Cyber War College: Proposal



On 12 April, Professor Greg Austin published a proposal for an Australian Cyber War College in his invited presentation to the 2018 Conference of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.  The presentation slide set can be found here. Here is an exceprt from his presentation.

The presentation argued that Australia needs a national level “Cyber War College” to remedy its deficit in top-end cyber talents for national security agencies, including the Australian Defence Force, and in state police forces, not to mention other investigatory arms of government.There is a second compelling need that the country could satisfy in setting up such a college. It would provide a home for the necessary standard setting and evaluations of such training of high end talents. These would be the baselines for evidence-based policy that do not yet exist. There is a third compelling need that could be satisfied by the proposal. The Cyber War College would provide a home for a nationally networked cyber range that could conduct national level simulations, including state agencies and police, as well as private sector critical infrastructure operators.

 Some questions

Why cyber war and not a cyber security college? Classic disciplines of cyber security and professional qualifications only address a fraction of the challenges of cyber space security at an advanced level. Other important disciplinary perspectives and skill sets include psychology, law, economics, politics and even military strategy. Cyber war evokes the highest level requirements, not the lowest common denominator approach implicit in standardized national curricula that have become the main vehicle for policy advance in this field (quite appropriately to meet civil sector private sector needs). Perhaps the middle ground in naming might be “College for National Cyberspace Security”.

Subject matter focus? (a)Complex cyber operations involving multi-vector, multi-theatre, multi-wave sustained cyber attacks of the sort likely to be seen in major war or in a major political crisis. Both offensive preparation and defensive preparation. (b) information warfare, in its cyber and non-cyber manifestations.

Course duration and scheduling? Part-time and full time, modular short courses, remote learning, high level pre-requisites.

Cost? One tenth of one Baracuda submarine. $500 million over first five years, $100 million recurrent after that. The sending governments would contribute by quota. For example, New Zealand (10 percent), each Australian state government (5 per cent), Australian government (30 per cent); private sector (30 per cent).

Where would we get the staff from? USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, Israel, Italy, India, and Taiwan. Mix of core full-time staff and adjuncts. Variegated clearance levels for different parts of the campus.

Where would we get students from? Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, New Zealand; possibly others in separate learning spaces (i.e. different city)

Curriculum and standards board? Representatives from key agencies and leading civil infrastructure providers; to be chaired by a professor with significant experience in public policy for education in advanced cyber operations, most likely from overseas and participating in Board meetings 2-3 times per year.

Location? Headquarters in or near Canberra; remote learning centres in state capitals or military bases. HQ to be in HMAS Harman?


The National Cyber War College can become part of our deterrent posture for a secure cyber space for Australia. That deterrence can operate in peace time, in low intensity conflict, or in the event of a threat of high intensity conflict.