New Report: A Framework for Cross-Domain Strategies Against Hybrid Threats

January 12th 2021 - 14:15

Hybrid threats are increasing, and the Netherlands, together with partners in its network of alliances, requires a new strategic posture to counter these threats. This report by TNO & HCSS serves as a background document in preparation of a hybrid conflict game organised by TNO in collaboration with HCSS.

Download the report here.

Authors Tim Sweijs, Samuel Zilincik, Frank Bekkers and Rick Meessen present a strategic framework that describes and explains relations between strategies and counter-strategies in dealing with hybrid threats and offer considerations to select those dominant strategies that are to be part of the Dutch strategic posture.

The framework presented in the report consists of two escalation axes. The vertical axis consists of five general strategies: (1) cooperation, (2) persuasion, (3) protection, (4) coercion, and (5) control. The horizontal escalation is comprised of the well-know DIMEL categorization of instruments and measures of state power.

The above-mentioned five strategies can be employed simultaneously or sequentially in order to counter hybrid threats. Additionality, these strategies can be exercised through and across the six DIMEL-domains of diplomacy, information, cyber, economy, military, and legal.

These theoretical propositions however, need to be further developed and tested. In light of this, these insights will be refined in a simulation environment in the form of a table-top game. By doing this, further light will be shed on how the strategies presented in this report function in a (simulated) competitive setting and subsequently help refine and inform the crafting of effective cross-domain strategies in real world scenarios.

Download the PDF here.

Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Frank Bekkers is Director of the Security Program. He studied Applied Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam and spent most of his career at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), specializing in the area of Defence, Safety & Security. At TNO, he held a range of positions, including program manager, senior research scientist, group manager and account director. From 1996-1997, he worked as program manager for Call Media and Intelligent Networks for the telecom company KPN. His current position at HCSS combines shaping HCSS’s portfolio concerning defense and security-related projects with hands-on participation in a number of key projects.