War is changing. One common mistake is to fight today’s wars as if they were yesterday’s wars. Many militaries continue to rely on large armies, heavy weaponry, and plans for major battles. Terrorists and guerrillas took advantage of asymmetric tactics by acting unconventionally, attacking in many small skirmishes against seemingly random targets. Special Operations forces were one response. Now, wars are changing again by emphasizing non-physical advances: legal, psychological, and media, aka elements of China’s “Doctrine of Three Warfares”. Instead of conquering territory, create new territory, get it declared legal property, make that known with the right story, and thereby advance the military’s reach without using the military. Blending non-physical and physical has always been used to some extent; but in the Information Age, non-physical can be more powerful and only use the physical as an unspoken threat. The advantage to the innovators is less loss of life and cheaper military budgets. The disadvantage to the conventional forces is the continuation of an expensive anachronism. When no shots are fired and no one is killed, advances are more readily accepted while harder to defend against. Wars are being fought more with words than bullets.
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