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14 Military Art and Science

A NEW TYPOLOGY OF WAR –


THE HYBRID WAR

Mihai Marcel NEAG


“Nicolae Balcescu” Land Forces Academy, Sibiu, Romania
mmneag@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT
The complexity, diversity, physiognomy, the nature and
dynamics of contemporary conflicts represent challenges that should
be fully understood by the military in order to position themselves in a
unified theoretical framework, with direct effects on the reporting
capacity to them by timely actions, in the logic of the rules of the
battles and the principles of the military action.
The war, be it ancient or modern, hybrid or not, is always
complex and cannot be described by a single adjective.

KEYWORDS: asymmetry, hybrid threat, hybrid warefare, security crisis,


integrated crises management

1. Introduction point in which it was adopted by military


In practice, any threat may be hybrid leaders and promoted as a basic concept for
as long as it is not limited to a single war modern strategies of war.
size or shape. When any threat or use of
force is defined as hybrid, the term loses its 2. The Complexity of the
value and brings about confusions rather Environment of the War
than clarifying the reality of modern war. The current war-type military actions
The essence is that the opponents and their essence – the armed combat, will
within modern confrontations use evolve in relation to the non-state actors in
simultaneously conventional/unconventional, tandem with technological development of
irregular, regular/explicit/hidden tools and the modern society based on knowledge and
exploit the whole arsenal at their disposal to extensive information support, under the
combat the superiority that some or others impact of the information revolution and as a
hold in a conventional warfare. The hybrid result of multiple political, economic, legal
threats are not confined to conventional tools or social determinations. The development
but to the whole spectrum of modern war. of information technology influences and
The term “hybrid” has emerged in will decisively change the nature of future
2005 and has subsequently been used to confrontations leading to the emergence of
describe the strategy used by Hezbollah in new doctrines and strategies, as well as other
the 2006 war in Lebanon. Since then on, the ways to conduct the war. Trying to define in
term “hybrid” has dominated the discourse a more precisely way the characteristics of
about modern warfare and its future until the future military confrontations, the military

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Military Art and Science 15

theorists introduced in the current The threats extend into a space where
vocabulary notions such as: integrated “the enemies are no longer separated by an
battlefield (space), expanded batttlefield ocean but a firewall”, using “cyber rockets”
(space), multinational joint force, integrated (Sutherland, 2011) or new systems of
operations, interdepartmental operations, weapons. It establishes that the state
effects-based operations, comprehensive asymmetry is promoted which will result
approach in military operations. from the combined use of cyber war
The confrontation battlefield is in a capabilities, anti-satellite or anti-missile
continuous development and will remain an systems and programs, augmented by the
area of diverse types of conflicts nuclear threat. The incidence of intrastate
characteristic to the information society , the violence, with state actors, proxy/tertiary
information society type driving the states or non- state actors will remain a
transformation of the military confrontations permanent theme of analyses.
which will be “in a very broad spectrum of The unique feature of the new
actions and reactions, in a multidimensional categories of risks and threats (international
space” (Mureşan, 2005). The terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass
multidimensionality of the space combat is destruction, organised cross-border crime,
circumscribed to a broad spectrum of cyber-crime, etc.) is represented by the fact
military actions including the informational that they cannot be highlighted individually
space, cyberspace, outer space, cognitive as the new threat is, in general,
space or cultural – identity space, and the unconventional, dynamic, non-linear and
dynamics of changes in the international sometimes even random in incidence,
security environment, related to the use of without constraints or rules of engagement –
armed violence has as effect the in other words: asymmetric. At the same
diversification of the types of conflicts. time, it does not have a doctrine of its own, it
The cyberspace has become an ideal is difficult to quantify and project it and is
environment for warfighting, and the supported by a variety of entities (if we are
military structures must be prepared to be referring only to persons, then we can come
able to respond to the threats that are across terrorists, religious fanatics, extremists
generated in this environment. We can and xenophobes and leaders of organized
consider the cyberspace as a common global crime networks). The enemies of the past
domain within the information environment, were predominantly symmetrical: static,
being made up of an infrastructure of predictable, uniform, hierarchical, rigid and
interdependent information networks resistant to change. The contemporany
including telecommunications networks and enemies are asymmetrical: dynamic,
computer systems. unpredictable, fluid, interconnected, self
The modern information environment organized, who constantly adapt and evolve.
is characterized by the increase of the The present military conflicts oppose
amount of data and information necessary individuals, groups and transnational groups,
for planning and waging the warfare. The supported by states or international
information about targets, about the forces organizations that perform specific combat
involved in the operation, their overall actions both locally in the conflict zone, as
condition, the material and environmental well as globally. We are dealing with
resources are provided to the deployment different forms of violence, such as terrorism,
elements that may be located at great insurgency, crime with targets focused on
distances between them, given that they are domains (cyber-attacks) and disorganization
obtained from the equipments that can be by intimidation or interference. The tactics,
equally dispersed. techniques and procedures continue to

