NATO Review: Hybrid War – Hybrid Response?

published 5 years ago by DVIDS

When a country is attacked by conventional land, sea or air forces, it is usually clear how to best respond. But what happens when it is attacked by a mixture of special forces, information campaigns and backdoor proxies? What's the best response? And how can international security organisations like NATO adapt to these attacks? 00.10 - Paul King – Editor, NATO Review – voice-over At one point during the Ukrainian crisis, Russia had 40,000 troops lined up on the Ukrainian border, but when it came to sowing instability in Ukraine, it was not these conventional forces who were used, but rather unorthodox and varied techniques, which have been dubbed hybrid warfare. 00.28 – Amb. Kurt Volker – Former US ambassador to NATO Russia is using it to try to play for unilateral, national advantage, taking territory, imposing its will on others, invading countries, annexing territory… It’s stuff you couldn’t make up. 00.41 – Marcin Zabarowski – Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs I think the Russians have been very smart. Frankly, I think they have outsmarted us. They use commandoes and they pretend they are not Russian. In terms of information warfare, they have been extremely good, really. You know, we have here a debate in the West: Provocative, not provocative, presence here, presence there. And the Russians have their Russia Today, which responds to the orders from Putin, having one clear message, and it reverberates. It’s using Western technologies. Whereas the message itself is very, you know, kind of communist style, one would say. 01.20 – Liam Fox – Former UK Secretary of Defence This crisis goes well beyond the borders of Ukraine. What effectively Putin has now said, is that the defence of ethnic Russians does not lie in the countries in which they reside or with their laws or their government or their constitution, but with an external power, Russia. This blows a hole in everything we understood about international law. 01.42 - Paul King – voice-over But despite these techniques often being referred to as a new approach, there is evidence to indicate that it’s not new for Russia. 01.51 – Michael Chertoff – Former US Secretary of Homeland Security Go back to Estonia in 2007, go back to Georgia in 2008. I think the concept of using kind of a slow effort, a slow encroachment, has been part of the strategic landscape, certainly for Russia, for quite some time. And sometimes it involves more overt and obvious moves, sometimes it’s more subtle moves, it involves economic warfare, sometimes it may be cyber attacks, conducted under the cover of being activists at work. And it can be a combination of them and I think this has been a set of tactics that has been deployed to some degree or another, certainly for the last five or six years. 02.30 – Prof Julian Lindley-French – Director, Europa Analytica I mean, as a student of Russian history and particularly Russian military history, the use of such agents provocateurs through mainly military intelligence organs,… special forces, goes way back. Destabilising, decapitating administrations, creating the space for influence, let's call it that, that’s nothing new. So, we’ve just got to have the political courage to call it for what it is. There is still a profound split in Europe between those willing to say… confirm what it is they are seeing, and those who’d rather it all went away and will find almost any excuse for what Russia is doing. 03.17 - Paul King – voice-over So the question now is: how does an organisation like NATO respond to the use of these techniques and is it the most appropriate organisation to do so? 03.27 - Amb. Kurt Volker Russia is going to use special operations forces, intelligence forces, economic pressure, energy pressure, cyber attacks and potential conventional force directly to achieve imperial goals. And is NATO willing to use any of those tools to prevent that or not? That’s what we need to see. 03.47 – Karel Kovanda – Former Czech Ambassador to NATO I don’t think NATO has the tools for that. The European Union might have the tools, but if the European Union, shall we say the European Commission particularly, does have them, I still haven’t seen them being employed. 04.03 – Linas Linkevičius – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lithuania My point is we should be flexible enough to take all these new threats, new challenges, like energy, like cyber, like media, like these strange green human beings… You know, and we should really do that on time, not after something happens. 04.20 - Paul King – voice-over Some recommend that the best way to counter this type of technique is to invite a stronger, not weaker response. 04.27 - Amb. Kurt Volker What creates de-escalation is a strong response that causes Russia to think twice about going any further, stabilises a tense situation and then allows it to de-escalate. This has all been still been very reactive, very slow… Indeed, many of the statements we’ve heard from NATO leaders, have been that ‘if Russia goes further, then we will take additional steps’. It ought to be the other way around. 04.53 - Paul King – voice-over And these techniques also pose the problem that without clear command and control of certain forces, it can be difficult for all sides to know how events will unfold. 05.04 – Rob De Wijk – Founder Hague Center for Strategic Studies The problem is that starting a crisis is easy, but ending it is extremely difficult. So, you know what you do when you start creating unrest at the Crimea and maybe at the eastern part of Ukraine. But then it gets a dynamic of its own and that is highly dangerous. And I’m fully confident that Putin simply doesn’t know the next steps as well. NATO Review www.nato.int/review The opinions expressed in NATO Review do not necessarily reflect those of NATO or its member countries. 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