From disinformation to war in space: Germany modeled a scenario of a possible attack on NATO

In a report to the Bundestag on “risk analysis for civilian protection,” the German government described one of the likely scenarios of a possible conflict between an unnamed aggressor and NATO, based on the lessons of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. It was reported by the German newspaper BILD.

According to the report seen by the media, Russia’s war against Ukraine has confirmed that modern warfare combines classical and unconventional operations, the latter including cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and sabotage.

“An aggressor attack—hybrid and/or using the full arsenal of modern armed forces in all dimensions (land, air/space, maritime, cyber, and information)—on NATO territory… is therefore a likely scenario,” the report says.

They then describe one scenario of such an attack, emphasizing that it is just one of the possible ones, without specifying other envisioned developments. This scenario divides the conflict into four phases.

Phase I lasts for several years with varying degrees of intensity and involves hybrid aggressor influence: espionage, cyberattacks, sabotage, and attacks on vital defense facilities and critical infrastructure. The key feature of this phase is that the hybrid influence is covert, so it is impossible to link it to the aggressor immediately.

Phase II lasts several months and entails the deployment of aggressor forces on NATO’s eastern borders, as well as NATO deterrence forces in response. The hybrid influence continues, but becomes more intense and less concealed.

Phase III, which lasts for at least one year, involves open military aggression against NATO territory—selective attacks using conventional and unconventional means, including against targets in Germany—as well as possible disruption of satellites in space.

Finally, during Phase IV, the aggressor’s troops break through NATO’s defense lines into Germany. Experts also envision a full-scale, armed confrontation in space. The scenario assumes that the phase ends with “a ceasefire agreement no sooner than a few months later.”

In its report, the German government proposes to use this scenario as a basis for building a defense concept, and the relevant agencies can further model “sub-scenarios” for more effective defense.

The Bundeswehr is developing a new comprehensive operational defense plan that takes into account the lessons of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. Experts expect the German defense plan, classified as “top secret,” to be complete by the end of March and to span hundreds of pages.

In recent weeks, a number of European NATO countries have already warned of the risk of Russian aggression in the near future. For example, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in January that the Alliance should prepare for a Russian attack on a NATO country within 5-8 years.

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