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16 Military Art and Science

improve in ways which bring opponents nowadays, the conflict prevention is a topic
benefits and influence, including economic, on the agenda of international life, and its
financial and even diplomatic means. These approach from positions that encourage
forms of conflict are outside our perception concrete action is reinforced by recent
about military actions, be them conventional positive or negative experiences in this field.
or asymmetrical.
The military operations will be more 3. The Hybrid Warefare
and more dependent on other components A nebulous concept haunt the West
and non-military capabilities; in addition to since Crimea’s occupation by the Russian
the intelligence community, they will forces: the hybrid war, this misleading and
involve a collaboration with the forces of the inaccurate concept that has gained a rapid
Interior Ministry, with other state or private popularity (www.contributors.ro). The new
structures, decentralized at the tactical level. form of manifestation of the conflict,
The comprehensive approach will mean, in brought into the hall of the God Mars, about
fact, a symmetrical, balanced response to which there are so many talks lately, got the
asymmetrical, chaotic threats. name hybrid war to distinguish itself from
The term “hybrid threat” is a other forms of known warfare forms. The
sophisticated amalgam of activities without phrase hybrid war is a concept that does not
restriction. A hybrid threat is characterized have a universally accepted definition, but
by decentralized leadership, military and after which some states revise their military
non-military simultaneously used activities, doctrines or security strategies.
a combination of traditional, asymetric The primary source of the concept has
terrorist actions and of disruptive criminal been identified as being a document entitled
methods, of complex environment operational “Unrestricted War/Unrestricted war-state” of
conditions, all with the intent to use time and colonel Qiao Liang and colonel Wang
space to take the most appropriate decision Xiangsui, drafted in 1999 and published by
for the given situation (Glenn, 2008). the PLA Literature and Arts Publishing
“The hybrid threats agreed as representation House. The study deals with the subject of
at the level of NATO Allied Command for innovative thinking in order to find ways to
Transformation (ACT), are defined within fight off any opponents and capabilities.
the margin of a capability of one or more Thus, the first characteristic of the hybrid
state actors, or of a group of non-state actors, war was introduced: a war without rules and
to use a mix of actions (conventional and restrictions. Unrestricted and unlimited in
unconventional) in the battlefield and the particular sense of the rules in use.
beyond its borders, with negative impacts on (Chifu, 2015) The unrestricted warfare
the decision-making cycle of the opponent in “ignores and transcends the boundaries of
order to achieve the objectives” (Anghel, the battlefield and what is not the battlefield,
2011, p. 58). between what is and what is not a weapon,
A number of criticisms show that there between military personnel and civilians,
is insufficient evidence to support this idea. between state and non-estate actors”. (Metz,
Others characterize the concept as a space 2014) The goal is to ensure equal
for the activities of non-linear threat in an opportunity to the weaker parties of the
environment or the place of operational conflict.
applicability of non-state actors. The real use of the term hybrid war
War, this phenomenon, so complex appears, for the first time, in the thesis for
and full of unknown, so unwanted by some the degree of Master in Arts in the field of
and embraced by others, is one of the National Security Affairs of William J.
dilemmas facing humanity. That is why, Nemeth, Future War and Chechnya: the

