Hybrid War: Old Concept, New Techniques
While the means by which state and non-state actors conduct hybrid war today have changed, the fundamental principle of utilizing a combination of conventional and irregular methods to achieve a political objective is consistent with older forms of conflict. This blending has historic examples in the American Revolution with George Washington’s Continental Army and robust militia forces; the Napoleonic Wars where British regulars challenged French control of major Spanish cities, while Spanish guerrillas attacked their lines of communication; and the Arab Revolt where the British Army combined conventional operations in Palestine with irregular forces under British operational control.[i] However, despite having its roots in history, modern hybrid war has the potential to transform the strategic calculations of potential belligerents due to the rise of non-state actors, information technology, and the proliferation of advanced weapons systems.
The unipolar moment that has persisted since the fall of the Soviet Union has given rise to an international system in which unconventional challenges to the idea of traditional state-on-state war are increasingly prevalent. The preponderance of American military power has tempered conflicts in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the South China Sea, but has given rise to a method of war that attempts to leverage the weaknesses of conventional military structure. Where wars traditionally have regular and irregular components in different areas of operation, modern hybrid war has the tendency to combine these aspects. Modern hybrid war practitioners apply “conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, and terrorist acts including indiscriminate violence, coercion, and criminal activity” simultaneously.[ii] Under this model, war takes place in a variety of operating environments, has synchronous effects across multiple battlefields, and is marked by asymmetric tactics and techniques.[iii] These tactics are difficult to defeat for militaries that lack the flexibility to shift mindsets on a constant basis, especially since the interconnected nature of modern society is such that hybrid war takes place on three distinct battlefields: the conventional battlefield, the indigenous population of the conflict zone, and the international community.[iv]
Major powers have historically sponsored irregular fighters and non-state actors in the execution of broader military campaigns, and modern examples such as Iranian support to Hezbollah and other Shia militant groups are continuations of these policies. The Israel-Hezbollah War of 2006 showed that although the concept of hybrid war in this fashion is not novel, some of the sophistication and lethality of non-state actors, along with their ability to persist within the modern state system, is a new occurrence.
Hybrid organizations such as Hezbollah are well armed and equipped due to the availability of technologically advanced weapon systems at low prices and pre-existing commercial technologies such as cell phone and digital networks.[v] During the Israel-Hezbollah War of 2006, decentralized cells composed of guerrillas and regular troops armed with precision guided missiles, short and medium range rockets, armed unmanned aerial vehicles, and advanced improvised explosive devices executed an irregular urban campaign against a conventional Israeli opponent.[vi] With Iranian Quds Force operatives as mentors and suppliers of advanced systems, Hezbollah cells downed Israeli helicopters, damaged Merkava IV tanks, communicated with encrypted cell phones, and monitored Israeli troops movements with night vision and thermal imaging devices.[vii] Hezbollah leveraged information technology as fighters immediately uploaded and distributed battlefield pictures and videos in near real-time, dominating the battle of perception throughout the operation.[viii] The Israeli military did not lose the war in 2006 on the conventional battlefield, but did little to alter the strategic environment in Southern Lebanon and lost the information campaign as the overwhelming perception within the international community was of Israeli military defeat at the hands of Hezbollah.
Apart from the increased effectiveness and lethality of non-state actors within hybrid war, the symbiotic relationship between sponsor and client is another variable that differentiates modern hybrid war from traditional forms of conflict. The Syrian Civil War and spread of Islamic State (IS) presents a complex strategic challenge to Iran and Hezbollah as modern hybrid war practitioners. Iran cannot afford to lose its link to its non-state proxy in Lebanon as its means by which to accomplish foreign policy goals in the Levant if forces not amiable to Iran dominate Syria. At the same time, Hezbollah cannot afford to lose that same link to its principle supporter, lest it forfeits its ability to remain relevant as a pseudo state within Lebanon. Therefore, while Iran has been supplying advisors, weapons, and equipment to Shia groups in Syria, it also compelled Hezbollah to send 2,000 fighters into the conflict zone as it simultaneously orchestrates a modern hybrid war within Syria.[ix]
The Israel-Hezbollah War and the Syrian Civil War also show how modern hybrid war increasingly focuses on non-state entities within the state system. Just as Clausewitz made an assumption that the belligerents in war are hierarchically organized states, the dominant force within traditional hybrid war examples has been the state.[x] However, non-state and sub-state actors are the focal points in modern hybrid wars as proxies for state sponsors at certain times, but also executing their own independent policies. It was the policy of Hassan Nasrullah, rather than Iran, of kidnapping Israeli troops that led Israel to war with a non-state actor. Furthermore, the spread of IS to Iraq was initially a non-state executing a hybrid war against a conventional Iraqi military. However, this has transformed to the state of Iraq executing its own version of hybrid war utilizing non-state, sub-state, and international actors to counter IS advances. In addition, one of the arms of Iraq’s hybrid war, the United States, is executing its own hybrid war against IS through a combination of traditional air power, advisors to Iraqi government troops, Kurdish peshmerga, and sectarian militias, and training opposition forces within Syria. In the end, the Iraq-Syria hybrid war is not one hierarchical entity against another, but rather an interconnected group of state and non-state actors pursuing somewhat overlapping goals where the “social and political context is complex and the state is weak.”[xi]
Modern hybrid war that simultaneously combines conventional, irregular, and terrorist components is a complex challenge that requires an adaptable and versatile military to overcome. The United States has increasingly focused on counterinsurgency doctrine in the wake of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, insurgency alone is not the singular challenge against which the United States must structure its military. Clausewitz stated, “Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions.”[xii] It is important that the United States, and other global powers, do not focus on insurgency as the war of the post-Cold War era. On the contrary, the commander of a military fighting a hybrid war will need to leverage a wide range of capabilities including conventional high intensity conflict units, decentralized special operations forces, and sophisticated information operations and technology platforms. The concept of hybrid war is not new, but its means are increasingly sophisticated and deadly, and require a response in kind.
Filkins, Dexter. “The Shadow Commander.” New Yorker. Vol. 89, Issue 30.
Grant, Greg. “Hybrid Wars.” Government Executive. May 2008, Vol. 40 Issue 5, p. 18-24.
Hoffman, Frank. Conflict in the 21st Century: The Rise of Hybrid War. Arlington: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 2007.
McCuen, John J. “Hybrid Wars.” Military Review. Mar/Apr 2008, Vol. 88 Issue 2, p. 107-113.
Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Edited by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.
Schroefl, Joseph and Stuart Kaufman. “Hybrid Actors, Tactical Variety: Rethinking Asymmetric and Hybrid War.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 37:10, p. 862-880.
[i] Frank Hoffman, Conflict in the 21st Century: The Rise of Hybrid War, (Arlington: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 2007), 20-22.
[ii] Ibid, 8.
[iii] Ibid, 24.
[iv] John, J. McCuen, “Hybrid Wars,” Military Review, Mar/Apr 2008, Vol. 88 Issue 2, 107.
[v] Greg Grant, “Hybrid Wars,” Government Executive, May 2008, Vol. 40 Issue 5, 20.
[vi] Hoffman, 35-38.
[vii] Grant, 18.
[viii] Hoffman, 38-39.
[ix] Dexter Filkins, “The Shadow Commander,” New Yorker, Vol. 89, Issue 30, 3.
[x] Joseph Schroefl and Stuart Kaufman, “Hybrid Actors, Tactical Variety: Rethinking Asymmetric and Hybrid War,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 37:10, 863.
[xi] Ibid, 863.
[xii] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Edited by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 593.
About the Author(s)
Putin is missing in action---MIA somewhere in Russia.
Key indicator of something being wrong as their trolls for over one year have never been silent:
The silence of the Kremlin super-trolls is deafening. Non a word on twitter, https://twitter.com/christogrozev/lists/kremlinbots …, nor on their blogs.
AND nothing from any major Russian journalist or media outlet as well.
Are you familiar with the Gerasimov Doctrine of AMBIGUOUS WARFARE, which appears to be working splendidly for Putin?
Russian Army General Valeriy Gerasimov articulated this doctrine in 2013 at the Russian Academy of Military Science’s annual meeting. In 2014, his doctrine was officially adopted as Russian Military Doctrine. Was anyone in NATO paying attention?
Putin has since enacted almost every single plank of Gerasimov’s doctrine.
Gerasimov builds his concept of AMBIGUOUS WARFARE out of the doctrine of COERCIVE DIPLOMACY, which Thomas Schelling discusses in detail in his classic work on the subject, citing examples from the Comanche in North America to the Mongols of Ghengis Khan. CD is the precurser of hybrid war and ambiguous warfare. Its orgins are found in tribal wars and tribal conflicts.
Do they still teach Keith Otterbein's ANTHROPOLOGY OF WAR at JH's SAIS?
Coercive diplomacy and ambiguous warfare FAIL, as the scholar of war doctrine, Seymour Brown, points out, when open war breaks out. Putin knows that neither NATO nor the EU will engage him or his proxy Army in OPEN war.
In your "hybrid model," you don't take account of the current RUSSIAN practice of AMBIGUOUS WARFARE. Yet, Putin and his General are proving to be masterful shadow commanders.
Like many commentators, I don’t see us (NATO/EU) responding effectively to those who are ACTUALLY practicing what you appear to be preaching—namely Putin's ambiguous warfare.
Editor's note: This is the longest text ever published by The Moscow Times. We've decided to publish it because it describes in detail a key Russian narrative, of how the Kremlin rules the country with the help of the controlled media. It is a bitter story of how the Russian media, with very few exceptions, have abandoned, sometimes through coercion, but mostly voluntarily and even eagerly, their mission of informing the public and have turned into creators of the Matrix-like artificial reality where imaginary heroes and villains battle tooth and nail in Russia's Armageddon.
Russian "informational conflict" at work--perfect example of it being run by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
If one takes the time to fully read the 1994 Budapest Memorandum it states quiet clearly that the territorial integrity of the Ukraine is protected by those that signed the memorandum.
THEN read this Russian FM statement on the Memorandum and you will notice a complete different version being laid out--this is a typical Russian disinformation move and it gets then picked up by the various Russian trolls and media outlets and then gets into the "normal media reporting cycle".
Notice the sentence "we have not fired on Ukrainian territory" or the sentence "there is not a shred of evidence our military is in the Ukraine" flies totally in the face of open source analysis work done by social media bloggers for over one year and the US released photos taken near Debaltseve.
A great example of Russia disinformation at work and it is effective.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich answers a media question about the situation around the Budapest Memorandum
Question: Lately, some Ukrainian and Western officials and media outlets have again begun talking about Russia’s alleged violation of its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, adopted following Ukraine’s accession to the NPT. It is being asserted that Russia has thereby impaired the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Could you comment on this?
Alexander Lukashevich: I would advise those wishing to speculate on the subject of Russia’s alleged violation of its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum to at the very least read the text of this document first.
As a matter of fact, only one of the memorandum’s aspects concerns the NPT. In this document, Russia reaffirmed its obligation not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As far as we are aware, the only one who has questioned the honest implementation of this obligation is a former Ukrainian defense minister. This has not occurred to anybody else. So any attempts to link the Ukrainian events to the NPT are knowingly unfounded and unscrupulous. Those who are making such insinuations on this subject are in fact eroding the regime established by the Treaty.
In the memorandum, we also undertook to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity or political independence. And this provision has been fully observed. Not a single shot was fired on its territory during which, or before, the people of Crimea and Sevastopol were making crucial decisions on the status of the peninsula. The overwhelming majority of the population of Crimea and Sevastopol, in a free expression of their will, exercised their right to self-determination, and Crimea returned to Russia.
As for the ongoing attempts to accuse us of military interference in the events in southeastern Ukraine, the authors of these claims have not presented a shred of conclusive evidence yet.
Furthermore, neither in the Budapest Memorandum, nor in any other document, has Russia pledged to force a section of Ukraine to remain as part of the country against the will of the local population. The loss of Ukraine’s territorial integrity has resulted from complicated internal processes, which Russia and its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum have nothing to do with.
March 12, 2015
For those that have been following intently the Russian non linear warfare from the Crimea onwards---
Another single point of failure within that doctrine is what happens if "success" is not immediate and then one has to go the full down the road approach meaning you get hit with massive sanctions, your banking industry is on the verge of total failure, the military is taking higher than thought losses and on and on.
Putin has been out of sight since 5 March, photos released yesterday evidently of him meeting someone yesterday were proven by social media to be fake within two hours after their released, then journalists were told to stay in Moscow this weekend for a large important announcement.
RUMINT is flying everywhere and no one has any ideas where "Waldo" is????
Then about seven hours ago this starts drifting out of Moscow.
#BREAKING: Unconfirmed: #Putin's personal security service commander Viktor Zolotov is rumoured to have been killed. pic.twitter.com/C4AeH03irc
Zolotov is directly loyal to Putin and not part of the other security circles in the Kremlin. (Stratfor)
@anders_aslund: Major power battle. Putin, Kadyrov, MVD, Sechin vs Ivanov, FSB, Patrushev, Bortnikov, FSO, Naryshkin, Orthodox Church
This is the core problem for a single leader nation driving non linear warfare---if success is not immediate then one better have a really long term plan in mind.
The effects of Russian "informational conflict" on a target civil society.
Russia has shown its mastery of propaganda war. Ukraine is struggling to catch up
Great video --over 1.24 hrs long from CSIS on Russian hybrid warfare in the Ukraine-with the latest Russian weapons--well worth the listening to.
#HybridWar in Ukraine: Lessons Learned http://youtube.com/watch?v=8WA1rP5WGfY … pic.twitter.com/rYSiJ6Zesz
Interesting takeaway from one of the points being made:
"Ironically, the most successful Western sanction has been in preventing a friendly country from defending itself."
To understand the disinformation being throw out by Russia in it's "informational conflict" in non-linear warfare ---one needs to have read Orwell's 1984 and how he used the term "doublespeak".
Here is a great example of that Russian doublespeak---providing assistance to the Ukraine and non lethal military supplies is a "violation" of Minsk 2 BUT Russia continuing to send in troops, tanks and heavy weapons confirmed again yesterday and upping their number of troops inside the Ukraine from 12K to over now 16K is NOT a Minsk 2 violation--go figure.
#Russia once again says "supplying weapons to Ukraine and providing military assistance [is] violation" of #Minsk agreement.
Great research article on the Russian Information Warfare:
War by non-military means - Understanding Russian IW (pdf) via @FOIResearch
More Russian doublespeak---Russia demanded that OSCE be part and parcel of the Minsk monitoring--not UN not EU.
They then complained there were not enough monitors and that they needed more --then OSCE approves more BUT then this today:
Mandate for @OSCE_SMM renewed by consensus for 1 yr; Russia pleads poverty on budget, blocks efforts to boost funding. How embarrassing: after Putin, Lavrov, etc talk a big game about support for @osce_smm, Russia blocks effort to boost funding.
But then Russia still does not allow OSCE monitors on all Russian border crossing points and their mercenaries still do not allow monitoring in their areas--OSCE UAVs are still being jammed by Russian jammers.
More on the Russian "informational conflict".
Eliot Higgins @EliotHiggins
This new @Bellingcat article seems to have really riled up the trolls, who knew puppies could have that effect? https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/03/11/vreditel-sobak… …
Novaya Gazeta Publishes List of Kremlin Trolls, Finds Further Information About 'Troll Farm' http://www.interpretermag.com/russia-update-march-12-2015/ …
While the Russian non-linear warfare places great emphasis on masking operations and "informational conflict" the western intel agencies have been a big help to the Russian operations due to their failure to confirm or deny simply anything ongoing in the Ukraine.
Over one year has come and gone since Crimea and all that was released were four sat photos---not much for the billions poured into the US agencies and ISR capabilities since 9/11.
Where Russia has had unintended problems and has been very effectively pushed back both on the masking ops side and disinformation side has been open source analysis via a number of social media blog sites with the main one being bellingcat which has caught it's fair share of Russian troll grief.
The art of open source analysis has grown by leaps and bounds and the Russian disinformation ops was forced to repeatedly respond to the social media since western media has virtually failed in it's investigative reporting capabilities.
Never thought I would see geo tagging and confirmation of Russian troops in the Ukraine based on "photos of puppies"---something that even US intel should have been able to do and release as the evidence was all open source.
Evidently even puppies have certain fur coat color pattern characteristics that can be confirmed or denied.
An excellently done open source analysis where puppies play a key role.
Seems that maybe Putin "caught a Russia cold"--who knows--currently he is missing in action since the evening of 5 Mar and the world media is doing it's best to come up with some reason.
Radio Liberty: #Putin spokesman dismisses poor health rumors
http://uatoday.tv/news/radio-liberty-putin-spokesman-dismisses-poor-hea… … pic.twitter.com/DCK55IOPfx
#Putin's sickness must be worse than we thought.
Post-Putin era in the air.
1st RU govt ministers start following me. pic.twitter.com/EtXuUhStBF
Did Putin get felled by a stroke? A roundup of the available rumors swirling around Moscow.
Meanwhile @Ruptly has re-posted this old video of President Putin which is thought to be from a 4th of March meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkBVwq8Xw64 …
Pres Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed that he will not be attend an FSB board meeting today, which he has often attended.
There is definitely something amiss in Moscow this morning--all RUMINT nothing hard.
James Miller @MillerMENA
I'd be very surprised if Putin had a stroke, but there's definitely something going on. This is bizarre
Neben #Putin auch Admin-Chef #Iwanow abgetaucht. Rosneft-Chef #Setschin vor Rücktritt? Was läuft da? https://politikingesellschaft.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/vor-der-wahl-zwi… …
Seems to be some internal turmoil in the land of "non-linear warfare" today.
1. a Russian media source carried the report that Putin has not been seen in public since 5 March and then 30 minutes later the report is retracted quietly......
2. it is being rumored and appears to be true that the CEO of Rosneft is being "replaced" tomorrow--that is a major oligarch change as he was one of the strongest of the oligarch group around Putin and a strong Putin supporter since 2002.
There are also reports coming out of eastern Ukraine today that the Russia military there has been using the Russian mercenaries and "separatists" as bascially "cannon fodder" and their loses as well as Russian military loses in the Debaltseve battle were actually far higher than the western reporting has indicated with a number of Russian units taking heavy loses ie their SF and airborne troops.
