Hybrid threats, cyber warfare and NATO's comprehensive approach for countering 21st century threats: mapping the new frontier of global risk and security management (2011)
Repository: University of Lincoln: Lincoln Repository
The end of the so-called ‘Cold War’ has seen a change in the nature of present threats and with it to the overall role and mission of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in 1991 also removed the original raison d’etre of the Alliance: the prospect of having to repel a Soviet led attack by the Warsaw Pact on the West through the so called ‘Fulda gap’ in Germany (referring to the German lowlands between Frankfurt am Main and the former East German border which was regarded as the most likely terrain for an armour led Soviet breakout) was replaced by the recognition of the need to counter new – often hybrid – threats, which have little in common with bygone acts of interstate aggression. These new, modern threats to global peace, prosperity and security seriously threaten the present steady state environment at home (before the backdrop of the ongoing asymmetric conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq) and warrant a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder driven response. Multimodal, low intensity, kinetic as well as non-kinetic threats to international peace and security including cyber war, low intensity asymmetric conflict scenarios, global terrorism, piracy, transnational organized crime, demographic challenges, resources security, retrenchment from globalization and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were identified by NATO as so called “Hybrid Threats” (cf BI-SC Input for a New NATO Capstone Concept for The Military Contribution to Countering Hybrid Enclosure 1 to 1500/CPPCAM/FCR/10-270038 and 5000 FXX/0100/TT-0651/SER: NU0040, dated 25 August 2010). NATO’s Bi-Strategic Command Capstone Concept describes these Hybrid Threats as ‘those posed by adversaries, with the ability to simultaneously employ conventional and non-conventional means adaptively in pursuit of their objectives.’ (See Hybrid Threats Description in 1500/CPPCAM/FCR/10-270038 and 5000 FXX/0100/TT-0651/SER: NU0040 dated 25 August 2010: Paragraph 7). Having identified this kind of emerging threat, NATO is working on a comprehensive conceptual framework, (the Capstone Concept) which provides the framework for identifying and discussing such threats and possible multi-stakeholder responses. In essence, Hybrid Threats faced by NATO and its non-military partners require a comprehensive approach allowing a wide spectrum of responses, kinetic and non-kinetic by military and non-military actors (see “Updated List of Tasks for the Implementation of the Comprehensive Approach Action Plan and the Lisbon Summit Decisions on the Comprehensive Approach”, dated 4 march 2011, p 1-10, paragraph 1). NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) supported by the US Joint Forces Command Joint Irregular Warfare Centre (USJFCOM JIWC) and the US National Defence University (NDU) conducted specialised workshops related to “Assessing Emerging Security Challenges in the Globalised Environment (Countering Hybrid Threats) Experiment” in 2011(cf NATO’s Transnet network on Countering Hybrid Threats (CHT) at https://transnet.act.nato.int/WISE/Transforma1/ACTIPT/JOUIPT). The workshops of the experiment took place in Brussels, Belgium and Tallinn, Estonia and had the aim of identifying possible threats and to discuss some or the key implications that need to be addressed in countering such risks & challenges. Essential is the hypothesis that such a response will have to be in partnership with other stakeholders such as international and regional organizations as well as representatives of business and commerce. This short article introduces the reader to a new form of global threat scenario and the possibilities of response and deterrence within their wider legal and political context.