Topics > Hybrid Warfare
Definition of Hybrid Warfare. The term is defined by many students of
warfare with varying perspectives on both the history and future of
warfare. Some other terms closely aligned with Hybrid Warfare include
irregular warfare, compound warfare, guerrilla warfare, unconventional
warfare, civil war, covert, non-conventional, terrorism, unrestricted warfare, ambiguous warfare, narco-terrorism,
hybrid threat, terrorism, asymmetric warfare, information warfare,
surrogate warfare, 4GW,
political warfare, insurgency, proxy war, shadow war
Three Block War, Four Block War 1., and
others. Some additional aspects of hybrid warfare (depending on who is
doing the defining) could include IEDs, IO, cyber warfare, and NBC
Common Definition of Hybrid Warfare. A combination of regular forces,
irregular forces, criminal elements, political organizations, and/or
terrorists that blend (and blur) traditional and non-traditional styles of warfare.
Any or all of the mentioned types of forces could be engaged in hybrid
Lack of DoD Definition for Hybrid Warfare. The Department of Defense does
not yet have a definition for hybrid warfare (see JP 1-02)
3.; instead, holding the position that it is
not a new type of warfare (current doctrine covers all aspects of hybrid
warfare). DoD says that the term describes the increasing complexity of
future conflicts and the need for adaptable and flexible U.S. military
forces. Probably the closet term used by the DoD that aligns with hybrid
warfare is "irregular warfare". Of course, if you think that the U.S. Army
has understanding irregular warfare as a priority - think again. The
Army just closed (October 2014) the Army Irregular Warfare Center (AIWC)
in addition, the Counterinsurgency Center has already been closed (in
Recent Examples of Hybrid Warfare. The Israeli war with Hezbollah in 2006
(called by some as the Second Lebanon War) showed the world (and the
Israeli military) the effectiveness of hybrid war used against a stronger
and superior force. Hezbollah did not wage a true guerrilla or
conventional war; but something in between. The recent escapades of
Russia's use of
unconventional warfare in Chechnya (2008) and the Ukraine (2014)
provide excellent examples of hybrid warfare used successfully by a state
power. 2. Of course, we would be remiss
in not mentioning the recent success of the 'Islamic
State' in Syria and Iraq - surely that is an example of hybrid
Future of Hybrid Warfare. It is very likely that the vast majority of the
conflicts found in the world will be hybrid warfare in nature. The
"traditional" form of conflict between two armies of their respective
nation-states will likely be less prevalent than "non-traditional"
conflicts. This is especially so in the case of the United States. Very
few militaries in the world can hold their own in a match against the U.S.
military using a traditional mode of warfare. So it is inevitable that
these nations or non-state entities will opt for hybrid warfare to
accomplish their objectives and goals.
Countering Hybrid Threats. The U.S. military has a variety of mission sets
that will address hybrid threats to include counterterrorism,
counterinsurgency, stability operations, and Train, Advise, and Assist
(part of Security Force Assistance). However, most military observers
believe that the United States (currently) lacks the vision to
successfully counter hybrid warfare.
Warrior - Scholars. There are some who advocate for the development of a
class of warrior scholars who, as part of a learning and agile
organization, are able to learn and adapt in order to achieve success
against hybrid threats. This, of course, would require the military to put
more resources (money) into individuals rather than expensive weapons
systems (such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter).
Special Forces. While the entire U.S. military establishment needs to be
able to address hybrid threats, the military organization of the United
States that is ideally suited to operate in the hybrid warfare environment
is the U.S. Army Special Forces. This is a result of the training,
history, organization, doctrine and mission orientation of the SF units
within the Army.
Websites about Hybrid Warfare and Related Topics
Hybrid Warfare by Wikipedia
Project Gray - USASOC
References for Hybrid Warfare and Related Topics
DoD Directive Number 3000.07, Irregular Warfare (IW), August 28, 2014.
Irregular Warfare: A Selected Bibliography, U.S. Army War College Library,
Irregular Warfare Annotated Bilbiography, USASOC, June 2, 2011.
