NATO Parliamentary Assembly
HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Reports2015 Spring SessionDSC Draft general report on Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid Warfare: NATO's New Strategic Challenge?

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Draft General Report by Julio MIRANDA CALHA (Portugal), General Rapporteur - 051 DSC 15 E

New strategic challenges by Russia and, to a degree, Daesh over the past year have NATO scrambling to respond. Both forces are revisionist, one seeking to alter the status quo of the European security order, the other to undo the Middle Eastern state structure established after WWI. These dual-pronged threats to NATO’s eastern and southern flanks are forcing the Alliance to adopt new strategic postures in response.

Russia’s use of myriad tactics to push forward its agenda of diminishing US influence in Europe and splinter Europe’s ability for collective action at the security, political, or economic levels has been dubbed hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare exploits domestic weaknesses via non-military means (such as political, informational, and economic intimidation and manipulation), but is backed by the threat of conventional military means. While the concept of hybrid warfare is not new, its application by Russia, and to a lesser extent by Daesh, against NATO member states’ interests present new challenges to the Alliance.

In response to this new era of strategic competition with Russia, NATO finds itself at a transformative juncture in its existence once again. Post-2014 NATO is adopting the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) as a means of responding rapidly to new threats as they may present themselves along the eastern and southern flanks. The question remains, however, about the degree to which NATO, primarily a military organization, can respond to the challenges of hybrid warfare that often fall outside of the classically defined military arena. Hybrid warfare requires the response of the national power of all 28-member states – which, when combined, makes the most formidable security, political, and economic force in the world.

This draft report looks into the unique situation NATO finds itself vis-à-vis hybrid warfare tactics. It briefly reviews some of the events of 2014 demonstrating the central vision of both Russia and Daesh vis-à-vis the established international order they seek to disrupt. The report takes a closer look into the tactics of hybrid warfare and the available means of response. Finally, it highlights several factors that NATO member state parliamentarians should consider for local, national, and international action to prepare, and defend their populations in light of the post-2014 security environment.