Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (ret.), the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, along with Molly K. McKew, who advises governments and political parties on foreign policy and strategic communications, have co-authored an important piece at POLITICO that you really should read to understand the nature of the war that we are in with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
That’s right, “Make no mistake: Hacking the 2016 election was an act of war. It’s time we responded accordingly.” Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor (snippet):
Russia’s cyber warfare capabilities are just one element of an arsenal of hybrid, asymmetric means the Kremlin has focused on expanding since its cyberattacks against Estonia in 2007 and its invasion of Georgia in 2008. In 2013, the Russian chief of the general staff General Valery Gerasimov outlined this concept of warfare, emphasizing that “the role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.” Putin polished what they had learned in earlier operations and put these on full display a year later, as Russia seized and then annexed Crimea, and then launched an invasion of eastern Ukraine fronted by local proxies backed by the Russian military.
While it has become quite popular to debate whether or not what is referred to as “the Gerasimov Doctrine” was intended to be military or security doctrine or not, the way of war Gerasimov discussed is, in fact, how the Russians now fight. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in March 2018, General Mike Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, was asked about Gerasimov, and he responded succinctly and with candor: “Russia has a doctrine that … sees these activities below the level of conflict as part of the full spectrum, with the intent that if they can undermine a target country using these means … never having to use military force, that’s their objective.”
Gerasimov has since updated his thinking on the uses of hybrid warfare to erode the will of the enemy, saying that “spiritual resources—the nation’s cohesion and desire to confront the aggressor at all cost,” were one of the most important determiners of victory or defeat in these new shadow wars. Confusing the enemy has always been a doctrinal tenet of Russian war-fighting, so this new approach just replaces the old “Maskirovka” (deception) as a primary objective. The more you read about how Russia has tested and adapted these tactics in its near-abroad, the harder it is to deny that the Kremlin’s attack on America is no outlier but rather one more entry in an ongoing, evolving playbook that is yielding more success than anyone wants to admit.
So where are the air-raid sirens and the calls to arms from those who vow to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic?