By Mark Galeotti
If the new threat is so complex, political, and subtle, shouldn’t the response be the same?
Much is made these days of the new challenge to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from “hybrid warfare” — the kind of blended military-political-intelligence-economic operations Russia has launched in Ukraine. Whether or not this really is something new can be debated, as should whether it ought really be called something else. In any case, it certainly now shapes the Western defense agenda. But if the threat is so complex and political, maybe Western countries need to be thinking more sharply and imaginatively about counter-measures? A “hybrid defense”?
After all, given that NATO is a military alliance, it is hardly surprising that it is concentrating on military means. Thus, U.S. heavy armor is to be prepositionedin the Baltic states, and a rolling series of exercises are seeing NATO troops and special forces in particular wargaming various scenarios, including the kind of unacknowledged, unidentified Russian “little green men” who took Crimea.
This is all admirable and useful, but Moscow’s current approach is based on theguerrilla’s basic maxims: avoid doing the obvious, play to your strengths rather than your opponent’s, and never get caught in a straight fight with a stronger enemy. If Russia ever does decide to make any moves against NATO, it will be with the intention of avoiding any direct war with an alliance that can outfight, outgun, and outman it. And it will try to avoid making a move for which the West is ready.
Read the Remainder at War on the Rocks