Sunday, April 8, 2018

What is "Hybrid Warfare"? Foreign interference in an American election.

Image, blazingcatfur

What is "hybrid warfare?" It's what Vladimyr Putin has been practicing without restraint or serious resistance since his interference in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential campaign, designed and implemented with help from Paul Manafort, followed by Putin's invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine in 2014.

That's the truth in a nutshell. The implications are enormous. And they are interconnected with our 2016 presidential election.

On his way out the door, fired by Trump because they disagreed, Gen. H.R. McMaster, a PhD historian, brilliant, forceful, gave a good definition:
"Hybrid warfare is a pernicious form of aggression that combines political, economic, informational, and cyber assaults against sovereign nations. It employs sophisticated strategies deliberately designed to achieve objectives while falling below the target state’s threshold for a military response. These tactics include infiltrating social media, spreading propaganda, weaponizing information, and using other forms of subversion and espionage.”
McMaster acknowledged that the West had "failed to impose sufficient costs" on Moscow for its aggressive behavior.  He was thinking Ukraine and Syria, and maybe our election.

He contended that we are engaged in a “fundamental contest between our free and open societies and closed and repressive systems.”  He called the nerve poisoning of the Skrypals in London  “an assault on the United Kingdom’s sovereignty, a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the first offensive use of nerve agent in Europe since World War II."  This last part was news to me, about the chemical weapons agreement and the contemporary use of a nerve agent.

I'm glad I learned this, because true to form, Russia has since mounted a new information cyber war, a disinformation campaign, to create confusion and cover up the truth.

I found more details about hybrid warfare in an article in Air Force Magazine (cited below), a fascinating source. This article caught my attention because it uses Russia's aggression against Ukraine as an example. Here's how the article describes it: 
"The “little green men” were one of the first signs of Russia’s strategy. Commandos wearing green uniforms stripped of insignia occupied key government institutions in Crimea during the early months of the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.
    For a time, their ambiguous identity allowed Russian leaders to deny that Moscow had launched a military offensive to seize the Crimean Peninsula and its Black Sea ports.
    But these Russian Special Forces were not the only indication Moscow had launched a complex, multifaceted operation in the region. That October, as Ukraine neared a crucial snap parliamentary election, electronic advertising billboards in the capital of Kiev suddenly began showing a video accusing Ukrainian politicians of war crimes. Then they displayed graphic images of civilians killed in the eastern part of the country.  The electronic network had been compromised by a shadowy, pro-Russian group of hackers. 
     Russia also relied on conventional forces to push for its objectives. Regular infantry units eventually took the place of the little green men in Crimea. Russian artillery and military personnel crossed into Ukraine proper to help pro-Russian insurgents seize and hold strips of territory in the Donbas region in the country’s east."
It's a concise description of a complex strategy, and its conclusions are clear: "Russia’s intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is a textbook example of hybrid warfare, the combination of unconventional means (subversion, cyber attack) with conventional might to reach a geostrategic objective."

That Paul Manafort and his cronies had a hand in Putin's mission is indisputable. And it's becoming clear as more evidence and new connections emerge--as the dots are connected--that Manafort used the same kind of hybrid war games--social media, propaganda,"fake news"--in America's 2016 election that he had used in Ukraine to demonize Yulia Tymoshenko and elect pro-Russian billionaire Viktor Yanukovich.  

The folks at Cambridge Analytica, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon of Breitbart, Republican Party operatives, alt-right fanatics who saw in a Trump presidency the chance to "deconstruct" our democracy, were impressed.  Manafort knew how to swing elections. The "Corrupt Yulia" disinformation propaganda campaign morphed into the "Corrupt Hillary"campaign.

But that Cambridge Analytica circle of propagandists are not the only ones who are experts at "weaponizing information."  The Air Force Magazine article reveals another interesting fact: Gen. James Mattis, Trump's Secretary of Defense and a marine to the core, is also an expert on hybrid warfare.  Who knew that? He has thought about it for over a decade and has written about it.  In a 2005 article he co-wrote with Lt. Col. Frank G. Hoffman, who was one of the first to use the term, he called it "an unprecedented synthesis."
“We may face remnants of the fielded army of a rogue state in future wars, and they may employ conventional weapons in very novel or nontraditional ways.”/ Hybrid war might feature attacks against US critical infrastructure or transportation networks. It could involve an electronic take down of military or financial computer networks," Hoffman and Mattis wrote.
"Hybrid war in Poland, blazingcatfur 
It was a prediction, and it came true.  Mattis must  see the connections to the 2016 election. He understands more than we know. Like his friend Gen. McMaster.  They must see the whole picture that Mueller is now putting together, like the pieces of a puzzle.

It makes me wonder how people who know so much more than Trump can hang in there. It makes me wonder how Mattis will work with the warmonger John Bolton, friend of Russia, ethically challenged, part of the Cambridge Analytica story, involved in Russian oligarchs' links to the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Whoever thought that Putin's brand of warfare would become part of an American presidential campaign between an unfit Trump and a super-qualified but cyber-targeted Hillary Clinton?

In fact, in my view, the intrusion in our election had its genesis in Putin's hatred of Clinton and his fear she would be hard on Russia if elected. The hybrid-disinformation campaign against her started when she was Secretary of State. Also, Putin believed Trump could be "persuaded" to end the sanctions imposed for his invasion and occupation of Ukraine. And Paul Manafort, still in touch with pro-Putin Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, thought so too.

We are facing a political firestorm unprecedented in American History. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has his plate full. A political tsunami is rumbling onto shore, slowly but surely. It will take down the Trump regime and all who enabled it, obstructed justice, or colluded with a foreign power using a hybrid war to disrupt an American election. 

Some sources:
"Retired Marine Reservist Lt. Col. Frank G. Hoffman was among the first theorists to begin using the term “hybrid war” to refer to this hydra-headed concept. He referred to it as a “blurring of modes of war, the blurring of who fights, and what technologies are brought to bear.” In this definition, hybrid war involves both nations and nonstate forces. Its violence can span the spectrum from intense regular unit combat to guerrilla warfare and terrorist acts. It can slot in criminal kidnapping and theft and, increasingly, cyber warfare. It can employ state sponsorship of existing local unrest and the manipulation of currencies and other means of economic aggression. Diplomacy and propaganda play a part. /Hoffman began talking about this concept as early as 2005. He called it “unprecedented synthesis” in an article in Proceedings cowritten with Marine Corps then-Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, now the new Secretary of Defense." Adeela Naureen, origininally published in The Nation and used in online courses.   An interesting world-wide view of what it means.  About the Night Wolves, Putin's feared biker gang. Interesting article on Russia's hyrid war in Poland, showing the extent of Putin's efforts in the East and the West.

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