For example, current doctrine identifies security force assistance (SFA) as one of the 12 core activities for SOF. endobj What Is the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement, and Why Does It Matter? Examples include Russia’s disinformation campaigns against societies in the West, its use of cyber activities to threaten western businesses, and its use of proxy forces to annex territory and foment civil war in Ukraine. The National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy establish the administration’s intent to take seriously the challenges from state competitors, principally China and Russia, and to a lesser extent Iran and North Korea.

These shadow wars may not trigger conventional military responses, but many nonetheless pose great strategic risks for the United States. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

SOF exemplify the light footprint approach, yet deliver disproportionately high value in small numbers due to their key trademarks — individual and team maturity, operational experience and unique training. SOF leaders routinely work closely with interagency partners, both in Washington and at embassies in conflict zones around the world. Yet U.S. conventional forces have been providing SFA in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond for many years… x��V�j�@}��Q*�fg�!�8iH �$�BKL�C"��S��wV�kɺDĶ�d��s���e��]�/π�����N'qt�5�&�q��� �a\�V�i�gZwqga�G��rG?H��*�� ί� ���� In a world of burgeoning gray zone conflicts, some conventional military units must be both re-trained and re-organized to conduct military operations at the lower end of the conflict spectrum. The Houthi insurgency increases the risk of a regional clash between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which could also spark a broader Sunni-Shia conflict. The system of political and economic predictability has benefited the United States, its allies, and its partners for decades. <> Additionally, gray zone actors may use ambiguity, deniability, or covert action in using gray zone tools, further complicating efforts to assess intent and attribution, as well as the ability to respond. stream SOF are ideally suited for the military component of interagency responses to gray zone conflicts, but SOF alone will not be enough. This series of critical questions explains the “gray zone” and the United States’ current readiness to compete in this space. Each of these confrontations is characterized by “hybrid” threats that may combine subversion, destabilizing social media influence, disruptive cyber attacks, and anonymous “little green men” instead of recognizable armed forces making overt violations of international borders. In part because of this dominance, the world has been free of major power wars for decades. <>>> These form a “gray zone” between traditional notions of war and peace. 4 0 obj

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© 2018 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That demand will remain high during an era of gray zone conflicts, as the United States seeks to strengthen the capabilities of its allies and partners to address their own security challenges. r � Q Q !�Q !� z&.

Q1: What is Gray Zone Conflict? CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Neither the Army nor Marines has institutionalized these temporary capabilities by specializing more of their conventional units for just these types of conflicts — and this may prove a serious mistake.

Their column appears in War on the Rocks every other Tuesday. 3 0 obj The United States will need to be agile in its responses and proactive measures, both to quickly counter gray zone actions and to limit the predictability that its adversaries have exploited.

This relatively small investment in SOF may need to be revisited in an era of gray zone conflicts, where demand for their capabilities will only grow. A1: Gray zone actions challenge U.S. interests, influence, or power and do so in ways designed to avoid direct U.S. military responses. Bad Idea: Retrenchment from U.S. Alliances, Oil Markets, Oil Attacks, and the Strategic Straits. For example, current doctrine identifies security force assistance (SFA) as one of the 12 core activities for SOF. %PDF-1.5 Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Defense Industry, Acquisition, and Innovation, Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Impacts, Family Planning, Maternal and Child Health, and Immunizations, Commentaries, Critical Questions, and Newsletters.

endobj There are currently about 69,000 active and reserve SOF personnel, out of a total uniformed force of nearly 2.2 million troops.



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