Small Wars Journal

Refitting Military Forces for Future Conflicts: Applying Resiliency Governance in the Field

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 9:31am

Refitting Military Forces for Future Conflicts: Applying Resiliency Governance in the Field

Casey Douglas Carr


Last year in August, Marine Corps Lt. General Robert M. Shea (Ret.) reflected on U.S. President Barack Obama’s July 2015 remarks on the Progress in the Fight against ISIL,[1] by criticising the current force limitations in the U.S. Army to conduct joint operations (Shea 2015).  The retired general spoke of the current U.S. military force facing hybrid threats, combined conventional and unconventional warfare methods.  That the “Army now has a generation of soldiers that has fought tactically in this complex environment” though not at an integrated, joint level means there is much to improve on (Shea 2015).  Obama also recognized that “ISIL’s threat of lone wolves or small cells of terrorists is complex”[2] and makes it clear that instability is just as prevalent in Western countries.  With further study of the Islamic State in the Levant’s (ISIL)[3] evolution of strategy, summarized in the International Crisis Group recent report Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ICG 2016), it becomes ever more clear for the U.S. and other Western democracies that the persistent, accelerating complexity of current warfare threatens the old order of conducting war.  General Shea (Ret.) states himself, that to adapt to the new trends, “the key is to arm the initiative of the individual soldier and the small-unit level with discretion in action and the means to accomplish its mission” over institutional directives (Shea 2016).  What General Shea is suggesting is precisely what groups like ISIL have already accomplished.

Already in 2012, following the close of war in Iraq, President Obama had announced that “U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations” (Kilcullen 2012, p. 20)[4] and that military forces would become “smaller and leaner, but will be agile, flexible, ready, and technologically advanced” emphasizing “a technological, joint, and networked advantage” (p. 20).[5] In essence, what is openly termed hybrid.  However, David Kilcullen challenges the ability of the U.S. to live up to this claim based on the statistical figures that averaged out, the U.S. “has conducted one major peacekeeping, counterinsurgency, or stabilization operation every 25 years, and a small or medium-sized one every five to ten years over the past century and a half” (p. 20).  Semantics change every decade, but this unfortunate context can’t be ignored.  Entirely new, unimagined solutions and framework are needed if the U.S. is to live up to such a downsize.  Current Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, and colleagues wrote a Foreign Policy article in 1998 acknowledging that the “practically unchallengeable American military superiority on the conventional battlefield pushes this country’s enemies toward the unconventional alternatives” (as cited in Aradau & van Munster 2011, p. 15). This paper will address the changing context of warfare and suggests how the U.S. can shift from the 20th to 21st century (or 4th Generation Warfare) as new, emergent conflict manifests.

The State as Rigid; War as Convention

state[6] - n. \ˈstāt\

  1. mode or condition of being <a state of readiness>
  2. a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially  :  one that is sovereign

Why the state is an important element in war is because war is strictly defined in the context of statehood.  Succinctly put, the definition of war is “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations”[7] and any other conflict that deviates from this definition typically has a degree of some temporality in its purpose, i.e. war on terror.  As Air Force veteran, tech-enthusiast, and entrepreneur John Robb argues, even this definition -- war as something that exists between or among states -- is becoming obsolete (Robb 2007, p. 7).  States are failing by the decade, and their ability to conduct “war” in the formal and conventional sense is being thrown to the dogs.  In the event that full state-versus-state wars occur, the larger threat posed “is that they will create a vacuum within which these non-state groups can thrive” (Robb 2007, p. 7), referring to groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  Robb claims that current wars that will be fought over economic, environmental, social, religious, and ethnic reasons, traditionally a state’s affairs, will be fought on a “level below the state” (p. 8).  Disruption, as the ICG report (2016) supports, is ISIL’s strategy and, as Robb predicts future warfare, is “designed to erode the target state’s legitimacy” (p. 5) and incapacitate the very purpose of the state to provide services to its citizens, in short: to disrupt the process of governance.

