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Hybrid warfare

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09.12.2018

THE 2018 IDEAS Expo in Karachi featured a high-level seminar on hybrid warfare. This was a timely recognition that threats to national security can and do assume complex forms.

For over 60 years, nuclear weapons have deterred a major conflict between nuclear-armed states, and, because of the global revulsion against the use of nuclear weapons, the nuclear powers have been also unable to realise offensive objectives through nuclear coercion, even against non-nuclear weapon states. Thus, most conflicts are in the form of conventional military interventions against smaller or weaker states, sub-conventional (guerrilla or irregular) conflicts or ‘hybrid warfare’.

Western analysts have termed the comprehensive approach employed by Russia in Ukraine (encompassing narrative control, cyberattacks, use of anonymous militias and irregular forces, clandestine supplies and diplomatic support) as “hybrid warfare”. The Russians refer to it as the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ (after the Russian military chief). This form of warfare is also called: asymmetrical, non-conventional, gray zone conflict, ‘new generation warfare’, ‘whole of government’ approach and so on. It is emerging as the preferred modality in today’s contests between the great powers.

Often, hybrid war may not be a war at all. The objective may not be to secure an adversary’s immediate defeat, but to erode its morale; isolate it; ‘soften’ it up before a conflict; deflect it from pursuing unacceptable military or political objectives; disrupt its communications, command and control and/or important infrastructure; impose economic pain to secure adherence to political demands; delegitimise an adversary’s government; compromise its leaders.

The objective may not be........

© Dawn