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19 listopad 2018

Policy Paper Defence strategy - how to be better prepared to counter hybrid warfare?



This document is a recommendation of the policy strategy in the field of national defence. The strategy itself appears as an integral element of the policy-making in security management (Drew, Snow 1988). The main objective of this policy paper is to provide a proposal for how to counteract the hybrid warfare threats by implementing the defence strategy.

It is worth mentioning that many countries around the world are exposed to the destabilization campaign. The hybrid warfare issue was mentioned and widely discussed during the NATO Transformation Seminar in 2015. At that time Jeans Stoltenberg claimed that the concept of hybrid wars would be prioritized in the defence policies of the Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) in upcoming years (NATO, 2015).



The hybrid warfare is a special form of violent conflict which is applied by a state or non-state actor by using military and non-military influence without any limits in a territory (Banasic, 2015). Therefore, the hybrid war can be explained basically as a mixture of conventional and unconventional actions carried out by the second part. The fertile soil for the vast majority of hybrid attacks is the social and economic challenges in the country, cultural or religious differences, political crisis or unclear policies. This type of war seeks to exploit any weakness in the current situation. Accordingly, a good governance plays a crucial role in providing stability in the country. However, continuously developing technology leads to the building of new communication and informational tools, which also provides more space for influencing social and political sphere (Velijovski, Taneki, Dojchinovski, 2017).

Today this warfare may be implemented by different organizations such as private and criminal entities, armed sub-units or terrorist groups. For instance, some tactics of asymmetric warfare have been already used by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and ISIL in Iraq and Syria (Moronkova, 2018).

The situation in Ukraine is a classic example of hybrid war. The multilevel operation started with the economic and diplomatic pressure, political interventions and cyber attacks. As a consequence, this brought to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The takeover was organized by unmarked soldiers, who suddenly captured main facilities on the peninsula. This was followed by the proxy war in the Eastern territory of Ukraine. The Ukrainian case shows that the hybrid actions could be pretext for the armed military invasion and may lead to a social conflict (Velijovski, Taneki, Dojchinovski, 2017).

The three main features of this of modern war which is based on hybrid tactics are listed below.


  1. The lack of precise legal process of hybrid crimes investigation. The difficulty is in acсusition a party of having caused the conflict and in issuing a punishment. The example worth mentioning is the cyberspace attacks which have taken place in Estonia, Lithuania, and Georgia during recent years (Moronkova, 2018).


  1. Majority of hybrid attacks that had happened included so-called “information war” instrument. The tactic is aimed to introduce a destabilization in social groups via biased information emission in mass media. This brings serious obstructions in the nature of diplomatic isolation or undervaluing the country image in the international arena. For instance, those attacks were presented in Europe, the Balkans and the Near East recently. Moreover, propaganda tactics had been used by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the past century (Moronkova, 2018). The hybrid warfare takes the most dangerous form when the target is disbalance in the society. Here the physical violence and propaganda policy actions are the most common instruments (Banasic, 2015).


  1. The introduction of the civil war by the irregular technics usage. The aim of this attempt is to minimize usage of the hostile party’s military forces by means of engaging locals into clashes through remotely controlling the location. This type of the war is also named as non-linear because the attacks are completed in the various fields: political, economic and social (Ibiden).


Possible solutions


The NATO offers a range of instruments for prevention the hybrid warfare. These have been presented in 2015 in NATO’s Response to Hybrid Threats. A few of them which author finds very effective are listed below.


  1. The creation of a legal framework with the complex definition of hybrid warfare, a process of crimes investigation and an execution of a sentence. The danger of a conception deficiency and a lack of structured definition explains the need for legal regulation. It is advised to conduct the investigation on the forms of hybrid threats which occur in the country. Considering the fact that non-state groups is usually involved in the attack, it is recommended to check all possible parties which could have the interest to introduce destructive measures. Moreover complicated economic situation and demographic stratification are the conducive factors to hybrid threats.


  1. The implementation of the complex monitoring of offensive cyber activities and adverse media coverage. Current hybrid warfare may take place in various operating environments. The hostile actions in cyberspace may lead to underlining the government legitimacy or provoke a conflict among the social groups. Therefore the creation of special monitoring units is vital. Setting a centre, office or department for counteracting asymmetric threats could be a good solution. As an example, in Europe was established the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats which cooperates with the brand new Intelligence Division. While the Intelligence Division deploys more exercises and training, European Centre is focused on consulting, investigation of crimes and research. The centres which have already contributed to the countering hybrid threats are the following: Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga and Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. Those units were created after cyber attacks conducted in 2007, and in 2013 (NATO welcomes the opening of the European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats, 2017).


  1. The importance of international cooperation in the fight against hybrid threats. The issue of hybrid war was extended through signing the joint declaration named NATO’s Response to Hybrid Threats in 2016 by NATO-EU strategic partnership. The cooperation on the strategic communication can be built with a partner state which is exposed to the similar threats in the region. Finding an ally such as a neighbour country or organization seems to be a reasonable solution.


  1. Establishment of the long-run financial perspective to support defence cooperation and research. The EU perspective of European Defence Cooperation brings the concept of providing countries with financial instruments such as loans for defensive purposes. In theory, this should encourage member-states to increase their budget spendings for defence (Brosse, 2017). The inclusion of expenditure on the hybrid warfare prevention into the budget may facilitate the proper execution of the strategy. This allows a country to use appropriately financial flows coming from international organizations, plan and manage its own expenses on countering hybrid threats.




The paper delivers five general recommendations to the counterpart hybrid warfare strategy which are placed below.


  1. The strategy should be comprehensively supported by the legal regulations on the governmental level. The framework established in public and private legislation with the criminal law implication will bring the expected result in fighting with asymmetric threats.


  1. It is recommended to create a governmental unit responsible for hybrid threats detection. By taking into consideration the past experience of other countries at risk, there is a possibility to implicate the mechanisms of observation, investigation and responding to non-linear threats.


  1. To establish international cooperation in the field of collective defence against hybrid warfare will be helpful to unite forces and exchange experience. In the event of a threat, there is recommended to find an ally in the international partner. It stands to reason that this can alleviate the attack.


  1. The financial support for hybrid warfare defence will be absolutely vital for the entire system functioning. Proper policy with the combination of securing funds devoted to preventive measures may lead to the decrease of risk exposure to the attack.


  1. It is strongly recommended to release an information campaign in order to increase the social awareness about the hybrid threats. This is especially applicable to the cyberspace and media propaganda. There is a need for education in the field of cyberspace and data verification. Additionally, training for experts and researchers in this field will be welcomed.


This list of proposals may be still varied with a more detailed description of the action and procedures.




Banasic M., ​Akademia Obrony Narodowej​,Securitologia No 1/2015, 2015, p. 19-29.

Brosse G., ​Deploying financial tools in support of european defence cooperation​,2017.

Drew Dennis M.; Snow Donald M., ​Making Strategy : An Introduction to National Security Processes and Problems​,Air University, Maxwell AFB, 1988, p.13.

Maronkova B., ​NATO in the new hybrid warfare environment​,Ukraine Analytica, 2018.

NATO, ​Joint declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization​, 2016.

NATO, ​Keynote speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO Transformation Seminar​,Washington DC, 2015.

NATO, ​NATO’s Response to Hybrid Threats​,2016, p. 259.

NATO, ​NATO welcomes opening of European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats​,2017.

Velijovski G. , Taneki N., Dojchinovski M., ​The danger of “hybrid warfare” from sophisticated adversary: the Russian “hybridity” in the Ukrainian conflict​, Defence and security analysis, 2017.