Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Putin, 21st Century Warfare and MISO

On May 5, 2014 Foreign Policy’s website featured an article entitled “How Putin is Reinventing Warfare” (see:, which is also the photo source)

While President Obama may have said that Russia was stuck in the “old ways” referring to either the Cold War or 19th century, it is abundantly clear that this is not the case based on Mr. Putin’s strategy in the Crimea.

FP goes on to say that “But look closer at the Kremlin's actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the "old ways," while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization? “

The article goes on to describe the concept of non-linear war. However, from my perspective, there are a couple of aspects if Russian operations in the Ukraine that are interesting.

First of all the conflict in Eastern Ukraine seems to be fought from the inside. By this I mean that Russia succeeded in infiltrating its own force and exploiting local forces (paid for, criminal or legitimate) to establish their presence and take the fight to the Ukrainian government. Establishing this force within the borders of a sovereign nation is a feat to be studied.

Secondly Mr. Putin has sized up his enemies to the point where he pretty much felt that force would be met with economic sanctions and it appears that he frankly doesn’t give a sh*t about sanctions. This begs the question of what other instruments of national power can be brought to bear short of combat forces?

Third, and perhaps the most important from a MISO perspective is that Mr. Putin is doing quite well in shaping media coverage on an international scale. The FP article gives a couple of specific examples that I will leave to your research.

It is apparent that sanctions are not working at this point. President Obama and his minions are mulling over their options. These options likely include what to do about influencing media in Europe, Ukraine, Russia and other locations around the globe. Will this include bolstering digital operations from SOCOM? Time will tell.

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