Future Warfare - The Rise Of Hybrid Warfare And Hybrid Wars.


The notion of hybrid warfare is most typically linked with US military strategist Frank Hoffman in Western literature. 

Hoffman began working on bridging the gap between the linear description of (regular or irregular) combat in the context of the twenty-first-century operational environment in the mid-2000s. 

'The blurring of modalities of combat, the blurring of who fights, and what technology are brought to bear, provides a vast spectrum of variation and complexity that we term Hybrid Warfare,' Hoffman said, drawing on the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) experience with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. 

1. Hybrid warfare, according to Hoffman, may be carried out by both states and non-state actors and entails "a variety of distinct modalities of warfare, including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, terrorism, including indiscriminate violence and coercion, and criminal disorder." 

2. Hoffman was not the first to detect these changes; as he has noted, prior hypotheses and observations strongly informed his own. 

Indeed, a deeper look at the literature preceding Hoffman's notion of hybrid warfare reveals that the word 'hybrid' had previously been used to characterize the hazy border between regular and irregular troops and capabilities. 

3. Nonetheless, Hoffman's work is notable because it sparked a discussion in the West about modern hybrid threats, with the notion of hybrid warfare being seen as a new way to think about twenty-first-century wars. 

The following sections examine hybrid warfare as it was first thought of and understood in the West. 

  1. Unrestricted Warfare Theory And Meaning.
  2. Fourth-Generation Warfare Theory And Meaning.
  3. The Concept Of Compound Warfare.

Because the notion is a product of US military philosophy, it's vital to look at the environment in which it was created, as well as how it's been used by US academics and military personnel. 

As a result, this paper provides four major influences on the notion of hybrid warfare: unconstrained warfare, fourth generation warfare (4GW), compound warfare, and the objectives articulated in the 2005 US National Defense Strategy. 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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Sources, References & Further Reading:

1. Lasconjarias, Guillaume and Jeffrey Larsen (eds), NATO’s Response to Hybrid Threats, Rome: NATO Defence College, 2015.

2. Tsygankov, Pavel (ed.), ‘Gibridnyye Voyny’ v khaotiziruyushchemsya mire XXI veka [‘Hybrid wars’ in the chaotic world of the twenty-first century], Moscow: Moscow University Press, 2015.

3. ‘Inside the KGB: An Interview with Retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin’, CNN, https://web.archive.org/web/20070206020316/ 


4. For example: Andrew, Christopher and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, London: Penguin Books, 2000; Lunev, Stanislav, Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 1998; Earley, Pete, Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War, London: Penguin Books, 2007.

5. Von Clausewitz, Carl, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 13.