Hybrid Warfare

On Not-So-New Warfare: Political Warfare vs Hybrid Threats
Frank Hoffman
War on the Rocks | July 28, 2014

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine challenges our traditional Western concepts of warfare. The current crisis, pitting the national government against separatists, Russian ultra-nationalists, proxy fighters and possibly Russian GRU personnel, does not fit neat Western categories of “war.” In one sense it’s a civil war, or perhaps a proxy war that pits Ukraine against Russia. Current doctrine tries to separate conflict into two boxes, irregular and conventional. General Barno, in this journal, recently referred to this crisis as an example of a shadow war, worthy of greater study. He correctly notes that war is morphing beyond our current conceptions. The evolving character of contemporary conflict has presented an intellectual challenge that has perplexed security analysts and forward thinking scholars for some time.

Lately, the term “political warfare” has been raised to describe ambiguous and nebulous conflicts that fall outside the neat intellectual box we have ascribed to “war.” Max Boot approvingly cited usage of the term political warfare from a State Department memo written by George Kennan at the dawn of the Cold War in 1948. Boot seeks to gain the “hearts and minds” of populations in the Middle East, and integrated covert actions targeting key foreign institutions. Other scholars including Dr. Michael Noonan of the Foreign Policy Research Institute have suggested that the concept of political warfare is worth exploring as a means of reducing our exposure and maximizing U.S. influence. In his words,

While the publics’ mood for involvement in further overseas adventures is less than sanguine, it still remains important for the United States to at least try to be able to shape events on the ground overseas with as little force as possible or else live with the consequences of outcomes that may call for the use of more force down the road.

Words have meaning (or should), and I find the term imprecise—if not redundant—in one important sense: if all wars are political in their purpose (as the famous Prussian soldier-scholar Carl von Clausewitz insisted), what is different about this phenomenon referred to by thinkers like Kennan, Boot, and Noonan? Second, “warfare” has been used by military scholars to address the physical conduct of war or the fighting and violent aspects of war. But there is no violence or lethal force in the kinds of political activity Kennan listed. His definition included “political alliances, economic measures (such as ERP—the Marshall Plan), and “white” propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of “friendly” foreign elements, “black” psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.” There is no warfare as we know it in these political and economic activities, which is why the term is an oxymoron.

The provenance and formal definition of “political warfare” are also suspect. Kennan was hardly an expert in military theory, nor did he possess a sound foundation for theoretical matters in warfare (he did cite Clausewitz in his memo , but there is a poor correlation between citing the Prussian and understanding him). Still, it is no surprise that a serious student of Russian affairs found comfort in the term. Before the Cold War, during it, and well after, the Russians were facile with the admixture of political, economic and criminal activities. “Mr. X” knew their history and their tool kit.

However, the definition Kennan used, and which Boot and others seem to favor, is also problematic. Kennan defined political warfare, in his broadest definition, as “the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.” Here again, words should matter. The employment of “all means” extends the definition beyond the political or diplomatic component. Secondly, this mode of warfare is limited to contexts “short of war.” If it short of war, then it’s not warfare. Additionally, it is not clear to me that the activities Kennan listed are things one does only short of war. Moreover, many of the activities cited by Kennan (propaganda, sanctions, subversion, etc.) do not stop when a war officially begins. So both sides of this term are resistant to common understanding and the definition defies logic.

The immediate goal of Kennan’s memo was approval for a Directorate for Political Warfare inside the State Department. As such, the memo raised the issue of where to situate the government’s capacity in the U.S. security framework. We face the same question today. If political warfare warrants an American counter, where should it be located within our national security architecture? Where are the experts in this field, and how are they organized and structured? Boot, like Kennan, favors centering the effort inside the State Department, which I fear dooms the entire enterprise to memo writing.

