Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare. In addition, hybrid warfare is used to describe attacks by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, improvised explosive devices and information warfare. This approach to conflicts is a potent, complex variation of warfare. By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution. Hybrid warfare can be used to describe the flexible and complex dynamics of the battlespace requiring a highly adaptable and resilient response.
Nathan Freier of the Center for Strategic and International Studies was one of key people that originally defined hybrid warfare involving four threats: (1) traditional; (2) irregular; (3) catastrophic terrorism; and (4) disruptive, which exploit technology to counteract military superiority.
Retired United States Army Col. Jack McCuen defines hybrid warfare as the focus of activity of asymmetric warfare, fought on three decisive battlegrounds: (1) within the conflict zone population; (2) home front population; and (3) international community.
David Kilcullen author of the book “The Accidental Guerrilla” states hybrid warfare is the best explanation for modern conflicts, but highlights that it includes a combination of irregular warfare, civil war, insurgency and terrorism.
The journalist Frank G. Hoffman defines a hybrid warfare as any enemy that uses simultaneous and adaptive employment of a complex combination of conventional weapons, irregular warfare, terrorism and criminal behaviour in the battlespace to achieve political objectives.
As of September 2012, the term Hybrid Warfare is not found in any official Joint Doctrine Publications, and this non-doctrinal term is not accepted by military planners.
Similar examples of Hybrid warfare in history
Hezbollah was described as using hybrid warfare in the 2006 Lebanon War. During this conflict, Hezbollah fought the Israeli military to a standstill by engaging them from either concealed, fixed positions and underground tunnel complexes (emulating the Viet Cong) or by conventional infantry combat maneuvers in Lebanese villages. The outcome of these tactics were that the Israel Defense Forces failed to conquer a single village along the Israel-Lebanon border, in the time of its two-week ground assault on Hezbollah. Israel's greatest strengths, namely, having a modern and capable armoured corps and air force, were nullified by Hezbollah fighters utilizing hardened bunkers and modern Russian ATGMs, capable of destroying any known type of armoured vehicle. At one point, Hezbollah utilized a C-802 anti-shipping cruise missile that severely damaged the corvette INS Hanit and killed four Israeli sailors on board.
This was combined by Hezbollah succeeding in hacking into Israeli communication and Israeli soldiers' mobile phones to receive first-hand knowledge about enemy troop movements, communications and casualties.
According to a Russian researcher, Vladimir Voronov, the concept of "hybrid war", that became popular again with the outbreak of the War in Donbass, was already employed by the USSR in the 1920's and 30's. He gave examples of Soviet-inspired military activity within Poland, the Chinese Eastern Railway and Korea.
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