The global political reality is transforming rapidly, involving variables such as economy, politics, and security. The concept of “new-generation warfare,” coined to refer the 21st century warfare, can be also termed as “non-linear warfare” due to the simultaneous deployment of multiple complimentary military and non-military tactics and strategies against the adversary.
In the West, it is known as “hybrid warfare,” defined as the combination of conventional, unconventional, regular and irregular, overt and covert, physical and cyber means of waging war. Here “unconventional” doesn’t mean the use of NBCs (nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons), rather it connotes every tool – such as political, socio-economic, media, and rights protests – that can be deployed or employed against the adversary. (An exemplar of this is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Crimea annexation.)
The concept of new-generation warfare can be grasped from a speech on “Fighting 21st Century Wars” by Russian General Valeny Gerasimov.
“In the 21st century, we see a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared, and having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template. The experience of recent military conflicts... confirms that a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict and later became the victim of foreign interventions that can, in the name of humanitarian and terrorism-related excuses, sink those states into the web of chaos, humanitarian disaster and civil war.”
In case of Russia, new-generation warfare associated with the Gerasimov Doctrine aims at securing Russian interests in eastern and central Europe. The aim of this kind of “warfare” is to intensify psychological pressure to cause the downfall of the target state from within, so that the political objectives of the conflict can be achieved without fighting – the acme of strategic skill according to Sun Tzu.In this context, the Russian approach to modern warfare can be summed up as follows:
“The main battle space is in the mind. As a result, new-generation wars are to be dominated by information and psychological warfare. The objective is to reduce the necessity for deploying hard military power to the minimum necessary, making the opponent’s military and civil population support the attacker to the detriment of their government and country.”
The security of states is at risk because of the rapid development in technology, especially cyberspace- and AI-related, that has completely transformed the nature of modern armed conflicts.
Shahzada Rahim is a postgraduate student with an interest in writing on history, geopolitics, Current affairs, and International political economy. He is a freelancer and an independent writer. Twitter: @rahimabbas