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Gray Zone Warfare
BUILDING A WALL OF DENIAL AGAINST GRAY-ZONE AGGRESSION  By Elisabeth Braw

NATO member states and partners today face national security threats that extend far beyond military aggression. Indeed, they are regularly targeted by nonmilitary means, so-called gray-zone aggression. Because gray-zone aggression can include any measures below the level of war, including illegal ones, it is impossible for the targeted countries to deter every act with the threat of punishment. This means liberal democracies should give more attention to societal resilience. By ...Read more >

25 Pages
669.04 KB
GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK : A FRAMEWORK TO COUNTER GRAY ZONE CONFLICTS  By Heather M. Bothwell

T oday’s joint operational environment is characterized by states increasingly competing to enhance power and gain influence while seeking to avoid major conflict. Although concerted efforts to undercut U.S. interests without force are not unprecedented, more aggressive attempts to contest the status quo through nonkinetic means as a way to diminish U.S. power will likely increase. As a result, the joint force must hone its understanding of the full spectrum of conflict and ...Read more >

6 Pages
308.40 KB
IRAN’S GRAY ZONE STRATEGY : CORNERSTONE OF ITS ASYMMETRIC WAY OF WAR  By Michael Eisenstadt

S ince the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iran has distinguished itself (along with Russia and China) as one of the world’s foremost “gray zone” actors.1 For nearly four decades, however, the United States has struggled to respond effectively to this asymmetric “way of war.” Washington has often treated Tehran with caution and granted it significant leeway in the conduct of its gray zone activities due to fears that U.S. pushback would lead to “all-out” ...Read more >

21 Pages
646.34 KB
AMERICA’S GLOBAL COMPETITIONS: THE GRAY ZONE IN CONTEXT  By Lieutenant General James M. Dubik (U.S. Army, Ret.) and Nic Vincent

The international community is grappling for its future, but the wrestling is more complicated than Carl von Clausewitz’s “pair of wrestlers.”1 The U.S. is part of three ongoing regional and global competitions. At stake: the future of the international order. The first competition involves revisionist powers—Russia, China, and Iran. This competition is below the threshold of war so far, but recent events in Syria show just how easily that threshold might be crossed. ...Read more >

36 Pages
9.52 MB
MASTERING THE GRAY ZONE: UNDERSTANDING A CHANGING ERA OF CONFLICT  By Michael J. Mazarr

In the remote reaches of the South China Sea in the Spratly Island chain, China is creating land. In order to bolster its claims to the waters of the region, Beijing is pouring millions of metric tons of sand and concrete onto submerged reefs, creating artificial islands.1 Island-building is merely one of the most obvious of many ...Read more >

157 Pages
6.23 MB
A WHOLE-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO GRAY ZONE WARFARE  By Elizabeth G. Troeder

Gray zone warfare, also known as irregular warfare, political warfare, hybrid warfare, asymmetric warfare, and unconventional warfare, is increasingly becoming the norm. It is a significant concern today, threatening U.S. national security as well as the security of U.S. allies and partners. Despite its population’s immense capacity for creativity and innovation, the United States is losing this war. ...Read more >

55 Pages
2.23 MB
THE REEMERGENCE OF GRAY-ZONE WARFARE IN MODERN CONFLICTS: ISRAEL’S STRUGGLE AGAINST HAMAS’S INDIRECT APPROACH  By Omer Dostri

Over the last decade, the use of gray-zone warfare—part of a coercive strategy—has increased. Various actors in the international system use this kind of warfare to achieve political, economic, and military advantages while minimizing risks and the reactions of their opponents. The means of gray-zone warfare are based on ambiguity and low signature that provide politicians and decision-makers with a strategic capacity of plausible deniability. These include surgical, restrained, and ...Read more >

8 Pages
1.25 MB
COMPETITION SHORT OF WAR – HOW RUSSIA’S HYBRID AND GREY-ZONE WARFARE ARE A BLUEPRINT FOR CHINA’S GLOBAL POWER AMBITIONS  By Sascha Dominik (Dov) Bachmann, Andrew Dowse and Håkan Gunneriusson

China is set to build an empire where its economic, strategic and security interests in Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the Arctic will be safeguarded for generations to come. Using the concepts of hybrid warfare and grey-zone warfare, this article argues that the implementation of China’s 2015 military strategy of active ...Read more >

16 Pages
156.73 KB
THE CONTEMPORARY SPECTRUM OF CONFLICT: PROTRACTED, GRAY ZONE, AMBIGUOUS, AND HYBRID MODES OF WAR  By Frank G. Hoffman

Hew Strachan, the preeminent military historian at Oxford, stated in a lecture delivered in 2006 that one of our most serious problems today is that we do not know what war is. He put his finger on a critical shortfall in Western thinking about security:If we are to identify whether war is changing, and—if it is—how those changes affect international relations, we need to know first what war is. One of the central challenges confronting ...Read more >

12 Pages
214.71 KB
COUNTERING GRAY-ZONE HYBRID THREATS  By John Chambers

The gray zone is an operating environment in which aggressors use ambiguity and leverage nonattribution to achieve strategic objectives while limiting counter-actions by other nation states. Inside the gray zone, aggressors use hybrid tactics to achieve their strategic objectives. While hybrid threats have historically been associated with irregular and conventional warfare, their use in the gray zone ...Read more >

59 Pages
8.24 MB
WINNING IN THE GRAY ZONE: USING ELECTROMAGNETIC WARFARE TO REGAIN ESCALATION DOMINANCE  By BRYAN CLARK, MARK GUNZINGER, JESSE SLOMAN

The United States has again entered a period characterized by great power competition after a quarter century as the world’s sole superpower. By expanding exports in a globalizing economy and exploiting the precision-strike weapons revolution,1 China and Russia have improved their military capabilities and economic positions2 over the last 20 years. They now seek to revise the international order in their favor, in part by undermining U.S. influence in their regions and ...Read more >

84 Pages
3.22 MB
GAINING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN THE GRAY ZONE  By Lyle J. Morris, Michael J. Mazarr, Jeffrey W. Hornung, Stephanie Pezard, Anika Binnendijk, Marta Kep

The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy and the publicly released summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy agree on one fundamental theme: The United States is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with several rivals, most notably Russia and China. Numerous statements from senior U.S. defense officials make clear that they expect this competition to be played out primarily ...Read more >

237 Pages
2.29 MB
WAR'S FUTURE: THE RISKS AND REWARDS OF GREYZONE CONFLICT AND HYBRID WARFARE  By David Carment, CGAI Fellow and Dani Belo

Today’s geopolitical conflicts, especially among great powers, involve a desire to fundamentally revise the order of alliances as well as solidify new norms of conduct. The purpose of our paper is to delineate two distinct phenomena in international affairs – hybrid warfare, which emphasizes the tactical level and grey-zone conflicts, which incorporates a long-term strategic dimension into international disputes. We argue that hybrid warfare can be a tactical subset of grey-zone ...Read more >

19 Pages
522.42 KB
CHRONOLOGY OF POSSIBLE RUSSIAN GRAY AREA AND HYBRID WARFARE OPERATIONS  By Anthony H. Cordesman

This chronology explores the full range of Russian competition with the United States. It focuses on the need to address all of the key aspects of this competition, including Russia’s “gray area,” hybrid warfare, and multi-domain/joint combined-domain operations. It takes a different approach to defining such operations from those used in a number of official sources and other reports. As is discussed later in this chronology, the official and other open source reporting now ...Read more >

45 Pages
1.98 MB