On the battlefield, hybrid warfare is defined as the simultaneous use of traditional and non-traditional methods.

 

At a time when asymmetric threats emerge in the international security system and sub-state actors diversify, more sophisticated strategies such as "hybrid warfare" emerge to combat new threats posed by complex and unpredictable enemies.

 

Although there are patterns corresponding to hybrid warfare in the history of war, Frank G. Hoffman, a retired US Army officer, was one of the first to conceptualize this situation.

 

Hybrid Wars, according to Hoffman, include a variety of combat styles, such as traditional capabilities, erratic tactics, indiscriminate violence, and terrorist acts.

 

Hybrid adversaries include states and non-state actors such as terrorist groups, independent organizations, and proxies. In hybrid wars, all types of tactics, methods, and weapons can be mixed separately or in other ways, depending on the specific situation. Conventional warfare concepts and unconventional methods can both be used to blur the battlefield.

 

Hybrid enemies are unstable and frequently adapt to new situations. Civilians can be included in this concept in the same way that soldiers are, and they can tactically participate in attacks.

 

The lines between battlefields and non-combat areas are extremely blurred in hybrid wars, implying that hybrid attacks can occur anywhere or everywhere.

 

Russia places a higher value on hybrid warfare than the United States. At the very least, we can say that it devotes more resources to its practice. Some argue that Russian studies of hybrid warfare are more systematic and fruitful than American studies of the theory.

 

 “Information war will be decisive”

Russian General Makhmut Gareev is one of those who is thinking about hybrid warfare. With the first edition of his book "If War Comes Tomorrow: The Contours of Future Armed Conflict" published in 1995, he believes that hybrid warfare is not a new theory, but that information warfare will be a determining factor in future conflicts. In this study, it comes to the fore that new information warfare methods can allow the other side to attack and gain serious advantages without a declaration of war.

 

Nonetheless, it appears to have been demonstrated in South Ossetia, Crimea, and Syria, where conventional forces are equally important. According to Gareev, the integration of military and non-military resources allowed Russia to save money on war costs.

 

The primary goal of hybrid warfare is to demoralize the enemy rather than to seize their territory. It will eventually exploit its weaknesses and erode its strengths to persuade the enemy's decision-makers that achieving the goal is costly.

 

According to Hoffman, the US military, on the other hand, is in the midst of a period of unprecedented complexity. Globalization, the spread of advanced technology, transnational extremists, and resurgent/revisionist forces have all contributed to this increased complexity.

 

Instead of emphasizing conventional state-based threats, the US National Defense Strategy, published in 2005, reassessed modern threats and defined a broader set of challenges, including sporadic and disruptive threats. 

 

The blurring of war and operative challenges

The blurring of war and the battlefield is the most difficult challenge of hybrid warfare. In Another Bloody Century, Colin Gray also contends that "the categories of war will become more blurred."

 

According to Nemeth, hybrid forces can effectively integrate technologically advanced systems into force structures and strategies, as well as use these systems outside of their intended employment parameters.

 

Again, "operationally, hybrid military forces are superior to Western forces within the limited operational spectrum" according to Nemeth.

 

Many experts believe that "hybrid warfare will be a defining feature of the future security environment." Given this scenario, states and societies will face more serious threats in the future.

 

 

Gerasimov and the ‘value of science in foresight’

Valery Gerasimov, a Russian general, also conducts extensive research on hybrid warfare. We even see them as a doctrine.

 

The rules of classical warfare were fundamentally altered by Gerasimov's approach, known as the "Gerasimov Doctrine." According to the doctrine, the effectiveness of non-military elements in achieving strategic and political goals has increased.

 

Gerasimov established the doctrine in 2013 in the article "The Value of Science in Foresight" arguing that "new challenges necessitate rethinking the forms and methods of warfare." It also contributes significantly to the concept of "hybrid warfare."

 

Gerasimov; In this article, while revealing Russia's non-linear approach to war, Gerasimov asserts that in the twenty-first century, the distinction between war and peace has vanished, and states no longer officially declare wars.

 

The case of whether or not this war should be declared is crucial.

 

Gerasimov emphasizes, using examples from the Arab Spring, that the methods used in the conflict are shifting the population toward the widespread use of non-military elements, utilizing the protest potential.

 

According to Gerasimov, another factor influencing the change in modern warfare methods is the use of military robotic systems and research in the field of artificial intelligence. Armies should be prepared for the robotic war of tomorrow.

 

Another article by Gerasimov, written in 2016, that evaluates the "Syrian Experience," focuses on Hybrid Warfare. He emphasizes that hybrid aggression leads to chaos and collapse in countries. The concept of "The Lightning War of the Twenty-First Century" (blitzkrieg) is crucial here.

 

Gerasimov's main point is that, in addition to the conventional approach, hybrid aggression has spread throughout the world, and that, on the contrary, countries should consolidate their national security approaches with an intersectoral cooperation model.

 

As a result, the nature of war continues to change, and the situation within the international system is becoming more complex as it moves toward multipolarity. For these hybrid threats, more total and intersectoral coordination are required.

 

While countries such as China are stepping up their efforts through military-civilian fusion, Russia has extensive experience in the doctrinal side of the equation.

 

As Sun Tzu's emphasis on "defeating the enemy without fighting" pushes countries toward hybrid warfare, only time will tell whether the resulting ambiguity and uncertainty will open the door to new threats.


Dr.Hüseyin Korkmaz. The author is a researcher focusing on China and geopolitics in the Asia, primarily related to the US-China relations.

@drhkorkmaz