Another term is for adversaries employing complex and violent combinations is hybrid threats, a construct developed by the Marine Corps a decade ago. The concept was derived from historical analyses and references in foreign literature regarding a deliberate blending and blurring of modes of warfare. The term was adopted in Service and DOD documents including the 2006 and 2010 Quadrennial Defense Reviews. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and leading military intellectuals like Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster used this term to describe the complex and evolving character of conflict. The term has been used in Marine planning documents, Navy strategies, Army doctrine, and British assessments of contemporary conflict. It also appears in the National Intelligence Council’s assessment of global trends. Senior military leaders have used the term, including the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, who observed that his Service needs to come to grips with:

…one of the most costly lessons it has learned over the last decade: how to deal with the challenge of hybrid warfare. It will be increasingly common for the army to operate in environments with both regular military and irregular paramilitary or civilian adversaries, with the potential for terrorism, criminality and other complications.

My own definition of hybrid threats is very close to how General Odierno defined it. Hybrid threats are “Any adversary that simultaneously employs a tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the same time and battlespace to obtain their political objectives.”

This captures both states and non-state actors, who employ four different modes of conflict within a theater or battlespace. However, other definitions exist that focus more on composite scenarios where multiple actors are operating.

This definition adequately represents what the Russians (and their Chechen mercenaries and Ossetian militias) did in Georgia in 2008, and it dovetails quite well with how the Russians are fighting in Ukraine. For this reason, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia of conducting “hybrid warfare” in an interview recently. The criminal aspects of the Ukrainian situation are not as evident so far, but the catastrophic terrorism posed by the shooting down of MH17 is obvious (even if the incident is a gross accident). Anne Applebaum, a student of Russian affairs, recognized Putin’s purportedly new form of warfare as “masked warfare,” part of the KGB or GRU’s traditional bag of KGB “dirty tricks” demonstrated in Ukraine. Clearly, however, the Russians, like the Iranians and Hezbollah, are evolving and incorporating more violent and lethal conventional capabilities, blended with tactics we have associated with terrorists or irregular conflict. The categorization of these operations as Putin’s “new warfare” is partially correct, but perhaps better captured by hybrid rather than political or “new.”

The problem with the hybrid threats definition is that it focuses on combinations of tactics associated with violence and warfare (except for criminal acts) but completely fails to capture other non-violent actions. Thus, it does not address instruments including economic and financial acts, subversive political acts like creating or covertly exploiting trade unions and NGOs as fronts, or information operations using false websites and planted newspaper articles. It also fails to address what a pair of Chinese Army Colonels discussed in their book titled Unrestricted Warfare (really War without Borders) that was explicitly critical of Western and American conceptions of war. That concept included diplomatic and financial and information tools as part of a larger conception of warfare. More recently, Chinese explorations of three warfares build off the earlier Chinese military analysts. Where do “lawfare” and some forms of cyber espionage or warfare fit in?

What is provocatively refreshing about the term “political warfare” is that it makes one think. In this journal, David Maxwell, a retired Army Special Forces Colonel, has studied this issue, and cited Kennan’s memo. When such strategically-minded students of war find utility in this construct, it’s worth reconsidering. While I prefer “hybrid threats” to describe the opponent, I think that Maxwell’s “unconventional warfare,” with an updated definition that incorporates aspects of contemporary conflict, might be adapted to capture today’s evolution. Activities traditionally included within subversion and counter-subversion can be added to the definition to make it sufficiently robust. Perhaps “unconventional conflict” is a compromise that expands the concept beyond a narrow military vision of warfare.

This discussion leads to a set of crucial questions:

  • Who is studying this challenge today with any rigor and how well resourced is the effort?
  • Exactly which activities should be incorporated in the definition, and exactly which left out?
  • Is the term “unconventional conflict” or “operations” better than “warfare”?
  • Where should the loci of U.S. capability and conceptual/doctrinal development exist: Defense, State, Intelligence, or something uniquely joint/interagency?
  • Is the United States organized and prepared for these contingencies and tactics, and how important are they?

Surprisingly, despite hybrid examples like Hezbollah in 2006 and Georgia in 2008 (and 30 years against evolving Middle East terrorists), unconventional warfare or hybrid threats are not mentioned in key defense planning documents, including the Quadrennial Defense Review. I doubt the National Defense Panel will pick up the challenge either. We have retreated from gray area conflicts and Shadow Wars to chase the next big shiny thing, whether it’s the rise of robotic warfare or some imaginary, long shot disruptive threat. Unconventional warfare challenges should certainly be addressed in the next iteration of the National Security Strategy, but I would not hold my breath. General Barno and David Maxwell have identified a critical shortfall in our approach to this challenge. These threats are not new, but our vulnerability to them is more acute than we realize.

