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HYBRID WARS: THE INDIRECT ADAPTIVE APPROACH TO REGIME CHANGE


Project of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Predictions PFUR 
www.isip.su

ANDREW KORYBKO
HYBRID WARS:
THE INDIRECT ADAPTIVE APPROACH TO REGIME CHANGE
Moscow

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia 2015


INTRODUCTION Introduction 0.1: Topical Significance

“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu1

Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu realized that indirect warfare is one of the most efficient ways of fighting an enemy. It allows an opponent to defeat their adversary without directly engaging them, thereby saving themselves the resources that would have to be expended in a direct confrontation. Attacking an enemy indirectly can also bog them down and put them on the defensive, thereby making them vulnerable to other forms of attack. It also carries with it a certain opportunity cost for the defending side, since the time and resources that they spend in dealing with the indirect attack could potentially have been put to better use elsewhere. Besides the tactical advantages, there are also strategic ones as well. There may be certain constraints (e.g. alliances, military parity, etc.) that prevent one entity from directly launching hostilities against another. In this case, indirect warfare is the only option to destabilize the other.
In the current day, weapons of mass destruction and the emerging multipolar world place limits on direct confrontation between Great Powers. Even though the US still retains the world’s strongest conventional military, the nuclear parity it shares with Russia serves as a reminder that unipolarity has its limits. Additionally, the international system is morphing in such a way that the political and physical costs of waging a conventional war against certain countries (i.e. China, Iran) are becoming too much of a burden for US decision makers, thereby making this military option less attractive. Under such circumstances, indirect warfare acquires a heightened value in strategic planning and its application can take on a variety of forms.
Direct warfare in the past may have been marked by bombers and tanks, but if the pattern that the US has presently applied in Syria and Ukraine is any indication, then indirect warfare in the future will be marked by “protesters” and insurgents. Fifth columns will be formed less by secret agents and covert saboteurs and more by non-state actors that publicly behave as civilians. Social media and similar technologies will come to replace precision-guided munitions as the “surgical strike” capability of the aggressive party, and chat rooms and Facebook pages will become the new “militants’ den”. Instead of directly confronting the targets on their home turf, proxy conflicts will be waged in their near vicinity in order to destabilize their periphery. Traditional occupations may give way to coups and indirect regime change operations that are more cost effective and less politically sensitive.

Introduction 0.2: Theory

The book focuses on the new strategy of indirect warfare that the US has demonstrated during the Syrian and Ukrainian Crises. Both situations left many wondering whether they were observing the export of Color Revolutions to the Mideast, the arrival of the Arab Spring to Europe, or perhaps some kind of Frankenstein hybrid. It is asserted that when the US’ actions in both countries are objectively compared, one can discern a new patterned approach towards regime change. This model begins by deploying a Color Revolution as a soft coup attempt, only to be followed up by a hard coup Unconventional War if the first plan fails. Unconventional Warfare is defined in this book as any type of nonconventional (i.e. non-official military) force engaged in largely asymmetrical combat against a traditional adversary. Taken together in a two-pronged approach, Color Revolutions and Unconventional Warfare represent the two components that form the theory of Hybrid War, the new method of indirect warfare being waged by the US.


Introduction 0.3: Official Russian Position to the Topic

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