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Gray Zone Challenges: Optimizing Organizational Structures and Improving Cognition for DoD and the Interagency

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Gray Zone conflicts occur in areas where adversaries use a combination of small-scale tactical operations, operational environment ambiguity, and a wide array of communication mediums to deliver targeted narratives that advance their objectives while ensuring their activities do not meet the threshold for a United States military response. The gradual, incremental nature of Gray Zone actions combined with the multiple levels, multiple time scales, and multiple areas make assessing and responding to Gray Zone strategies challenging to recognize, understand, and then efficiently respond to. For the United States to recognize and potentially respond to Gray Zone strategies that place American interests or those of an ally at risk also requires a level of information sharing and collaboration that in most cases does not exist between departments, agencies, and allies targeted by Gray Zone actors. This study considers how DoD and the Interagency are currently organized to assess and respond to Gray Zone challenges. It discusses recommendations for how to improve how DoD and the Interagency are organized and where opportunities exist to improve both cognition of Gray Zone activities to shape or deter Gray Zone operations and when they require a response. Gray Zone competition requires a tailored approach that includes options from across the levers of diplomatic, information, military and economic power that reflect a whole-of-government unified effort and make the United States response less predictable and more efficacious.

Subject Categories:

  • Information Science

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