A Whole Of Government Approach To Gray Zone Warfare

A Whole Of Government Approach To Gray Zone Warfare
A Whole-Of-Government Approach To Gray Zone Warfare
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“Gray Zone Warfare”, a term widely in play within U.S. military circles, known and fully understood also across the foreign affairs policy arena. You may be less familiar with conducting non-military global combat between nations, the definition from General Joseph Votel, of the Special Operations Command is: “competitive interactions among and within state and non-state actors that fall between the traditional war and peace duality.”

In today’s global battle for economic, political, and military supremacy the traditional warfare norm of weapons, killing, and destruction has turned into a phenomena, just as concerning, that encompasses strategic methods just short of outright war. Gray Zone Warfare has increasingly become the norm and results by successful deployment can bring rewards as great as war itself.

Author Elizabeth Troder currently leads the Army’s effort to develop and publish the Army’s Organic Industrial Base Strategic Plan, to include master planning, major equipment, energy, and funding requirements. In this text, she presents a “Whole government approach” to include decision-makers within the National Security Council, national intelligence community, Department of Commerce, and others to provide guidance beyond DOD for Gray Zone warfare implications relating to soft power capabilities.

This monograph provides an assessment of the gray zone tactics as well as historic examples of soft power used against the most active U.S. adversaries, and builds the case for requiring U.S. Federal agencies to request that the Deputy National Security Advisor convene a National Security Council/Deputies Committee

Leading combatants in the use of Gray Zone Warfare have deployed direct soft power strategies in the use of Gray Zone tactics:

Russia’s expansion of information warfare capabilities, including electronic warfare in efforts to favor Russian objectives has been taking place recently through media organizations to meddle in foreign countries’ electoral process.

 Iran, uses for soft power has included using media for the distribution of money disguised as charity to thwart attempts against 46 financial institutions through online banking attempts as well as cyberespionage through malware targeted at aviation and defense industries.

North Korea, continues money laundering, drug trafficking, and cyberwarfare to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs while Leader Kim Jun Un continues to make progress on various forms of nuclear and missile technology while stringing out possible non-nuclear agreements with the U.S. and improving relations with South Korea.

China, mega commercial exploits such as the “One Belt, One Road”, South China Sea   island creation and cyberespionage operations to steal weapon programs and sensitive information from federal employees’ background checks are some examples of their soft power capabilities.

Author Troder contends that a “whole-of-government” approach is needed to deny the effects of gray zone warfare and to consider the methods of soft power capabilities undertaken by U.S. adversaries in efforts to secure American gray zone superiority. In summary she urges that this approach is vital to protect U.S. national security interests and preserve our democracy.

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Operating in the Gray Zone: An Alternative Paradigm for U.S. Military Strategy

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Military and foreign affairs specialists and leadership should find this monograph essential reading to appreciate the changing landscape of warfare and global political strategic methods. Anyone associated with this arena such as military contractors as well as university-level instructors and political science students should also be prime candidates to obtain this forward thinking resource.

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Defense Dept., Army, Strategic Studies Institute; and Army War College
  • Troeder, Elizabeth G.
Key Phrases:
  • Irregular warfare
  • political warfare
  • unconventional warfare
  • national security
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