Bill--by the way Kerry just indicated the agreement would be "non-binding" --no wonder he was on a massive romp through the ME recently trying to calm down the Sunni Arab states and it is rumored that he was "offering" to place them under the nuclear protection of the US if the Iranians developed nucelar weapons.
No wonder he was so sensitive with the release of the Senators open letter--so the question then begs to be asked--is the "non-binding" agreement really just for someones "legacy"?
Bill C--just a side comment---check the ongoing dispute now between the 47 Republican Senators and the Sec of State over their open letter to Iran.
They opened a can of worms that was actually previously revealed with the Ukrainian events.
Namely to what extent or status does an "agreement signed at the executive level" have--? is it really an international legal binding document for both parties with negative consequences if not adhered to or is it just fluff for the legacy of an executive?
IE the Russians having both signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and now violating it and have openly stated they do not have to abide by it--following the mantra of who cares.
Sec of State Kerry argues that the Senators approach undermines hundreds of signed executive agreements with many countries BUT and this is the super large elephant in the china shop--do the agreements signed at the executive level when it is crunch time actaully bind the US to anything as they are not a recognized from Congress approved treaty which in fact binds the US to that agreement.
I am surprised Kerry is appearing to argue so.
If Kerry is in fact then correct --defensive weapons and US trainers could indeed be sent to the Ukraine to ensure that the "agreement signed at the executive level" namely the defense of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in exchange for giving up 2600 nuclear devices is adhered to.
But the no weapons and trainers decision leds me to believe that such "agreements" mean really nothing these days-- so what was this administration really doing in trying to create such a mechanism with Iran where the control factors are supposed to be in place to prohibt nuclear weapons developments for supposedy the next ten years?
But then what is exactly the US doing with their signed 1994 Budapest Agreement--nothing and it is strangely silent.
It seems that Kerry has just undermined his own Presidents actions in the Ukraine AND at the same time undermined anything to be signed with the Iranians that is not a true treaty as is the case with "agreements" especially since agreements with the violation of the US Budapest Agreement appear to carry no official punitive weight.
Maybe this is the small secret about what is being envisioned to be signed with the Iranians--meaning it was in fact just a smoke screen designed for a great legacy event and the administration got caught out.
Otherwise it does not explain the over reactions by Kerry, Biden and others since the same reaction with the violations of the 1994 Budapest Agreement somehow did not occur with the same individuals.
Strange is it not?
From our, and our contemporary enemies' perspective, are today's "hybrid wars" best understood in the context of:
a. The less-mighty (for example, Russia, China and various actors in the greater Middle East) trying to organize and defend themselves against
b. The more-mighty (the United States et al); who are bent on, in one form or another, expansion?
The use of military force (ours and theirs) -- and how such forces are organized, ordered and deployed -- to likewise be understood within this context?
Thus to understand, for example, both ISIS and Russia from this perspective?
If this is indeed the case (to wit: the conflict being between the more-mighty bent on expansion and the less-mighty bent on resistance to same), then the present day (minus the huge advances made in information and other technology) would seem to be no different than days past.
Thus, to ask: In days past, how did the more-mighty (bent on expansion) overcome the less-mighty (bent on defending themselves against such actions)?
Or should we understand that, today, the huge differences made in information and other technology:
1. Renders such lessons from the past (and the use of military force to accomplish same) less useful and less relevant while, simultaneously,
2. Rendering the ideas and the narratives of the combatants, re: outcomes, as much more compelling and much more decisive?
Thus, to overcome our enemies resistance efforts:
a. Not so much with "hybrid conventional, irregular and terrorist components" of our own. But, rather,
b. With the display of the success of our ideas; which, via the huge advances made in information and other technology, are made compellingly evident for all to see?
Problem with the above concept/suggestion?
As in the past, the "good life" -- as perceived by one group of people -- is seen as horrible, ungodly and profane by others.
Herein, their version of the "good life" looking absolutely nothing like/being diametrically opposed to our own.
This rendering "our example" and "our narrative' -- as displayed via the advances made in information and other technology -- more of a liability than asset.
These such differences in one's understanding of the "good life" explaining why, for example, individuals might depart the glorious West (bent on expansion) and return to defend the lands of their "faiths."
In order to understand exactly why the "non-linear warfare" was created in Russia and not in another European country one should take a long hard look at the Russian civil society/governmental form.
I have said here since the Crimea Russia is in a neo imperialist mode driven by ethno nationalism that borders actually on fascism which a number of commenters here pushed back on.
But the Russian non-linear warfare is only successful if one has a "whole of governmental approach" directed by a single person.
Putin’s Russia Is in the Grip of Fascism http://www.newsweek.com/putins-russia-grip-fascism-312513 … pic.twitter.com/szNO9CYQLk
Seems that now even IS is taking notes on the Russian "informational conflict" seemed to be getting tired of being blocked on FB and Twitter.
Islamic State supporters release a Jihadi social network
To be run in seven languages, the social media network apparently aims to boost support for the Islamic State militant group
Ghada Atef , Monday 9 Mar 2015
ISIS social network
A screenshot of the Jihadists social network.
Islamic State (IS) militant group supporters last Wednesday launched a social media network that imitates Facebook and Twitter, in an apparent bid to garner more support for the jihadi organisation.
"The first social media network for Islamic State supporters," reads an opening message on the website's homepage, adding that the site is still in its initial stages, and calling for supporters to share its address online.
The new network has not yet attracted many users, with most posts dating from the last four days.
The website's regulations include four points.
First, users should not send any personal information to each other or to the website's administrators.
Second, the network's administration asks users not to post personal photos.
Third, it calls on IS supporters to be patient with any other users who don't yet support IS.
Fourth, it requests that any verbal abuse be reported.
The head of IT services company KIT Consulting, Khaled Kamal, told Ahram Online that a geolocation search on the website's domain name had led back to a web server in the US registered to an administrator named Abu Musab.
"The domain name was sold by GoDaddy co. on 3 March, 2015 and is licensed for one year," Kamal said via email.
The website's administrator Abu Musab listed the Iraqi city of Mosul as his city and Egypt as his country.
Many of the network's users have started to use trending hashtags such as #Islamic_State , #ISIS, Khelafa_Army and #first_post.
The website's administration has mentioned that it is an independent site not affiliated with IS, but boasts full and absolute loyalty to the militant group and to anyone across the world who follows their ideology.
Users with names such as Abu Hamza Al-Masry, Abu Azzam, Abu Abdullah al-Husseiny, The Sunni Army (Algaish al-Sunni) have started to post pro-IS statuses and hashtags on the website.
Users can follow others, like on Twitter.
The jihadi social network is to run in seven languages: German, English, Spanish, Indonesian, Javanese, Portuguese and Turkish.
The website server was slow and many accounts on it were down.
Ahram Online has chosen to withhold the network's name to avoid helping it recruit new supporters for IS.
IS controls expansive territory in Syria and Iraq, including Mosul, and militant Islamist groups in Egypt, Libya and Nigeria have pledged allegiance to it.
The group has come under media limelight, especially after publishing brutal – Hollywood-style -- video footage of it killing its opponents, including beheading 20 Egyptian Coptic workers in Libya and burning a Jordanian fighter pilot alive.
The group has reportedly attracted hundreds of foreign recruits.
An excellent example of the impact of Russian "informational conflict" on ethnic Russian Estonians.
Well worth the reading.
Cannot continue from below comment as the Comment function seemed to save nothing further to the first comment even with a second/third attempt and when the edit function is used it seems to even further shorten was actually entered--seems to be only with this thread:
Here are a number of "informational conflict" examples of where the Russian information warfare campaign came to a massive halt and it was inflicted on them by just normal run of the mill social media types using one of the most important concepts needed to counter the "informational conflict"--truth, and more truth repeated 10, 20, 100 times a day across the social media spectrum.
With the recent killing of the Russian opposition leader Nemtsov there appeared in a single twitter comment about four hours after the announced killing--- from the top Russian mercenary leader of the DNR---he basically blasted the leader of Chechnya and his security service for being directly involved in the killing.
Social media was somewhat surprised and commented it was strange coming from him as 50% of his 21KI mercenary army comes from Chechnya. Only one comment and then silence by him and the social media but everyone initially thought that it had been a strange out of place comment.
Social media then really got into the open source analysis and indicated that there was a solid possibility of the killers coming out of the Chechnya area long before the western media had even thought of the idea---the DNR comment was never picked up on by the mainstream media.
With the announcements yesterday of first two Chechens being arrested and then another two social media was able to within a few hours clearly identify two of them being members of the Chechen Interior Ministry with one being a member for the last ten years and one of them even receiving a major honor award from Putin himself in 2010.
The western media then torn Russia apart with the messaging of dictatorship, no democracy, no freedom of the press and countless killings of opposition leaders since 2004 and the massive coverage of the funeral and 70K plus demonstration-- one of the largest since 2012.
THEN this today indicates just how badly the Russian "informational conflict" knows they took a hit on the killing and the arrests:
Robert---this is the perfect example of the National Command Authority having virtually no idea on how to address the 21st century Russian neo imperialism.
I have heard countless Ukrainian politicians and younger military types openly stating with US defensive weapons we fully understand we cannot launch an attack into Russia--nor will you find even the most rabid Ukrainian Nationalist even stating that--they are fully aware of the Russian military strength.
What they have stated though is at least give us a chance to defend our own territorial integrity and slow down the Russian army to the point that it hurts him manpower and cost wise--which if one thinks about it is exactly what the US Javelin was designed to do--defeat tanks and take the tank mobility weapon away from an aggressor.
If one thinks about it this rag tag army and volunteers has fought remarkably well at first actually defeating the "mercenaries" until the Russian Army invaded in August which this President called an "incursion".
At the Debaltseve battle they inflicted loses to the elite of the Russian Army at a rate of 4 to 1. Where they are taken heavy hits is in stopping Russian tanks and heavy artillery and this is an area that the US could lose the loop on but does not.
The US President has stated that he wants Russia to feel the economic pain of Putin's decisions--how is that going for us?---Russian economy in the tank, food costs at an 30% increase and yet even more tanks and heavy artillery and troops are crossing the border.
After Minsk 2 we got the same Obama statement--we are increasing the pain if Russia does not fulfil Minsk 2--they are not and are in fact violating it daily and the US admitted as much again yesterday by Nuland---so another red line in the sand crossed over and no response.
We hear out of the NSC circles around Obama but if we send defensive weapons and trainers Russia will escalate ---has not Russia already escalated three times since May 2014 inside eastern Ukraine or actually four times if one is including Crimea?
I am no longer sure this President really wants a leading role for the US as the argument that he could have delivered from the very beginning is that we stand by legal agreements signed by US (Budapest 1994) and other countries, we stand by the principle that territorial integrity especially in Europe especially those established since 1990 are not to be changed by military force and we stand by the simple principle that there must be a level of trust between countries based on their actions not words and right now Russia has violated every single point just mentioned not including direct violations of the INF.
But what have we heard and or seen from this President--that we have not seen already in his Syrian red line statements and or his attempts to pull immediately out of Libya after starting an active military bombing campaign and continuing it under NATO control so it appeared we were not involved ---to his two red line statements on the Ukraine that have been crossed both times---silence, inaction and hesitation.
Not really conductive to a country that states all the time it wants to lead.
By the way one will notice in the comments below some of the exact same reasons given for not arming moderate Syria Islamic fighters and how did that go for us and the Syrian Sunni population--over 250K killed, over 5M refugees and 2M wounded and or missing?
Example taken from the article out of the NYTs on the resistance to send arms/trainers to the Ukraine.
“If you’re playing on the military terrain in Ukraine, you’re playing to Russia’s strength, because Russia is right next door,” Antony J. Blinken, the deputy secretary of state, told an audience in Berlin last week. “It has a huge amount of military equipment and military force right on the border. Anything we did as countries in terms of military support for Ukraine is likely to be matched and then doubled and tripled and quadrupled by Russia.”
That argument seems to most closely channel the president’s, according to people familiar with the internal debate. Mr. Obama continues to pose questions indicating his doubts. “O.K., what happens if we send in equipment — do we have to send in trainers?” said one person paraphrasing the discussion on the condition of anonymity. “What if it ends up in the hands of thugs? What if Putin escalates?”
But while Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, shares his skepticism, the president finds himself increasingly flanked inside and outside his government by others urging him to do more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.
A nation is defined far more by its geography, history, people and culture than it is by it's current government, policies or alliances. We are so caught up in the "now" that we lose sight of the big picture.
Since the end of the Cold War the US has been adrift. We play a game with no defined way to score, and we play that game not to lose. We are essentially just trying to burn up the clock on offense, and are in a prevent defense designed to prevent big plays, but largely ineffective against small ones. The surest way to lose is to play not to win.
As a nation the US needs to define "a new game" and develop a game plan that is designed to win - and by winning I mean being successful as a nation, not containing or defeating some perceived enemy. This new game will have new goals, new priorities, new rules and new ideas of opponents and allies; challenges and opportunities. The new game must be grounded in our core principles as a nation, and must allow others to benefit from the same principles if they so desire (not much sense in self-determination for ourselves, if we are dedicated to the denial of self-determination for others we deem as unworthy). In short, it must be our game on our terms, and not just an intel-driven response to the actions of others.
We can do this. We must do this. To continue the current course can only result in a steady drain of influence and resources that speeds our decline to the middle. We need to stop worrying so much about others who have defined and are playing their own games to win. We must clean up our own house first.
Robert--the issue currently with Iran is that the massive shift via Khomeini to a civil society determined by "so called supreme religious leaders" stifles basically the concepts of a civil society developing their own views of rule of law and good governance especially when many of the so called middle class ie the young 20-40 generations are chaffing at the bit to head West in their cultural development.
As long as the current "supreme religious ruling class" backed by the IRGC does not change directions the serious threat of a hegemon getting out of control is always a given especially when two rival hegemons are of different Islamic directions.
As "tribes with flags" the Sunni based oil States still inherently drive power both economically and politically as we saw this week with the German Business Development Minister's visit to Qatar or the massive KSA investments in German companies ie MB.
Egypt might some day rival the KSA but they are hobbled by a younger generation demanding economic development, internal security/personal security and a political environment free of fear--all demands of the Arab Spring and we have seen where that went--no amount of military dictatorship is going to get them headed in that direction--Egypt has been virtually in some form of dictatorship for decades. At the core of the Arab Spring just as in the Ukrainian Maidan was the deep seated hatred of the massive corruption seen in both countries and that has to be slowed down and or stopped if Egypt is to ever move forward.
I still go back and restate until we ourselves fully understand just what it is we want we will never get a coherent strategy---and right now there is no strategy other than pray and hope for the best.
RC - All good points. The perspective I offered is geo- strategic and historic (measured in centuries, not decades). I would offer Egypt as a possible rival to Iran for that top spot, btw. Sadat made an interesting (and telling) comment regarding KSA and the Gulf States - "Those are not states - those are tribes with flags."
We need to take a longer view in our foreign policy, and not allow small states with powerful lobbies to overly define for us what is important, or who are enemies should be. Our Cold War decisions in the Middle East will haunt us for generations to come, a shame given how well we approached the region during the 150 years prior when our focus was on our merchants and missionaries (who were limited to building schools, hospitals and good will), and not our politicians and military.
RC--most of the comments are valid but there are a few points that actually tie the actions of both Iran and Russia as both civil societies are tending to be rule by an individual or a circle of limited individuals thus allowing a far tighter foreign policy.
Right now the core threat from Russia is not Putin or it's non-linear warfare but the simple fact that he threw all international norms and national interactions that have been the norm since 1990 literally out the window and is attempting to "reset" them back to Yalta using a new definition of "spheres of influence" which he views includes every single former Warsaw Pact country which means all current NATO/EU members.
when the concept of at least a limited trust disappears then relations between countries erodes rapidly and the chance of a slide into 1914 increases massively.
Iran---an interesting case as we seem to have forgotten everything Khomeini wrote starting in 1942 and through to his death and if anyone is responsible for "revolutionary Islam" check his speeches from 1979/80/81 and the creation of the IRGC the defenders of that "revolutionary Islam".
This below is just a sample of Russian activities yesterday--notice even claiming to be for Minsk all current Russian actions are exactly the opposite and what is our response---literally silence:
Russia quits arms pact as estrangement with Nato grows - http://FT.com http://on.ft.com/1Ae37Ee
Western policy 'slow, reactive and all too concerned about giving Putin a way out' @JohnEdHerbst to Senate http://buff.ly/1ESVAja
In #Ukraine mil aid needed for political solution:Obama Said to Resist Growing Pressure From All Sides to Arm Ukraine http://nyti.ms/1Hy83bG
Tymchuk: Russia has deployed large amounts of artillery (16 MLRS, 12 self-propelled howitzers & more) in Bezimenne near Mariupol Ukraine
State Department’s Toria Nuland tells Senate that Russia has sent more tanks, artillery and rocket launchers into Ukraine in recent days.
“Iran is arguably the most important Muslim nation, and most important nation in the Middle East - as such they should have influence in the region, and that influence has been artificially compressed.”
I would argue that 90% of Muslims do not consider Iran to be an Islamic country, so I image you are referring to what an American believes to be the most important Muslim country.
For decades many US military personnel prior to 1979 also thought the Iran of the Peacock Throne to be the most important nation in the region. So much so that President Carter felt compelled to declare the Shah's Iran to be ‘our policeman in the Middle East.’
Look how that bird got stuffed.
I would argue the KSA to be the most important nation in the ME (for all the wrong reasons) and Pakistan as the most important, and by far the most powerful (for the obvious reason) Muslim nation. For all its worth, from a strategic perspective, it’s hard to think of a more contradictory viewpoint than the one you argue.
However I do agree we need to calm down and take stock of the ‘new’ reality.
IMO the Russian holiday makers currently enjoying the Ukraine winter are an indication of the lack of Russian influence in the region – rather than a strategic marker establishing a ‘sphere of influence’ - mandating subsequent accommodation/appeasement.
Putin’s proxies have barely penetrated 150 km west from the Russian border and are stuck in a pocket 150 km deep and extending a mere 300 km along the Russian frontier. Russia has more than 20,000 km of border and spans 11 time zones. I would advocate Putin is firing blanks. (Image if Marshal Zhukov had announced to Uncle Joe - after a year’s effort - that in April 1945 he had reached Donetsk instead of Berlin!)
