Academic journal article Military Review

Defeating Future Hybrid Threats: The Greatest Challenge to the Army Profession of 2020 and Beyond

Academic journal article Military Review

Defeating Future Hybrid Threats: The Greatest Challenge to the Army Profession of 2020 and Beyond

Article excerpt

I would like to thank my research paper advisor at Air Command and Staff College, Dr. Sterling Pavelec, who continually empowered me to push the cutting edge and challenge conventional thinking when writing this article.

WE ARE AT a similar warfare inflection point; one that eclipses the introduction of nuclear weapons, the introduction of the air domain and the airplane, and the transition from battleship to aircraft carrier."1 Gen. Martin Dempsey's statement captures the current moment in time with respect to changes in warfare facing the U.S. Army. Similar warfare inflection points in the transition to the air and nuclear domains produced lasting changes to the art of warfighting. New debates about warfare focus on how the evolution of the space and cyberspace domains will influence future conflict. Most defense analysts agree that the nature of the future security environment will be multi-polar (regionally focused) with inherent diversity and complexity. The future environment will present formidable challenges to the U.S. Army. One challenge resides in how to identify, understand, and combat the future threat. Defeating a hybrid threat, consisting of regular, irregular, and criminal elements synergistically working for a common end state, poses the greatest threat to the Army Profession of 2020 and beyond. Future hybrid warfare will test the military expertise, trust, and honorable service of the U.S. Army Profession. Furthermore, this form of warfare will evolve into a struggle to quickly learn, adapt, and out-think a changing hybrid threat.

The current Army Profession will endure. The crucible of combat, ground out in the jungles, deserts, mountains, and rolling plains of past battlefields, has forged the Army Profession that exists today. The near future security dilemma will be a continually evolving hybrid threat. The critical challenge facing the Army Profession of the future is determining what professional competencies to add or adapt in relation to the warfare inflection point that the force currently faces. One solution is the transition to a continually learning organization full of warrior-scholars. This will determine the success or failure of the Army Profession in a dynamic, challenging future. Throughout history, the force that learned more quickly maintained the initiative and kept their adversary off balance. Another variable will be technology that accentuates the capabilities of the human element in warfare and presents an effective combat multiplier in a race to learn and adapt for the future.

Army Training Circular 7-100 describes the hybrid threat as three distinctly different forces working collectively toward a common objective.2 The regular forces portion of the hybrid threat consists of national, uniformed military forces that engage in symmetric, conventional warfare. Regular forces will use identifiable military weapons and equipment with capabilities focused on battles reminiscent of high intensity conflict. Paramilitary forces consisting of insurgents, terrorists, and guerrillas represent the "irregulars" of the hybrid threat.3 Tactics including ambushes, terrorism, improvisation, information warfare, and other forms of asymmetric, unconventional warfare characterize their actions.

Hybrid Threat Constructs

Criminal elements, in the hybrid threat construct, create an enabling capability for adversary operations. Moisés Naím, an internationally renowned journalist and former editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, describes current global criminal acts as tactics criminal elements employ in a war enabled through globalization, including drug and arms smuggling, human trafficking, and money laundering.4 Criminal proceeds from these acts create funding for training and equipping hybrid forces. This presents a serious difficulty for the U.S. Army in an operational environment. The actions of criminal elements represent civil problems for a host nation government to address. …

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