A Whole-of-Government Approach to Gray Zone Warfare

  • June 15, 2018
  • Ms. Elizabeth G. Troeder

Gray zone warfare, also known as irregular warfare, political warfare, hybrid warfare, asymmetric warfare, and unconventional warfare, is increasingly the norm. Yet the United States is losing this war as will be demonstrated in this Strategy Research Project. The Department of Defense (DOD) has historically led the gray zone war fight with assistance from other federal agencies. But DOD cannot require other agencies to engage; it cannot be aware of all effective tools available across the whole-of-government; nor can it know how its proposed way forward may conflict with approaches made by other agencies. This paper builds the case for requiring U.S. federal agencies to request that the Deputy National Security Advisor convene a National Security Council Deputies Committee meeting whenever any federal agency deems a gray zone approach to an international issue is appropriate. It also recommends development of a standing National Security Council Policy Coordination Committee (NSC/PCC) for Gray Zone Solutions, with sub-NSC/PCCs for each component of the 4+1 so that experts can be quickly assembled in times of crisis. This will assure the President of the United States, Congress, and the American people that all elements of power have duly been employed and are synchronized.