When preparing civilians for hybrid threats, engagement is key – new publication calls for out-of-the-box thinking

A core question in hybrid threat preparedness is how a state or society can prepare its civilian population for disruptions that potential hybrid threats may cause. This is relevant, as hybrid threat actors aim at undermining public trust in democratic institutions and challenging the core values of societies to gain political influence.

According to a new Hybrid CoE Working Paper authored by Research Professor Cedric de Coning from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), adaptive engagement with the affected community is key: Emergency officials, relevant authorities, civil society and the private sector must all collaborate in an adaptive process to generate context-specific solutions suitable for the hybrid threats in question.

“Planning and preparedness thus shift away from a pre-planned step-by-step response strategy approach carried out by emergency officials, to a pre-planned process approach,” de Coning writes.

According to de Coning, in this kind of approach “the engagement process is pre-planned, but the content and outcome are context-specific and need to emerge from the process itself”. Calling for new, out-of-the-box thinking, de Coning lists concrete proposals and roles in the paper for those engaged in preparedness planning.

Read the complete Hybrid CoE Working Paper on our website.

The paper is part of the Resilient Civilians in Hybrid and Population-Centric Warfare project led by Professor Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv at the Arctic University of Norway, and is partly funded by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.

Hybrid CoE is an independent international Centre enhancing Participating States’ capabilities to counter hybrid threats. It does so by sharing best practices, testing new ideas and approaches, and providing training and exercises. The Centre currently has 28 Participating States. Participation is open to all EU member states and NATO allies.

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