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Macedonians protest in front of the EU building in Skopje in May 2017, a few days after violence erupted when angry nationalist protesters stormed parliament. Societal fissures make countries more vulnerable to hybrid tactics.

Coping with conventional and unconventional security challenges

Hybrid War and Hybrid Threats

April 2017, Number 08.02

It is not a new phenomenon that states at war employ a broad array of instruments besides military forces to achieve their objectives. Deception, propaganda, information campaigns, and irregular or covert operations have always accompanied conventional warfare. These measures aim to demoralize soldiers fighting on the front line and decrease domestic support for the war. They target the human psyche by raising anxieties and fears, seeding doubts, questioning the legitimacy of governments and institutions, and splitting national cohesion along social, cultural, religious or ethnic lines.

In this regard, the hybrid war that the Russian Federation has been waging in Ukraine since 2014, and the threats that it poses to other countries in its nearer or more distant neighborhoods, do not constitute a genuinely new concept of warfare. On the contrary, the doctrine that Russian Chief of General Staff Vladimir Gerasimov presented in 2013, and that has been systematically used in Ukraine since, is based on the assessment that Western countries — first and foremost the United States — have used financial support to opposition parties, deceptive information campaigns and “color revolutions,” in conjunction with economic incentives and...

Excerpt from Sven Bernhard Gareis, “Hybrid War and Hybrid Threats,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  8, No. 2, 2017: 42-47.

Dr. Sven Bernhard Gareis has served as German deputy dean at the Marshall Center since 2011. He was previously deputy head of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg for five years. He remains a professor of international politics at the Westfälische Wilhelms- Universität in Münster and has taught as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tamkang University in Taiwan.

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