The first year of the new Greater Russia has caused the Russian economy to completely fall apart and their international standing to plummet to levels not seen since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Furthermore every single Russian citizen as a consequence of Western sanctions has suffered economically as a direct result of the Putin Army conquering 150 kms of Ukrainian hillbilly country.
Funnily enough the fruitcake in Iraq have conquered a similar amount of worthless real estate. In their defense their ‘astonishing military success’ has been accomplished on the back of a few hundred stolen pickups. However Putin’s military brilliance has been bolstered by 30,000 armored vehicles, 15,000 artillery pieces, 10,000 aircraft and last but not least, 8,000 nuclear warheads.
The sky is not falling – take a few breaths and relax.
Robert--perfect example of why we ourselves do not know what we really want---someone calls out 47 Senators on "treason" about a supposed nuclear treaty that has not even been signed nor submitted for ratification--which if given full treaty status must in fact be ratified by Congress-who if they do not ratify it will certainly delay it for years--even the Iranians seem to not know that specific point.
This is exactly the core reason we are fouled up in the Ukraine--we convinced a country to give up 2600 nuclear devices in exchange for something that seemed like a guarantee of their territorial borders and national integrity--Clinton realized he could not get it through Congress thus kept it at an Memorandum level knowing once he was gone "who cared"- it looked good though for his legacy.
Raising even for the Iranians a serious question as to what the US will hold to or not hold to.
Again a clear lack of communications from the side of the US as to exactly what it is it wants--does it tie it's horse to the Iranians as a regional power in hope to somehow pacify the ME and at the same agitate the Sunni Arab leaders who have the power of oil and investment on their side and to a degree influence over IS. Tying oneself to Iran actually indirectly supports the Khomeini Revolutionary Islam the very so called "enemy" we have supposedly been at war with since 9/11.
Right now our relations with both the KSA and Israel are at rock bottom in exchange for exactly what and on top of that we are a ongoing oil dispute with the KSA?
Let's back up and look at the beginning of the Crimea when Obama in front of national TV states Russia will pay a painful price and he did it again after Minsk 2.
Now we have reports today of over 1000 Russian mercenary attacks on the UA since Minsk 2 was signed, the battle of Debaltseve which was as clear a violation as one can get, and strong reports today of more armor and Russian troops crossing the border going in the wrong direction if Putin as he states "wants" a settlement in the Ukraine.
Then we get the new video trailer for a Putin documentary where he states he just decided four days before the Crimea voting to "take the Crimea back into Russia" which is a basic myth as the Russian Army does not move in a instantaneous fashion. And all the time he and his FM still talk about an economic union between the EU and the EEU stretching from the Far East to Portugal.
And from the US---silence again.
So can in fact anyone figure out what this administration really wants?
If we cannot figure it out just how is the rest of the world to figure it out?
White House petition wants senators charged with treason for Iran letter
Posted: 03/10/2015, 09:21am | Chad Merda
The backlash over the letter 47 GOP senators sent to Iran’s leaders warning any nuclear deal wouldn’t be valid without congressional approval has now given rise to a White House petition.
The petition urges for charges to be filed “against the 47 U.S. senators in violation of The Logan Act in attempting to undermine a nuclear agreement.”
The Logan Act, which was enacted in 1799, states “any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
The authors of the petition make their case by saying “at a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.
“This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason,” the petition states.
Robert---this is in fact the 24K dollar question.
If one looks currently at Putin he has three geo political goals tied to the resurgence of a superpower dominating his former Warsaw Pact and thus Europe as a whole.
1. discredit and divided NATO
2. discredit and divide the EU
3. disconnect the US entirely from Europe
In his drive of a single economic union from Far East to Portugal naturally under Russian influence. By the way he is not doing badly in achieving his goals.
Iran---complete domination of all Shia based countries in the entire ME ie the Khomeini Green Crescent from AFG to Lebanon surrounding and limiting the power of the Sunni based Arab countries led by the KSA.
So what should the role of the US be when in fact both Russia and Iran want the US out of Europe and the ME once and for all?
And China on the sidelines watching their moves and the US counter moves.
Here is a challenge we must deal with, or come to grips with:
Iran is arguably the most important Muslim nation, and most important nation in the Middle East - as such they should have influence in the region, and that influence has been artificially compressed.
Russia is arguably the most important nation in Eastern Europe - as such they should have influence in the region, and that influence has been artificially compressed.
China is arguably the most important nation on the Pacific coast of Asia - as such they should have influence in the region, and that influence has been artificially compressed.
Are we willing (maintain both the will and physical capacity) to keep these important nations artificially compressed, and is that the best way to serve our own vital interests globally??
Should we be more strategically flexible, more realistic, and recognize that nothing is naturally static, least of all national power and sovereignty, and form new strategic perspectives designed to advance and secure US interests best in the world that we actually live in today?? Our every action is the dominant part of our message. Our words merely clarify or conflict with the primary message of our actions. What is the action-based message we need to send the world today?
Robert---below is an interesting take on the Obama approach currently towards Iran, the ME and I would actually say indirectly the Ukraine.
There have been some strong voices in Europe recently stating that Obama has had a great reluctance to lead in Europe and especially in the Ukraine as he needs Russian support to get any sort of an agreement-- good, bad and or indifferent with Iran thus he cannot come out strongly against Putin's activities in the Ukraine and or for the supplying of defensive weapons for the Ukraine and to the suspended US training in western Ukraine because he does not want to jeopardize the current "ceasefire" that actually Russia has been violating almost daily.
If one reads closely between the lines below he has also been poor in his communications with the ME Arab countries.
As I indicated it is all about "communications" and how we sell our story---and again we are failing at even that.
But whatever Netanyahu’s duplicity, the questions he raised are the same ones that many Arab states have, and to which Obama has offered no answers. Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian territories and now Yemen, is very real, and Tehran has spent years building it up, patiently and deliberately.
Obama has explained his Iran policy poorly, and there is a growing sense that this has been intentional. Why? Because Obama’s true ambition is to reduce America’s role in the Middle East, and, to quote analyst Tony Badran, leave in its place “a new security structure, of which Iran is a principal pillar.”
Because such a scheme is bound to anger U.S. allies in the region, Obama has concealed his true intentions. From the start the administration made it a primary goal to reorient American attentions away from the Middle East, toward Asia.
When the so-called “Arab Spring” began, Obama ignored its potential benefits and sought to pursue American disengagement.
At every stage the administration worked to reduce the American footprint, and where that was not possible, as in Libya and Iraq, to define limited goals and share the burden with others. In absolute terms this approach is defensible.
But as Badran suggests the outcome may well be an enhanced role for Iran, and this is something Arab states, not to mention Israel, will have great trouble accepting.
The reality is that Obama is deeply distrusted in the Arab world. He is not a man who communicates much with Arab leaders or societies. His aversion to the region’s problems is palpable. Nor is Obama a president who immerses himself in the Middle East’s details. The extent of this was best illustrated by the fact that he never considered appointing an envoy to coordinate with regional allies over America’s position in the nuclear talks.
Obama may get his deal with Iran, but he has prepared the terrain so carelessly that the consequences may be quite damaging. Iran is a rising power in a region where Arab states are disintegrating. Agreeing with Iran, if that happens, will be the easy part. Much tougher will be leaving in place a stable regional order. And given Obama’s performance until now, no one is wagering much that the U.S. will succeed in that. - See more at:
Robert--as always you have insight that hits the point--but and there is always a but---your mantra of civil societies are tending to focus in the 21st century on rule of law and good governance and if we really look at the IS they even from an Islamic perspective are stating the same thing.
This is really what drove the Arab Springs and colored revolts.
This though may sound like a broken record---the "informational conflict:" is where the 21st century is playing right now.
With the speed and truly multiple means of communications driven via globalization-- most civil societies are well informed these days--down to that mud hut somewhere in Africa getting the internet via satellite.
Many civil societies are forming their impression of what they want based on the examples of others, their own defined needs and the needs they envision for their children.
It really is all about communication and this is where we are failing as a civil society as I am no longer exactly sure we ourselves know what we want and a lot of our difficulties right now is "expressing" our own needs and this lack of a "global message" is impacting.
We are as a nation tangled up in the messaging of the Cold War, the internal messaging of our political parties and the massive messaging of "influencers" who buy their messaging with millions of dollars---and we wonder why the rest of the world does not get us?
Example--do we still want to be the world's policeman yes or no if yes then to what degree if no then to what end do we envision the world around us.
The Russian messaging plays the old game of black, white and grey and delivers it in a simple fashion that many can understand and mix it in a way that the same information can be both true and false depending on the target civil society.
How one "shapes" that discussion will be perceived as the "winner" and a nation that cannot express an equally strong messaging will be "perceived" the loser--actually what I would call Cold War v3 just not with a military aspect.
Right now I firmly believe we have a message but it must be built around a single theme and it must be built using 300% truth with all the blemishes/faults that go with it---the world is far more in tune to our deficiencies than we are and if we admit them it causes the world to perk up and take notice as they are not use to us admitting our own weaknesses.
