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DECEMBER 2020

The Problem of Hybrid Wars in Modern History

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Submitted by James Collins

War is a state of armed conflict between two countries, or regions within a country. Throughout modern history, the use of multiple types of warfare by multi-skilled and knowledgeable adversaries through a blend of regular and irregular warfare is known as “Hybrid warfare.

It is often a combination of state and non-state actors taking place across multiple battlefields and fronts. Interstate conflict and conventional warfare are not on a decline; however, there is a fusion of war forms emerging through means of technological weapons, coercion, terrorist activities, and foreign electoral intervention. Here are the problems associated with hybrid warfare:

The term is too ambiguous

As per popular definitions, any form of violence without the features of a single method of warfare, not fitting within the confines of traditional armed conflict can be labeled as Hybrid Warfare. The common understanding of Hybrid warfare is underdeveloped, which hampers the ability to identify and mitigate this threat. 

It only focuses on combinations of traditional and modern warfare without the use of arms but does not consider other non-violent actions under this term. It is the most common term used to capture the complexity of modern warfare, which involves multiple actors and is a blend of armed conflict and technological weapons.

One of the recent examples of hybrid wars is the Syrian civil war. As mentioned in the essay examples on war on the WritingBros platform, a new round of the civil war in Syria began in 2011, after the arrest and torture of 15 teenagers. As per the free essay examples, unrest followed and soon groups started forming. The non-sectarian protests soon turned into armed conflicts and various countries joined the war, some favoring the president and some that wanted to overthrow him. The war still rages on and is one of the worse humanitarian crises we have seen in the last few decades. 

Traditional militaries find it tough to fight Hybrid warfare

Hybrid warfare uses non-military methods of conflict, in particular misuse of information and data. Often, information warfare neutralizes the ability of the military to respond to threats while blurring the line between truth and falsehood, which results in creating an alternate reality for the observers. 

Information operations and social media influence the perception of the general public towards such events. Hybrid warfare also draws a comparison with the term “unrestricted warfare,” which uses computer hacking, disruption of the banking system, and currency manipulation, cultural and educational divide through power-sharing as tools to threaten national security.  

No operational concept to address hybrid warfare

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the most successful collective security arrangement among nations in the modern world. The Strategic concept adopted by heads of state reconfirms the commitment to defend against any threats of aggression, emerging security challenges affecting the fundamental security of the allies.

While it also touches upon extremism, terrorism, and cyberattacks, it does not refer to hybrid threats and their magnitude. It is silent on the emerging security challenges caused due to modern warfare. NATO also finds it hard to agree on the source of the conflict, which makes a response to such threats complicated.

Modern hybrid war takes place in a variety of operating environments

Modern warfare takes place on three different battlefields: the conventional armed conflict, the indigenous population of the conflict zone, and the international community. The weaknesses of a traditional military structure are leveraged in modern wars.

Modern hybrid war combines the use of technology, arms, and data – a challenge that requires an agile and adaptable military to overcome it. A hybrid adversary is flexible that uses advanced technological weapons, available at low prices. Hybrid threats make use of digital technology and remain below the obvious detection of surveillance agencies.

Throughout modern history, hybrid warfare has been largely prevalent. The most quoted example of modern times is the 2006 battle between Israel and Hezbollah, where a combination of tactics including guerrilla warfare, precision-guided missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, executed a campaign against a conventional Israeli opponent.

Conclusion

The incentives for states to exploit unorthodox modes of war are on the rise. A shift in the mindset to reduce the frequency and threats of future conflicts is a requirement. A re-evaluation of priorities in defense budgets and the role of technology in strategy formulations is the need of the hour. Military systems are vulnerable to exploitation through asymmetric modes of operation and unanticipated tactics. There is no place for complacency since hybrid challengers will continue to rapidly adapt and learn and move on to more effective means of causing threats to national security.

Author’s Bio: James Collins worked in the banking sector after completing his MBA and then resigned to start a credit card settlement company. It’s slowly picking up and as a side gig, he writes blogs and assists students with college essays, term papers and research writing. To relax in his free time, he plays beach volleyball, reads tech magazines and watches live sports.

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