Robb makes several prophetic claims about the state in its ability to conduct war worth discussing in Brave New World (2007), in light of the emergence of ISIL and its declaration of a caliphate in 2014.  The entire Part I: The future of war is now, he recounts the fallacious logic behind military powers mired in guerrilla wars throughout the last two centuries.  The premise that state powers conducting war build on is the belief they are fighting against a party that seeks “to control the state” (p. 19), such as historical, non-state guerrillas like George Washington or Mao Tse-tung.  This is no longer the case (even though the Islamic State bears the name Islamic State and acts like a state, this is not its main concern).  For Robb it was clear that “Al-Qaeda doesn’t want to govern Iraq” but only “wants to collapse them [states] and exercise power through feudal relationships in the vacuum created by their failure” (p. 20).  It is a far stretch to assume that Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State have the same goal in mind, however, the ICG report covers both within its report on their shared strategy of disruption.  Interesting enough, disruption was developed as a Western corporate strategy in Silicon Valley, according to French philosopher Bernard Stiegler during an interview conducted by LeMonde over his upcoming book The Age of Disruption,[8] comparing GAFA[9] to ISIL strategy.

Bernard Stiegler’s recent perspective of corporate emergence on the international playing field isn’t far off from Robb’s preconception of the evolution of nation-states into market-states (coined by Philip Bobbitt in The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History as cited in Robb 2007, p. 165), a reversion to neo-mercantilism.  While it’s arguable how intertwined the nation-state is with something like a market-state (Robb never predicted the 2008 market crash and how this has shaped state power), it is true that the traditional “state as a hermetic entity” has evolved to meet the demands of a global, capitalist system in which nation-states have had to compete as contenders in the marketplace (p. 165).  Bobbitt and Robb portray states as suffering a loss of legitimacy on the plane of biopolitics, failing to compete with private corporations to provide services and welfare to their populations (p. 165).[10]  A number of welfare organisations have sprung up across the Middle East in vacuums or in parallel to state power, i.e. Hezbollah or Muslim Brotherhood.  Breaking it further down, Bobbitt presents three categories of protean market-states: entrepreneurial (i.e. U.S.), mercantile (East Asia), and managerial (European Union) (Robb 2007, p. 166).  Silicon Valley has mostly followed the entrepreneurial market-state model and supports minimal regulation to have the freedom to operate on companies’ own terms.  Robb’s solution to avoid nationalising future market-states is to establish a new governance system of hands-off oversight promoting transparency, two way communication, and openness, unlike the current WTO, which focuses on consolidating national interests over system integrity (pp. 169-173).  With such a radical approach to global governance, Robb is suggesting nothing short of the role of a system administrator (sysadmin) to mitigate conflicts between actors, both national and corporate, within the system.  How would the hypothetical market-state affect how states wage war though, if the biopolitical monopoly by nation-states becomes obsolete?  To provide an example of this paradigm, how often has public opinion focused on the death of a private military contractor (PMC) or Legionaire in contrast to the death of a service member in his or her national army?[11]

In 2007, Robb brought up contradictions in how the U.S. waged war against entities like Al Qaeda, who professed a future caliphate.  Regarding the concept of the caliphate, now superficially realized in Syria and Iraq, for “most in the West, the caliphate is parsed as an Islamic superstate” whereas this is far from the conceptualisation jihadi groups uphold (p. 18).  The global caliphate isn’t an organised confederacy of Islamic states, but a merging and disintegration of state borders into a chaotic “feudal vision of the future” which “boils down to disorder” (p. 18) in a “decentralised system of affiliation and deference” (p. 68).  In essence, Al Qaeda has nurtured an ideological and structural platform (i.e. jihad) for ISIL to build from, even if Al Qaeda is taking a back seat of moral high ground in the conflict today.  In Robb’s view, states must also embrace building platforms for end-users just as Al Qaeda has, where platforms are “a collection of services and capabilities that are common to a wide variety of activities aggregated in a way that makes them exceedingly easy to access” (p. 171).  This applies to technologies of war and welfare alike.

