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Kapusta-SW 2015






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Kapusta-SW 2015

Gray Zone


sof gray zone

  title={Gray Zone},
  author={Philip Kapusta},
  journal={Special Warfare},

"Gray zone security challenges, which are competitive interactions among and within state and non-state actors that fall between the traditional war and peace duality, are characterized by ambiguity about the nature of the conflict, opacity of the parties involved, or uncertainty about the relevant policy and legal frameworks. They exist short of a formal state of war, and present novel complications for U.S. policy and interests in the 21st century. The United States has a well-developed vocabulary, doctrine and mental models to describe war and peace, but the numerous gray zone challenges in between defy easy categorization."

"Gray zone challenges are not new. Monikers such as irregular warfare, low-intensity conflict, asymmetric warfare, military operations other than war and small wars were employed to describe this phenomenon in the past."

"Gray zone challenges are also perspective-dependent."

"What differs today is the growing number of potential gray zone actors, the tools available to them and the velocity of change."

"The trend towards gray zone conflicts increasingly disadvantages entrenched govern- mental bureaucracies."

"As America experienced over the last 15 years, the price of major combat operations is escalating to the point of being cost-prohibitive. These trends portend an expanded gray zone, since nations are even more reticent to engage in open warfare, and can now find and exploit other less conventional tools of leverage."

"In fact, antagonists typically choose to work in the gray zone precisely because they want to avoid full-scale war and its potential to trigger an overwhelming U.S. military response."

"We also need to grow our non-military capabilities. Our gray zone actions are often overly militarized because the Department of Defense has the most capability and resources, and thus is often the default U.S. government answer. Having more institutional capability outside of DoD optimized to operate between the clearly defined lanes of law enforcement and full-scale war will help avoid predictable, binary U.S. responses."

"As many senior strategists have suggested, there should be two broad categories of U.S. military forces. Category One forces should focus on conventional warfare and be powerful enough to defeat potential adversary state militar- ies such as North Korea. Category Two forces would focus on being able to act in the gray zone. They would feature smaller, more agile and deployable units. The two sets of forces would not necessarily be mutually exclusive, and they could support each other as needed. However, their manning, training and equipping would look quite different. The two forces would have different skill sets, orientations and day-to-day missions. As the U.S. demonstrated the ability to operate efficiently and effectively in the gray zone, it would lessen the need to do so over time. Gray zone challenges to the U.S. are increas- ing rapidly in the hyper-connected world of the 21st century, and having a force structure reflecting this reality is a strategic imperative."

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