Accession Number:



Hybrid Warfare: Preparing for Future Conflict

Descriptive Note:

Research rept.

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Hybrid warfare will be the most likely type of conflict the US and its allies will face in the future. Hybrid warfare is the use of conventional and unconventional ways and means by any combination of state and non-state actors within the same battlespace. Conventional and unconventional ways and means include forces, weapons and tactics, and are characterized by the use of modern technology and a high degree of unity of effort between regular and irregular forces. The argument that hybrid warfare will be the most likely type of conflict the US and its allies will face in the future is based on a convergence of three geopolitical drivers. These include, the transformation of traditional governing structures, disputes over political power caused by long-standing cultural differences and state sponsorship of insurgencies and revolutions. Traditional security interests will lead to state sponsorship of internal conflicts as states choose sides in these struggles for power. The wars that result will be characterized by conventional and unconventional ways and means, producing hybrid war. Our own security interests and the interests of our allies will draw us into these wars, as we seek to maintain international order and prevent the spillover effects of war. The strategic framework for preventing hybrid wars and deterringdefeating hybrid adversaries is based on two pillars. The first pillar consists of actions to assist and support weak or failing states. The second pillar consists of actions directed toward the hybrid adversary, which will most likely be a combination of a non-state actor and an internationally recognized state actor. Through use of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as a case study, the implications of the analysis argue for building a balanced force that can simultaneously employ across the full spectrum of operations and rapidly deploy to all areas of the globe.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: