Gray Zone Challenges: Between The War And Peace Duality

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) defines gray zone challenges as “competitive interactions among and within state and non-state actors that fall between the traditional war and peace duality.”

In the words of GEN Joe Votel et. al., “[t]he Gray Zone is characterized by intense political, economic, informational, and military competition more fervent in nature than normal steady-state diplomacy, yet short of conventional war. It is hardly new, however.”

The US Army War College team’s recently -released June 2016 efforts are superbly coordinated and presented, with the bottom line that without significant DoD adaptation and defense activism, the United States hazards serial strategic setbacks in the face of mounting gray zone competition and conflict.

In a Modern War Institute report just released, MAJ John Chambers looks at hybrid warfare and ways the U.S. Army can be equipped and prepared to counter hybrid threats.

The links provided are a partial, work-in-progress webliography of recent strategic thought regarding gray zone threats, and threat deterrence.

The Contemporary Spectrum of Conflict

Paradoxes of the Gray Zone

For a legal analysis of conflicts between the war and peace duality, albeit without specific reference to the gray zone concept, see:

Govern, Kevin H., The Legal Way Ahead Between War And Peace (Chapter 16) (2008). Enemy Combatants, Terrorism, and Armed Conflict Law: A Guide to the Issues, Edited by David K. Linnan (Praeger 2008). Available at SSRN:

For non-partisan interdisciplinary efforts dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rule of law in twenty-first century warfare and national security, see: