BUILDING UP CAPABILITIES FOR ASSESSMENT OF CRISIS AND CONFLICT REGIONS IN RESPONSE OF HYBRID THREATS AND CONFLICTS

 

 

lieutenant-colonel Ivo Zahariev, Ph.D.
G. S. Rakovski National Defence College

Abstract: The topic of hybrid threats takes on a special presence for NATO after the annexation of Crimea and the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. The building up of capabilities for assessment of crisis and conflict regions is a basis for effective engagement of the armed forces in conducting complex, multi-purpose operations to counteracting against hybrid threats.  The adequate assessment of crisis and conflict regions may lead to more effective counter-action on enemy’s hybrid impacts.

Key words: hybrid threats, assessment, crisis and conflict regions, capabilities, counteraction.

The contemporary risks and threats to the Republic of Bulgaria arise outside the territory of the country.

They are the result of a change in the behavior, significance and interests of key global and regional players, stemming from the particular situation in the crisis and conflict regions of the Western Balkans, Ukraine, the Middle and the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South Asia.

The strategic assessment of the security environment shows that in many regions progressively deteriorates as the negative development of processes is conditioned by a set of internal and external factors.

The most important of these are: persistent domestic and ethnic conflicts; the inefficiency of the authorities; insufficient capabilities of security forces; problems in foreign policy relations, especially with neighboring countries; the crisis humanitarian situation; the clash of foreign interests and the interference of other countries.

Among the many threats related to the international security environment, in recent years, those of a hybrid type, ie of a complex and complex nature, that act simultaneously are particularly relevant.

In particular, hybrid threats imply the use of different actions of varying nature for pressure on the opposing party.

Among them, military action is only part of the instruments used, increasing the role of non-military means to achieve the objectives set.

Many experts predict that hybrid threats to international security will increase in the near future.

The aforementioned crisis and conflict areas have had or have a place, and so on, hybrid conflicts (wars).

In these cases, a complex of non-military measures – political, economic, informational, psychological, etc. – implemented through military action is used.

In addition, there is no need to develop new weapons and combat systems, for example, for conducting a hybrid conflict (war) existing ones are sufficient.

The main components of hybrid threats, which inherently pose individual threats:

  • Threats of a political and diplomatic nature;
  • Threats of informational nature;
  • Threats of a psychological nature;
  • Threats of cyber attacks;
  • Threats of an economic nature;
  • Threats of protest actions and destructive public actions;
  • Threats of force action;
  • Threats of large-scale refugees and migratory waves.1

The combined and purposeful action of the above mentioned components in different combinations in a space to be destabilized, determines and forms the hybrid threats.

In most hybrid threats, traditional elements (military or other force) and non-traditional elements (non-military character) are also present in different combinations.

Given the fact that hybrid threats are preceded by hybrid actions, the analysis of problems should be deepened in the direction of hybrid conflicts (wars) that have taken place in recent years.

The presence of crises and conflicts near the borders of the Republic of Bulgaria, the change in the balance of power in the Black Sea region, the significant number of frozen conflicts around our country call for the development and development of capabilities to use a modern approach to the analysis and assessment of crisis or conflict areas , which will help to make decisions in the future.

At the same time, it is necessary to build capabilities for assessment and analysis of the environmental factors that will affect contemporary and future operations.

The consideration of the features of modern operations predetermines the need to take into account the influence of many factors that influence the actions of the formations.

There are a number of factors affecting the conduct of operations, which can be divided into several areas according to their common signs of impact, the most important of which are:

– External factors – political environment, military environment, economic environment, social environment, information environment, geography of the area, infrastructure, protected areas and climatic conditions.

  • Internal factors – doctrinal documents on the use of the armed forces of the country; combat characteristics of the weapon, military equipment and intelligence means; level of training of all participants in the operation area; available resources for conducting combat operations; the state of leadership training and organizational culture; the moral-psychological status of the personnel from the formations, their readiness to perform combat tasks regardless of the difficulties, the manifestation of initiative, creativity, readiness for self-sacrifice, etc.2

External factors should be analyzed as follows: political environment; military environment; economic environment; social environment; information environment; geography of the area, infrastructure, protected zones, climatic conditions.

