Hybrid Warfare or Asymmetric Warfare?
To have a discussion on hybrid warfare, we need to have a clear idea of what are the differences between conventional and hybrid warfare are. Conventional warfare is a nonnuclear conflict with rules of engagement formed by an agreement or compact. These rules for conventional warfare are spelled out by the Law of War and cover acceptable weapons, treatment of prisoners, torture, surrender, and much more. Unconventional is best described as guerilla and covert operations typically in enemy influenced territory. Hybridized warfare is most commonly used to refer to conflict that has both conventional and unconventional elements. We are using unconventional and hybridized warfare to explain today’s new conflicts, but I believe asymmetric warfare is a much more fitting term since most present conflicts do not envelop the classic covert or clandestine missions of unconventional warfare. Our nation is struggling to fight asymmetric wars with conventional ideals and guidelines. Hybridized warfare has been somewhat inaccurately used for conflicts that vary from low to high intensity in unpredictable patterns, when asymmetric might be more appropriate. The term asymmetric warfare was coined in 1975. "Asymmetric" referred simply to a significant disparity in power between opposing actors in a conflict. A lot of things have changed since then, but this basic concept still fits even though the definition and the battlefield have continued to evolve. Disparity in power was part of the original definition, but now we can add a disparity in observance of Law of War. Irregular, guerilla, insurgencies, unconventional, and other newer terms for warfare are just a part of the asymmetric warfare that we see today. Sydney Freedberg wrote “When the reinforcements flew from al-Asad to Falluja….they had unwittingly moved from a low-intensity guerrilla conflict into something much closer to a high-intensity conventional war.” I...
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