Hybrid warfare and urbanity

The significance of innovative aspects of modern dealing with conflicts for civil defence

Dirk Freudenberg

So far, civil defence has always been considered “an inseparable and indispensable part of comprehensive defence”, civil protection, however, as “… the civil annex to the military mission of national defence …” The number of the world’s population is increasing permanently and will reach 10 billion by the middle of the 21st century. Likewise, the number of people living in big towns is increasing as well, so that these will become enormously bigger, with the consequence that by 2050 about two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, and 10 million in 43 so-called metropoles each. The German cities, too, have been growing for years. Thus, the population is increasingly concentrated in urban centres, and accordingly this part of the population is dependent on public provisions, especially on so-called critical infrastructures. From a security-political view enormous challenges for civil defence arise thereof, especially under the conditions of hybrid threats and/or hybrid warfare. According to the author’s view, hybrid warfare is characterized by the fact that the focus of the used means as well as of the attacked targets are in the civil area. Hence, effects are created with civil effectors in civil areas out of civil areas. For classic conventional military forces and capabilities, this might result in an „emptiness of the battlefield”, where there is no equivalent adversary; at best classical military forces will be deployed in order to obscure, to support or to secure hybrid actions. Thus, the focus of vulnerabilities and the effectors targeted towards them is definitely in the civil area. According to the perception represented by the author, this innovative approach justifies the term “hybrid threats”. The relevance of the dependencies on civil critical infrastructures and, in turn, their dependencies for the population, as well as for the business location Germany as a whole, have enormously increased in the last decades, so that the protection of critical infrastructures collectively represents a national factor of security.

The effects of a blackout of critical infrastructures on big cities and on the people living there are – as has been shown by already known troubles in times of peace – enormous and can be anticipated as a kind of decapitation stroke. Possibly this kind of situations might not be limited to districts, single cities or regions, but will be spacious blackouts which might affect the entire national territory. The services of public provisions will collapse very soon, not be available and/or will not reach the population any longer. The exodus of the urban population into neighbouring, possibly less directly affected rural districts might then overstress the there still (rudimentarily) functioning infrastructures and resources soon and bring them to a total standstill in a before long. The claim for adapting the importance of civil defence is also justified by the fact that attacks using hybrid capabilities might possibly foil the own military capabilities, so that a repulsion and reaction can (only) be successful with civil capabilities and means. Thus, civil defence is to some extent a necessary component recorded in the constitutional mission of the charter, which demands active and/or effective defence. And then the demand arises that civil defence is no longer to be considered an annex competence as opposed to classical warfare, in other words a rather bothersome appendix of an especially military defence, but a tantamount pillar of a real comprehensive defence, because sustaining the overall social system requires a raising of the significance of civil defence and strengthening its capabilities. Consequently, under these conditions, civil defence, civil protection and, correspondingly, a more comprehensive protection of the population in the framework of comprehensive defence are to be reassessed, adapted, and combined with the capabilities and means of military defence again.