Hybrid warfare in Vietnam – How to win a war despite military defeat

Dr Johann Schmid, Director COI Strategy & Defence at Hybrid CoE, contributed to the latest issue of ISPAIM – Monitor Strategic with an article on ‘Hybrid warfare in Vietnam – How to win a war despite military defeat’. 

All warfare is hybrid, but there is also a specific hybrid way of waging war. In contrast to “conventional” militarycentric warfare, its centre of gravity is not primarily located in the military domain. Instead, one of the key factors in this respect is influencing, disintegrating or destroying the opponent’s psychological constitution, particularly their willingness to fight and their morale in continuing the struggle. Legitimacy and justness can become strong and effective weapons in this respect. As a result, success in hybrid warfare does not necessarily require victory on the military battle­field. Success is even possible despite military defeat. The example of the Second Indochina War underlines this and shows that hybrid warfare can be conceptualized by three key characteristics. These characteristics and their hybrid orchestration and interplay provide the missing link that helps to explain this fre­quently misunderstood defeat in Vietnam. A comparative analysis of the war in Eastern Ukraine also reveals a number of interesting parallels.

See Schmid, Johann. ‘Hybrid warfare in Vietnam – How to win a war despite military defeat’ISPAIM – Monitor Strategic 2–4/2020, B. Nr. 17/02.12.2020/0691, Bucuresti, 23. (Feb 2021): 54–67. 

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