The shortfall is not just within the U.S. military’s conception of conflict: our entire national security community is chasing its tail on vague transnational challenges and climate change. We are too narrowly focused on more traditional but increasingly rare modes of warfare, and overlooking the unconventional approaches used by our Russian and Chinese competitors. They do not delude themselves with neat orthodoxies about categories and Clausewitzian models about how “real wars” are fought and won. Neither should we.

Frank Hoffman is a retired Reserve Marine officer and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic Research at the National Defense University. These comments are his own and do not reflect the policy or position of the Department of Defense.



‘You Can Conquer Vast Territories Without Big Armies’
How Russia’s war with the West will continue, even if Ukraine goes quiet
Richard Palmer
theTrumpet.com | July 14, 2014

When was the last time you saw Ukraine on the front page of a newspaper? It’s been a while. Ukraine signed a deal with the West, and its army seems to be getting the eastern districts under control. It seems like everything’s calming down.

With Russia involved, we can’t take that for granted. Even if it is true, Russia’s war with the West will go on, but in a much subtler form.

”In the 21st century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace,” Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov wrote in the Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer (Military-Industrial Courier) last year. “Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template.”

Gerasimov’s article, translated by Robert Coalson of Radio Free Europe and published by the clinical professor of global affairs at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, Dr. Mark Galeotti, on his blog In Moscow’s Shadows, is one of several pieces written by Russian experts that demonstrate Russia’s new thinking on warfare.

This new warfare is not a matter for soldiers alone. In traditional thinking, you are either at war or at peace with an enemy nation. In the new Russian doctrine, if complete peace is represented by the color white and all-out war by black, then between lies nearly an infinite number of shades of gray.

“The very ‘rules of war’ have changed,” Gerasimov wrote. “The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.” He continued (emphasis added throughout):

The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures—applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.
All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special-operations forces. The open use of forces—often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation—is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.

This is exactly what we saw in Crimea and Ukraine. Russian-controlled tv blared out the constant message that the new government in Kiev was packed with Nazis. Then Russia used special forces in disguise to take over the Crimean Peninsula, catching the West by surprise. This led to the rigged referendum and eventual annexation of Crimea into Russia.

“No matter what forces the enemy has, no matter how well-developed his forces and means of armed conflict may be, forms and methods for overcoming them can be found.”
— Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov

The core of Gerasimov’s message is that Russia must use every means it can find to fight these new kinds of battle. “In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter what forces the enemy has, no matter how well-developed his forces and means of armed conflict may be, forms and methods for overcoming them can be found,” he wrote. “He will always have vulnerabilities and that means that adequate means of opposing him exist.”

This is not a one-off article from Gerasimov. Just a few days ago, the same Russian military paper carried another article, this time by retired Major-General Vasily Burenok, president of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences. Burenok’s theme is communication as a weapon for Russia.

Discussing the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (darpa’s) 2015 program, Burenok writes that darpa is “well aware” that “information is becoming a source of pressure and domination,” according to a translation included in the article published in the Eurasia Daily Monitor.

“Modern political scientists armed with informatics tools can actively shape public opinion to manipulate the mind,” he wrote, noting that a successful nation brings stability through the “skillful manipulation of the perception of events.”

News and information, to Russia, is a major tool in its latest form of warfare.

We saw this in Ukraine, where Russia whipped those who relied on Russian-tv stations for their news into a paranoid frenzy about the so-called “Nazi-Junta” in Kiev.

At the same time, RT (formerly Russia Today) did its best as Russia’s key weapon in taking this media war to the West. Part of the state-owned news organization ria Novosti, RT is Russia’s “best propaganda machine for the outside world” according to former Putin adviser Andrei Illarionov. It pours out a form of mental poison, where everything it writes is either true, or nearly true, but often with key facts omitted, and always with a subtle spin that makes Russia the saint and the West the source of all evil. It frequently hosts anti-American conspiracy theorists, giving them free rein to pour out their mixture of truth and error.

