Hybrid war – does it even exist?
The recent Russian intervention in Ukraine has generated much debate about the use and effectiveness of hybrid warfare, a type of warfare widely understood to blend conventional/unconventional, regular/irregular, and information and cyber warfare.
In the last decade, some of the most important military forces and coalitions in the world, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have attempted to address and counter so-called hybrid threats. Rather than develop strategies based on ‘hybrid’ challenges (an elusive and catch-all term), I believe decision-makers should stay away from it and consider warfare for what it has always been: a complex set of interconnected threats and forceful means waged to further political motives.
The term ‘hybrid warfare’ appeared at least as early as 2005 and was subsequently used to describe the strategy used by the Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War. Since then, the term “hybrid” has dominated much of the discussion about modern and future warfare, to the point where it has been adopted by senior military leaders and promoted as a basis for modern military strategies.
The gist of the debate is that modern adversaries make use of conventional/unconventional, regular/irregular, overt/covert means, and exploit all the dimensions of war to combat the Western superiority in conventional warfare. Hybrid threats exploit the “full-spectrum” of modern warfare; they are not restricted to conventional means.
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