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Hybrid warfare – this is a combination of covert and overt operations, of political and economic measures, of information operations and propaganda, of subversion and cyber attacks, and even military assistance and the covert deployment of special forces. Hybrid warfare often operates in a gray area below the threshold of armed force, while at the same time providing assistance to insurgents. It describes the intermeshing of military and civilian means, the blurring of war and non-war.

The current debate on hybrid warfare began with Russian tactics in the Ukraine, such as propaganda and the use of combatants without nationality markings. Yet the value of this debate in terms of security policy lies not so much in attempts to interpret, never mind resolve, the Ukraine conflict. Instead, its benefit may consist in discussing aspects of a hybrid security policy for Europe based on our values and principles.

“Orchestrating the various elements of hybrid warfare will fundamentally change our continent’s security architecture,” said German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen at the launch event for the 2016 White Paper. She added that the security environment has changed substantially: the Ukraine crisis, threats in cyberspace, global resource conflicts, and the impacts of poverty, conflicts, wars and transnational terrorism.

What does this imply with regard to a common European security architecture? How should open and free societies respond to terrorist attacks such as those in Paris, and the ongoing threat? In response to such attacks, what means are legitimate, and which are ethically justifiable?

Hybrid warfare scenarios are highly diverse. Those who work on defense strategies therefore take the view that a comprehensive approach is needed. Here we find the same full range of hybrid war tactics that the enemy employs: financial and economic sanctions, cyber defense, intelligence gathering, police investigations, rapid task forces and special units, and information campaigns.

This sensitive topic affects the future profile of the German armed forces and our security culture. I am pleased to discuss this controversial topic in this edition of our e-journal with international experts in various disciplines, and specifically with a view to the refugee problem.

I wish to thank everyone who has contributed – the authors, the publishers and the editorial team.