With regards to Hoffman’s conception of hybrid threats, it can be said that the DAESH resembled many features of hybrid threat. Features of hybrid threats consist of blended modalities, simultaneity, decentralized structure, fusion and criminality. Daesh or ISIS cannot simply be labeled as a non-state actor since it had many characteristics which resembled that of a state.
This notorious terrorist group controlled territory, imposed its own economic, administrative, political and legal system in areas which it conquered from Syrian and Iraqi forces. Daesh also exhibited military capabilities uncharacteristic of a non-state actor. Its foot soldiers were well trained and were armed with the most modern weaponry which was not available to many third world countries.
ISIS was able to use aerial drones and had access to captured weapons such as US Humvees, artillery, tanks and armored cars. ISIS employed different modes of conflict. It not only targeted military installations but also ignited social and political neural ends of the target country. ISIS used tactics which shocked the world and exhibited its hybrid capabilities to the world.
From the capture of Mosul, Ramadi, Baiji and Tikrit in Iraq by ISIS to their defense by the same group, ISIS employed conventional, irregular, and cyber capabilities simultaneously. Its use of small drones to carry out air attacks against enemy forces was ingenious and caused damage to the enemy. These drones were also used for reconnaissance and targeted attacks. ISIS media cells used social media to promote its message and spread fear among enemies by posting graphic videos and images.
As Islamic state snatched ground in both Iraq and Syria simultaneously, they developed an effective organization which oversaw departments of finance, arms, governance, operations and recruitment. Many of ISIS management team members included military officers from Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army imprisoned by American forces. Not only did ISIS fight like an army in this period, but they also focused on holding ground and asserting control. In seized cities, such as Palmyra, ISIS initially carried out summary executions but then acted like municipal functionaries, fixing power plants and water pumps, while hosting their black flag.
Hence, it can be said that ISIS used synchronized tactics which were hybrid in nature to achieve objectives on the battlefield and it is the best example of non-state actor employing hybrid war.
Scott Jasper, and MorelandScott, “ISIS: An Adaptive Hybrid Threat in Transition.” Small Wars Journal (n.d.).http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/isis-an-adaptive-hybrid-threat-in-transition.