Joseph Dvorak

Date of Graduation

Fall 2016


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John Rose


hybrid war, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, hybrid threats, complex conflicts

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Hybrid warfare is a recently formed concept that focuses on the complexity of modern conflicts and those in the future. After the Russian Federation annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, US and Western analysts started using the term hybrid warfare to describe Moscow's strategy. Analysts and policymakers are starting to consider the approach and direction in Ukraine to be a new and unique type of warfare. This study discusses the usefulness of the term hybrid warfare and examines two case studies that reflect the characteristics of hybrid war, the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, to determine if hybrid warfare is indeed unique to the post-9/11 security environment. Both case studies have elements of hybrid warfare and involve complex military operations. Hybrid threats are not new, and it is important that policymakers are aware of the ongoing debates about the usefulness of the hybrid war concept before forming policies to counter them. Ultimately, hybrid war as a concept has limited use to the policymaker, but it does highlight the growing complexity of modern conflicts. The conflicts in Syria and Ukraine involve an increasing blend of unconventional and conventional strategies and tactics. In the future, the US will likely fight opponents that utilize a number of political, economic, and cyber capabilities that the US has not had to face in previous conflicts.


© Joseph Dean Dvorak

Open Access