess the necessary building blocks for states to develop a military cyber capacity. It argues that for many states, the barriers to entry into conflict in cyberspace are currently too high.

About the speaker

Dr Max Smeets is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zürich and Director of the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and a College Lecturer at Keble College, University of Oxford. He has also held research and fellowship positions at New America, Columbia University, Sciences Po, and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).

The discussion is moderated by Conrad Prince, RUSI Distinguished Fellow and former Director General for Operations at GCHQ.


Dr Max Smeets

Associate Fellow; Senior Researcher, Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich, and Director of the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative

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Conrad Prince CB

Distinguished Fellow and Senior Cyber Adviser

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