Slaying the Chimera: Hybrid Warfare

While Robb only whitewashes state security dilemmas with IT terminology, he does expose how closely the modern world has mirrored and conceptualised cyber- with security and in turn, cyberwarfare, a new element on the battlefield. The best example of this open-source warfare (OSW) proposed by Robb (see p. 111), and efficient application of cyberwarfare tactics as a component on the ground, is referred to as hybrid warfare today.  Coincidentally, New York writer Peter Pomerantsev published an article by the same name, Brave New War (2015), in the Atlantic on Russian and ISIL strategic use of hybrid warfare or hybrid threats by tracing a genealogy of the use of the term in Washington Defense circles since 2006.  Several articles in Small Wars Journal have been preparing young military officers for hybrid warfare since then.[12]

To disentangle the complexity of warfare today, hybrid warfare was described as a “mix of psychological, media, economic, cyber, and military operations” (Pomerantsev 2015) conducted without a formal declaration of war.  Pomerantsev provides an adequate summary of the evolution of hybrid warfare in today’s era of a rising China, menacing Russia, and mutant-jihadi groups like ISIL.  The three main factors were outlined in Chinese military doctrine as being 1) legal, 2) psychological, and 3) media warfare beyond the physical restraints of territory and military strength (See Halper 2013, China: the Three Warfares, as cited in Pomerantsev 2015).  It may seem that the Global War on Terror (GWOT) has initiated a deep, introspective ontological quest for the meaning of war itself, especially in Chinese defense communities.  David Kilcullen also refers to Chinese military doctrine on irregular warfare published in 1998, called Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui (Kilcullen 2012, p. 31).

A huge component for modern conflict as seen by Russia and China is information operations with the advent of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.  Pomerantsev highlights the two emerging key elements in hybrid conflicts as firstly, the power of civil society[13], which has been the target of hacking collective Anonymous in the struggle against ISIL and Ukrainian watchdogs exposing open-sourced disinformation from Russia.  Secondly, hybrid warfare builds on the previous asymmetric approach, unbalanced unconventional warfare.  Frighteningly, Pomerantsev even cites Chinese military doctrine as seeing outer space “as a natural extension of other forms of territorial control,”[14] despite the probability that destroyed satellite debris in perpetual orbit would be a mutually assured destruction for all future communications technologies, as well as Russian doctrine moving from “war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace.”  War over the psychosphere is real, as an investigation last June was conducted by the New York Times, uncovering Russian-based “troll-farms” that manipulated Twitter posts and Wikipedia entries to distort facts on “Ebola outbreaks and police shootings in Atlanta” (Pomerantsev 2016).[15]  Whether hybrid warfare is the correct term or not, this new form of “contactless war” has become infinitely more complex.

The State as Complex; Resiliency in Governance

विद्यां चाविद्यां च यस्तद्वेदोभ्य सह ।

अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वाऽमृतमश्नुते ॥

He who knows both vidya and avidya together, overcomes death through avidya and experiences immortality by means of vidya.

--Isha Upanishad, Verse 11[16]

University of Westminster’s David Chandler (2014) has argued for the demise, or transformation, of neoliberalism into a new form of governance under the concept of resilience. His argument starts from the premise of life as an emergent complex process, thereby convoluting the current neoliberal stake in biopolitics (p. 47).  Through a genealogy of understanding emergent complex life, Chandler traces how biopolitics has shifted considerably from World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, unpredictable events in an age of uncertainty.  Neoliberalism entered the scene to institutionalise shaky reactions to these events, turning “liberal modernist ‘top-down’ understandings of government” into governing from the “bottom-up” (p. 48).  Today, the argument for resilience-thinking, as a “radical critique of the knowledge claims of actually existing neoliberalism” (p. 48), has become paramount in reassessing a bottom-up approach.  Chandler draws from quantum mechanics, as well as Heisenberg’s ‘uncertainty principle’ in chaos theory (p. 48).

