Game of Proxies – Towards a new model of warfare: Experiences from the CAR, Libya, Mali, Syria, and Ukraine
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Institute of Strategic Studies, Faculty of National Security, War Studies University, gen. Chruściela “Montera” 103, 00-910 Warsaw, Poland
Faculty of Aviation Safety, Military University of Aviation, ul. Dywizjonu 303 no. 35, 08-521 Dęblin, Poland
Transnational Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Gernackerstraße 2, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Polish Africanist Society - Polskie Towarzystwo Afrykanistyczne, Poland
Independent researcher, Turkey
Cyprian Aleksander Kozera   

Institute of Strategic Studies, War Studies University, Chruściela, 00-910, Warszawa, Poland
Submission date: 2020-12-17
Final revision date: 2020-12-17
Acceptance date: 2020-12-17
Online publication date: 2020-12-30
Publication date: 2020-12-30
Security and Defence Quarterly 2020;31(4):77–97
The objective of the study is to carry out a meaningful comparison that demonstrates the similarities and differences of various conflict theatres where proxy forces were employed. The analyses of the discussed cases focused on different aspects of the conflict and nature of the proxy use. The analyses presented on the following pages were conducted on the basis of the literature on the subject, governmental research and reports, and supporting sources reporting recent developments that complemented academic sources. Various non-state actors such as ethnic militias, paramilitary units, and private military companies have become more and more visible on contemporary battlegrounds. Modern states employ those actors to further their objectives, as this limits their own political and financial costs. This increasingly visible phenomenon points to an emerging new model of warfare where state actors are relying ever more on proxies of various character and nature. It is highly likely that any future conflict will be characterised by a proxy-based model of warfare, which will consist of a limited footprint made by regular forces (or none at all) and, consequently, the extended use of proxies supported by special forces. Because such an approach is less costly, proxies will be more often employed by low-budget states, previously reluctant to carry out such costly military endeavours. Denying the actions and affiliations of these proxies will inevitably follow and, in turn, a lack of political accountability and responsibility for the conflict’s outcome.
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