NATO Commander Breedlove Discusses Implications of Hybrid War
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove discussed the implications of hybrid war during a presentation to the Brussels Forum over the weekend.
Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, said Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and continued actions in the rest of Eastern Ukraine is a form of hybrid war.
Russia is using diplomacy, information warfare, and its military and economic means to wage this campaign, he added.
Aspects of Hybrid War
One of the first aspects of the hybrid war is to attack credibility and to try to separate a nation from its support mechanisms, the general said.
“Informationally, this is probably the most impressive new part of this hybrid war, all of the different tools to create a false narrative,” he said. “We begin to talk about the speed and the power of a lie, how to get a false narrative out, and then how to sustain that false narrative through all of the new tools that are out there.”
Military tools remain relatively unchanged, he said. “But how they are used or how they are hidden in their use, is the new part of this hybrid war,” the general said. “How do we recognize, how do we characterize and then how do we attribute this new employment of the military in a way that is built to bring about ambiguity?”
An Across-government Approach
Using the economic tool, he said, hybrid warfare allows a country to bring pressure on economies, but also on energy.
“What the military needs to do is to use those traditional military intelligence tools to develop the truth. The way you attack a lie is with the truth,” Breedlove said. “I think that you have to attack an all of a government approach with an all of government approach. The military needs to be able to do its part, but we need to bring exposure to those diplomatic pressures and return the diplomatic pressure. We need to, as a Western group of nations or as an alliance, engage in this information warfare to … drag the false narrative out into the light and expose it.”
Regarding Western response to Russian actions in Ukraine, no tool should be off the table, Breedlove said.
“In Ukraine, what we see is what we talked about earlier, diplomatic tools being used, informational tools being used, military tools being used, economic tools being used against Ukraine,” he said. “We, I think, in the West, should consider all of our tools in reply. Could it be destabilizing? The answer is yes. Also, inaction could be destabilizing.”
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