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Case for Hybrid Warfare (Monterrey CA the According to the NATO concept the
Naval Postgraduate School: June 2002). His hybrid war represents a concept that refers to
thesis argues that countries are under a threat an extensive area of hostile actions, in which
from the violence of desintegrating states, of the military force is only a small part, and
the new unstable entities, characterised by a which are simultaneously carried out, as part
high level of violence inside those societies, of a flexible strategy, with long-term
with anarchic communities where traditional objectives. The Statement of the NATO
norms and rules are mixed with laws, norms summit in Wales from September 2014,
and socio-political constructs. This, combined describes the hybrid war as “a range of
with modern technology, creates this hybrid paramilitary, military and civilian, direct and
society. The main result comes from the fact hidden [...] integrated actions”
that this interference of the traditional and (www.hotnews.ro).
modern components leads to a special kind Russian mass – information means
of creativity and innovation of the pre-state define the hybrid war as a military strategy
society in using modern technology and which combines a conventional war, a small
weapons, and this way of thinking creates scale war and the cyber warfare. In another
surprise and capable tactics able to source, we find that in the “hybrid war” the
overcome the difference in power between actions are primarly undertaken in the
two armies (Chifu, 2015). information space and the one who will
If the content of the concept has been control this space will get the victory
defined by the Chinese military as (Gîrneţ, 2015). The clearest definition of this
unrestricted warfare, if the name is due to concept belongs to the Chief of the Staff of
William Nemeth, the parents of the hybrid the Russian Armed Forces General V.
war, as it is known today (Mattis & Gerasimov, who wrote in an article in the
Hoffman, 2005). The essence of the weekly specialized journal – VPK – that war
definition resulted from trying to think as an and peace become notions whose borders are
enemy of the USA, and identifying niche more and more diminished while the ways
solutions to fight against a superpower: of conducting the conflict have changed and
modern technological combinations and imply “taking political, economic,
unusual tactics used by opponents in order to information, humanitarian and other non
obtain strategic advantages. military measures” together with the
According to the authors the hybrid implication of the local population and
war is fundamentally an asymmetric, under-cover forces (www.hotnews.ro).
irregular warfare, using tools like guerrilla According to Dr. Iulian Chifu, the
and terrorist tactics, criminal actions, cyber concept of hybrid war means:
attacks, information operations, in a planned “a combination of conventional, asymmetrical,
combination that might be able to affect the irregular, economic, energy, cyber warfare
security interests of the certain state. Its along with a identity and information one,
impact seeks to affect different areas, which and a war through intermediaries, combined,
are thus transformed into some strategic in a very complicated and unstable form,
domains, such as those related to the with a limited war and, at the same time,
information operations carried out with the with one without restrictions for the purposes
support of the favorable media. The of conducting capabilities of all kinds,
objective consists in the alteration and without respect for any rules. The criminal
transformation of will and support for the capabilities together with the economic and
engagement into conflict of the target state, information ones, the propaganda and
population or its leaders. irregular warfare through intermediaries,
insurrection and terrorism, can be used in the

