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Thread: Hybrid Warfare (merged thread)

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Hmbc5.5gw

    Mike Innes said:
    "Personally, I'm skeptical not of the uses of new labels and reconceptualization in general, but of overlabeling and relabeling the issues of now. A lot of the confusion and debate on what is and what isn't "new", I think, is gobbledygook longhand for "what we don't yet understand" and "insufficient historical hindsight to get a grip". In this case, though, I think Hoffman's work is worth considering; so's Bousquet's."
    That coincides with my thoughts. There are good ideas in both papers but IMO, neither really surfaces anything new (unless I missed something, always possible ), they've just applied new tags while packaging a lot of disparate factors together rather well. Quite well, in fact.

    One could've hoped for more illustrative discussion. Ron makes that point pretty well, I think:
    "If you bring answers to the table without the readers getting an eyefull of what it really means now, in your face then they will generally look at it from a predictive vantage point. And as most humans do they will figure that they are about as good at seeing the future as you are."
    However, Wilf really sums the issue up rather neatly with this:
    "I think we need ask, why we want to describe something in terms terms used. What Frank has held back from saying is that "the US/UK Forces may be too stupid to adapt.""
    My sensing is that both nations have a bunch of smart guys, many of whom have already figured out in detail what Hoffman and Bosquet have packaged neatly and named aptly. I think the issue is not that we're too stupid because I don't believe we are; I think the question is more correctly "...are the US/UK forces going to be able to overcome their bureaucratic leanings and risk aversion in order to adapt in a timely manner?"

    With that, I'll go ponder Hybrid mixed blended chaoplexic 5.5G warfare while I sip my nightcap...

  2. #22
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    I think that Bosquet does a nice job of laying out the role of metaphor in organization; it's a good paper. I'm a little surprised, although not really I 'spose, that he didn't extend his analysis of metaphor to other, non-state groups since it seems pretty obvious that they are based on ones not included. Still reading the Hoffman piece...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    My sensing is that both nations have a bunch of smart guys, many of whom have already figured out in detail what Hoffman and Bosquet have packaged neatly and named aptly. I think the issue is not that we're too stupid because I don't believe we are; I think the question is more correctly "...are the US/UK forces going to be able to overcome their bureaucratic leanings and risk aversion in order to adapt in a timely manner?"
    Let me toss out several more general questions, then, based on Ken's restatement:
    1. what metaphor governs the organization of US/UK forces ("life is like a bowl of....")?
    2. what metaphor(s) govern our opponents?
    Marc
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    I think that Bosquet does a nice job of laying out the role of metaphor in organization; it's a good paper. I'm a little surprised, although not really I 'spose, that he didn't extend his analysis of metaphor to other, non-state groups since it seems pretty obvious that they are based on ones not included.
    Actually, Bousquet's work - he has a full length manuscript coming out sometime later this year - primarily focuses on efforts/approaches/concepts to impose order on the battlefield, rather than on the "chaoplexic" nature of battelfield threats themselves. That would be the next step, I suppose - or more probably, though I've yet to read Hoffman's Hybrid Wars, this is where he and Bousquet complement each other. I'll be better able to comment once I've actually read FH's work... and that's all from me until I've done so. Later.

    Mike
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  4. #24
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    [*]what metaphor governs the organization of US/UK forces ("life is like a bowl of....")?
    I can't speak for the UK but, the US seems trapped in this simile:

    "Life is like a crap sandwich. Some days you take a big bite; some days you take a little bite; but every day you take a bite. However, the more "bread" you have, the less crap you have to swallow in each bite."

    Now you know why everyone scrabbles around so much over resources and funding.

  5. #25
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    The following is a clarification of the simile in my prior post, as it applies to Hoffman's essay.

    I think what Hoffman has written is an example of trying to persuade others to give one what it thinks it needs. In this case, the perceived need is for the USMC to get more budget resources to maintain its autonomy. This quotation from the executive summary pretty much crystallizes the point of the paper:
    We believe that the Marine Corps is particularly well suited for this security environment . . . . The Marine Corps has proven to be an innovative organization . . . and its core competencies provide it with the foundation to effectively counter (sic), if not thrive, against hybrid challengers (Hoffman, Conflict in the 21st Century, 9-10)
    I am not sure that what Hoffman has to say is anything more than old wine in new bottles. IMHO his document is an effort to justify a unique mission for the USMC. It really adds little new to the discussion except to throw out another terminological framework for describing how and why people fight. I submit that the following two paragraphs summarize the point being made in essay rather succinctly.

    People fight because they want something that others have. They fight because they cannot acquire what they want by other means. Were they able to develop the means to produce what they want, they would not need to fight for it. Were they able to talk others into giving them what they want, then they would not need to resort to force. Were they able to use economic means (barter or purchase) top get what they want, then they would not need to engage in violence. Since they cannot make, talk, or trade for what they want, they see no other option but to fight.
    When one wants something badly enough, almost any means of attaining it is viewed as fair: the end justifies the means. If one has capabilities that greatly surpass the ability to resist by possessor of what one wants, then the only real limit on what one does links itself to the urgency of satisfying the perceived want. If one has limited capabilities, then the depth and urgency of the need may well drive one to do whatever is in one’s power to wrest what one wants a from its possessor.

  6. #26
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    Default War is war?

    It is disappointing to see that the Marines are attempting to get a grasp on the type of war we're fighting now, while many in the Army are resorting to name calling in a weak attempt to isolate those with new ideas, or new spins on old ideas, but at least they realize the world is changing.

    In the book "Army at Dawn" the author notes many Army officers didn't see the need for armor, and thought they could defeat German Armor with good ole fashioned calvary. While we're not that bad today, we're still reluctant to adapt.

    Big wars are generally described as conventional armies versus conventional armies, where the focus is defeating the other's army, thus that nation's ability to wage war, while small wars are generally focused on controlling the population (stability operations, COIN, etc.). Small wars (or conflicts) can be fought in isolation (the banana wars, Somalia, El Salvador, etc.), and they frequently follow big wars (OIF, post WWII from the Philippines to Germany [very limited]). Although they may be played on the same field, they are different games with different goals, different strategies, different adversaries, different task organizations, etc. Failure to realize this leads to improper strategy based on the mind set that war is war, such as we saw in at the beginning of Vietnam and OIF where big army wanted to focus on search and destroy, and in both conflicts they came to the realization that a pacification strategy was required (clear and hold). In both conflicts the Marines came to that realization well before the Army. I'm glad to see that the Marines are exploring what future war will look like and adapting, the Army will eventually follow.

    While COIN certainly isn't new, and 4GW has it weak points, it is foolish to state war is war, if that was the case then we would have got it right in OIF sooner. Technology (especially information technology), globalism, and an assortment of other structural and cultural changes influences what war will look like. Based on some of the comments on this thread, I can see we still have leaders who lead our men on a calvary (the real calvary, mounted on horses) charge against an armor unit, because nothing ever changes and war is war.

  7. #27
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default War *is* war -- but the rules change...

    So do the players.

    Unfortunately, we don't get to choose what type(s) of war we'll be involved in and any attempt to concentrate on one spectrum or another would be quite foolish. The "only big war" folks are off base; the "COIN Divisions" proponents are off base. I think that most people realize we have to be a full spectrum force (and IMO that applies to all services) and hopefully, when the battles over roles and missions sort out, they will have succeeded.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    It is disappointing to see that the Marines are attempting to get a grasp on the type of war we're fighting now, while many in the Army are resorting to name calling in a weak attempt to isolate those with new ideas, or new spins on old ideas, but at least they realize the world is changing.
    A significant part the problem is the arcane and foolish way Congress plays money games. That system literally forces communities (for lack of a better term) to compete with each other on a playing field that's far from level. This leads to people espousing positions that they think will gain traction as opposed to laying out what's required and pursuing the proper goals. I'm not at all sure how we fix that...
    . . .
    While COIN certainly isn't new, and 4GW has it weak points, it is foolish to state war is war, if that was the case then we would have got it right in OIF sooner. Technology (especially information technology), globalism, and an assortment of other structural and cultural changes influences what war will look like. Based on some of the comments on this thread, I can see we still have leaders who lead our men on a calvary (the real calvary, mounted on horses) charge against an armor unit, because nothing ever changes and war is war.
    I'm not a sports fan but to use that metaphor (this is for Marc T), look at last nights game. I suspect that many a Coach realized the way to defeat the Patriots was to shut Brady down. I'm sure they tried but either their plan wasn't good or their execution was flawed (regrettably, sometimes people just don't do their jobs very well...). The Giants Coach developed an effective plan to neutralize Brady and his guys executed it well. The result was an upset and a win.

    That applies to fighting wars. Both the plan AND the execution have to be competent; a sluffing in either can ruin your day. The relative complexity and degree of integration of the world today in all aspects means that warfare is going to be more complex and that the separate types are going to blend -- we saw that in Viet Nam.

    The North used all aspects of Hoffman's hybrid model, worldwide information operations, criminal activity -- many a kid got sucked into drugs and or the black market in country -- guerrilla techniques up to conventional attacks and every permutation in between. It was all there.

    Yet, we ignored it. Surely we will not be that stupid again...

  8. #28
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    I found little enough to object to in Hoffman's characterization of Hybrid War. You can argue the history or dispute his use of Hamas as a model of the new hybrid army, but in general I think most of us - mastering our inbred distaste for new buzzwords - would agree he has generally got it right. Where Hoffman fails, as most military pundits do, is in the implications he draws from this supposed tectonic shift in the nature of warfare.

    Hybrid warriors are extremely difficult to defeat; on the other hand, they rarely win. Hoffman and others confuse tactical excellence with operational or strategic coherence. Because they are handy with the rocket, the bomb, or the ambush, we assume they must be able to use their street-corner triumphs to achieve their desired ends. But this is unclear to me. I don't see how Al-Qaida in Iraq or the successors to the Taliban are 'winning', except in the most negative sense of not losing. If we are driven from Iraq with our tail between our legs, who exactly has 'won' there, and what is their prize? Does anyone think that our various hybrid foes bent on establishing the universal cailphate have the slightest chance of reaching their goal?

    What this portends is endless violence, without ultimate victory or defeat, a new Hundred Year's War. Oh, there might be the occasional Agincourt, but mostly it means pointless conflict decided in the end more by geography and demographics than by military excellence.

    Now, just because I don't like it, that doesn't mean it won't happen. What it does imply is the continuing 'de-professionalization of violence'. Whenever warfare is endemic, civil and military roles inevitably merge, the rules of civilized behavior change, and the innocent bystander becomes more and more the target of 'military' operations. Except the whole concept of innocent bystander becomes obsolete. This is why medieval warfare was mostly a matter of plunder, induced famine, assassination, rapine, raids, and ambuscade, with the odd stand-up fight thrown in every other decade or so. Who's to say that the American public, after ten or twenty or fifty years, might not decide to use similar tactics against someone who can't be defeated any other way?

    So, instead of proposing that we reorganize the infantry battalion, or include more cultural training at Leavenworth, or incorporate human terrain teams with combat units, or foster greater inter-agency cooperation, if we truly want to get ahead of the bow-wave of future warfare, let's do the following: eliminate civilian control of the military (or, alternately, make politicians generals without all the fuss of military training; after all, our opponents do it, apparently with great success); transform the combatant commands into commercial-for-profit enterprises; subject all government employees to the UCMJ; and eliminate all distinctions between 'contractors' and 'soldiers'.

    Mostly, I want all the deep thinkers to either stop shying away from the implications of what they are forecasting, or spare the rest of us their repackaged revolutions.

    Whew...I feel better.

  9. #29
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Ken,
    Glad you brought up last night's game - and its usefulness in discussing the topic at hand. You'd mentioned the Giant's coach coming up with a plan to neutralize Brady - then of course being able to implement it. What is interesting to me is when we (whoever is thinking about it) starts trying to attribute how much of Brady's ineffectiveness can be ascribed to how well the NYG covered Moss (and other receivers) and how well they rushed against Brady vs. how well (or not so well) Brady's Offensive Line protected him - Bill P tried to change things up - he brought in a couple of Def Lineman to protect Brady in the 2nd Half - but it really did not change things much. Lay that out against the time needed to identify an open receiver (or one who is going to be open) then do the battlefield geometry to synchronize time & space and you come with some difficulty making a call as to exactly what happened. Now - add in 100 fans (or more) on the field to every player, each doing his own thing, and stretch it out over time - and you have a good set of conditions to better understanding the difficulty in considering cause and effect. Not to mention the Pat defense losing control of Manning in a sea of Dark Blue, then Manning looking up and seeing an open receiver and maiking the connection!

    In the end, it may not matter - the NYGs went home the winner - The Giants not only had a plan, but had the where-withall to take advantage of the conditions as they emerged. So back to your point about military theory - the moment you step onto the field the theroist has to be put in the cheap seats (he is still there, but he's not on the field) so you can focus on the game as it is, not as it was thought about - the dead Prussian said roughly the same thing.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 02-04-2008 at 07:33 PM.

  10. #30
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Ken,

    In the end, it may not matter - the NYGs went home the winner - The Giants not only had a plan, but had the where-withall to take advantage of the conditions as they emerged.
    Best, Rob
    Like I said Rob it is motives,methods and OPPORTUNITIES. To me good Generalship is more about identifying opportunities than anything else. He has to have the ability to find the chink in the enemies armor when it presents itself and use his available methods to satisfy his motive.

  11. #31
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    What this portends is endless violence, without ultimate victory or defeat, a new Hundred Year's War. Oh, there might be the occasional Agincourt, but mostly it means pointless conflict decided in the end more by geography and demographics than by military excellence.

    Now, just because I don't like it, that doesn't mean it won't happen. What it does imply is the continuing 'de-professionalization of violence'. Whenever warfare is endemic, civil and military roles inevitably merge, the rules of civilized behavior change, and the innocent bystander becomes more and more the target of 'military' operations. Except the whole concept of innocent bystander becomes obsolete. This is why medieval warfare was mostly a matter of plunder, induced famine, assassination, rapine, raids, and ambuscade, with the odd stand-up fight thrown in every other decade or so. Who's to say that the American public, after ten or twenty or fifty years, might not decide to use similar tactics against someone who can't be defeated any other way?
    (SNIP)
    Mostly, I want all the deep thinkers to either stop shying away from the implications of what they are forecasting, or spare the rest of us their repackaged revolutions.
    Eden,

    Well said.

    However, I suspect that a better parallel is the 30 Years War rather than the 100 Years War. 4GW folks point to the Peace of Westphalia as a watershed point that ushered in what these theorists describe as 3GW. I suspect that instead it represents a point in time that "civilized people" chose (after facing the chaos you described--"plunder, induced famine, assassination, rapine, raids, and ambuscade, with the odd stand-up fight thrown in") to revisit how to organize themselves to protect the innocents of the world. I would not be surprised that we are at another such watershed moment, when the innocents (or their representatives) decide that it is time to shake up the folks who are running their current "protection racket."

    I am reminded of the poles represented by Sheriff Bart and Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. When folks get fed up enough, they don't "vote the rascals out." Instead, they get more physical. They ride the rascals out of town on rails or worse. Then they set up a new sheriff or turn to the county marshall to protect them. If the county marshal was the problem, they are probably going to look more locally. If the source of the trouble was the local authorities, they may go for a more regional security approach to limit the local abuse of power. I suspect we are just seeing a swing of the pendulum between two focal points of power--one is centralized and the other is decentralized (or local) protection.

  12. #32
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Another Example

    Lest readers think I am jesting with my use of Blazing Saddles, I offer up the conflict between the townsfolk, represented by Jimmy Stewart's Ransom Stoddard, and the cowboys/cattlemen, represented by Lee Marvin's Liberty Valance and the Major portrayed by John Carradine, from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as well. Even John Wayne's character, the rancher Tom Doniphan, recognized that the forces responsible for protection were changing, which is why he chose not to reveal who really was the man who shot Liberty Valence. I could list many other examples across many cultures, but I will just note the Japanese tale of the 47 Ronin as a final example of my point about the swing of the pendulum of legitimacy for "defending" the people.
    Last edited by wm; 02-04-2008 at 08:30 PM.

