Small Wars Journal

A U.S. Battlefield Victory Against Russia’s ‘Little Green Men’

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 12:08am

A U.S. Battlefield Victory Against Russia’s ‘Little Green Men’ by Tod Lindberg – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military has created a new precedent for how to counter Russian “hybrid war.” Set in a murky clash of arms in Syria in early February, and one averted in March, this precedent—you might even call it a “red line”—will reverberate from the Middle East to the Black and Baltic seas.

The problem is the appearance on your territory of what defense-policy wonks call “little green men.” They come heavily armed and dressed for combat. They operate at the direction of a government, Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Yet they wear no insignia, and their sponsors deny any control over them. Operating outside the laws of war, they pursue Russian political ends such as the illegal takeover of Crimea and the dismemberment of Ukraine. Via a Russian mercenary paramilitary company called Wagner Group, they have turned up to support Russian ends in Syria as well.

Hybrid war, in the popular conception, encompasses all sorts of irregular conflict, from little green men to cyberdisruption to information operations. Its point is the pursuit of political ends by means not readily traceable to their origin. It seeks conflict without accountability. It probes the question of how much gain is possible short of regular military means. As such, it poses particular challenges to deterrence and wartime accountability. These challenges are of especially great and increasing interest in Europe’s east, from Finland and Sweden through the Baltics, Poland and Ukraine, on to the Balkans. What to do? …

Read on.