The most illustrative points discussed by Chandler is a bifurcation of the commonly referenced quote by Donald Rumsfeld regarding WMDs as “unknown unknowns” (p. 50).[17] Chandler parallels the progression in liberal thought from this very speech, where “‘known knowns’ as central to governmental reason” correspond to the modern liberal episteme, the gap of “known unknowns” to the neoliberal episteme and finally the “‘unknown unknowns’ that have a central role in emergent causation” for the resilience approach (p. 50).  By this evolution in governance, there is an ontological shift from the knowing, external liberal subject construction of life to the current neoliberal undertaking of life as an object of governance (p. 51).  The complexities of life as ungovernable seemed far away for neoliberal governance, dipping into the problematic field of social engineering where “it seemed necessary that knowledge could be gained in order to intervene instrumentally in the sphere of complex social interaction” (p. 54).  With these limitations in mind, it hardly seems such an approach or justification to conducting a morally-sound, neoliberal “humanitarian” war to liberate unfortunate countries would be without its inherent flaws. Thus, in order for the West to conduct something like complex, hybrid warfare, shaping the psychosphere by ultimately “winning the hearts and minds”, it would be doomed to fall into the same neoliberal fallacy of the last five decades of military operations.  With Chandler’s proposal for governance, there might be a way out.

Setting governance goals on resiliency, rather than knowing, would fundamentally change the way states conduct war, assuming the certainty that states will continue to do so in various forms.  When Saddam Hussein was ousted from Iraq in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, there was very little planning as to what would happen next.  At least, for the previous Bush-led war in 1991, a new approach was being tested, effects-based operations (EBO), and when this efficient state-versus-state war ended with minimal civilian casualties, the U.S. packed up and left the destroyed infrastructure to be rebuilt under a humiliated Saddam’s direction (Robb 2007, pp. 39-41).  Unfortunately for the U.S., Saddam didn’t just put things back the way they were, he restructured the entire country to prepare for an insurgency should a foreign occupier ever return (p. 44).  This is practical resilience-thinking, and it has certainly challenged the conventional American strategy.  Resilience-thinking is “a radically distinctive approach to governing complexity (bringing complexity into governmental reason) through reposing complexity as an ontological rather than an epistemological problem (Chandler 2014, p. 56). Saddam couldn’t have predicted the next eventuality of war in his country, nor was he even aware of the epistemological vice of neoliberal-thinking entirely, but he managed to influence the environment able to reshape the entire geopolitical stagnation of Iraq a decade after his death, when all attempts to gain territory militarily had failed.

Where I apply resilience-thinking to traditional enemies of the West, Chandler was concerned with criticising the domestic governance of Western countries.  Chandler critiques the market system, as it is the self-defeating end for neoliberalism.  He presents Oxford University’s Marc Stears point of view that “rather than governing for the market, the state needs to govern through society” (p. 61), doing this by recognising current capabilities of communities.  This is in stark contrast to John Robb’s (2007) perspective that the nation-state is a natural progression into the market-state.  This decade will manifest the emergence of either approach as the Westphalian state model disintegrates into either tightly-knit confederations of corporate entities (market-states) or a robust, universal governance system based in resilience-thinking, especially in how modern conflicts determine future geopolitical boundaries.  In both cases, more power returns to the cities, after centuries of consolidated, centralised, nation-state power.

Slaying the Hydra: Urban Resilience

Chandler isn’t the only one suggesting a move toward resilience in governance.  Esteemed conflict researcher, David Kilcullen, makes predictions for how future warfare will be conducted in his article The City as a System: Future Conflict and Urban Resilience (2012).  Imagining the future battlespace, Kilcullen predicts that the world population will become more “urban, littoral, and connected” as climate change and globalisation concentrate people in city nodes (Kilcullen 2012, p. 21).  While today, it’s easy to see how humanity is following in this general pattern of concentrating along highly, intertwined coastal cities, he takes this further by compounding the phenomenon as an instigator for numerous threats, such as “rural soil salinity, urban crime, piracy, and diaspora-sponsored terrorism” (p. 36).  Understanding systems is key to grasping the future hybridity of these threats, just as Robb proposed a shift to systems-thinking for states.  For Kilcullen, “the city is a system which, in turn, nests within a larger national and global system” (Kilcullen 2012, p. 27) with the ports located at coastal cities being the points of exchange.  Kilcullen layers threats involving non-state actors as irregular, hybrid, and nested (p. 28), and due to their level of connectivity with local host populations, are difficult to both detect and surgically remove without affecting the society they are nested within (p. 33).  Using two case studies, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2010 Tivoli garden raids in Jamaica, he demonstrates advanced engagement by such groups to utilize various capabilities to carry out operations.

