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Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!
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All you fellow Intel Historians will enjoy this article.
Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!
Oceans of ink and terabytes of electronic musings have been expended on the subject of hybrid warfare. The classic formulation is a non-state actor with appurtenances of state power and, in many cases, support from traditional nation states. Of particular concern to defense planners and intelligence experts was the ability of these non-state actors to acquire and employ advanced military systems such as anti-tank guided missiles, artillery rockets and man-portable anti-aircraft missiles. Insurgents and terrorists would employ advanced systems to increase their lethal capabilities without changing either their strategies or organizations. The concept of hybrid warfare was soon expanded to the realm of strategy.
As explained by Frank Hoffman, perhaps the best scholar on the subject:
The most distinctive change in the character of modern war is the blurred or blended nature of combat. We do not face a widening number of distinct challenges but their convergence into hybrid wars.
These hybrid wars blend the lethality of state conflict with the fanatical and protracted fervor of irregular warfare. In such conflicts, future adversaries (states, state-sponsored groups, or self-funded actors) will exploit access to modern military capabilities . . .
Prior to 2014, hybrid warfare was generally believed to be a strategy of the weak, groups or nations lacking the military means, financial resources, territorial base or organizational skills to fully exploit modern military means. The Russian invasion of Crimea and the initiation of a proxy war in Eastern Ukraine stunned Western strategists, generally, and the community of hybrid warfare theorists, in particular. Here was a major power relying largely on a mix of special forces, proxy forces, limited numbers of traditional military units (often in disguise) and a very sophisticated campaign of political subversion, economic attack, cyber warfare and information operations to conduct a campaign of territorial conquest while reducing the risk of escalation to conventional inter-state conflict.
This led some observers to propose the idea of multi-vector hybrid warfare and of political and information operations intended to undermine target states either to support more kinetic operations or even to obviate the need for physical coercion as somehow a new concept in inter-state conflict. Others drew a close correlation between actions by the current Russian government and the history of Soviet political and propaganda operations during the Cold War.
More recently, a number of authors have brought a measure of historical perspective and dispassionate analysis to the issue. While the means available to Russia are somewhat different, notably access to the world’s banking system, the presence of Moscow-supported news outlets in Western capitals, the ability to conduct cyber attacks on critical networks, as these authors and others point out, the use of all national sources of power to influence the behavior of adversaries and prepare the battlespace for possible kinetic conflict is as old as the organized state.
While it is true that many states have practiced some forms of hybrid warfare, not all have done so successfully and few have been able to implement it as an integrated strategy. We have seen examples of this recently when repeated attempts by this White House to forge an alliance with so-called moderate Syrian rebels against either Assad or ISIS foundered over concerns for the rebel groups’ political bona fides. Government efforts to develop information operations against Islamic violent extremists have foundered over concerns about not being allowed to engage in propaganda, e.g., to lie.
In reality, only a few nations and non-state actors have demonstrated a real proficiency at conducting hybrid warfare. What distinguishes the masters of the art of hybrid warfare from the average practitioners is that they learned these skills in their struggles for domestic power. The tools for hybrid warfare – deception, infiltration, corruption, the use of cover organizations, paramilitary forces, the creation of new domestic security entities and conventional military capabilities – were all used first to seize and consolidate domestic power.
Today, Russia is the ultimate hybrid threat. I describe it as such not merely because it has developed a panoply of official and un-official tools with which to pursue its strategic objectives but because it is the quintessential hybrid actor. Hybrid actors are generally defined as non-state entities able to employ both traditional and non-traditional elements of power and, in many cases, support from traditional nation states. Russia is unique insofar as it is controlled by a cabal that has many of the characteristics of non-state groups that have acquired hybrid capabilities and developed strategies based on their use. Moreover, many of the tools and techniques employed by the Kremlin in the pursuit of its external strategy are the same as it has employed to maintain and even increase its domestic controls. It is hardly surprising that the Russian ruling circle, the Vertikal, with its core of former and current secret police officers and close engagement with criminal elements in the pursuit of pecuniary interests, has been able to employ with such effect bribery, blackmail, hacking, intimidation and outright murder in its domestic and foreign operations.
Read the Remainder at National Interest
New drones and fighters could fry enemy hardware from a distance.
Russia will arm its sixth-generation combat drones with microwave weapons.
These weapons, which disable an aircraft’s electronic equipment, already exist today “and can hit targets within a radius of tens of kilometers,” said Vladimir Mikheev, a director of state-owned Russian electronics firm KRET, in an interview with TASS.
However, Mikheev suggested that microwave weapons can be as dangerous to the user as to the target. While Russia is developing manned and unmanned sixth-generation aircraft, which are predicted to first take flight in 2025, only the unmanned version will be armed with a microwave weapon. “The electromagnetic pulse fired by the microwave weapon is so powerful that it is extremely difficult to protect the pilot from his own weapons,” Mikheev said. “No matter how well we may shield the cabin, this electronic pulse will get through. And as a human is also, to some extent, a ‘device’ operating on the basis of receiving and transmitting electromagnetic signals, such weapons can cause heavy damage to the health of the pilot.”
“Protection is already in place today: shielding, special goggles and a glass canopy covered with gold plating to reduce radiation. However, it is so far impossible to ensure 100 percent protection.”
Echoing the same debates in the United States over manned versus unmanned combat aircraft, Mikheev said that only the unmanned version of Russia’s sixth-generation aircraft will have “full technical capabilities.” He predicted these drones will be hypersonic, with a speed of Mach 4 to 5, and will be capable of flight through near space (sixty-five thousand to 328,000 feet).
Mikheev also notes that that fifth-generation aircraft, such as the F-22, F-35 and Russia’s PAK FA, are characterized by supersonic cruising speed and stealth designs. But what will distinguish sixth-generation aircraft from their predecessors is the capability to work with drones. Mikheev offered a vision of Russian drone warfare that sounds much like its American counterpart. Like the United States, Russia is embracing manned-unmanned teaming, where piloted aircraft control packs of drones.
Also like American defense contractors, Russian companies say price shouldn’t be a barrier to capability. While drones are cheaper than manned aircraft, they will never be cheap. “They will come at a serious price, given that it will be a high-tech weapon—an aircraft combining hypersonic flight speed, low visibility, high security, artificial intelligence (in order to work in a group) and the most modern weapons, including electromagnetic. The sixth-generation arsenal will also include the latest weapon control systems, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, guidance, navigation and Identification Friend or Foe.”
The U.S. military is also grappling with what a sixth-generation combat aircraft will look like. Long range, stealth and supersonic cruising capabilities are likely to be features, as will be non-kinetic armament such as microwave or other electromagnetic weapons. It is a certainty that the next generation of manned aircraft will only be a component of a larger team, with the pilot the would-be master of a swarm of drones increasingly capable of autonomous flight.
The ultimate question: Will a sixth-generation aircraft even have a pilot?
Read the Original Article at National Interest