HYBRID THREATS AND
Col Phil Smith
Director, USMC Center for Irregular
USMC and IW
Context: War, all of it a political endeavor, regular irregular and in
between-compound. We can never solve the equation on the
correct mix. The classical Clausewitzian Trinitarian view on the
character of war: passion, politics, probability conducted by the
government, military and needs support of its people, gave way to a
more modern (French) view that sees people as human terrain. The
IW challenges both these paradigms suggesting that, given the
informational technological influence on local and social
communications, that perhaps people (citizenry) may not be needed
for support of a cause.
In the end it‘s a study of war and its causes. Our Maneuver Warfare
philosophy makes it easy for us to accommodate new/different
Irregular Warfare War Regular Warfare
Compound (hybrid) Warfare
2006 QDR/NDS “Quad Chart”
Non-state and state actors Terrorist or rogue state
VULNERABILITY employing “unconventional” employment of WMD or
methods to counter stronger state methods producing WMD-like
opponents—terrorism, effects against American
insurgency, etc. (erode U.S. interests. (paralyze U.S. power)
Lower Disruptive Higher
States employing military forces in
technology or methods that might
well- known forms of military
counter or cancel our current
competition and conflict.
military advantages. (capsize
(challenge U.S. power) U.S. power)
Strategic Guidance: broader set of challenges of which the
most complex would be combinations.
Some Myth Busting
• War‘s character & conduct constantly
• War is more than just warfare
• War is a contest of wills and cultures.
• Different modes of warfare exist (have
always existed) and different cultures
• Different modes of warfare have
different solutions or operational
Hybrid threat: Any adversary that
simultaneously and adaptively employs
a tailored mix of conventional weapons,
irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal
behavior to obtain their political
Frank G. Hoffman
Modes of Fighting or Structure?
Combinations of Modes?
What Hybrid Threats are Not
• It is not a new concept
• It is not a U.S. warfighting construct like
RMA or EBO
• It is not historically novel
• It‘s not about Hezbollah or the IDF
• It may not be a subset of irregular warfare
“Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas
must be prepared to see them misunderstood.”
H. L. Mencken
What Hybrid Construct Offers
• Describes evolving character of conflict
• Challenges current conventional thinking
and binary intellectual bins
– A concept that highlights and reinforces the
true granularity or breadth of spectrum of
• Raises awareness of potential but a and
Thus, this is not just a theoretical discussion risksdebate
about the future, what priorities should be assigned, and
informs ongoing force posture debate
how to invest and posture forces for the future.
An American Perspective
Traditional Lower Disruptive
―… it is common to define and divide the so-called "high end" from the "low
end," the conventional from the irregular; armored divisions on one side,
guerrillas toting AK-47s on the other. In reality, …, the categories of warfare
are blurring and do not fit into neat, tidy boxes.‖
Blurring Modes of War
“The first feature we can predict with confidence is that
there is going to be a blurring, a further blurring, of
warfare categories.” Dr. Colin Gray, UK
Networks have even shown a capacity to wage war toe-to-toe against
nation-states—with some success, … The range of choices available to
networks thus covers an entire spectrum of conflict, posing the
prospect of a significant blurring of the lines between insurgency,
terror, and war.” John Arquilla,
“The boundaries between “regular” and “irregular” warfare are
blurring. Even non-state groups are increasingly gaining access to
the kinds of weapons that were once the exclusive preserve of sates.
And even states will increasingly turn to unconventional strategies
to blunt….American power.” Max Boot
• Compound wars: regular &
irregular forces that are
• But forces may be
geographically separated, not
integrated or fused
• Designed to make
conventional forces decisive
• Numerous cases
In fighting hybrid threat, regular and irregular
capabilities can be fused in time and space to achieve
4th or ―N‖ Generation Wars
3 Block War
Open Source Warfare
Multi-modal or -variant warfare
Stepchild of Chechnya
Wars Amongst the People
“We wanted to show that every age had its own kind of war, its
own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions.”
On War, p. 593.
Possible Historical Cases
• French vs. Viet Minh, 1946-1954
• Somalia, 1993
• Chechnya, 1995
• Serbia vs. NATO, 1999
• Second Lebanon War, 2006
• Russo-Georgian conflict, 2008
Hezbollah: Prototype Hybrid
– Long Range Missiles
– Anti-ship Cruise Missiles
– Anti-armor systems
– Highly trained in traditional
and irregular modes
-Exploitation of political effects
―Hezbollah’s combat cells were a hybrid It guerrillas a guerrilla
“"The resistance withstood the attack and fought back. of did not wageand
regular troops-- a form of opponent that U.S. forces are apt to
war either...it was not a regular army but was not a guerrilla in the traditional sense
encounter with increasing frequency.‖ Ralph Peters
Hybrid Threats Exist….so?
• What strategies are appropriate to prevail
against hybrid threats?
• What impact do hybrid threats have on existing
campaign planning methodologies and
• What potential competitors or scenarios could
present hybrid threats?
• What military capabilities or capacity does the
hybrid threat extend or strain?
• What impact on training and education?
- Force Protection-heavy vs light
- Freedom of Action/Mobility
- Organic Comprehensive Skills
- GPF/SOF Integration
- Training/Combat Advising
- Civilian-Military Cooperation
Definition of Irregular Warfare
Operations and Activities
Associated with IW
Approved Definition (JP 1-02)
IW is a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence
over the relevant populations. IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it
may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an
adversary's power, influence, and will.
DoD IW Directive 3000.07 identified five primary activities associated with
IW. Do we do irregular warfare?….Yes.
The operations/activities below comprise IW and typically represent indirect aspects of
– Insurgency/Counterinsurgency (COIN);
– Unconventional Warfare (UW);
– Terrorism/Counterterrorism (CT);
– Foreign Internal Defense (FID);
– Stabilization, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations; (Stability
– Strategic Communications (StratComm);
– Psychological Operations (PSYOP);
– Civil-Military Operations (CMO);
– Information Operations (IO);
– Intelligence/Counterintelligence (CI); 19
– Transnational criminal activities/Law enforcement activities
American Way of War
Annihilation oriented—We really do like to kill em all.
Combat is face to face--manhood
Firepower is King/Queen
Force on Force---machine against machine, system
Logistical support is good
Impatient—quick win, some one else to clean up and
put it back together
Overly Sensitive to casualties
American Way of War
Industrial in nature
Closed loop, internal comms, Info is protected
Media/Info is a sideshow
A Political-we like clear division of labor-Pol-Mil
A Historical (often ignore lessons that could be learned,
A Strategic (overlook consequences)
Principles of War =MOOSEMUS= Tactics
Problem solving; Opportunistic; altruistic -
– Hope is always a COA
Culturally challenged—We want everyone to be like us
We are professional specialists.
Protect the People (it’s a social system, stupid)
Culture is supreme—reinforce their beliefs,
attitudes, behaviors d
Intelligence is King (not artillery)
Ideology Matters (What do we promise and then
what do we do)
Protracted – Time/patience is a weapon
The target you are shooting at may not be your
Unity of Effort (s), first, then unity of command—
fuzzy division of labor
Alternative decision, comms cycle in public domain
Opens up broader aspects of the Pol-Mil spectrum
Degrade the opponents strategy rather than attrite his force
Strategic Principles of War—emphasis is long term
-determine the nature of the conflict
-identify center of gravity (yours and opponent)
-criticality and risks of assumptions
-Legitimacy- credible capacity to coerce
-Know your opponent, what does he want, why is he fighting
-shape w/psychological precision; influence operations
-fracture, de-legitimize, demoralize, and
-isolate internal and external supporters – isolate your opponents
Integrate all agencies and elements of power
-Focus on undermining opponent politically-make him irrelevant
Thinking and Fighting Differently
Large Scale Operations Dispersed Operations
Hard Sciences Art and Leadership
Focus on the Enemy Focus on People
Stand-off Warfare-Precision Close contact
Hierarchical/predictable Adversary “Non-templatable” adversary
Country focus Regional focus
Military Focus Whole of Government/Comprehensive
State Enemies Non-State Enemies
Air, Land, Sea Air, Land, Sea, Cyber, and Space,
Violent political actors
– Terrorists: Limited
– Insurgents: Localized/transport
– State-aided/proxy players: Game-changer
– Pirates: Somalia
‗Territorialization‘ of the sea-EEZs, Security Zones,
Traffic in sea lanes…
– Torres Strait, Hawaiian national park, South China
People move out from the land
Navies drawn into the coast
– Complex littoral environment
– Rugged coasts
– Crowded port cities
– NAG, Somalia, Med, etc
More People---More Disorder
War is still a contest
Warfare vs war/duels, not just the shot
Importance of national interest
What makes it ―irregular‖?
Exploitation of disorder:
– Complexity-fluidity of violence-overlap of interests
– Defense of trade (counter-piracy)-conservation of
resources-restrictions on FON
– Moral over material; morale over metal
Humanitarian Assistance Most Likely?
Peacetime & Crisis Low-Intensity Conflict Mid-Intensity Conflict High-Intensity Conflict
Range of Inter-Agency Operations Range of Military Operations
Stable Unstable Insurgency General
Peace Peace War
“BINNING” THE FUTURE ALONG A SPECTRUM OF CONFLICT IS NO
LONGER VALID. WHAT IS TRADITIONAL/CONVENTIONAL WARFARE?
• Strategy—Patience; End state or constant, moving goals/objectives?
• Selective Engagement
– Make sure you develop capability with HN…they have a vote!
– Give them credit, even if they had little or no impact
• Design of the Strategy and Campaign-
– Understand the nature of the conflict
– What does the adversary want?
– What are the interests?
– What are my forces actually capable of doing?
– What are coalition and HN forces actually capable of doing?
• Consider second and third order effects
– Tactical success but strategic failure
– Tactical failure but strategic win
• Intelligence -HumInt
(drawn from historical cases & wargames)
1. Protracted multi-dimensional contest
2. Global or regional context
3. ―Disappearing‘ tactics and low signature
complicate targeting and discriminate-
precision use of fires
4. Freedom of maneuver negated or limited
5. Battle of narratives critical
6. Force protection difficult-
7. Population control vice security?
Implications for the military
• What is it we don‘t do well?
• People and how to think
– You will always be surprised
– Mitigate it
• Organizations designed for threat or capability?
• Information and perception management
• Share Information
– Commander‘s Foreign Disclosure
– Hard Power + Soft Power = SMART POWER
Prevailing Against Hybrid Threats
• Isolating the adversary in the Informational
• Isolating the adversary from means of Financial
and Materiel Support
• Gaining control of the moral and morale
environment—and maintaining it
• Gaining Population Control
• Winning the Competition for Security
Balance or focus?
―… it is common to define and divide the so-
called "high end" from the "low end," the
conventional from the irregular; armored
divisions on one side, guerrillas toting AK-
47s on the other. In reality, …, the
categories of warfare are blurring and do
not fit into neat, tidy boxes.‖
―We can expect to see more tools and tactics
of destruction - from the sophisticated to
the simple - being employed
simultaneously in hybrid and more
complex forms of warfare.‖
Center for Irregular Warfare
Established June 2007 by CG, MCCDC
– Identify, coordinate and implement irregular warfare initiatives
across all elements of DOTMLPF-P (Doctrine, Organization,
Training, Material, Leadership and Education, Personnel,
Facilities - Policy)
– Ensure IW capabilities are accurately presented to other
services, DoD, interagency, and partner nations
– CIW has coordinating authority with joint, interagency, and
– Current Manning is 5 Ad and 5 Ctr: FOC 9/2 AD, 4 Gs, 3 Ctr
Events: JIW, Maritime Stab Ops, Interagency Initiatives,
USMC and IW
Approach and Policy
DOD I IW
CJCS I IW
Vision and Strategy; Implementation Guidance
JFCOM and GPF Assessment
IW and DOTMLPF
-MCWP 3-33.1 MAGTF Civil-Military Operations April 2003
-A Tentative Manual for Countering Irregular Threats 7 June 2006
-Small Unit Leader‘s Guide to Counterinsurgency July 2006
-MCWP 3- 33.5/FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency Manual October 2007
-MCRP 3-33.1A/FM 3-05.401 Civil Affairs Tactics, Techniques and Procedures
-‘A Concept for Unified Action through Civil-Military Integration‘ May 2009
-‘Amphibious Operations in the 21st Century‘ March 2009
-‘Evolving the MAGTF for the 21st Century March‘ 2009
-‘Enhanced MAGTF Operations‘ (draft)
-Operational Culture for the Warfighter: Principles and Applications 2008
-Revisions to the planning procedures that focuses on understanding the
nature of the problem comes before designing a solution.