As you have often indicated sometimes we simply have to let go and see where civil societies are headed and support them where possible --this in the end actually wins us far more respect than what we are doing currently which is to flounder.
Outlaw points out above:
"The Russians have it right "informational conflict and cyber operations" are the two corner stones for the coming disputes short of actual war in the 21st century and we are not even in the game.
It is being used by Russia, IS, Iran and the Chinese to great effect and yet all we hear from the US is silence. And surprisingly AQ is not in the game either."
I offer the following;
First the US: What is "right" for a Russia, Iran or China is unlikely to be either "right" or even feasible for the US. This is the reality of us living in a country based on freedom of information where the government is controlled by the people, rather than living in a country reliant on control of information and where the people are in turn controlled by the government.
We would be even more foolish if we attempted to play their game by their rules than we are now for being so slow to recognize that others are not going to simply play our game by our rules when they believe their interests are better served otherwise.
What the US must devise is a new game for a new generation that is consistent with our principles and strengths. We have been playing a modified Cold War game not to lose against competitors who are playing games designed more effectively for the modern age, and who are playing to win.
If the US wants to maintain a leading role in the world, we too must play to win. But we cannot play to win until we first devise a new focus and perspective better suited to the world we actually live in today; and then devise approaches that play to our strengths, and not the strengths of others.
One thing that will come of that analysis is a realization that many things deemed vital or critical under the current obsolete perspective, will likely become shockingly irrelevant under the new.
As to AQ, their greatest strength has also always been their greatest vulnerability, and it is that vulnerability that has been showing itself of late. That is their status as a non-state actor. Freed from the burdens of governance and vulnerabilities of owning either land or populations, AQ has frustrated a West that cannot escape its Clausewitzian approaches and Westphalian perspectives. Then along comes ISIS and they offer AQ's target audience exactly that - Westphalian tangibility and Clausewitzian approaches. The resultant success is measurable - and likely short-lived.
This is the Irony of these two actors. The first could never achieve their goals without first abandoning the very characteristics that allowed them to approach them. Like the Children of Israel they could see the promised land, but were doomed to wander the desert and never enter. ISIS dared to 'enter' - but in the process became a weak state and completely vulnerable to the all that those far more powerful states opposed to their objectives cared to bring against them. Both doomed to fail for opposite reasons.
We in the West exaggerate and are controlled by our fears and really need to calm down in regards to both organizations. These are manageable problems.
The reason I keep harping on the information concept and I tend to like the Russian term "informational conflict" or a "conflict of ideas" is that it aptly describes what we are seeing and have seen since 2003 in say Iraq and the ME with first AQI, then Iran and now IS.
It also aptly describes Russian activities directed against the Crimea since 2004 and the Ukraine since 2013 especially focused after the Euro Maidan events.
I find it interesting that a Russian General of the Russian General Military Staff or the equivalent of our JCoS focused his entire attention on the military analysis of the Arab Springs and the colored revolts and realized the significance of informational warfare especially the use of social media as a driver in military planning.
I have been in over 45 major BCT, Division and Corp scenario planning sessions and never did I hear once the concept of an "informational conflict" being discussed and or even planned for.
That is just how far we are behind in this area---and we certainly have no national level concepts and or organizations responsible for it.
Example then AQI now IS: in late 2006 I was able to take off a jihadi web site a "informational warfare or how to use the internet" manual released by AQI not AQ a big difference. It described types of content, how to set up social media accounts and how to setup blind drop web links to pass videos and documents, how to setup your own jihadi media group, use of chat rooms and blogs AND this is key LONG LONG before both Snowdon and the NSA they were suggesting two over the counter US software packages they should purchase with cash in order to encrypt their chat room discussions---with screen shots on the install process and Arabic translations of the English commands in the software installation. they were suggesting encryption to the MD5 level which was and still is top of the line.
I attempted to get this document into a NTC BCT scenario and was bluntly told "we see no need for it" AND now nine years later Twitter has removed hundreds of IS twitter support accounts AND yesterday NYTs carried an article where their research indicated over 43,000 twitter accounts were actively supporting IS on a daily basis. This does not take into account the sheer volume of FB and Instagram accounts.
Now with Russia--Russia has made a "business" of this and has a "total whole of government approach". Over 500M USDs alone for their governmental TV and radio broadcasting stations globally in over 103 key/core civil societies including the US.
I have posted the links to Ukraine thread on three current articles written by someone inside the Russian troll headquarters located in St. Peterburg complaining about their working conditions and how they did they internet troll work.
Ripley the largest supply of videos and photos out of the Crimea and eastern Ukraine is 100% Russian owned and based in Berlin.
Russian disinformation and the use of agitprop news videos was beamed specifically from multiple Russian TV and radios stations at the Ukraine during the heavy Donetsk Airport fighting and the Debaltseve pocket fighting to demoralize the Ukrainian Army.
The only push back by anyone or thing was a hand full of social media types in Europe and the Ukraine via twitter who were able at times to get the attention of the western media on certain subjects ie MH17, the Donetsk airport fighting, Ukrainian POW torture by Russian mercenaries and now the killing of over 500 Ukrainian civilians in Debaltseve after the city was captured by Russian troops and let's not forget they have been identifying Russian troops and equipment inside the Ukraine LONG before the US intel admitted it and long before western media picked up on it.
NOW develop an informational approach to allowing the globe to fully understand if we had a respectable "UW capability" and we had the ability to "power project that ability anyplace anytime"---it would in fact be noticed by all major players and eventually become just as much a deterrence as nuclear weapons are.
But we do not have one and thus are viewed as being only capable to push back, threaten and deliver economic sanctions and threaten nuclear use and that is about it.
Why do I say that?---diplomacy or soft power is what we stated is our goal--we did that and it has no effect and has actually failed, we pushed hard sanctions and it did not faze Putin and he absorbed the hit, we threaten to send defensive weapons and he ties the EU and US up in knots with not to subtle of counter threats to escalate and he even goes a step further and threatens tactical nuke usage---AND this is interesting not a single informational push back to that specific threat messaging by either the US or Europe---heck social media carried far more comments and thoughts and explained the new Russian nuclear doctrine in great detail.
The Russians have it right "informational conflict and cyber operations" are the two corner stones for the coming disputes short of actual war in the 21st century and we are not even in the game.
It is being used by Russia, IS, Iran and the Chinese to great effect and yet all we hear from the US is silence. And surprisingly AQ is not in the game either.
CBCalif---actually have never given it much though on the interrelationship between militay size and taxation base but the points you make are valid.
It also explains why and many Americans who did not serve never did fully understand that between Iraq and AFG there was virtually no lull in the constant BCt treadmill rotations one year in one year out and then start the prep time again for deployment---24-28 BCTs per year were being prepped/deployed in the period 2005 to 2010 and we wonder why everything was worn (troops/equipment)out by 2010.
Here is an interesting article on the use of Russian "informational conflict" against not our weaknesses but rather our strength.
8 марта 2015
Putin Winning by Exploitation of West’s Greatest Strength
Vladimir Putin’s success in exploiting Western weaknesses — divisions between those who lived under Soviet occupation and those who didn’t and between Europe as a whole as the United States and the unwillingness or inability of the current generation of Western leaders to recognize what the Kremlin leader is doing and stand up to it — is legendary. But the Russian president could not have achieved as much as he has if he had not at the same time exploited the West’s greatest strengths against it.
That strength is the free media, the basis for the Western democracies as Thomas Jefferson pointed out two centuries ago when he said that if he had to choose between a free press and a free Congress, he would always choose a free press because with a free press he would eventually get a free congress but with a free congress, he might not end with a free press. But trends in that media, some old and others very new, mean that a leader who understands what the media can do in his own country and in others is in a position to make use of it in potentially dangerous ways.
Putin clearly understands the power of media in his own country, perhaps better than any current leader of a major country. His own rise to power was made possible by his destruction of media freedom in Russian television, the most important source of news for Russians, by the eclipse of the print media limited by price and used by only a small part of the population, and by the mistaken decisions of Western governments to get out of the game of international broadcasting to Russia rather than shifting from FM stations Moscow could threaten and control to direct-to-home satellite television that he could not.
But he also understands the power of media abroad to promote his agenda, and he has cleverly used three characteristics of that marketplace of ideas to advance his own agenda. First of all, he has not been shy about spending Russian taxpayers’ money to expand Russian radio and television broadcasting to Western countries and to create institutions in Western countries which can be counted on to promote the Kremlin line. Russia Today is only the most infamous of the broadcasters, and the Russian centers in Paris and New York are only the most infamous of the others. They are indeed legion.
Second, Putin understands that the new media environment is, as Thomas Friedman has suggested, flat: With the Internet and social media, there are no gatekeepers, and as a result, anyone can put anything out and expect at least some people to believe it and spread it even if it is an absolute falsehood as many of Putin’s statements are. Sometimes he does this by government-backed trolls, but more often, he can count on those Lenin might have called «useful idiots», people who will support Moscow’s position because it makes them look «independent» and thus «objective». At the very least, those who do can be counted on to get more media time than they would if they didn’t strike such poses.