Prolonged exposure produces a thoroughly warped understanding of world events. (Of course, Western media have their biases too, but they’re not government-run as part of the nation’s war effort—their biases run in other directions.) As Lithuanian Minister for Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius put it, the “Russia Today propaganda machine is no less destructive than military marching in Crimea.”

The discovery that Russia was paying people to leave pro-Russian comments on news websites revealed another part of this effort. Social media has become a battle ground between pro- and anti-Ukraine bloggers—though the pro-Ukraine writers tend to be genuine nationalists, while some of Russia’s are a more formal part of the war effort. It is all designed to undermine support for any robust action against Russia in the West.

The Russian Othodox Church, as Jeremiah Jacques recently covered, is also part of the war effort, with its leader, Kirilli, reportedly a former kgb agent. It’s another way for Russia to “manipulate the mind” of its near neighbors. So in Ukraine, we see a religious war going on too. Many of the Ukrainian nationalists split away from the Moscow-controlled Russian Orthodox Church in the ’90s. Now, even the branch that remains may break away.

At a higher level, Russia carries on the same warfare using its business contacts and lobbyists. Russia makes it clear to any company that wants to trade with Russia that it will lose out badly if sanctions are bad or if relations between Russia and its country deteriorate too much. Individuals that benefit from Russian business are also mobilized to fight for Russia.

Oil and gas have long been blackmail and coercion tools in this warfare. Stratfor’s Robert Kaplan reported that Romanian President Traian Basescu recently told him that in the 21st century, Gazprom is more dangerous than the Russian Army.

This is Russia’s new kind of warfare. “The soldiers of this war are spies and criminals, cynical lobbyists and gullible commentators, businesses desperate to make a profit from Russia and populations eager not to see themselves engaged in any civilizational struggle,” Dr. Galeotti wrote.

One of the names this new type of Russian warfare has been given is “nonlinear war,” after a phrase one of Putin’s closest advisers, Vladislav Surkov, used in a short story he published on March 12 as Russia took over Crimea.

“It was the first nonlinear war,” he wrote, in his science fiction piece. “In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries. Two groups of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. No. All against all.”

“And what coalitions!” he continues. “Not like the ones you had before… It was rare for whole countries to enter. A few provinces would join one side, a few others a different one. One town or generation or gender would join yet another. Then they could switch sides, sometimes mid-battle.”

It is possible to read too much into Surkov’s short story, but this is part of what Russia’s new warfare tries to do—turn as many parts of the enemy against him as possible.

Kaplan’s interviews with government officials in Romania and Moldova show that these countries are aware, and fearful, of this new nonlinear war.

Nato’s commitment to collective defense “protects Romanian and other Eastern European countries against a military invasion,” Romania’s presidential national security adviser, Iulian Fota, told Kaplan, “but it does not protect them against subversion.”

A more local leader, county council president of Iasi in Eastern Romania, Cristian Mihai Adomnitei, articulated the nation’s fear best: “In his heart, [Putin] is a Bolshevik,” he told Kaplan. “He knows that you can conquer vast territories without big armies.”

Across the border in Moldova, another local politician, Cecilia Graur, told Kaplan that “everyone is afraid. The situation in eastern Ukraine could happen here. We all know this because of our own divisions.”

In Moldova, Russia can bring all these features of nonlinear warfare to bear. Their economy is heavily dependent on Russia. They buy their gas from Russia. Corruption is widespread. Several breakaway minorities are ready to call out to Russia for help. There are even Russian “peacekeeping” soldiers in a breakaway part of Moldova. No wonder Kaplan concluded his piece by writing: “I fear for Moldova.”

Of course, much of this “new” kind of warfare is not really new—almost all the aspects it includes have long existed. Russia has used many of these tactics for years. Maybe the recent articles in Russia’s military press are more of an attempt by the military to take control of Russia’s already existing nonlinear warfare than to introduce a new concept.

Perhaps the most successful practitioner of many of its tenants was the Kaiserreich, the Germany of World War i. During the war, it helped Hindu terrorists attempt to launch an uprising against the British in India, and tried to lead the Muslims on a holy war against the British Empire—with the Kaiser even pretending to have converted to Islam. It helped distribute propaganda to support both these causes.

