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Strategy (Spotlight Brief 3/21)

8 June 2021

The content in this article is an extract of Spotlight Brief 3/21.

Information Weapons: Russia’s Nonnuclear Strategic Weapons of Choice

The Cyber Defense Review – Dec 20

The increased focus on deterrence suggests closer study in how our systems and capabilities can achieve it. Russia offers an unlikely exemplar, especially in the immediate post-Cold War phase. When confronted with an undented NATO and a shambolic internal economy, Russia turned to information warfare as a strategic tool. In the three decades since Russia has refined and expanded its understanding and use of information warfare to a level where they believe it can sit alongside nuclear weapons and other strategic capabilities. While their definition of information warfare is wider than that employed within the FVEY community, and they use some techniques probably unacceptable to the ADF, there is still value in understanding and drawing lessons from the example.


‘War in All but Name‘, The Strategy Bridge, 26 Apr 21

‘Striking the right balance: how Russian information operations in the Baltic States should inform us strategy in Great Power competition’, Modern War Institute, 12 Apr 21

‘Towards an AI-Based Counter-Disinformation Framework’, RAND, 29 Mar 21

‘The Reality of War Should Define Information Warfare’, Proceedings, Mar 21

‘Russian Cyber Strategy’, Small Wars Journal, 14 Feb 21

Roundtable: Thucydides’s Trap? Historical Interpretation, Logic of Inquiry, and the Future of Sino-American Relations

International Security Studies Forum – Nov 20

This is a different type of article, consisting of six reviews of Steve Chan’s book Thucydides’ Trap, Historical Interpretation, Logic of Inquiry, and the Future of Sino-American Relations and a rebuttal / discussion of the reviews from the author. Reading Chan’s book is not required to appreciate this article; the introduction provides significant detail and situates it within the current strategic environment. At its base, it scrutinises two foundations of the US-China relationship: Graham Allison’s ‘Thucydides Trap’ and A.F.K. Organski’s power transformation theory. The six reviewers all differ as to how much Chan exposes structural issues with either theory, but the discussion provides a new way of reviewing power transfers. This article does not provide definitive answers, it stimulates new paths for consideration.


‘Escaping Thucydides’ Trap: Keeping the Peace Between Rising and Reigning Powers’, Fair Observer, 05 Apr 21

‘Trapped by Thucydides? Updating the strategic canon for a Sino-centric era’, War on the Rocks, 28 Dec 20

‘Who is afraid of Thucydides?’, Expertise Asia, 07 Dec 20

‘Thucydides paradox a trap for the Aussies’, Global Times, 04 Dec 20

‘Oh God, Not the Peloponnesian War Again’, Foreign Policy, 28 Jul 20

Providing Stability and Deterrence: The US Army in INDOPACOM

Parameters – Mar 21

With the shift of US attention to the Indo-Pacific region, the US Army must become a more effective enabler for the Joint Force. This article provides two major ways that the US Army can do this: developing its long range and precision strike capabilities, and augmentation of the Quad’s military capabilities. In understanding how the US Army is, and may, shift its priorities, we may help optimise our own force, as well as identifying where the best points of integration lie.


‘Army Competing Every day in Indo-Pacific, Senior Leaders Say’, US Indo-Pacific Command, 07 Apr 21

‘Army Not Trying to Muscle In on Marine Corps' Mission in the Pacific, General Says’,, 30 Mar 21

‘Overmatch is fleeting: How the US Army’s multidomain task force will help the military remain dominant’, Defense News, 24 Mar 21

‘‘Land Forces Are Hard To Kill’: Army Chief Unveils Pacific Strategy’, Breaking Defense, 23 Mar 21

‘Army Multi-Domain Transformation’, US Army, 16 Mar 21

The ambiguity of hybrid warfare: A qualitative content analysis of the United Kingdom's political–military discourse on Russia's hostile activities

Contemporary Security Policy – Feb 21

A vital part in any discussion, debate or study is a clear understanding of the underpinning terminology. While Frank Hoffman provided the first definition of hybrid warfare in the West, this soon became complicated after an article ‘quoting’ General Valery Gerasimov. The definition has expanded and shifted to become almost cliché. Silvie Janičatová and Petra Mlejnková’s analysis of British political and military works that relate to perceived use of hybrid warfare by Russia highlights this. Interestingly, ‘hybrid warfare’ was just one of many terms to describe Russian activities. Post 2014 this tends to shift to use of ‘hybrid warfare’ to describe non-military actions, not those by the armed forces. Janičatová and Mlejnková find that ‘hybrid warfare’ has lost value as a term thanks to this variety. While a general, recognised definition would be helpful, there are better ways to discuss contemporary warfare. A key recommendation from that is the increased importance of framing discussion about specific components of warfare (for example, cyber warfare) as opposed to vague generalities.


‘The Blurring Of War And Peace: Hybrid Warfare – Analysis’, Eurasia Review, 19 Apr 21

‘Striking the right balance: how Russian information operations in the Baltic States should inform us strategy in Great Power competition’, Modern War Institute, 12 Apr 21

‘The Rhetoric vs the Reality: Understanding NATO’s Capacity to Address Russian Gray-zone Conflict’, The Civil Affairs Association, 11 Mar 21

‘Using Hybrid War Theory to Shape Future U. S. Generational Doctrine’, Small Wars Journal, 03 Feb 21

‘Between Peace and War: Gray Zone, Bright Line, or Dialectic?’, Real Clear Defense, 07 Dec 20

Whose hybrid warfare? How ‘the hybrid warfare’ concept shapes Russian discourse, military, and political practice

Small Wars and Insurgencies – Feb 21

 Maxim Suchkov unpicks the term ‘hybrid warfare’ in how Russians see and use it. Ironically, considering the general Western view Russia initially saw hybrid warfare as a means of describing American trends in warfare. For Moscow, hybrid warfare is the range of conflicts (military, social, health, sports, etc) that the West wages on Russia. The article suggests their future concept of war (Vojni Novogo Pokoleniya (VNP) - ‘New Generation Warfare’) reflects this, focussing on how Russia will engage with foreign adversaries. Hybrid warfare is how Russia will defend itself from the West. It is critical to understand this, as it means our definition of hybrid warfare cannot be easily applied as predictive tool for Russian (or nations that are Russian trained) actions.


‘Russian Cyber Strategy’, Small Wars Journal, 14 Feb 21

‘The evolution of Russian hybrid warfare’, Center for European Policy Analysis, 29 Jan 21

‘Russia’s New Military Strategy is Less Numbers, More Technology’, The National Interest, 21 Jan 21

‘Tracing Russia’s Path to Network-Centric Military Capability’, The Jamestown Foundation, 04 Dec 20

‘Russian New Generation Warfare’, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, 26 Mar 20

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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