GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
Des Roches
First Name:
Title of Paper:
New Security Challenges: New Security Agenda
Paper Proposal Text :

The evolving nature of warfare has particular resonance in the Gulf. The GCC states have a unique combination of affluence, ability to afford the latest in military technology, and vulnerability. The GCC states are reliant upon outside support for weapons, infrastructure (such as software), food and most military hardware. The infrastructure, particularly water systems, lacks resiliency.

While much scholarship has focused on the American role in security in the Gulf, recent events suggest the nascent Russia – Iranian alliance, forged in Syria, may be of more consequence. The Russian way of warfare as evolved in Georgia and, more importantly the Ukraine, is “hybrid warfare” to which the GCC states are particularly vulnerable. Hybrid warfare blurs the line between military and civil, and capitalizes on confusion and ambiguity. It also aims to sever the security link between a weaker security recipient and a more powerful security guarantor by propagating political dissention, such as encouraging minority uprisings in the targeted state. This newly-demonstrated type of warfare has the potential to destabilize all of the Gulf states.

Unfortunately, the security apparatus of the Gulf states is not up to the task of dealing with complex, multi-faceted security challenges. Most off the Gulf states have multiple, overlapping security services which are primarily aimed at maintaining internal security and preventing a coup. Agencies are limited in their focus, are deliberately constrained in their mandates, and suffer from the same ills (patronage, absenteeism, lack of accountability) which generally affects government in the region.

There are three areas in which the GCC states are most vulnerable to hybrid warfare. The first is attacks on civilian infrastructure – to include cyber infrastructure – by either an announced or unattributed foe. Because so little of the infrastructure is originated or maintained indigenously, resiliency is minimal and vulnerability is great. The second vulnerability is in the mobilization of minorities. Shi’a minorities in particular are targeted by Iran as a possible asset in any confrontation with the GCC states. The third vulnerability is to asymmetric conventional measures, such as the deployment of naval mines and ballistic missiles.

The paper will discuss the tenants of hybrid warfare as seen in recent practice, look at the burgeoning alliance between Iran and Russia and discuss the possibility of hybrid warfare tactics being adapted by the Iranians, then examine the vulnerabilities of the GCC states to hybrid warfare, look at comprehensive threat assessment as a model for the GCC and finally recommend policy measures.

This paper will draw approach security with the holistic approach seen in Buzan and others. I will draw on the works of theorists of modern warfare such as Frank Hoffman, T.X. Hammes and Harold McMaster, as well as current thinking in the fields of homeland security. For the GCC states, I will look at scholars such as Gause, Legrenzi, Lawson and David Roberts. For Iran, I will look at current reporting from various non-governmental analytical groups, such as the Institute for the Study of War. Finally, I will draw on various homeland security experts for examples of comprehensive defense against these threats.