And third, and most seriously, Putin is taking advantage of a set of attitudes among Western journalists and media moguls that almost guarantee success for his kind of operation. For a long time now, many Western journalists have confused balance with objectivity, believing that they should report all positions on an issue regardless of the evidence for them. That only encourages Moscow to flood the media with its multiple versions of reality, confident that the Western media will pick them up as «part of the story».
Moreover, fewer and fewer Western news organizations can afford to put journalists on the ground in Russia or even more neighboring countries or to invest in the kind of training that produced the great Western Moscow correspondents of a generation ago. Instead, those who do go often fly in and fly out as a crisis ebbs and flows, something that means they are more likely to be influenced by the denizens of English-speaking Moscow than they should be and less likely to do the kind of hard journalistic work of actually covering events on the ground. As someone has said, «it is possible to cover Israel from Damascus, but it would be wrong». Unfortunately, no one has suggested the same about Western coverage of Ukraine from Moscow or from London.
And finally, there is Putin’s ace in the hole in this game: He knows that it is virtually impossible for anyone to discuss Russian exploitation of Western media without Western journalists immediately seeing this as representing a new «McCarthyism». As a result, what Putin is doing is likely to continue for some time to come.
If Putin is not going to change course, what can the West do? Three things are obvious: it must recognize that there is a problem, something many are now afraid to do. It must support counter-propaganda efforts that identify the ways in which Moscow is using Western media to mislead the West, using the bright light of publicity to counter this form of hybrid war. And it must launch direct-to-home Russian-language television to Russia and her neighbors, a step that won’t be cheap but that Putin has made necessary.
Those things alone won’t be enough to defeat Putin’s aggression, but they will go a long way to ensure that he is not in a position to continue to exploit unchallenged the West’s greatest strength.
Bill M, Outlaw 09
Just a late thought:
In past decades the significant industrial / manufacturing companies located in this country when combined with the service and agricultural businesses constituting the American economy provided sufficient tax revenues needed to sustain a significantly larger military (all branches) compared to that of the current era.
However, this nation’s tax revenues have declined significantly due to our loosing the tax revenues from the lost payrolls and secondary incomes associated with the over 6 million manufacturing jobs shipped offshore -- an outsourcing process which began in the last year of the Clinton Administration. Additionally, over 500 billion in sales of products once produced in this country are now manufactured outside the US. Due to an accounting process called transfer costing, this nation no longer obtains the income and other tax revenue from the profit on those (500 billion in) products manufactured overseas and sold in this country.
Absent this country’s government proceeding to implement the economic policies needed to return that manufacturing and its associated jobs to this country, we will never again generate sufficient tax revenues needed to field a military of the size required to “control the world's streets” to any meaningful degree and thereby provide for “an acceptable international order where state actors abide by a few key rules.”
Quantity has a quality of its own and precision weapons simply are not a substitute for that necessary quantity of force and its presence in potentially contested areas – on land, in the air, and on the seas.
The U.S. Navy I served in as an Officer had at least 650 to 900 ships, today we have 275 or so ships and outsource our supply ship capabilities that enabled us to keep countless ships at sea for lengthy periods. Today’s Army and Air Force are (I believe) half the size (or less) than in that past era.
Absent the needed tax revenues, from where will come the monies for an American military of the size required to provide the sustainable military presence needed to insure “an acceptable international order?”
Bill M---this is a great sentence and actually is occurring as we write.
"but the fact that state actors are increasingly willing to break from accepted international norms should be a point of great concern in my view."
Russia is in effect tossing all former norms out the window and directly challenging the West---there have been some Russian pundits that say Putin really wants a new Yalta agreement with the West setting out totally new spheres of influence--and he truly sees all former Warsaw Pact countries in that sphere of influence and he wants the US to agree to this new agreement.
China is currently watching and waiting to see how this Russia challenge is handled by the US. If you notice they have been remarkably silent until last week as it now appears they are coming out in support of Russia after they have seen virtually no actions by the US.
I agree, the point of my previous comment was they are acting this way because we have potentially deterred them from acting more aggressively. As you have stated they have developed strategies that neutralize our superior military power and its potential deterrence power. In the end, if we don't act they'll get what they want and I think that will have cascading effects. It will be hard to get the American people to support acting, because the threat to our national security interests is not immediate or tangible.
While not an advocate of Chinese mysticism, China's approach very much aligns with the Sun Tzu approach of winning the battle before the battle is fought. Their approach may even preclude the necessity for battle with the U.S., since they may very well achieve their ends without a conventional fight.
The bottom line is that the Global Policeman (the U.S.) no longer controls the world's streets. To your point about should we be concerned about issues that are thousands of miles from our shores, I think we should. Time and distance have been compressed, and most things are interconnected in one way or another, so they have can repercussions on our national security over time. I would argue our national security depends upon on an acceptable international order where state actors abide by a few key rules. States can't control non-state actors for many reasons, but the fact that state actors are increasingly willing to break from accepted international norms should be a point of great concern in my view.
Have you had the opportunity to read the publicly available Three Warfares Paper prepared for the DOD Office of Net Assessment(?) some time back?
If I recall correctly, it characterizes China's strategy of slow conquest / slow expansion into the South China Sea as purposely structured. It also describes their tactical methods, such as their use of "White" (Coast Guard) ships and large numbers of fishing junks, as intended to place the US Navy in the role of the aggressor should it act to prevent Chinese expansion in that area.
It appears from Chinese and Russian actions that both nations are employing an intentional strategy aimed at bypassing America's deterrence doctrines, and thereby simply (for the present) nullifying any methods being employed by the US or the West to halt their expanding control into their spheres of influence.
Perhaps at some time in the future they will act in a more aggressive manner, but that in all likelihood will occur only after their investments in their military capabilities have provided them with substantial local superiority. Both China and Russia are proceeding in a patient manner applying a continuing small step approach which seems to advance their interests while frustrating any Western response.
Their aim (particularly the Chinese) has been to place the US in a position where any military response it attempts to carry out thousands of miles from its shores would by definition be aggressive in nature, thus one not supported by any of our partner nations.
Perhaps incorrectly, but it appears to me that the Chinese and Russian strategic approaches have nullified America's strategy of deterrence, tossing the ball back into America's court -- presumming we continue to believe we have the right to militarily intervene thousands of miles from our shores. All of which begs the question, is this country now competing on the world stage against two opponents who are thinking and acting in a strategically unexpected manner, rather than simply responding in a way which suits America's strategic doctrine?
You can't prove a negative, so we never know with certainty if deterrence works. However, we can assume our nuclear and conventional deterrence is working by both Russia's and China's behavior. There would have been no need for Russia to chose the approach they did with Ukraine unless they were trying to avoid crossing our perceived red line. They simply could have came in with large scale conventional forces and took Crimea without created the perception they were rescuing ethnic Russians. China could be much more aggressive in the South China Sea, but instead of staking their claims like a Tsunami, they're moving like slow moving lava to avoid potentially provoking us into action. If these tactics continue to work, I suspect they'll continue to use them. A game changer will be if Russia actually tries approach with an a NATO country, or if China militarily engages one of our allies with lethal force. That would imply our deterrence no longer works.
Any form of military deterrent and accompanyig capability (such as an increased UW capability) can neither be developed nor employed without Presidential approval.
It is on one risk level for a President to order a raid into a weak country such as Pakistan -- to kill Bin Ladin, or into Iran as by President Carter, and on a totally different risk level for a President to approve violent action to be carried out against Russian or Chinese interests, and perhaps their personnel, even outside their lands and in their deemed sphere of influence.
That risk is not on the same level as this country having aided Russia's opponents in Afghanistan. That was similar to the third-party aiding the Russians and Chinese carried out against US operations in Vietnam. Both the US and the Russians were carrying out operations intended to dominate the political situation in a third country located outside both our spheres of influence.
President Kennedy chose not to invade Cuba in 1962; the US simply flew supplies into blockaded Berlin in 1948; President Truman refused to order attacks on Chinese Air Bases during the Korean War or to "authorize" flying over Manchuria; President Johnson limited America's responses during Vietnam and would not allow Soviet Ships carrying military weapons into Haiphong Harbor to even be turned back; President Eisenhower did not assist the Hungarians against the Russian in 1956 nor the Tibetans against the Chinese (or was that Truman?); etc.
Even the threat of such a type of action would probably evoke a negative action from both the EU nations and correspondingly China's neighbors (perhaps excluding Vietnam) would not want such actions carried out due to their fear of how the reaction by Russia or China would harm their political and / or economic interests. If it was to be carried out as a NATO action, that approval would not likely be forthcomming.
An interesting idea, but that type of flexible deterrence or response probably died in the flames of the failure of Taylor's Flexible Response -- and that was never tried out against a World / Regional Power.
Not all problems stem from states, but agree that states are increasingly undeterred by conventional and nuclear deterrence. I think this may be due to states viewing these forms of deterrence as lacking credibility for several reasons. Launching nukes and employing conventional forces is increasingly challenging for Western states due to political trends. I suspect if we still had armor divisions in Germany that Russia still would have felt comfortable acting out in Ukraine. NATO is at a pivot point, and there is probably sufficient doubt in Moscow (and elsewhere) regarding NATO's will and capacity to actually fight.
