Shadow of an arm holding a knife in front of a wooden wall

A Western response to Russia's hybrid threat

Avoiding Death by a Thousand Cuts

January 2016, Number 07.SE

“Hybrid war is a term that is sweeping the strategic security community worldwide. Much like the torture technique noted in this article’s title, hybrid war has the ability to bleed its target through myriad attacks conducted below the perceived threshold of conflict. Assorted, seemingly inconsequential actions, when combined, can plunge an otherwise functioning nation into chaos. To many NATO nations living in Russia’s shadow, the implications of this threat are deeply troubling.

As Russia’s forceful intervention in Ukraine grinds on, the question that all other former Soviet countries in Russia’s “near abroad” and NATO must answer is: “What are effective responses to Russia’s version of hybrid warfare?” An examination of the aspects that have made it successful provides insight into deterrence and allows us to apply different techniques to disrupt future Russian hybrid threats. Analyzing how these tactics are deployed in neighboring countries to exploit seams between these governments and their ethnic Russian citizens — using Latvia as a case study — gives us a reference point to discuss how to respond...”

Excerpt from David P. Canaday, Avoiding Death by a Thousand Cuts,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  7, Special Edition, 2016: 20-25.

Capt. David P. Canaday is a U.S. Army foreign area officer working in the Army Stability and Security Cooperation Division. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor’s degree in Russian language and literature, the Defense Language Institute, and more recently, the College of International Security Studies at the Marshall Center.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.