The COVID-19 crisis situation – a hybrid warfare perspective

Hybrid CoE’s COI Strategy and Defence (COI S&D) contributed as a co-organizer of the international webinar on ‘COVID-19 pandemic impact on the security environment and operations’ on June 24. The webinar was initiated by the Doctrine and Training Centre of the Polish Armed Forces (D&TC PAF). Co-organizers included the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (EASS), the Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU) and the NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence (NATO MP CoE).

“The current COVID-19 crisis situations closely resemble war-like situations but despite this similarity and common ground, it is not war. However, if the virus were man-made, more controllable and scalable for targeted use, it could be a ‘dangerous hybrid weapon’. While the current COVID-19 crisis situation has a lot in common with a war-like situation, it has even more in common with hybrid warfare,” argued Dr Johann Schmid (Director of COI S&D), while presenting perspectives on hybrid warfare in the context of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two key recommendations were provided:

As hybrid warfare and the current COVID-19 crisis situation have much in common, the concept of hybrid warfare could be used as an analytical framework to help better understand the parameters, mechanisms and dynamics of this complex multi-domain challenge, with shifting centres of gravity as well as its direct and indirect implications for security.

The way in which different actors (nations) organize their comprehensive approach and crisis response mechanisms to counter the COVID-19 crisis should be analyzed and studied carefully, as there is a lot to learn about organizing the comprehensive approach, bridging interface challenges and optimizing crisis response mechanisms to counter hybrid challenges.

The crisis situations provide an opportunity for deep, long-term and systematic learning from countering COVID-19 to countering hybrid threats, conflict and warfare.

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