Fascinatingly, Kilcullen refers to current capabilities of the U.S. military that will be paramount for the adapting war environment to include “Marine amphibious units and naval supply ships” in addition to “rotary-wing or tilt-rotor aircraft” which will be able to “rapidly aggregate or disaggregate forces to operate in a distributed, small-unit mode, while still being able to concentrate their mass quickly against a major target” (p. 35).  In short, Kilcullen’s vision of future warfare integrates the ability of “swarming”[18] as a significant military advantage.  Lastly, he proposes three key interventions that will ease future threats: supply-side (infrastructure), demand-side (resiliency), and framing (context)(p. 37).

To illustrate Kilcullen’s presentation of the confounding issues of urbanisation, littoralisation, and connectivity, a recent 213-page report was published by the European Council on Foreign Relations titled Connectivity Wars: Why Migration, Finance, and Trade are Geo-Economic Battlegrounds of the Future (2016).  While it may seem at first glance to frame the conflicts within the global economy as warfare, it also demonstrates direct consequences of economic decisions such as sanctions, as having a dire effect on local populations.  Contributor Mark Leonard writes in his introduction to the report on the efficacy and implications of sanctions as being something reminiscent of siege warfare and “vastly preferred to conventional warfare in humanitarian terms” (Leonard 2016, p. 14).  The purpose of sanctions is disruption of the international economic order, in Leonard’s first domain of economic warfare (p. 16).  Following, states such as Russia and China have been weaponising international institutions by rendering them inflexible, like the OSCE, frustrating the dominate Western powers (p. 19).  Lastly, there has been a steady arms race of infrastructure competition in both the physical and virtual realms (p. 20).  Where the United States attempts to keep to a strong, deregulated free market, Russia and China have fully embraced state-sponsored international business.  Back to Robb’s premise of building platforms for future organisations to work upon, so has Russia and China created their own skewed versions of international organisations to mirror Western powers’.  Robb similarly mentions a close reading of still relevant 2001 RAND publication Netwars: the Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt (p. 194).

Awakening the Lamassu: The Siege of Mosul (2016-)

An attempt by the morally-backed West to conduct this form of proto-hybrid connectivity warfare is already under way in Mosul, Iraq, which had fallen to ISIL without contest in June 2014.  Although the casualties are mounting up in the vicinity around Mosul, official state public affairs units deny the physical battle has begun.  One Navy Seal and countless Kurdish Peshmerga (including “volunteers”) have died within 30km of Mosul.[19]  Surprisingly, video footage of the firefight leading up to the death of the Navy Seal, Charles Keating, was released a day after his death was reported to have taken place.  This isn’t the first time that these grey-zone “soldiers” have surfaced from the shadows by name to the public within 24 hours, i.e. the death of Master Sergeant Wheeler, of Special Operations Command, was killed last October during a raid in Hawija (Iraq) that freed 70 hostages and Kurdish sources had already released the information within a day.[20]  These public “leaks”, most likely intentional, may be the first signs of a fracturing rigidity in U.S. Defense Department’s operational security (opsec) protocol, realizing the importance of transparency of rationale in conducting warfare in Iraq.  Public opinion is becoming increasingly important in closing the wayward, Bush-initiated war in Iraq, started in 2003.

If there is any doubt whether the U.S. and its allies are attempting to mount an ethical version of hybrid war for Mosul -- for Baghdad and Iraq are already won -- an analysis of current strategy reveals deeper thinking in the background. In an attempt to highlight complex interaction between the north and south, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad applies immense pressure on the government for the implications should the Mosul dam collapse, a real threat that could affect 1 million Iraqis since the dam was built in 1984.[21]  The U.S. announced it had already been conducting cyber operations to disrupt and degrade ISIL communications infrastructure in February, which is probably the first time a White House press secretary has admitted to conducting such network-based electronic attacks in concert with other warfare tactics.[22]  To emphasize the changing battlespace, cyber [and hybrid] warfare techniques are being conducted at a tactical (local) level, as opposed to strictly strategic (regional).

