HybridCoe dots

COI Strategy and Defence

The German-led Community of Interest on Strategy & Defence focuses on the phenomena of hybrid conflicts and warfare from a war studies perspective.

The overarching objective of COI S&D is to provide expertise for Participating States, the EU and NATO for the purposes of fostering a common and comprehensive understanding when it comes to countering and responding to hybrid threats and crises.

The COI aims at homing in on the essence and nature of hybrid conflicts and warfare, and the logic and pattern of hybrid strategies, to develop a better understanding of possible hybrid situations and their challenges, especially for armed forces now and in the future. 

An inherent characteristic of hybrid threats entails blurring traditional dichotomies and creating ambiguity and uncertainty. The goal is to achieve national interests and objectives through strategies such as undermining public trust in democratic institutions, deepening unhealthy polarization, challenging the core values of democratic societies, interfering in democratic elections, and affecting the decision-making capability of political leaders, even by the use of military means.

COI S&D adopts a holistic approach to safety and security. Gender and social questions are wedge issues in societies that can be used to weaponize social divisions and harm resilience and deterrence at the grassroots level. As such, gender and other intersecting identity and cultural markers are important in understanding the risks posed by hybrid threats, their potential impacts on societies, and the ways in which deterrence and resilience can be created and strengthened.

COI S&D invites conflict, cyber and war study researchers, military and civilian security practitioners, and technology visionists to cooperate and co-create ideas and solutions for a safer and more secure world. The COI applies and addresses diverse perspectives to discover and identify ways to prevent, counter, contain and resolve hybrid threat activities.

War, conflicts and warfare

COI S&D aims to explore the emerging phenomena of hybrid conflicts, warfare and war with the overarching goal of (re-)conceptualizing existing concepts of conflict, war and warfare.

Theory and case studies

To support the Participating States and their institutions, the COI collects, discusses, and produces hybrid warfare-related theoretical publications and case studies to provide practical advice.  


Technology is one of the main drivers of hybrid warfare and hybrid war theories. The Hybrid Warfare Future and Technologies project (HYFUTEC II) aims to expand existing theories of dual-use (civ-mil) technologies to address technological risks and opportunities for malign hybrid actors.

Cyber Power in Hybrid Warfare (CPH)

The goal of this workstrand is to identify, raise awareness of, and address relevant strategic questions and issues regarding cyber power and the cyber domain in the context of hybrid conflicts and warfare. The workstrand focuses in particular on identified research gaps at the interface between hybrid conflicts, hybrid warfare and the cyber domain. For this purpose, it conducts workshops with experts, hosts webinars, and holds an Annual Symposium in Helsinki.

Comparative “hybrid” strategy/policy document analysis (StratDoc Analysis)

The StratDoc Analysis workstrand aims at a better mutual understanding of interpretations of and reactions to hybrid challenges based on a systematic inventory-taking and comparative analysis of member states’ policies and strategies. It seeks to identify commonalities and differences in thinking in order to arrive at a common understanding. Through the collection and presentation of lessons learned and best practices, it provides mutual inspiration and practical assistance for updating national strategy and policy documents.

Related publications


Hybrid CoE Working Paper 32: Russia’s hybrid threat tactics against the Baltic Sea region: From disinformation to sabotage

Nordic-Baltic region
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Hybrid CoE Paper 19: Legal power play in cyberspace: Authoritarian and democratic perspectives and the role of international law

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Hybrid CoE Paper 14: AI-based technologies in hybrid conflict: The future of influence operations

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Hybrid CoE Paper 13: Digitalization and hybrid threats: Assessing the vulnerabilities for European security

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Related experts

Sönke Marahrens

  • COI Director

Strategy & Defence

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