JSCSC Library Bibliography - Counterinsurgency (COIN), 2011
www.mccdc.marines.mil/ . . . ReadingListJCSC . . .pdf
Training Circular 7-100.3, Irregular Opposing Forces, January
Articles and Papers about Hybrid
Sahin, Kaan, Liberal democracies and hybrid war, International
Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), December 16, 2016. Sahin provides
three reasons why liberal democracies cannot conduct hybrid warfare.
Klus, Adam, "Myatezh Voina: The Russian Grandfather of Western Hybrid
Warfare", by Adam Klus, Small Wars Journal, July 10, 2016.
Ollivant, Douglas A., "The Rise of the Hybrid Warriors: From Ukraine to
the Middle East", War on the Rocks, March 9, 2016.
Paul, Christopher, "Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic", Small
Wars Journal, March 3, 2016. An observer provides his thoughts on how
to define that space between peace and war.
Lanoszka, Alexander, Russian Hybrid Warfare and Extended Deterrence
in Eastern Europe, International Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 1, pages
175-195, January 2016.
Greentree, Todd, America Did Hybrid Warfare Too, War on the
Rocks, April 7, 2015. The author, a former Foreign Service Officer who has
served in five conflicts, is also a Research Associate with the Oxford
Changing Character of War Programme. He informs us on the U.S. use of a
hybrid blend of military, economic, diplomatic, criminal, and
informational means to fight the Cold War in Central America.
Cox, Dan G., What if the Hybrid Warfare/Threat
Concept Was Simply Meant to Make Us Think?, E-International
Relations, February 13, 2013.
http://www.e-ir.info/ . . . simply-meant-to-make-us-think/
Davis, MAJ John R. Jr., U.S. Army, "Defeating
Future Hybrid Threats", Military Review, September-October 2013,
http://usacac.army.mil . . . 20131031_art006.pdf
McCulloh, Timothy and Richard Johnson. Hybrid
Warfare. Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) Report 13-4,
MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, August 2013.
https://jsou.socom.mil/ . . . Hybrid Warfare.pdf
Hoffman, Frank. "Review Essay: History and Hybrid
Warfare", Small Wars Journal, ugust 21, 2012.
Gray, Dr. Colin S., Categorical Confusion? The
Strategic Implications of Recognizing Challenges Either as Irregular or
Traditional, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College,
February 24, 2012.
Fleser, William. "Preparing for Hybrid Threats:
Improving Force Preparation for Irregular Warfare", (Chapter 4),
Irregular Warfare: A SOF Perspective, Newsletter 11-34, June 2011.
Center for Carmy Lessons Learned (CALL).
U.S. Joint Irregular Warfare Center, Irregular
Adversaries and Hybrid Threats, May 2011.
Berman, Eleazar S., Meeting the Hybrid Threat:
The Israel Defense Force's Innovations Against Hybrid Enemies, 2000-2009,
Georgetown Univeristy, April 16, 2010.
https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/ . . . Eleazar.pdf
GAO, National Defense: Hybrid Warfare,
U.S. Government Accountability Office, September 10, 2010.
Johnson, David E., Military Capabilities for
Hybrid War: Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza,
RAND Corporation, 2010.
Owen, William F., "The Toyota Horde: Examining a
Low Cost Military Capability", Small Wars Journal, April 7,
Freier, Nathan. "The Defense Identity Crisis: It's
a Hybrid World", Parameters, Autumn 2009, pages 81-94.
Hoffman, Frank. "Hybrid vs. compound war",
Armed Forces Journal, October 1, 2009.
Hoffman, Frank G., "Hybrid Warfare and Challenges",
Joint Forces Quarterly, Issue 52, 1st Quarter 2009, pages 34-39.
Williamson, Colonel Steven. From Fourth
Generation Warfare to Hybrid War, Carlisle Barracks, PA, U.S. Army
War College, 2009.
Killebrew, Robert, "Good Advice: Hybrid warfare
demands an indirect approach", Armed Forces Journal, June
McCuen, Colonel John J., "Hybrid Wars",
Military Review, March-April 2008, pages 107-113.
Hoffman, Frank G., Conflict in the 21st
Century: The Rise of Hybrid Wars, Potomac Institute for Policy
Studies, December 2007.
