The hybrid war. About the origins of the concept
Material posted: Publication date: 01-03-2015

Recently the commander of U.S. forces in Europe Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said that Russia in a few years will be capable of simultaneously three operations without additional mobilization.

Under one of the operations he was referring to the military conflict in Ukraine, because, as you know, NATO hold contrived versions (and actively promote it in the Western media) that Russia is at war with Kiev, sending in the Donbass military equipment, specialists and supporting the rebels means. Hodges said that Russia has developed so-called hybrid war, which he successfully tested in the Crimea. In recent times this term is often used, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Along with the asymmetric unconventional conflict and war (the situation when overt hostilities by both sides is not conducted), which are also on the lips of military experts, the concept of hybrid threats is widely used in documents of the Alliance and the Pentagon.

The author of this concept is Frank G. Hoffman, a former marine corps officer and now a researcher at the U.S. Department of defense. It is a major theorist in the field of armed conflict and political-military strategy, whose opinion is respected by the designers and decision-makers in high offices of Washington and European capitals.

Hoffman argues that the conflict will be multi-modal (maintained in different ways) and multivariate, not fitting into the framework of a simple construction by a principle of division between black and white. On Hoffman's future threats are more likely to be described as a hybrid blend of traditional and irregular tactics, decentralized it planning and execution, involvement of non-state actors using both simple and complex technologies.

Hybrid threats include various modes of warfare, including weapons, irregular tactics and formations, terrorist acts (including violence and coercion), and criminal disorder.

Hybrid war also can be multihop (held and States, and various non-state actors). These multimodal/multihop action are either different entities or one and the same. In such conflicts the enemies (of the state; the group is supported by the government or the entities that are funding their operations) will use the access to modern military capabilities including encrypted command systems, man-portable missiles of a class "earth-air" and other modern lethal systems; and - to organize protracted guerrilla warfare, using ambushes, improvised explosive devices and assassinations. It is possible to blend high-tech capabilities of States, such as anti-satellite protection from terrorism and financial warfare, but as a rule, quickly and tactically directed and coordinated within the main fighting to achieve a synergistic effect in the physical and psychological dimensions of the conflict. The results can be obtained at all levels of war.

Very strange that Russia is credited with developing the hybrid war. Himself Frank Hoffman in an article published in July 2014, accused Russia of the fact that in 2008 in Georgia were used methods of hybrid war.

In earlier work, Hoffman said that "my own definition is taken from national defence strategy and focuses on the modes of conflict opponent. This includes crime... Many military theorists avoid this item and don't want to deal with something that our culture rejects and specifies that the powers of law enforcement agencies. But the relationship between criminal and terrorist organizations are well established, and the growth of a narco-terrorist and transnational organizations, using smuggling, drugs, human trafficking, extortion, etc., to undermine the legitimacy of local or national government is obvious enough. The importance of poppy production in Afghanistan increases this estimate. In addition, the growing problem of gangs as a form of destructive forces inside America and in Mexico portend greater problems in the future."

Next, Hoffman defines a hybrid threat: any adversary that simultaneously and adaptively employs a combination of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism and criminal behavior in the area of combat actions to achieve its political goals.

Indeed, Mexico and Afghanistan are examples of this hybrid war. For example, the drug war in Mexico, which since 2006 have killed more than 50 thousand people, directly linked to the internal struggle for spheres of influence between drug cartels, police corruption and U.S. intervention.

As for Afghanistan, there is some combination of local tribes, veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war (Mujahideen), the Taliban and al-Qaida and securing financing its activities through opium production and fundraising on the part of Islamists-the Salafists. Methods of operation attacks on NATO military bases and convoys and transport of terrorist acts and murders of individuals. In this case the response from the United States and NATO, as a rule, leading to casualties among civilians, contribute to the support of the militants by the local population.

And the reference to Hoffman Taliban refers to events in Afghanistan and related experience gained in the USA (since 1979). In the book "Conflict in the twenty-first century. The emergence of hybrid war" (2007) Hoffman writes that analyzed the practices of organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah. Indeed, American and other experts believe that the Lebanese political organization Hezbollah during the conflict with Israel in 2006, used hybrid methods of warfare, it also followed the insurgents in Iraq, orchestrating attacks on American occupying forces. Hizbullah is not the structure of the Lebanese army, although the military wing of the organization has small arms. Network structure of this party, based on social and religious ties, served as a powerful factor in the resistance during the Israeli attacks. In Iraq the situation was even more complex. Against the USA he has performed both Shiite and Sunni militias, and former Baathists (supporters of the secular regime of Saddam Hussein). In turn, al-Qaeda provoked, in this country, taking advantage of the temporary anarchy.

It should be noted that these and other studies show a connection between the Western way of warfare with the relatively new concept of hybrid threats. In other words, the United States, NATO and Israel, on the one hand, experienced practice hybrid warfare and felt for yourself the beauty of hybrid action on the part of the enemy and developed an appropriate response plan. The obviousness of this approach is seen in the fact that the concept of hybrid warfare is used not only Marines and special operations forces, but other branches of the armed forces, particularly the air force, for which, it would seem that this model of warfare is out of place.

Michael Isherwood in the book "Air power for hybrid war", published by the Mitchell Institute of the Association of the U.S. air force in 2009, gives the following interpretation of hybrid war: it erases the distinction between purely conventional and is typically irregular war.

Currently, this term has three applications. Hybridity may relate primarily to a combat situation and context; second, to the strategy and tactics of the enemy; thirdly, to the type of forces that the United States needs to create and maintain. In early studies of this phenomenon have often used the term in relation to all these possibilities. In February 2009, the marine corps General James Mattis spoke about hybrid enemies, and about hybrid of the armed forces that the United States also can develop in order to resist them.

When it comes to political objectives, the hybrid warriors would rather take the form of irregular war, where the participants seek to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the ruling regime. This will require the armed forces of the United States assistance to strengthen the government's ability to ensure social, economic and political needs of its people.

It is important to note that the hybrid context, of which it was written, not that other, as a product of globalisation that blur the boundaries of traditional norms and rules. And the engine of this globalization were, first of all, the USA.

As for the action sequences, then the American military experience in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq have forced the joint headquarters to reformat the stages of the war. The commanders are now planning operations with zero phase passing into the dominant operation, and further in the peacekeeping stabilization and reconstruction. This formula was an important continuation of the main stages of preparation and the main battlefield.

But hybrid war is different because it allows the enemy to engage in several phases at the same time and puts a different set of requirements for the armed forces.

Isherwood also notes that potentially hybrid war also North Korea and Iran. He concludes that the complex nature of hybrid war requires military commanders and civilian leaders awareness of their operating environment or, as they say in the Marines, "feeling space combat". A hybrid enemy might be hiding among the civilian population, to be different from the typical enemy and use the "e-asylum" created by the global telecommunications market.

It should be emphasized that the phrase "hybrid threats" was used in three of the last four U.S. surveys on defence, published in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Consequently, it carefully developed a conceptual model, which is actually embedded in the military doctrine of the U.S. and its NATO partners. And the armed forces of this country are already used in practice, where necessary, from the Hindu Kush and the Mexican border to social networks in cyberspace. But somehow accuse Russia...

Leonid Savin


Tags: war , strategy