A New Playbook

The Cold War playbook does not work for the threat Russia now poses, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin said Thursday. Russia’s use of hybrid tactics, including propaganda and cyber attacks, in Ukraine has forced the US military to adapt how it evaluates and responds to Russian actions, she said. “That means our contingency planning that the military always does for emergencies, they’re based on models that are not the thousands of tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap,” Slotkin said during a panel discussion at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colo. “Our scenarios have changed—the integration of fields, so it’s not just, ‘What are we going to do conventionally?,’ it’s ‘How are we going to mix conventional forces with cyber response, with space response, with counter-propaganda response?’ It’s forcing us to come up with a different model.” Russia’s tactics have exposed seams between the jurisdictions of countries’ domestic agencies and militaries and made it more difficult to assess their intentions, Slotkin said. “It’s not counting tanks and seeing where they are near the borders of NATO, it’s saying, ‘I’m seeing a cyber attack in this Baltic State. Is that the beginning of a soft invasion?’…That is a revolution, I think, in how we have to see threats coming from Russia.” (See also: From Assurance to Deterrence.)