How to Address Complex Security Challenges : Fostering International Solidarity

Plenary Session3

Role of Military in Hybrid Warfare


Hybrid warfare is not a new type of warfare. It includes various means of subverting the regime and power resources in order to exploit domestic and external vulnerability of the opposing country. Recently, a combination of conventional and unconventional warfare that involves non-state actors and information technology has been observed. As a result, the distinction between wartime and peacetime has become blurred, rendering timely military response more challenging. More problematic is that the prolongation of such hybrid warfare causes gradual changes in the current condition, not only making recovery difficult but also allowing the initiator to achieve its political objectives without engaging in an all-out-war.

In practice, a series of war that have recently occurred exhibit multiple ways of warfighting mechanisms that have not been witnessed in the past. These include a simultaneous occurrence of
a conventional form of combat execution and exploitation of the enemy’s domestic political environment, spreading fake news and disinformation, psychological warfare, economic coercion, and cyber attack.

In the era of hyper-connected networks, modern hybrid warfare also develops through cyber warfare and psychological cyber warfare. Dissemination of mass information, propaganda, and biased narratives characterize the new phase of hybrid warfare. Since the concept of hybrid warfare itself already includes many different warfighting styles, it is difficult to approach from a comprehensive international law perspective and it requires multi-domain military responses through the coordination among civil and public sectors. In addition, while it is necessary to take the approach to recognize, counter, and deter various military threats, it is important to put efforts to enhance domestic solidarity and resiliency as the purposes of hybrid warfare are to undermine the justification of the government and ultimately lead to subversion by degrading the trust between the government and its people.

However, just like the case of cyber warfare, attribution remains a difficult challenge in hybrid warfare, and given that it is a low-cost warfighting style, the potential for proliferation is great.
Also, deterrence and prevention of hybrid warfare are difficult as it does not follow any kind of fixed forms like conventional warfighting. Moreover, since it is a combat execution type that is difficult to tackle within the current boundary of international law including international humanitarian law and the principle of proportionality, the international community needs to precisely understand the threat aspects of hybrid warfare, share predictions on possible threats that may be followed by the advancement of science and technology, and cooperate to jointly devise response mechanisms. The military and the private sector must begin discussing their respective roles so that they could create a synergy effect during the processes involving threat perception, intelligence gathering and sharing.
They must also discuss military as well as norms-related cooperation.

Moderator & Panel