Weapons of Mass Information: Army Reveals Next Gen Hybrid Strategy
The U.S. Army has released an updated draft hybrid strategy for 2025 to 2040. It’s just a draft, so it hasn’t been implemented yet, but the approach is up for consideration. Either way, the future of war includes a lot of blurry lines and unprecedented activities. (At least openly.)
U.S. military strategy hasn’t changed much since the end of the Cold War which brought us new intelligence battlefields and updated techniques which really blurred the lines between combatants and civilians. Post-Cold War until recently, the U.S. has run virtually unopposed in the digital realm. Now as the Cyber Cold War heats up, the U.S. moves to shift this strategy again.
Shifting Battle Grounds
A new battlefield includes what the U.S. Army draft calls “multi-domain battle” concept. This includes broadening the perspective of what defines “battlefield.” As a result, the idea of what defines a “contested space” will also change to include not only cyber attacks but also broader information technology.
Since battlegrounds will change, so will tactics. Future war will include much less large-scale attacks and much more non-lethal methods. This is certainly a good thing for anyone living under U.S. bombs, but it also makes war a lot more palatable to average people living inside the United States and other NATO countries.
Increased Urban “Warfare”
About 2/3rds of the global population will live in cities and megacities by 2030. The same tactics used in the desert don’t work so well in urban environments. That’s one reason why the U.S. airstrike campaign in Syria has such devastating consequences: the areas they bomb are densely populated cities.
How do you conduct war in an urban area? How do you run tanks and equipment in such close quarters while evading detection? You fund insurgencies, of course. (Once again: Syria.)
Social Media and Propaganda
Social media has successfully given billions of people around the world the opportunity to communicate with each other. From the Army’s perspective, this is severely hindering operations. As a result, the new draft hybrid strategy will focus on shaping opinions across social media and other non-traditional sources.
We already see this in a few areas with U.S. government-funded propaganda outlets such as Radio Free Europe, or privately-funded non-profit mouthpieces such as Radio Free Asia. Hey, it’s a non-profit, it can’t be political, right? Think again. Most NGOs masquerade as non-political yet are anything but impartial. So these concepts already exist, but most people are pretty aware of them. That’s why the strategy needs to become more covert.
Focus on Small Groups or Individuals
According to the Army, the lines between combatants and non-combatants are once again becoming increasingly blurred. A new strategy will focus on what the Army calls “super-empowered individuals” with weapons of mass effects in cyberspace and other theaters. This started taking place last year when hundreds of anti-war and U.S.-critical independent websites suddenly got put on a “Russian propaganda” list.
But this doesn’t just include outlets, it also includes activists or political dissidents across the world. The army calls these actors “wild cards” that will either support an adversary or could be leveraged by the U.S. against an adversary. This will probably be similar to how the U.S. utilizes ISIS and other terror groups as leverage for intervention throughout the Middle East and Africa. (ISIS is just one extreme example.)
A lot of people worry that the U.S. government would try to destroy independent media. Why would they do that when they can co-opt it? Stay on the look-out for a lot more propaganda outlets masquerading as independent outlets in the coming years along with a lot more political celebrities that probably don’t really exist or are vastly fabricated.