The gray zone is an operating environment in which aggressors use ambiguity and leverage non-attribution 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 leads to a dichotomy between two types of hybrid threats that can mainly be attributed to the need for ambiguity and non-attribution in the gray zone. The two types of hybrid threats are “open-warfare hybrid threats” and “gray-zone hybrid threats.” A case in point is Russia’s military actions in eastern Ukraine, part of what the Kremlin calls its “New Generation Warfare.” In this MWI report, Capt. John Chambers draws on this case study to recommend ways the US Army can improve its capacity to counter ongoing as well as future gray-zone hybrid threats.

Read full report here.

Capt. John Chambers is an instructor of American politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the US Military Academy at West Point. The views in this report are the author’s and do not represent those of the Department of Defense or the US Army.

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