According to a study I read today, Putin's popularity is increasing dramatically within Russia in response to the economic sanctions. This approach not only strengthens Putin's popularity, it make the U.S. less popular and motivates countries to form coalitions that seek to develop alternatives to a U.S. led global economy. When that happens, we'll see sanctions thrown back in our face in ways we're not anticipating. We'll have no one to blame but those who proposed these short sighted policies.
I still think we have a credible UW capability within the CIA, and even if we don't, Putin thinks we do. As a historical example, I think Iran has used the threat of UW as a credible deterrent against us and others for some time. Of course we can defeat Iran conventionally, but our cost benefit calculations have to take Hezbollah's and Quds Force's global networks into account. These networks can impose costs by conducting UW.
I think there is some merit to considering UW as a deterrent as part of a larger package of deterrents designed for the 21st Century. More likely,I suspect it would be employed as a form of warfare to shape the international order (rather than achieve traditional victories against states), in other words shaping their behavior vice defeating them would be the goal. If you are considering a convergence between shaping and deterrence that would make sense to me. I also think Outlaw hits upon a key point about the various uses of information. Credible UW may mean little more (though preparing for this would take substantial effort), than developing a deep understanding of populations around the world and then developing ways to influence them as a coercive measure against the state we seek to deter. The problem with this approach is once you turn it on, you can't simply turn it off.
You wrote, "Once we accept that our opponents will not dress in bright red jackets and march in tight order formations out to meet us on fields of glory, we can stop bemoaning how "irregular" they are and get down to the dirty business of state competition in the world as it actually exists."
This is why I think terms like hybrid, non-linear, and asymmetric are useful. They the challenge the prevailing view within the U.S. military (it still exists despite 10 plus years of IW) that conventional battle will decide the outcome of "real" wars. Once we can past this limited view of war, we can just call it war again with the understanding that war is not limited in its form. Until we get there I think we need new terms to give us the terms to describe the reality we face today (and in many ways have faced for decades).
huskerguy7---fully agree and I think if anything this is the biggest takeaway from non linear warfare--Russia has fully and very early on realized the depth that informational conflict (their term) has on the target civil society and as you point out in the Crimea and to a degree this if my math and events are correct--- actually it started in 2002 a full 13 years ago--- the exact moment Putin stepped into power.
I was struck by a recent comment by the director of Russian Today who stated unabashedly "give me a crowd and a video camera and I will give you a revolution".
Secondly, one of the worlds largest media companies providing photos and videos to mainstream media including western media is Ripley which is 100% Russian owned and based actually in Berlin.
Until the west especially the US fully realizes and does something about it all strategies, all military concepts will simply fall by the wayside as the messaging will not be controlled by the West.
If we look at IS they drive and have driven since 2003 a very effective internet messaging campaign, same goes for the Iranian IRGC, Hezbollah, Hamas, even the Chinese are good at it---and what is the western equivalent---nothing.
Let's not even get into the weaponization of cyber where we have virtually the same peers as we do in the weaponization of information---IS, Iran and China. In the game of cyber we currently have no "near peer threats"---they are all full scale "peer" threats each in their own way.
For the last several years the Army built a concept for future training called DATE where "near peer" and maybe with a big M a "peer" scenarios (5)were being envisioned.
What we have seen and are still seeing in the eastern Ukraine has never been programed into DATE --think about it right now in a non-linear battlefield we have 14.4K Russian regular troops, 21K Russian irregular mercenaries and 4K locals per Putin's own words "miners and truck drivers".
That does not include over 500 tanks and another 1000 APCs and heavy missile and artillery systems.
We have as well a full global informational conflict in play, a full integrated conventional and SF force equal to anything we can currently field in NATO, the use of some of the newest weapons systems seen on a European battlefield, corruption and oligarchs, IDPs, refugees and villages and towns being reduced to rubble.
Having been at the NTC for a long five years during Iraq and AFG and then recently at the JMTC we have never built such a DATE training environment.
We certainly never envisioned the depth of the current "informational conflict" in any DATE scenario.
A great example of just how effective this disinformation campaign has been:
During the police interrogation of the six returning Spanish fighters from
eastern Ukraine who had been fighting with the Russian mercenaries stated
"half of the unit was Communists the other half was Nazi's and we fought to recapture Russian land that had been invaded by the Ukrainians."
Somehow they had not quite figured out that the territory they were fighting in was in fact Ukrainian and the Ukrainians were defending their own territory.
Robert—until the US has coherent and massive informational warfare capability there is no use in attempting to build an UW deterrence ability.
Russia will be spending this side of 500M USD this year on their global TV/radio networks to include the US and that does not take in their social media trolls that are up and running 24 X 7 365.
If one cannot control the messaging 24 X 7 365 on all aspects of media such as Russia is currently doing in and around the Ukraine—nothing less will make any difference.
Notice the Russian fully understand this coupling.
"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 VALUE OF SCIENCE IN PREDICTION
General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation
Taken from the article:
The Lessons of the ‘Arab Spring’
Of course, it would be easiest of all to say that the events of the “Arab Spring” are not war and so there are no lessons for us — military men — to learn. But maybe the opposite is true — that precisely these events are typical of warfare in the 21st century.
In terms of the scale of the casualties and destruction, the catastrophic social, economic, and political consequences, such new-type conflicts are comparable with the consequences of any real war.
The very “rules of war” have changed. 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.
For me, this is probably the most important line in the whole piece, so allow me to repeat it: 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. In other words, this is an explicit recognition not only that all conflicts are actually means to political ends–the actual forces used are irrelevant–but that in the modern realities, Russia must look to non-military instruments increasingly.
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.
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Robert--getting off the topic a tad to answer your comments which I found interesting for a number of reasons.
If we really go back to the collapse of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union one needs to see how it was the Eastern European "edges" and the GDR that unraveled first before the center the Soviet Union then basically fell apart.
Starting with the GDR Berlin workers uprising in 53 then on to Hungary in 56 and then to Prague in 68---following actually what you have written here a number of times---rule of law and good governance as the drivers but more basically after the Nazi days the Eastern Europeans were simply sick and tired of anything that smacked of a dictatorship regardless of ideology and the shortages associated to the war days.
After all these failed it was apparent to the civil societies involved that nothing was about to change--- there was a period of what I would call a civil society withdrawal into themselves and at about the beginnings of the 80s one saw the civil societies in each of the above countries starting to come out of their shells---this was about the time that internal tourist travel restrictions between the various East Bloc countries had been eased and the tourist numbers had started to increase---as well as their ability to visit the Soviet Union where they would only among their closest friends would indicate they never wanted to copy what the SU was.
The younger generations born after 45 started in their own ways down a path similar as that of our 68 generation ---but just a tad on the inside of being legal within their respective civil societies--meaning provoke the system but not land in prison or denied a university entrance.
Driven and I hate to say it by US and UK rock groups and western radio stations beaming out of Berlin and via VOA and RFE.
You would not want to know how many GDR Border Guards I interviewed that had hopped the wall that would admit to listening illegally in their guard towers on the weekends to the various rock stations including the US AFN and SFB stations.
In the East Bloc countries where western TV was available and that was around Berlin and along the various borders they received a constant flow of information that while it impressed them as to what was available they also realized the "shortfalls" of capitalism.
Deeper distance wise into the East Bloc and SU ---their civil societies would often listen to the various language radio station boardcasts from VOA and RFE---though not as informed as their fellow brothers along their borders--but nevertheless informed.
I camped a number of times inside the SU in the early 70s and had to write on my somewhat older VW Beetle in the dust the price and the HP---that was critical to many Russians at that time and they would then compare it to their own "Soviet models" in price and design.
Couple these internal developments with an ever increasing awareness of the massive lying on the various 5 year plans just to "fulfill" them at the next Party Congress, the extreme shortage of consumer goods and yes even a heavy dose of corruption the various systems ---the East Bloc countries where fully ready by 1990 to collapse inwards--Poland kicked it off followed by Hungary and then the GDR.
Russia is currently just at the same point the GDR was in 1990 and Putin knows it---if you read the Russian non linear warfare article --what was the core events they analyzed the most?---the "Arab Springs" and the various "colored revolts".
Example---he started a massive anti corruption campaign recently to address the same Maidan complaints---to only have to it stopped last week for being anti government and a potential "fifth column to over throw Putin".
I have said here often Putin's single greatest fear is a Moscow driven Maidan and the "liberal" ideas that spun out of the Maidan movement---rule of law, transparency and good governance in the political and economic spheres.
My concern is that and you are right the internal stability of the US against the Russian instability is the way forward but that requires a communications media concept for carrying the message---and it must be truthful with all our own mistakes and failures.
Right now we have nothing of the sort available so the Russian agitprop barrage is all the former East Bloc and the West gets---there is not a counter voice.
The former RFE is doing some great work but their radio audiences are small in comparison to the over all numbers of individuals say alone in Russia--when one runs into Russian tourists here in Berlin---they are all on their version of FB---VK or on FB and they definitely are on Instragram and Twitter and they definitely no longer listen to radio broadcasts.
If you watch the EU and NATO they are all trying to start some form of counter communication efforts but they are really at a loss and it is a disjointed effort and in the end will run in to the sand.
Russia with it's single point for running a "whole of government approach" will always win out as being faster, and quicker on the media side-- that is why I have stated there must be a central driver again and without a centralized driver nothing can compete with the Russian "informational conflict".