These efforts proved disappointing, but its most successful stroke came in 1917, when it allowed a Russian revolutionary named Vladimir Lenin to travel from Switzerland to Russia through Germany, and even funded his mission. In the upheaval of the Russian Revolution, Lenin took control of Russia and his government surrendered to Germany, ceding 1.3 million square miles of territory—a huge chunk of Russia’s most valuable territory and 2.5 percent of the Earth’s total land area.

On these occasions, Germany was officially at war with the powers it unleashed its nonlinear warfare against. But it shows Europe is familiar with the techniques involved, and the potential it holds.

But Western media isn’t. Or rather, Western readers, especially in America, aren’t interested. “Moldova” and “Transnistria” are merely foreign sounding words. Articles on the spread of Russian influence in Eastern Europe are page-turners only in the sense that they cause many readers to turn the page without reading anything more.

And so, assuming Ukraine continues to quiet down, war with Russia will disappear from our news. But that war is not over. Instead, Russia will be using more subtle means to bring down its opponents. As General Gerasimov wrote, “The open use of forces … is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.” Until that stage is reached, American media won’t be interested.

Of course, America does some of this well. But Dr. Galeotti compiled a good list of the differences between Russia’s nonlinear war and America’s:

First of all, the Kremlin appears far more conscious and strategic about its play. Although I do not believe there is some grand plan, some long-term design sitting in a file in Putin’s desk, complete with “Russia’s 2020 boundaries” inked in red, there clearly is a sharper sense of what the Kremlin wants to happen tomorrow and the day after. … There is a stronger sense of the ideological and practical direction of policy than the West—and above all the United States—appears willing or, given the vicissitudes of democratic politics, able to develop.

Secondly, this is a more clearly self-interested policy. To greater or lesser extents, the West is perennially torn between a genuinely moral geopolitical stance, which regards spreading democracy, ending wars and socioeconomic development as “good things” in their own right, and also national pragmatism, often cloaked in that idealistic mission. Often, you can find these contradictions within the very same agency. … Although the Kremlin is not entirely pragmatic … it is certainly uninhibited by any need to worry about doing good.

Finally, Russia is just especially good at this “special war.” Dirty tricks and covert operations have been around as long as history, and the West has a good number of successes of its own, such as the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. However, at a time when the U.S. intelligence community appears torn between paramilitarization and a dependence on electronic means, Russia’s capacity to blend direct “kinetic action” with propaganda, economic pressure, espionage and bribery, combined with a clearer-eyed ruthlessness, means that, to use one of the British Foreign Office’s favored terms, it can “punch well above its weight.”

So Russia will continue to fight. Gas pipelines in Bulgaria, a presidential visit to Austria, and fighter jets in Iraq are different parts of this war effort. Central and Eastern Europe will continue to feel the pressure from Russia—and Europe will continue to respond to that pressure. This will linger until Europe is forced to form a united front against Russia. That won’t be easy, but it will be the only way to defeat the divide-and-conquer tactics of Russia’s nonlinear war.

In this way, Russia’s warfare will continue to reshape Europe in weeks and months ahead.



Russia’s Information-Centric Warfare Strategy: Re-defining the Battlespace
Roger McDermott
Eurasia Daily Monitor | Volume: 11 Issue: 123 – July 8, 2014

Russian military theorists, experts, commentators and officials have long shown interest in moving the country’s military toward information or network-centric approaches to warfare. Following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in February–March 2014, which was executed by harnessing a mixture of hard and soft power in what is referred to as “non-linear warfare,” these interests are more fashionable. A recent article in the Russian military press confirmed that some theorists are taking information warfare and network-centric concepts to a new stage—instead of utilizing them to dominate the battlespace, information per se is becoming the battleground itself. Yet, this level of aspiration faces numerous practical challenges in Russia, including tackling corruption in the domestic defense industry as well as redesigning the Armed Forces to fit a potentially important shift in military theory (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, July 2).

First, to highlight elements of new thinking in this theoretical approach, it is necessary to examine the contours of an article by Major-General (retired) Vasily Burenok, President of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, in Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer. Burenok notes the use of information-based assets in conflicts including Yugoslavia, Libya and Ukraine. He refers to this in terms of using informational tools to spread propaganda, chaos and cause destabilization. Sometimes the results of using this means of warfare are unpredictable as in both Libya and Ukraine. However, the author argues that it is important for Russian defense planners to understand the possible implications of this kind of war for Russia’s military-technical policy (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, July 2).