External factors

 

The political environment as a variable includes the political aspects of the operation such as stability, governance, representation, judiciary, political interest groups, administration, international relations and diplomacy.

The military environment includes the military capabilities of all armed forces in a given operating environment.

The economic environment includes the total amount of production, distribution and consumption of all kinds of goods and services per country or organization.

Changes in the social environment should be assessed in the following areas: demographic; religion; migration trends; degree of urbanization; living standards; the cohesion and activity of cultural, religious or ethnic groups.

The information environment includes the entire infrastructure, organization, human resources and components that collect, store, transmit, express, distribute and handle information.

The geography of the area, infrastructure, protected areas and climatic conditions are interrelated. Due to the fact that the specific conditions are variable and the variants of impact are manifold, these factors have to be considered broadly, taking into account the interrelationships between them when planning and carrying out each operation.

Internal factors should be assessed against the following:

  • doctrinal documents on the use of the armed forces of the country;
  • the combat characteristics of the weapon, the military equipment and the means of intelligence
  • the level of training of all participants in the operation area
  • available resources for conducting combat operations
  • state of leadership and organizational culture
  • moral-psychological status of the personnel from the formations, their readiness to perform combat tasks regardless of the difficulties, the manifestation of initiative, creativity, readiness for self-sacrifice, etc.
  • the nature of civilian-military relations.

Internal factors

 

The doctrinal documents on the use of the country’s armed forces determine the means for resolving inter-state contradictions as a priority, as well as the minimum necessary level of the armed forces in quantitative and qualitative terms.

The combat characteristics of the weapon, the combat equipment and the intelligence means, the increased range of weapons, their accuracy, impact strength, mobility and rapid action have a significant impact on the increase of the dynamics and the size of the operations, the ways of keeping them, the volume and the extent of the tasks performed , maneuverability of troops, etc.

The moral-psychological status of the personnel from the formations, their readiness to perform combat tasks regardless of the difficulties, the manifestation of initiative, creativity, readiness for self-sacrifice are an important condition for the success of the operations in a complex environment.

The state of leadership training and organizational culture determine the probability of failure of the situation, and the loss-making process will increase if it is hurried without the necessary time and patience.

External and internal factors are in symbiosis and have a complex impact on the conduct of operations.

The assessment of crisis and conflict areas can be based and presented through a system of indicators.

 

The doctrinal documents on the use of the country’s armed forces determine the means for resolving inter-state contradictions as a priority, as well as the minimum necessary level of the armed forces in quantitative and qualitative terms.

The combat characteristics of the weapon, the combat equipment and the intelligence means, the increased range of weapons, their accuracy, impact strength, mobility and rapid action have a significant impact on the increase of the dynamics and the size of the operations, the ways of keeping them, the volume and the extent of the tasks performed , maneuverability of troops, etc.

The moral-psychological status of the personnel from the formations, their readiness to perform combat tasks regardless of the difficulties, the manifestation of initiative, creativity, readiness for self-sacrifice are an important condition for the success of the operations in a complex environment.

The state of leadership training and organizational culture determine the probability of failure of the situation, and the loss-making process will increase if it is hurried without the necessary time and patience.

External and internal factors are in symbiosis and have a complex impact on the conduct of operations.

The assessment of crisis and conflict areas can be based and presented through a system of indicators.

1 Vidolov, Boti. Aktualni problemi, proiztichashti ot otsenkata na krizisni i konfliktni raĭoni pri khibridni zaplakhi i konflikti. – V: Voenen zhurnal, 2017, kn. 1-4.

2 Zahariev, Ivo, Zhivko Zhelev. Analiz na vliyanieto na sredata vŭrkhu provezhdaneto na operatsii. // Voenen zhurnal, 2015, kn. 3.

3 Doktrina za podgotovka na Vaorazhenite sili na Republika Bulgaria. Sofia: Ministerstvo na otbranata, 2012.