The U.S. military’s skeptical response to hybrid warfare

U.S. special forces practice helicopter assaults in Romania
U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) on a multinational exercise in Romania (source: dpa)
  • Hybrid war is in vogue thanks to recent Russian operations in Ukraine and Syria
  • NATO pays close attention to the concept, but it is not reflected in U.S. force planning
  • The U.S. military has its own unifying concept of “multi-domain” combat
  • Hybrid warfare threats are dealt with piecemeal in various U.S. strategy documents

Hybrid warfare is a term of military art that has received growing attention from policymakers and among national security communities worldwide. The United States is no exception. The American armed forces, especially, believe that hybrid conflict could impinge on their own military operations and activities. While the services and combatant commands have undertaken some initiatives to address this way of war, the Pentagon does not appear to be developing an integrated response to hybrid warfare. Further, consideration of hybrid threats does not seem to be having a major impact on future force structure or modernization decisions.

The term “hybrid warfare” began to appear in security literature around 2005. The discussion of hybrid threats intensified partly as a result of observations about insurgent activities in Iraq and the tactics employed by Hezbollah after the Israeli military incursion into Lebanon (2006).

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