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In late 2021, the new means of warfare were confidently being described by political and military leaders alike using phrases such as 'grey zone, 'sub-liminal' and 'below the threshold of outright conflict, a mix of hybrid strategies that would no longer involve the messy, noisy use of sticks and stones and bombs and gore. Future warfare was to be political warfare, cyber and influence tools were the future and many academics agreed. In difficult retrospect, this was actually a narrative based on hubris and a simple extension of commentators' own experiences over what had been twenty years of failed interventions.

But by February 2022, everyone had changed their tune. War was suddenly 20th century redux, a tapestry of trenches, bayonets and massed artillery that would have been quite familiar to participants of that century's two World Wars. The picture, of course, is more complicated and nuanced. Technology is disrupting practices and doing so right across battlespace. But hybrid warfare has very much not disappeared and political warfare in its many forms remains the overt strategy of several states, notwithstanding unprecedented expansion in the means available to parties to undertake meddling and conflict.

It is quickly evident, moreover, that contemporary war is actually less defined by technical innovation than armchair experts would have you believe. And disruptions today are too often tomorrow's old news. Empirically, war's norms and behaviours are quite slow to change with each shiny new driver for that change often giving rise to compelling versos and points of friction that combine to dull material transformation. This book unpicks the arguments made pre and post 2022 and, based on interviews with experts from around the world, seeks to dissect battlecraft's enduring themes and how these may affect conflicts' current norms.

Publication date: 13th November 2023

236 pages  I   Size: 234 x 156mm

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