IW and DOTMLPF
- Center for Irregular Warfare (CIW)
- Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group (MCTAG) initially at 44
personnel and currently expanding to 182,
-Continued to refine Security Cooperation and Education and Training
Command (SCETC) and their support to the regional MarFors
- Marine Corps Information Operations Center (MCIOC)
- Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) as the DoD Lead for
- Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL) as the
central USMC agency for operational culture and language training
- Advisor Training Group (ATG) to prepare Marines for advisory duties
- Other Initiatives; 202 K CAR
IW and DOTMLPF
-Advise Train and Assist-Partner Nation Force Training and Readiness Manual
-Published the Operational Culture and Language Training and Readiness Manual
*Mandatory for all personnel in unit deployments
*Culture and language training packages for Home Station Training.
*Training for commanders in the use of tactical language to enhance KLE.
-Enhanced Mojave Viper (30 day training package that incorporates small unit to
battalion kinetic and nonkinetic tactics).
**MRX that includes a four-day assessment using culturally relevant Role
Players and simulated environment.
- Marine Corps Operations and Tactics Instructors Course
*Heavily focused on Phases III and IV (SSTR); *Includes IW, Human Terrain,
Interagency, NGOs/PVOs, Civil Affairs, Info Ops and COIN (57%)
-Marine Corps Civil Affairs School at SCETC to train all active/reserve CA Marines.
-Implemented “Combat Hunter” and “Police on the Beat” programs.
-Introduced immersion training for infantry small units.
IW and DOTMLPF
-Squad Immersive Training Environment (SITE) to formalize lessons learned and encompass
all facets of individual and small unit training, to include virtual rehearsal
-Language Learning Resource Centers at all major USMC installations are equipped with
information technology suites specifically designed and loaded with computer-based language
courses and modeled after the Defense Language Institute classrooms to facilitate
instructor based training. Rosetta Stone and Transparent Language’s CL-50 language
-The Marine Corps Cargo Unmanned Aerial System initiative to get “trucks off the road” using
autonomous cargo UASs in order to mitigate the threat to re-supply convoys.
- beyond line-of-sight with the capability to “capture” control at a remote location,
- deliver 10,000 pounds of cargo in a twenty-four hour period for a round-trip distance of
150 nautical miles: demonstration successful in January 2010.
-The Marine Corps is reviewing options to modify existing load plans of Maritime Prepositioned
Ships to better support activities across ROMO.
-Continue to pursue seabasing platforms, Mobile Landing Platform and Large, Medium,
Roll-On-Roll off Ships(LMSR), that will facilitate conduct of a full range of IW related
activities. A seabase allows for minimal footprint ashore and agility in supporting
distributed operations in support of building partner capacity. Tested in Feb
The Might Servant 3 (Think MLP)and Soderman (LMSR) were the ships used.
IW and DOTMLPF
*The Basic School and the Infantry Officers Course have incorporated IW concepts into their
Program of Instruction with 27 and 70 hours of IW related instruction, respectively.
*Expeditionary Warfare School devotes 3 weeks to IW specific POI that concludes with a 48
hour practical application exercise and offers advanced war seminars to select students,
as well as 4 hours of instruction in Civil-Military Operations (CMO) working with the
Interagency. Students incorporate key IW-related planning considerations, such as an
Operational Cultural analysis, in order to plan for cultural/linguistic factors.