  13. #33
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Slap - I don't know, to me we're both talking about a 3 legged stool - we're just looking at it from a slightly different angle Best, Rob

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up WM, I think

    you've got it pegged...

  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's why I'm not a sports fan, Rob

    Folks are always changing the rules and in discussions, there are always "well, if..." things thrown in. None of those things you posit happened to get to this point:
    "...and you have a good set of conditions to better understanding the difficulty in considering cause and effect."
    This did happen:
    ...In the end, it may not matter - the NYGs went home the winner - The Giants not only had a plan, but had the where-withall to take advantage of the conditions as they emerged.
    With the last clause being by far the most important part of all that. Way far (plans have a tendency not to survive the first contact as they say)...

    I suspect that you comparing me to a dead Prussian is geriatric abuse. I'll have to consult my Attorney on that...

  16. #36
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Wayne,

    nice one - plus a good swing at the dangers of interpretive history and the difficulty of est. causal relationships. Rob

  17. #37
    Council Member Graycap's Avatar
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    Thinking about the Super Bowl example: the two teams knew well what victory is all about in relative term. Are we sure that opponents in hybrid war share the same idea of victory ?

    Only a doubt.

    Now back in lurking position...

    Graycap

  18. #38
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Slap - I wanted to think about the comparrison a bit more.

    Ends, Ways and Means has its greatest value at the policy and strategy end (and to a lesser degree the operational) - not because it "should" be so, but because it "is" so. This has as much to do with the influence of domestic politics and resources as it does with considering providing long term direction that works through changes in conditions METT-TC writ strategic), and remain part of our more enduring strategic culture. Resources - how they are derived, allocated, play a hefty role in determining how military power will be employed to achieve some objective or end. Applying ends, ways and means at the tactical level can lead to inertia - either unable to put a body in motion to rest, or unable to put a body at rest into motion - depends on what your trying to accomplish.

    Method, Motive, Opportunity I think has its greatest value at the tactical and to a lesser degree the operational, I think. This is where the first hints of opportunity often show up, where quick action(s) can be leveraged best, and where if you are willing to see things as they are; what you see can be the closest to what is - its why we try not to second guess our field commanders and leaders from afar (time, space, and immediate interests). Applying Method, Motive, Opportunity at the strategic level could wind up keeping us in the short term with regard to pursuing our own interests - it may also distance the relationship between policy and war - one that is contentious enough as it is.

    I do think they are pretty much the same three legged stool, but depending on the way you're using it, it might look different.

    I apologize if I've short-sheeted the concept, but words have meaning, and often mean different things to different people. What I think is most important is the discussion that is built around the terms toward a better understanding of the subject.

    Best, Rob

  19. #39
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Greycap,

    Thinking about the Super Bowl example: the two teams knew well what victory is all about in relative term. Are we sure that opponents in hybrid war share the same idea of victory ?
    What is that "first question" you should ask yourself before embarking upon war? - "What is the nature of the war I am embarking upon?" I think that means not only asking what it means to you, and how you will wage it, but what are the stakes of the outcome for your enemie(s) and how might they wage it. What are the possible outcomes for yourself and the enmy and how will that effect other things. The concept of the "Golden Bridge" - or allowing some option to the enemy other then win or die (could be political death) - what does it mean to him? What does it mean to you?

    Makes you wonder - seems like the only folks that did not get the word that the Pats were going to win were the NYG. Someody said something last night about Green Bay being a better FB team - but the NYGs wanted it more. Will with a big "W" can make up for an awful lot.

    Best, Rob

  20. #40
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Talking Geriatric Abuse

    I better get a lawyer before the city of Berkley tries to limit my free speech like they did the Marines - come to think of it, I should contact the ACLU - where is that damned card anyway - wait a second they are advocating for Berkley

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