The next U.S. National Defense Strategy will be about winning the strategic competition with China (and to a lesser extent, Russia). Much of this will play out short of armed conflict, in the ”gray zone” between peace and war. But trying to “win” gray zone competition is a bad idea.
Geopolitical competition is increasingly playing out in the gray zone—the space beyond diplomacy and short of conventional war. The nature of this competition is forcing the United States to confront the liabilities of its strengths. This report assesses current U.S. government actions to deter, campaign through, and respond to competitors’ gray zone tactics.