Gray Zone Project
The gray zone phenomenon is also referred to as hybrid threats, sharp power, political warfare, malign influence, irregular warfare, and modern deterrence. Although it reflects an age-old approach, it is newly broad in its application. Today, the toolkit for coercion below the level of direct warfare includes information operations, political coercion, economic coercion, cyber operations, proxy support, and provocation by state-controlled Forces. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as non-state actors, are increasingly turning to these strategies to overcome U.S. strengths in global diplomacy, law, and commerce.
Competition in the gray zone is an underdeveloped area of U.S. strategy, planning and synchronization of action, despite its wealth of advantages. CSIS’s International Security Program has analyzed these threats and how the United States can best deter, campaign in, and respond to gray zone approaches. Meet our scholars and explore our work here.