Dr. Jack at the US Army Combined Arms Center explains what Frank Hoffaman’s “hybrid warfare” is all about. What’s the role for airpower?
Our adversaries are already well on the way to adopting their own form of the “comprehensive approach” – hybrid warfare. Hybridwarfare goes beyond including all of the potential actors in aconflict; this also includes using a wide variety of approaches tofighting. Stated another way, hybrid warfare includes a variety of means as well as ways of fighting.
Hoffman explains the concept he invented about a year ago a little better in a new Joint Forces Quarterly article.
Essentially, Hoffman draws a distinction between compound wars and hybrid wars. In compound wars — as I understand it — conventional forces battle each other at the front lines, while irregular combat generally occurs in the rear echelon. In hybrid wars, such as perhaps the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006, regular and irregular forces fight in all areas simultaneously.
As difficult as compound wars have been, the operationalfusion of conventional and irregular capabilities in hybrid conflicts may beeven more complicated. Compound wars offered synergy and combinations at the strategiclevel, but not the complexity, fusion, and simultaneity we anticipate at theoperational and even tactical levels in wars where one or both sides isblending and fusing the full range of methods and modes of conflict into thebattlespace. Irregular forces in cases of compound wars operated largely as adistraction or economy of force measure in a separate theater or adjacentoperating area including the rear echelon.
What are the implications?
The greatest implications will involve force protection, asthe proliferation of IEDs suggests. Our enemies will focus on winning themobility-countermobility challenge to limit our freedom of action and separateus from close proximity to the civilian population. The ability of hybridchallenges to exploit the range and precision of various types of missiles, mortarrounds, and mines will increase over time and impede our plans. Our freedom of actionand ability to isolate future opponents from civilian populations are suspect.
And here’s a parting shot for the next Quadrennial Defense Review:
But the challenge affects all the Services, not just groundforces. Hizballah’s use of long-range missiles, armed unmanned aerial vehicles,and antiship cruise missiles should be a warning to the whole joint community.