As Frank Hoffman has been trying to hammer home to us the first principle is to understand. There have been a number of scholars and experts advocating that we understand where Putin and Russia are coming from and why they are acting the way they do. Perhaps pundits such as Fareed Zakaria will wake people up with his article below. Yes, the democracy movements around the world are a threat to Russia and democracy overall is a threat to Putin and Russia. I think this is the fundamental reason why Gerasimov created his so-called Gerasimov doctrine (see Charles Bartles) that has come to be known as non-linear warfare or new generation warfare which in my opinion is modern unconventional warfare with Russian characteristics that is a holistic approach designed to influence political action at all levels from non-violence influence operations to political mobilization, to sabotage and subversion, support to terrorist activities to the integrated activities of all the elements of national power to the select application or threat of application of violence by the full range of military forces (both special and conventional) to achieve national objectives. Unconventional warfare is the most political of all forms of warfare since the focus is on exploitation of resistance movements that seek to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow...
Russia is a revisionist power seeking to undermine the legitimacy of opposing political systems and undermine the dominant international systems and institutions and make them function in its favor and interests in order to protect himself and the Russian leadership from the loss of political power at home and abroad. China is another revisionist power. And of course AQ and ISIS are revolutionary who seek to destroy the international system and replace nations with their ideological systems. The question for the US and like minded nations of the world is whether it is in our interest to protect the international system that we have created since WWII and whether we will the will to commit to the defense of that system or should we let the revisionist and revolutionary powers to have their way?
I would commend everyone to read Charles K. Bartles' Military Review article on "Getting Gerasimov Right" from January 2016. (and we should all learn from the discussion of "foresight" in his article on page 31).
For U.S. readers, Gerasimov’s linking of the ArabSpring and “color revolutions” (and in later comments,the Maidan Movement) with military capability developmentmay seem odd. In order to put his commentsin context, it is necessary to look at the Russian view ofwarfare and forced regime change as it has developedsince the end of the Cold War....In the Russian view, the pattern of U.S.forced regime change has been as follows:deciding to execute a military operation;finding an appropriate NATO’s Yugoslavia intervention is one of militaryaction to prevent mass genocide, Russia has a much differentview. Most Russians generally view the NATObombing campaign as having been illegal because it wasconducted without the approval of the UN SecurityCouncil and believe that Serbia was simply beingpunished for engaging in counterterrorism operations,albeit with some excesses. The most egregious sin, fromthe Russian view, was the partitioning of Yugoslavia.This action set a precedent for external actors to makedecisions about the internal affairs and territorial integrityof sovereign nations alleged to have committedsome wrong. It is important to note that Russia wasdealing with its own Islamic insurgency at the sametime in the North Caucasus. This may have causedRussian concern about a similar NATO action takingplace inside Russia. One consequence of Westernintervention resulting in the destruction of Yugoslaviapretext such as to prevent genocide or seize weaponsof mass destruction; and finally, launching a militaryoperation to cause regime change (figure 1).
We should also go back to Anthony Cordesman's CSIS report on the "Color Revolutions" written in 2014.
Here is a summary of Russia's new generation or non-linear warfare from the Latvian Defence Academy.
Russian New Generation Warfare and the Future of War (link to the full report below - and the Poles and Finns have produced some excellent analysis of Russia's UW as well):
As a result, it follows that the main guidelines for developing Russian military capabilities by 2020 are:i. From direct destruction to direct influence;ii. from direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay;iii. from a war with weapons and technology to a culture war;iv. from a war with conventional forces to specially prepared forces and commercial irregular groupings;v. from the traditional (3D) battleground to information/psychological warfare and war of perceptions;vi. from direct clash to contactless war;vii. from a superficial and compartmented war to a total war, including the enemy’s internal side and base;viii. from war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace;ix. from symmetric to asymmetric warfare by a combination of political, economic, information, technological, and ecological campaigns;x. From war in a defined period of time to a state of permanent war as the natural condition in national life.Thus, the Russian view of modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battlespace is the mind and, as a result, new-generation wars are to be dominated by information and psychological warfare, in order to achieve superiority in troops and weapons control, morally and psychologically depressing the enemy’s armed forces personnel and civil population. The main objective is to reduce the necessity for deploying hard military power to the minimum necessary, making the opponent’s military and civil population support the attacker to the detriment of their own government and country. It is interesting to note the notion of permanent war, since it denotes a permanent enemy. In the current geopolitical structure, the clear enemy is Western civilization, its values, culture, political system, and ideology.