The Concept of an Economic Warfare Operations Capability (EWOC)



The US enjoyed the benefits of a relatively unmatched monopolar position on the global stage in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. That position has been challenged in recent years by rivals, such as China and Russia, working to shift the geopolitical and global economic environment in their favor.[i] To do so, both nations have employed asymmetric “gray zone” tactics, actions below the threshold of war, but which still vitally threaten the economic and security interests of the US and others.[ii]
Gray zone operations include propaganda, media misinformation and disinformation, deliberate supply chain disruptions, and economic manipulation and coercion, along with other more traditional military equipping activities.[iii] Economic warfare activities are perhaps the most concerning, as such activities are focused on destabilizing and diminishing the vitality of the US economy[iv] and interfere directly with the United States’ ability to acquire, secure, and field capabilities required to defend the nation.
The industry and supply chains that the US relies upon for technology, weapons, infrastructure support, and other factors of vital importance are at risk—highlighted recently by the PPE and other shortages experienced during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.[v] Subsequently, factors limiting US access (deliberate or not) to critical technologies and other products and commodities vital to a healthy population and economy have become a growing concern for national leaders.


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[i]         “Fact Sheet: The Biden-Harris Administration’s National Security Strategy.” The White House. October 12, 2022.
[ii]        Knefel, John. “The ‘Gray Zone’ Is the Future of War: Ongoing, Low-level, and Undeclared.” Inverse. December 7, 2015. zone-is-the-future-of-war-ongoing-low-level-and-undeclared
[iii]        Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Competing in the Gray Zone: Countering Competition in the Space between War and Peace.” CSIS. 2023. zone
[iv]        “How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World.” The White House. June 2018.
[v]        Weissert, Will. “DHS Report: China Hid Virus’ Severity to Hoard Supplies.” AP News. May 4, 2020.



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