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18 Military Art and Science

same theatre to achieve a specific objective On the other hand, from the analysis of
in line with the realistic approach of the current events of specific geographical
Machiavelli, where tous les coups sont areas in which actions considered to be
bons!” (Chifu, 2015). hybrid are taking place, it is necessary to
The concept of hybrid war fits into notice that the objectives pursued by actors
today's trend manifested inside all bodies that are generators of instability are diffuse,
and organizations of military type and tend indistinct and are unclearly outlined, and
to replace other concepts spoken about until which in general, seek the establishment of a
recently. Thus, the new concept of the perpetual insecurity state among the local
hybrid war seems to be the corollary of the population and decision makers, by
very similar concepts, such as asymmetric prompting the latter to adopt an unclear
warfare/conflict, unconventional warfare, position in terms of foreign policy and an
effects-based operations, command and attitude of helplessness with regard to
control warfare, information or network- respect for the rights of the citizens of the
based warfare, comprehensive approach to area in question. By doing this, the hybrid
operations, integrated crises management, war is very close to the concept of crisis, this
etc. No matter how we look at things and no being called in our particular case -a security
matter how we try to identify the aspects of crisis.
maximum novelty of the current security The principles of the hybrid war are
crisis or armed conflicts we find out that clearly stated in a report drafted at the Joint
each of the techniques and methods used by Special Operations University and the
the involved actors dates from older or more Strategic Studies Department, MacDill Air
recent periods of the military history of Force Base, Florida/USA, according to
mankind. which:
The hybrid warfare involves the use of – a hybrid force acts, holds
a very comprehensive and nuanced variety capabilities and configures itself in a unique
of military activities, resources, programs way, depending on the context for which it
and applications, dimensioned in such a way was created.
that they lead to a non-violent, persuasive – hybrid-type ideology determines
maximiziation of the political and economic the internal conduct of the organization.
influence to reform the governments or – perception of the existing threat
hostile movements, as well as the reversal of according to the potential opponent. This
the trend of the conditions of instability in perception of the threat leads the hybrid-type
the political, social and economic areas, force towards the abandonment of
characteristic to the collapsed or failed conventional military thinking, in order to
states. It also includes the full spectrum of ensure the long-term survival.
the capabilities in the field of military – correspondence between the
information, unconventional weapons capabilities of the hybrid-type force with
(including non-lethal ones), combat and those held by the potential opponent.
support equipment, available at all times to – a hybrid type force holds both
be used if the opposing elements belonging conventional and unconventional elements.
to the regular forces or unconventional These items consist mostly in “accepted”
actors-insurgent forces, terrorist groups or military technologies and nonmilitary
other opposing elements – triggered hostile technologies, specific to the groups of
actions which constitute a direct threat guerrillas.
addressed to the activities aimed to normalize – the hybrid organizations rely on
the activity of the human community in that defensive-type operations.
particular state (Bond, 2014).

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Military Art and Science 19

– the use of attrition tactics by the of the participants (and especially the
hybrid type force (McCulloh & Johnson, population), activity which will be
2013). coordinated in a centralised way and carried
When discussing the hybrid war and out locally or decentralised.
its manifestation, there is a need for In the hybrid war, not only the military
classification as a crisis phenomenon, the weaknesses are essential, but especially the
way it is treated in the military literature, that societal ones, namely the non-military ones,
is, from the perspective of security crisis. which the one who generates aggression is
The essential problem regarding the trying to capitalize: ethnic tensions, weak
existence of threats of hybrid or hybrid war- and corrupt institutions, economic energy
types consists both in understanding the dependency/etc. Based on these weaknesses,
phenomenon and in finding solutions to a hybrid war involves actions ranging from
counterattack this type of threat. terrorism to media propaganda through
Counterattacking the threats of hybrid type irregular and unassumed warfare. A weak
falls within a broader spectrum offered by state is the favourite target of a hybrid war.
the crisis management, a domain widely Weak state refers to a state without strong
debated in the specialized military literature institutions, with disengaged or even hostile
and which, at NATO level, has an effective citizens towards the state, economically
response system to crises. dependent on potential enemies that are
Therefore, a nationwide system of corrupted thus easy to infiltrate at the
integrated management of security crises strategic decision level.
should be developed, covering all areas of The hybrid warfare destabilizes the
national security. The setting up of a state and polarises the society, their gravity
strategic executive structure of decision center being represented by the population.
support should resolve the true The opponent attempts to influence the
implementation of this wish that is policy makers by combining military means
represented by the word integrated, from the (large-scale exercises with troops or nuclear
commonly used expression, integrated bormbardamentaircraft flights) with
crises management. subversive actions (clandestine actions that
avoid their assignment to the aggressor
4. Conclusions state).
In order to attain the goals, the In the future conflicts, the adversaries
opponents of a conflict (state actors, will induce various challenges to the ability
proxy/tertiary states and non-state actors) and the operational capability of the
will carry out activities that would result in a opponent forces to fulfill its objectives,
low and indistinct perception of their action resulting in hybrid threats (which combine
in the environment of confrontation, the conventional, irregular and asymmetrical
conflict aiming at continuously influencing threats), simultaneously, in time and space.

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