Hybrid warfare

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Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare.[1] In addition, hybrid warfare is used to describe attacks by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, improvised explosive devices and information warfare.[2] This approach to conflicts is a potent, complex variation of warfare.[3] By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution.[4] Hybrid warfare can be used to describe the flexible and complex dynamics of the battlespace requiring a highly adaptable and resilient response.[1][2]

Other definitions[edit]

United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. Bill Nemeth defined hybrid warfare as "the contemporary form of guerrilla warfare" that "employs both modern technology and modern mobilization methods."[5]

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.[5] 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.[5]

David Kilcullen, author of the book The Accidental Guerrilla, states that hybrid warfare is the best explanation for modern conflicts, but highlights that it includes a combination of irregular warfare, civil war, insurgency and terrorism.[5]

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.[5]

In November 2005, USMC Lieutenant General James N. Mattis, and USMCR Lieutenant Colonel Frank G. Hoffman, (Ret.) called "Hybrid Wars" an extension of the Three Block War to a Four Block War.[6]

Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work has said that hostile forces would use "hybrid warriors" hidden in civilian populations.[7]

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[edit]

Hezbollah was described as using hybrid warfare in the 2006 Lebanon War.[8] 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 1920s and 30s. He gave examples of Soviet-inspired military activity within Poland, the Chinese Eastern Railway and Korea.[9]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Defense lacks doctrine to guide it through cyberwarfare". nexgov.com. 
  2. ^ a b "Auditors Find DoD Hasn't Defined Cyber Warfare". Information Week Government. 
  3. ^ "War on Terrorism: Defining hybrid warfare". Canada Free Press. 
  4. ^ "Deterring hybrid warfare: a chance for NATO and the EU to work together?". NATO Review. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Hybrid vs. compound war". Armed Forces Journal. 2009. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. 
  6. ^ James N. Mattis and Frank G. Hoffman (2005). "Future Warfare: The Rise of Hybrid Wars" (PDF). Proceedings Magazine. 
  7. ^ "Navy undersecretary speaks at warfare conference", Panama City News Herald.
  8. ^ Frank G. Hoffman (December 2007). "Conflict in the 21st Century: The Rise of Hybrid Wars" (PDF). Potomac Institute. 
  9. ^ Paul Goble (2014-11-05). "Stalin Invented Hybrid War, Not Vladimir Putin, Archival Record Shows". The Interpreter Magazine. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 

External links[edit]