Chaos and Catastrophe: [state] Reloaded

When a priest in rural Florida decided to burn a Koran, it sparked riots in Afghanistan.

--Frank 2015, p. 1

How should Western governments adapt to this changing order and decreasing dominance in conflict zones, while still representing the liberal and free world?  King’s College Claudia Aradau and Danish Institute for International Studies’ Rens van Munster collaborated to publish Politics of Catastrophe (2011), which traces a genealogy of Western understandings of catastrophe since its use in Ancient Greek drama.  States need to be prepared for the “post-catastrophic future that changes the way in which the temporality of security threats and risks unfolds” (Aradau & van Munster 2011, p. 2).  Aradau and van Munster compare the evolution of the state to Hobbes’ Leviathan as a “system of preventive defense against the mass movements that forms the basis of civil wars” (Balibar 1994 as cited in Aradau & van Munster 2011, p. 2).  Even citing U.S. veteran diplomat of realpolitik, Henry Kissinger, they recognise that “catastrophe was both a moment of fear and closure and a generative moment” while a “potential disorder and danger, but also of opportunity for fresh creation” (Kissinger 1977 as cited in Aradau & van Munster 2011, p. 6).  This perspective of catastrophe is quite reflective of new interpretations of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among soldiers instead as possibility for posttraumatic growth (PSG).[23]  Aradau and van Munster stress the roles imagination and sensorial experience play (p. 2).

Catastrophe, they claim, breaks understandings of temporality, as preparing for an unknown future based on the past becomes futile.  This cuts with the current neoliberal market system, as “capitalism uses the future to secure the present”, referring to the credit system (p. 10).  Thus, uncertainty in the future alters our “biological understanding of life” and temporality (p. 10), thereby governance by biopolitics.  In this case, biopolitics as collective knowledge for governance is in stark contrast to a “biopolitics of catastrophe” (p. 10), fundamentally changing neoliberal reasoning.  In security studies, Aradau and van Munster reference Paris school’s Didier Bigo for having “approached security as a professional struggle between experts (military, police, intelligence services, private military companies and other actors) to define insecurity” (p. 14), which ties directly into the forward momentum of current hybrid conflicts.  So to restructure current warfare systems to adapt to catastrophe, governments must avoid the pitfalls of the Paris school and uphold a degree of resiliency.


With catastrophe and resiliency, there is a clear movement away from bio-politics and the antics of social engineering.  Populations are becoming more viewed as interconnected networks.  The definition of life itself is changing just as rapidly, and sentience being applied to both swarm intelligence and artificial intelligence alike.  However, states themselves still exist and are morphing into new entities, states are becoming more and more like corporations in order to control and manage trade and territory.  Beyond control, however, is the transmigration between cities, which states are failing to being the main contenders of providing services, as the top-down approach maintains less access to urban areas.  It is clear that the security dilemma is evolving in multiple facets, states are responding on their own basis.  For the West, it will be important to maintain its moral high ground without giving up territorial gain.

No where would a new approach to security be more welcomed than in Central or West Africa, where state authority is extremely limited.  A research direction has been proposed by Bagayoko, Hutchful, and Luckham (2016) on how to integrate formal and informal (hybrid)[24] security solutions into neo-institutional African states.  Their study coined the term hybrid security governance to outline a complex, yet feasible approach which cultivates “coexistence and interaction of multiple state and non-state providers of security, as the state shares authority, legitimacy and capacity with other actors, networks and institutions across the formal/informal divide” (p. 7).  To use the full swing of such a floating signifier as hybrid, even in the context of conflict and security, I would add to this definition, “while integrating multiple mediums, such as cyber and psychological factors, into the security landscape.”  Certainly, more research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of this hybrid approach to security governance, at the same time the term hybrid, marking a new trend away from the previous decade marred by a self-defeating Global War on Terrorism, must be clearly defined.  Bagayoko et al. do recognise that informal security governance can be “just as exclusive and oppressive as formal security provision” (p. 20).  Back to Robb’s proposal of OSW, transparency is one of the key checks and balances for both formal and informal systems (2007, p. 173).  Certainly, as Robb and network manager David Kimball point out, warfighters will take on an increasing responsibility of IT admin on the ground level (Robb 2007; Kimball 2011), in order to manage the territorial, cyber-, and psychosphere at the tactical.

Works Cited

Aradau, Claudia and Rens van Munster. “Politics of Catastrophe : Genealogies of the unknown.”  Taylor and Francis, Florence. May 2, 2011.

Bagayoko, Niagale, Eboe Hutchful and Robin Luckham. “Hybrid security governance in Africa: rethinking the foundations of security, justice and legitimate public authority.” Conflict, Security & Development. Routledge. 16:1, March 2016. 1-32. Online journal.

Chandler, David. “Beyond neoliberalism: resilience, the new art of governing complexity.” Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses. 2:1, 2014. 47-63

Frank, Alexander. “Complexity, Psychology, and Modern War.” Small Wars Journal. November 17, 2015.

International Crisis Group. “Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.” Crisis Group Special Report.  March 14, 2016.

Kilcullen, David J. “The City as a System: Future Conflict and Urban Resilience.” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. 36:2. 2012

Kimball, David. “Network Complexities be damned: The warfighter as an IT admin?” Military Embedded Systems. September 2011.

Leonard, Mark. “Connectivity Wars: Why Migration, finance, and trade are the geo-economic battlegrounds of the future.” European Council on Foreign Relations. January 2016.

Pomerantsev, Peter. “Brave New War: From ISIS to Russia, How War Changed in 2015.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company. Web. 03 January 2016.

Robb, John. Brave New War: The next stage of terrorism and the end of globalization. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. E-book.

Shea, Robert M. “President’s Commentary: The Army confronts complexity in warfighting.” SIGNAL Media. August 1, 2015.

End Notes

[1] The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by the President on Progress in the Fight Against ISIL. The Pentagon. Web. July 6, 2015

[2] Ibid.

[3] الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام (ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi 'l-ʿIraq wa-sh-Sham) abbreviated by Middle Eastern countries as داعش (Daesh).  This essay will continue to use Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL), the political designation by U.S. POTUS.

[4] United States Government.  Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st century defense. Defense Strategic Guidance. January 2012. 3, as cited in Kilcullen 2012

[5] Kilcullen 2012, p. 5

[6] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. State. Web. Accessed April 29, 2016

[7] M-W Online Dictionary. War. Web. Accessed April 29, 2016

[8] Nasi, Margherita. Bernard Stiegler : « Ce N'est Qu'en Projetant Un Véritable Avenir Qu'on Pourra Combattre Daech ». Le , 26 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 March. 2015.

“La disruption est un phénomène d’accélération de l’innovation qui est à la base de la stratégie développée dans la Silicon Valley : il s’agit d’aller plus vite que les sociétés pour leur imposer des modèles qui détruisent les structures sociales et rendent la puissance publique impuissante. C’est une stratégie de tétanisation de l’adversaire.”

[9] GAFA: acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon

[10] Although it is not the direct etymology of the word, the root in nation is the Latin natus or “to be born” ( nation. April 2016) perhaps anchoring the association of nation-state in biopolitics, more so than nation as “place of origin” or birth.

[11] See Они сражались за Пальмиру. Web. March 29, 2016. for watchdog reports on Russian PMCs in Syria and Ukraine.  It takes some effort in internet scrubbing Russian ultranationalist websites to dig up stories of PMCs.  Although Robb differentiates this kind of nationalism as residual nationalism (Robb 2007, p. 167), Russia’s flippant pursuit of PMCs as a force multiplier demonstrates the transfer of Russia into a hybrid market-state contending with nation-states for legitimacy and business.