Burenok’s analysis is driven by a comparison with developments in the US, though he does not imply that Moscow needs to compete with Washington. He notes that no accepted model of information warfare exists and offers general observations. Burenok assesses the ways and means to manipulate individual thinking and manage social networks, basing this on an analysis of the published parts of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 2015 program. The aim of that program is to “maintain the technological superiority of the US Armed Forces, preventing the sudden appearance of new means of struggle, support breakthrough research, and the introduction of fundamental science in the military sphere” (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, July 2).

In his article, Burenok expresses interest in specific features of the DARPA 2015 program, which he describes below (as translated from Russian):

  • Social Media in Strategic Communication, to track the “formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes) in social networks, which will continue independently and intentionally initiate campaigns depending on the objectives of the region and US interests.”
  • Program Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales, “associated with the development of applications designed to detect abnormal processes occurring in society, observing inappropriate behavior of individuals and groups of people.”
  • Program Mission-oriented Resilient Clouds, “to ensure the safety of individual server nodes in the cloud and to continue stable operation in situations where components are subject to cyber or physical attacks.”
  • Logan program, “designed to give the US [Department of] Defense advanced warning of cyber-attacks.”
  • Active Cyber Defense, “aimed at establishing technical means upon detection of suspicious activity in real-time means of disinformation that hitters activate, and initiate preventive protective actions by attacking the computer network.”
  • Active-Reactive Cyber Systems, “for the development of technologies that allow nodes, systems and networks to actively identify threats and dynamically respond to cyber-attacks.

Burenok suggests that DARPA is “well aware” that “information is becoming a source of pressure and domination. Modern political scientists armed with informatics tools can actively shape public opinion to manipulate the mind.” In such warfare, Burenok notes, the winner will be the one possessing the best network, enabling the “easy and smooth flow of information,” transforming this to a form and content most suited for the aggressor. This involves “skillful manipulation of the perception of events,” which will become a guarantee of stability. Burenok represents the modern battlefield as the information space itself (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, July 2). His vision for Russian information warfare—network-centric, electronic and cyberwar—is one of integration, while recognizing the need to conceptualize this before the next ten-year state armaments program.

Much of the responsibility for modernizing information assets under the defense ministry falls on the joint stock company Voyentelekom, which in turn is part of the holding company Oboronservis. However, Voyentelekom has been hit by a major corruption scandal with many of its former executives under investigation for large-scale fraud. Its former head, Nikolai Tamodin, was arrested on September 23, 2013 and is still in detention, with a recent Moscow court order extending his confinement by two months to mid-July. Some former employees of Voyentelekom recently wrote to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about large-scale corruption in the company while pointing to the strategic importance of its work. The letter also reminded Shoigu that the company has lost “almost all” of its branch directors and senior officers at various levels due to the corruption scandal (CNews, Telekom, July 1).

Voyentelekom’s Director-General Aleksandr Davydov, recently referred to the “nonfulfillment” of contracts in the State Defense Order as reflecting the deeper problems experienced by the company in recent years. Davydov characterizes nonfulfillment as an ongoing problem, but adds, “Since their overdue handover is costing us serious losses, the majority of them will be concluded this summer. That is, we shall fulfill practically all obligations to the defense ministry that we undertook in the period 2011–2012.” This mainly relates to the defense ministry’s “digitization” project as well as repair of electronic warfare equipment (Interfax, June 11).  The existing problems with noncompliance of contracts in the State Defense Order and corruption within Voyentelekom may inhibit the kind of breakthroughs envisaged by Burenok.

Burenok sees developments in “informationizing” modern warfare in a number of conflicts, including the current one in Ukraine. But he calls for an integrated approach that will result in placing the information space at its center, so that “the most diverse, unrelated ideological, social, civil, economic, ethnological, migration processes are manipulated by external operators in order to achieve specific goals.” That aspiration seems a long way off, yet Moscow’s application of a force mixture in Crimea and subsequent efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine suggest that experimentation will continue to be the main feature of Russian military transformation in the years ahead.


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