DoD should not make the mistake of preparing for “great power competition” by investing only in high-intensity capabilities. While the U.S. should indeed be prepared for direct conflict, much of the fighting will be conducted through irregular warfare operations.
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.