[12] Cuomo, Scott and Brian Donlon. Training a “Hybrid” Warrior at the Infantry Officer Course. Small Wars Journal. January 27, 2008. Jasper, Scott and Scott Moreland. The Islamic State is a Hybrid Threat: Why does that matter? Small Wars Journal. December 1, 2014. Deep, Alex. Hybrid War: Old Concept, New Techniques. Small Wars Journal. March 2, 2015.

[13] One should question the true legality of targeting civil society in any capacity, for that has become the distinct feature of “terrorism” throughout GWOT (2001-2013).  Terrorism is defined as “the contemporary name given to, and modern permutation of, warfare deliberately waged against civilians with the purpose of destroying their will to support either leaders or policies that the agents of such violence find objectionable” in Carr, Caleb. The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare against Civilians : Why It Has Always Failed and Why It Will Fail Again. New York: Random House, 2002. Print. p. 31

Could hybrid warfare only be a downgraded definition of terrorism that society is growing tired of, emphasizing non-violent components of war?  For this mutation, I use my own term deep terrorism, as in that “terrorism which no longer seeks to undermine the civil society it targets through strictly violent means, but to transform the entire foundations of a society’s culture,” i.e. rapid and accelerated social engineering. By using deep terrorism, we avoid the hype and over-sensationalizing distinction of hybrid warfare in the media.  Instead, deep terrorism treats terrorism as something existentially profound and culturally transformative in much the same way traumatic situations can lead to rapid growth, rather than a mutated, acceptable form of warfare.

[14] See Lamothe, Dan. Space Warfare with Russia and China? Pentagon urged to prepare for it. The Washington Post. Web. January 27, 2016.

[15] The Russian “troll-farm” could be a CIA-backed project to measure information flow in the U.S. Today, conspiracy-theorists may have just as much credibility in modern conflict as intelligence-analysts do.

[16] Isha Upanishad. Verses 9-11. Wisdom Library. Web. Retrieved April 29, 2016.

[17] US Department of Defense. News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers. Web. February 12, 2002 as cited in Chandler 2014

“… there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.  There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.  But there are also unknown unknowns -- there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

[18] See Freedberg, Sydney. Learning from Termites: Navy, Marines seek new breed of drones. Breaking Defense. Web. April 17, 2015

[19] Hwaramy, Fazel and Spencer Ackermann. Video shows Navy Seal’s death was result of intense combat with ISIS. The Guardian. Web. May 4, 2016.

[20] Morgan, Wesley. What the Army’s top-secret commando unit Delta Force is doing back in Iraq.  The Washington Post. Web. October 23, 2015.

[21] Tidall, Simon. A creaky dam in Mosul is the latest weapon in US anti-ISIS propaganda. The Guardian. Web. March 3, 2016.

[22] Gallagher, Sean. US military launches cyber attacks on ISIS in Mosul, and announces it. Ars Technica. Web. March 1, 2016.

[23] See Tedeshi, Richard G. and Lawrence G. Calhoun. Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundation and Empirical Evidence. Philadelphia, PA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2004

[24] Bagayoko, Hutchful, and Luckham 2016, p. 6, hybridity is defined as “the multiple sites of political authority and governance where security is enacted and negotiated’ including ‘the multiple ways traditional, personal, kin-based or clientilistic logics interact with modern, imported, or rational actor logics in the shifting historical conditions of particular national and local contexts’” as cited in Luckham and Kirk (2013) ‘The Two Faces of Security’ and Bagayoko (2012) ‘Introduction: Hybrid Security Governance’.


About the Author(s)

Casey Carr is an MA Candidate in International Conflict and Security at the University of Kent in Brussels. Having a background in psychological and information operations with the U.S. Army, including deployments to North Iraq on a Tactical PSYOP Team in support of SFOD-As, he studied at the University of New York in Prague, concentrating his course load on social and psychological aspects of disaster, conflict, and crisis.  His research involves individual and collective radicalization processes, where his current work focuses on Islamic political activism and radicalization in Belgium.  He writes on hybrid warfare, terrorism, complexity applied to warfare, and sci-fi.