View Full Version : Do Biddle & Friedman mischaracterize Hoffman?

Burgess Laird
10-01-2008, 12:52 AM
I found Stephen Biddle and Jeffrey Friedman's new study, The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare to be persuasive, and as with all of Biddle's work, rigorously argued.

However, in advancing their notion of a "continuum" of warfare from Guerrilla warfare (Viet Cong) at one end to Conventional Warfare (Maginot Line) at the other end, Biddle and Friedman appear (see footnote 40 on page
28) to oversimplify Frank Hoffman's argument concerning hybrid warfare. They assert that Hoffman offers but a "single intermediate category"; one that, while making a "valuable contribution in breaking down unhelpful dichotomies between 'conventional' and 'guerrilla,'" is still merely (my word, not theirs) "trichotomous 'conventional-irregular-hybrid' simplification".

Now, when I read Conflict in the 21st Century: The Rise of Hybrid Wars, I didn't interpret Hoffman's argument to be one that posits three discrete
way-points of warfare (conventional, irregular, hybrid) or that otherwise excludes or is accepted only at the expense of a notion of continuum. So, I pose this question to Frank Hoffman: Is my interpretation of your argument wrong?

10-01-2008, 01:54 AM
I do not want to put words in Hoffman's mouth but strongly concur that Biddle does not capture correctly Hoffmans def'n or his idea of the spectrum. FH decidely is not arguing that warfare will converge solely and only to a 'middle ground' - his general argument conforms with this, that is there is a convdergence or overlap, but he allows for 'hybrid warfare to shift very significantly along the spectrum to either end.

To add, FH is trying to point out that a military force - ie, the US military, and maybe particularly the USMC - in aiming to train, equip and educate to fight 'hybrid' wars, will have the capability and capacity to scale up and scale down the spectrum to deal with any threat. Elsewhere on these boards, various people argue for the US military being able to fight 'full spectrum' - same thing, pretty much, except 'full spectrum' used to mean something different than being able to engage successfully (or usefully) from nation building through COIN to full out conventional, tank division vs tank division warfare (and I do not mean to exclude the Navy or AF).

One final point - while the Biddle argument is not inconsistent with FH's hybrid warfare, and indeed may be the same, SB is working from a large research grant and needs to generate, as he has in the past, an original piece of work (ie book).

10-01-2008, 12:40 PM
Regarding the question, the correct answer is YES: Hoffman has been misreading

From Spain, from one of the discontinous Front-lines