News Articles and Releases on Hybrid
February 2, 2016.
"The Strategy of Hybrid Warfare", Small Wars Journal.
Octavian Manea interviews Alexander Lanoszka of the Dickey Center for
International Understanding at Dartmouth College.
September 11, 2015.
"What is Hybrid Conflict?", Lawfare Blog. A partipant to a
Pentagon symposium hosted by the office of the legal advisor to the Joint
Chiefs of Staff shares his comments on the conference.
July 3, 2015.
"The 'new' type of war that finally has the Pentagon's attention", By
Todd Greentree, The Washington Post. The DoD is very concerned
with Russia's ability to employ a combination of stealth invasion, local
proxy forces and international propaganda to annex Crimea and destabilize
May 8, 2015.
"Hybrid war - does it even exist?" NATO Review Magazine. The
author claims that the term is misleading - that war has always been
interconnected and multi-facited.
September 4, 2014.
"SACEUR: Allies must prepare for Russia 'hybrid war'. Stars and
August 21, 2014. "Ambiguous warfare providing NATO
with new challenge". Yahoo News at this
link. . Russia's unconventional attack on the Ukraine leaves NATO
perplexed on how to respond.
July 28, 2014. On On Not-so-New Warfare: Political
Warfare vs. Hybrid Threats, War on the Rocks, by Frank Hoffman
July 17, 2014. "Getting Behind Hybrid Warfare",
Cicero Magazine, by Jordan Bravin at his
June 11, 2014. Russia's Hybrid War in Ukraine,
by Oleg Shynkarenko, Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR)
link. Moscow uses a mix of irregulars, volunteers, commandos, and some
troops to secure the land bridge from the motherland to the Crimea.
May 2014. Putin's "New Warfare". By John
R. Haines, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) at this link.
Februaryu 3, 2014. "Fighting a Hybrid Enemy". The
War Council at this
September 27, 2012. Trends in Hybrid and
Irregular Warfare, USNI News at this link.
April 6, 2012. "How to Fight Hybrid Threats: Tanks,
Airstrikes, and Training". Breaking Defense at this
March 6, 2011. Hybrid War: Why the Hype?, Winds
Over Iraq at this
link. This blog post puts forth the argument that hybrid warfare is "
. . . hardly a new phenomenon".
February 2, 2010. "The QDR's Fallacy of Hybrid
Warfare", by Daniel Goure, Lexington Institute at this
link. Goure says this is nothing new and few states or groups are
capable of executing hybrid warfare. His article is dated 2010; I wonder
on his thoughts in mid-2014.
July 26, 2010. "Army training to focus more on
'hybrid threats'". Stars and Stripes at this
March 14, 2009. "The Military's New Hybrid
Warriors", by Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., National Journal at
March 3, 2009. "Hybrid War Throwdown". DoD Buzz. A
discussion of the utility of the term 'hybrid war' at this
September 2008. "For the Military, a Future of
'Hybrid' Wars", by Matthew Rusling, National Defense
Magazine at this
1. For more on the "Four Block War" see "Future
Warfare: The Rise of Hybrid Wars", Proceedings Magazine, U.S.
Naval Institute, LTG James Mattis and LTC Frank Hoffman, November 2005.
2. David Maxwell, a retired Special Forces officer,
provides great insight into the use of unconventional and political
warfare by the Russians in the Ukraine in Taking a Spoon to a
Gunfight, War on the Rocks, April 2, 2014.
3. For now, there is no DoD definition for Hybrid
Warfare as can be seen by examining Joint Publication 1-02, Department
of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 8
November 2010 (as amended through 16 July 2014).
4. See David Barno's The Shadow Wars of the
21st Century, War on the Rocks, July 23, 2014. at this link.
5. See "Defeating Future Hybrid Threats",
Military Review, September-October 2013, pages 21-29 by MAJ John R.
Davis, Jr., U.S. Army for more on the Warrior - Scholar concept.
http://usacac.army.mil . . . 20131031_art006.pdf
6. See "Irregular warfare center to close Oct. 1",
Army Times, September 1, 2014.