This Week in Review

Well, it's Friday of a lonnnggg 4th of July weekend.  Time for the week in review.  I could pontificate on the ineptitude of the Obama Administration with the oil spill, the stupidity of Nancy Pelosi and economics, or the criminal coverup of the Justice Department and the New Black Panthers.
But in all cases, I would merely repeat the obvious.   November 2 is coming, baby, but not fast enough.  I would love to see Eric Holder in front of a Republican-led committee trying to explain why the hell he still has a job.

BUT, on to more interesting and important topics.  Over the next two weeks, we shall wander into one of my favorite realms of military analysis and look at hybrid warfare.  What is that, you ask?  Well, let's see.....

Warfare in the 21st century appears to be diverging significantly from traditional conventional combat waged by large mechanized forces of tanks, artillery, and infantry.  Recent experiences by the ground forces of Israel and the United States illustrate how new adversaries are developing innovations in tactics and strategy to negate traditional Western military superiority.
    This new type of warfare, labeled “hybrid warfare” by some analysts and defense pundits has created a great deal of uncertainty on the role of conventional military forces and the operational level of war.  Both U.S. and Israeli forces have encountered hybrid warfare and some observations and lessons learned will be made of their experiences and reactions to hybrid warfare opponents.
    In order to determine how or if hybrid war has changed the operational level of war, a reasonable definition and differentiation must be made from other types or generations of warfare.  Since the September 11 attacks, and particularly after the invasion and insurgency in Iraq, the concepts of asymmetric, compound and hybrid warfare have been confused and comingled.  The best definition of hybrid warfare combines elements of all of these modes of combat and expands the political use of violence beyond traditional military methods:  “Hybrid Wars incorporate a range of different modes of warfare including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, terrorist acts, including indiscriminate violence and coercion and criminal disorder.” Source
    Hybrid warfare is often confused with “Fourth-generation” warfare (4GW) which is primarily an insurgency/terrorism mode of war that evolved from the communist guerilla strategy and tactics of Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh.  4GW fighters have built upon these concepts of guerilla conflict to incorporate new technologies such as the internet and global media.  Hybrid warfare incorporates many of these 4GW tools into a larger construct that includes more conventionally trained and equipped forces and even a functioning legitimate political organization to tie all of these elements of political violence into a coherent and simultaneous strategic and operational plan.
Strategically, hybrid warfare exhibits the ultimate Clausewitzian trait of warfare as an instrument of policy and not merely an end to itself.  The very nature of the military mismatch between the opponents in a hybrid style of war means that the weaker side cannot achieve a strictly military victory and will aim for a political victory by attacking either their opponent’s will to resist, or, in this era of multi-national institutions and global information, defeating their opponent in the realm of public and international opinion.
As shown in figure 1 below, hybrid warfare is a definite step up from previous modes of insurgencies and terrorism.  Although hybrid combat may contain elements of these tactical and operational forms of warfare, the introduction of more sophisticated weapons, tactics and command and control offer additional military capabilities to the political strategy of the hybrid organization.  In addition, these hybrid units may be specifically organized, trained and equipped to overcome the traditional disparity in firepower with the opponents to non-traditional means.  The diagram below from the Rand Corporation's report Military Capabilities for Hybrid War: Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza shows this progression

More next week.....