Hybrid warfare upon us

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By Tapiwa Bere

EVERY stage of development has its own kind of war, its own unique sceneries and its own strange resolutions. 

Hybrid warfare, as an amalgamation of different effective conventional and non-conventional tools of warfare, is now being used by nations against perceived nemesis in a bid to counterpoise and subsequently destabilise other countries, in a way which results in a war between the targeted government and civilians. 

Hybrid warfare comes in so many appellations, such as ‘low intensity conflict’, small wars, counter insurgency and most securocrats simply label it the ‘military operations other than war’ (MOOTW). 

The US, under the administration of John F. Kennedy, came up with the document named ‘Foreign Internal Defence’ in 1962 and its deceptive intention was to be involved in the day-to-day running of foreign governments. 

Using this document, the US remains in the shadows of its operations and serving their best interests in the foreign host nations for geo-political reasons. 

One of the pundits of hybrid warfare, Frank Hoffman, commented that hybrid warfare is invincible and is deceptive in nature. 

As defined by Gunneriusson (2021), hybrid warfare is a military strategy which employs political warfare, irregular warfare as well as cyber warfare by blending in economic and social means of warfare. 

So, these non-conventional methods are difficult to determine who the culprit behind is. 

The same document named ‘Foreign Internal Defence of 2011‘ continues to serve the US’ security interests in every host nation. 

The successful Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe threatened the national interests of the US and we were equaled to adversaries of the US. 

On December 21 1979, the Lancaster House Agreement was signed and Zimbabwe triumphantly won its freedom from the brutal colonial rule of Britain. 

Ironically, come December 21 2001, Zimbabwe was placed under illegal economic sanctions in the form of Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), marking the use of hybrid warfare on Zimbabwe. 

Taking Gunneriusson’s definition of hybrid warfare, where political warfare blends in economic means of warfare, economic sanctions are now used as tools of hybrid warfare on our resource-rich Zimbabwe.  

After the imposition of illegal economic sanctions, an over profusion of socio-economic challenges started as a brutal consequence of the sanctions strategy and these were made up of things such as hurtling inflation, the extension of parallel markets and the scarcity of basic commodities. 

This was a strategy to alienate the people of Zimbabwe from the ruling ZANU PF.

Hybrid warfare is a complicating factor in the defence circles due to its various and deceptive characteristics. 

Cyber warfare which formulates the non-conventional tactics used to destabilise other countries is the black card at play. 

The Western countries, through their media muscle, use propaganda to subvert governments which do not serve their foreign interests. 

Propaganda is effectively used to what I can term ‘hacking peoples’ minds’ in order to turn violently against their governments and replace them with a Western-fashioned leader. Remember the so called ‘Tunisia Revolution’ which turned to a disastrous Arab Spring, where a young street vendor Mohamed Bouaziz torched himself to death in protest against the ruling government. 

Blindly, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya did not see it coming, it invincibly came in shadows (with a hidden hand). 

Hybrid warfare comes in different shapes and sizes with its use of irregular tactics to achieve its perceived goal. 

Bear in mind the jubilant smile of the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when one of our own African heroes, Colonel Maummar Gaddafi, was brutally killed. 

Libya before NATO invasion
Hillary Clinton
Libya after NATO invasion

The mass protests spread like veldfire just by the click of buttons on social media, such as Facebook. 

Started as a simple uprising, it turned into a bloody insurgency at every targeted Arab country in Northern Africa. 

Indeed, technology is very essential and makes our lives easier, but if abused, it can turn into a national security threat. 

Keyboard activists are tweeting willy-nilly, some using ghost accounts to always criticise the well progressing work of the Government of Zimbabwe. 

Some are making a living out of it, getting paid to always criticise anything the Government would have said or done. 

Such critiques and bad-mouthing of Zimbabwe seriously affects the growth of the economy by portraying the country as a bad investment destination. What has gone wrong with us? 

Appropriate laws must help us combat hybrid warfare, hence the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill is long overdue. Our porous laws are a gap in the castle in defending the dimensions of human security. 

Hybrid warfare comes in invisible form and if not detected earlier, it ccompromises our national security. 

Take note of the new US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Pamela Tremont.

She holds a Bachelor and Masters degrees from Baylor University as well as a Masters in National Security Resource Strategy from the National Defence University. 

I guess she was be warmly welcomed by her schoolmate Arthur Brown (Mission director of USAID) who graduated at the National War College (MS-National Security Strategy) and is a National Defence University Capstone Fellow who trained at the Joint Special Operations University.

Let’s keep a close eye on them.

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