Matrix of Hybrid War, or Why We Need Informational General Staff

Translated by Ollie Richardson



I recently had the opportunity to take part in the international scientific conference “Long-term forecasting of the threats to the national security of Russia”, which was conducted by the Center for Political-Military Studies at MGIMO-University. The event was not closed, but not particularly publicized. So I will not describe it in detail, but will focus on my statement, as it concerned the most open of the possible aspects of global conflict – the information sphere.

The change in the general nature of the confrontation of global players in the last 20-30 years seems so obvious to me that no proof is required. It is no accident that the term “hybrid war” entered into circulation, which characterizes such a state of inter-state relations when the objectives of war are achieved before the onset of the hot phase. In many cases the enemy is even trying to provoke the initiation of full-scale hostilities in important-to-it but secondary-for-you regions.

By giving in to the provocation, the enemy, firstly, loses the political and diplomatic confrontation, receiving the label of the aggressor and the corresponding reaction of the world community.

Secondly, it connects its resources, plunging ever deeper into an endless conflict, and loses the ability to resist activity on other fronts of the global confrontation.

Thirdly, it demonstrates the inability to effectively solve the problems of its allies.

Thus, in the modern world, if you are forced to initiate large-scale military actions (wars now, as a rule, are generally not officially declared), then, irrespective of their tactical successes, with high probability, you’ve already lost strategically.

Justifying a blitzkrieg invasion is still possible with such a scale of ratio, like the United States and Grenada or Panama, especially if we are talking about limited time and the objectives of the operation (to arrest and imprison General Noriega). But as was the case in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, not only any superpower, but coalition powers were bogged down for a long time and with unpredictable results.

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War before the war, and instead of war, is conducted in the diplomatic, political, but most importantly in the information space. It is not so much what you did and what was achieved, but how it was perceived in the world, including your own country. Actually Orwell’s “War is peace, peace is war” from a science fiction dystopia became the correct description of the general state of international relations.

The main events of modern warfare are evolving in formal peace time and out of the conflict of the parties’ Armed Forces.

As a result, information technology (strategy of information warfare) acquires a critical importance from the point of view of state security.

However, if we simply acknowledge this fact and try to work with old information tools, carefully collecting, analyzing information and trying to steer information, we will discover that we are hopelessly late. The modern world lives in real-time.

That is, the moment you receive information, it is already obsolete – events continue to evolve, and your response will be sent into the past. You will fight with what is already not present. In the best case scenario, your actions will be meaningless, at worst they will harm you.

It is for this reason the main events of contemporary conflict are also transferred to the information sphere. Conventional security structures, including the Armed Forces, simply are not able to react in time. The time required for decision-making and transmitting commands in any case will be greater than the rate of change of the situation.

If you do not have time to respond to continuously emerging challenges, not only technically but also informationally, you have to anticipate these challenges. You, however, don’t know how events will develop – information that has already arrived id inevitably outdated.

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Therefore, the only adequate strategic information initiative should not be to gather information, react to information, or to even try to steer the received information.

You must use the information to steer events. That is, information should be created. You need to model in the information sphere the necessary “beautiful new world” so that the target groups (whether it is about your population or about the population of a geopolitical advisory) perceive it as existential. Then after a while the real world is indeed rebuilt in accordance with the information matrix you created.

The voluntary dismantling of the USSR by the hands of its own population, reformatting half of the population of Ukraine, the correction of “European values”, which in twenty years changed them to the diametrically opposite. These are all rather crude, but effective options for the establishment of the information matrix, forming a real world after its own image. Crude because that happened during the transition between conformational and information eras, and also because the first attempts to use new strategies always suffer from incompleteness and flaws. It’s like the test copy of a new aircraft, which must first fly to get rid of “childhood diseases” and then go in series.

Generally, if “peace is war”, it means that “ignorance is strength” and the future is created in the past.

The general sequence of events in the framework of current information strategies should look like the following:

In the beginning, the leadership of the state defines the desired shape of the “beautiful new world” and the actual timing of the achievement of this condition.

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In the next stage, specialized information and analytical frameworks develop a draft of the information matrix, ensuring the achievement of the desired goal.

In the third stage, a general sequence of steps and the volume of engaged resources determined necessary to achieve the objective is produced.

The last phase is the information campaign (the shorter — the better, by analogy with blitzkrieg) in which the specified matrix is formed.

In the process of formation and throughout the existence of the corresponding information, the matrix is working on the correction targets, and in accordance with the changing, thanks to the opposition of the enemy, reality.

At the same time also being developed is the following informational matrix and the preparations for its implementation.

The process of information war becomes permanent and uninterrupted, and the work of decision-making information structures becomes similar to the work of the HQ of the Supreme command, which guided the Armed Forces in the previous (pre-information) military conflicts. If you understand the situation, the process of continuous planning and development of the information matrix is no different from the process of planning and conducting strategic operations of the Armed Forces. It is simply transferred to the new (information) soil.

Now that the war has moved into a new dimension and has become hybrid, the main tools to achieve victory had to change. That is, in the process of achieving victory, innovations had to be introduced.

At one point, Prussia (and then Germany) secured the advantage over armies of other European States by introducing innovations in the form of the General staff. Now a General staff is needed in the information sector. And the sooner we realize this, the better for us.

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