*Command and Staff College (CSC): Devotes 107 hours of instruction to the activities of
Irregular Warfare (COIN, transnational threats, regional cultural studies, CMO, Stab Ops
and Reconstruction), concluding with the exercise “Nine Innings”: the final practical
exercise that’s designed to introduce students to the complexity of Phase 0 planning within
the context of the interagency environment. In addition, prior to 9-11, the curriculum at
CSC dedicated exclusive lecture and seminar hours to IW themes and topics
*School for Advanced Warfighting: Incorporates an internal look at the cultural and language
of specific regions, cultural/linguistic planning and staff rides to foreign countries to
reinforces and validate planning assumptions and considerations.
*In 2006, all instruction at USMC formal schools were revised to better incorporate the
fundamentals of fighting in a COIN environment. Resident and non-resident enlisted PME
have incorporated IW mirroring much of the instruction that officers receive.
IW and DOTMLPF
-From FY10 to FY15, Foreign Area Officers and Regional Area Officers will increase to 128.
-From FY 07-FY 09, Civil Affairs officers and enlisted billets increased to 202. This emerging
capability allows the Operating Forces to field active duty CA detachments as well
as CMO planners.
-The DOD Directive for IW (DODD 3000.07) spawned the CJCSI 3210.06 for IW (DRAFT-currently in
4-star chop/approval). This effort will lead to the linkage of service-level IW reportable readiness
(individual IW skills and experience to future unit IW-relevant METs and METLs). The CJCSI
further directs an annual GPF (service-level) and SOF IW Assessment on IW readiness within the
services. The CJCSI also directs the identification and tracking of IW relevant skills, training and
Some of these IW relevant (skills, training, experience) include:
1. Marines with training and experience on MTTs, PTTs, PoETTs, etc.
2. Marines with Civil Affairs training and/or experience.
3. Marines with IO/PSYOP experience
4. FAOs, RAOs, Defense Attaches
5. Those Marines with Sensitive Site Exploitation and BIOMETRICS experience.
CIW currently conducts IW Manpower Skills Working Groups to identify and track these Marines to
include within the next USMC IW assessment, due in summer-2010.
Obviously, some skills are easier to identify and track, because their tied to MOSs, or specific and
official schools or programs; however, the vast majority of the IW Skills will need to be tediously
identified through the various IT Manpower and Training systems, local/unit databases and
There is always a well-known
solution to every human
problem--neat, plausible, and
H. L. Mencken,
• Don‘t underestimate the adversary…. don‘t overestimate your abilities.
• Don‘t let ―terminology‖ and powerpoint prevent critical thinking.
• Combinations of assets available
– Find out who is in your AO and contact them (HN, IGO, NGO‘s etc)
• Assessment like camouflage is continuous
– Each village, city, farming community is different
• Dynamic Re-tasking
– Act on actionable intelligence…time sensitive and fleeting
• Don‘t let an AO limit your actions
– Coordinate with adjacent forces, operate in each others AO‘s
• Don‘t go to the ―well‖ too many times
– Just as you must adapt, the enemy will also adapt
―RIDING THE ROLLER COASTER‖
Presence, Persistence and Patience, vs Move, Shoot and Communicate
A constant “battle” that is not irregular or conventional, but complex. Conducting
complex operations with a comprehensive approach. Where you will need to
deconflict, coordinate and collaborate.
• Basis for definition: modes vice structural
– Admixture of different modes/methods of fighting or
– Hybrid as composite of state & non-state actors
• Element of simultaneity
• Requirement for all four modes?
• Degree of operational and tactical fusion
• How to capture information/cyber challenge?
Hybrid threat: Any adversary that simultaneously adaptively
employs tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics,
terrorism, and criminal behavior to obtain their political
IW ―Grammar‖ Conventional
Potential Hybrid Scenarios
China is viewed as a special case
– Focus on great powers, preserve competitive advantages
– Accept risk that force can adapt down if needed
– Focus on most likely scenarios of state failure
– Accept risk from states and advanced hybrid threats
Full Spectrum Force:
– Focus on modular forces able to conduct 3 Block War
– Potential risk of being suboptimal for any specific threat
– Spread risk across range of military ops, invest in quality forces and
Dedicated and Separate Forces:
– High readiness for specific IW and conventional scenarios
– Potential risk of lack of depth/capacity for long duration scenario
– Sub-optimized for hybrid threat if optimized for two extremes