Covert warfare, also known as covert action, signifies concealed military or political operations that a state or non-state actor actively hides to keep their role in the operation or event unknown. These actions can range from propaganda, sabotage, to even assassinations that are carried out secretly to achieve specific strategic objectives. In an overt warfare, countries openly declare war and have regular military forces engage in conflict. However, in a covert warfare, states or organizations operate in the shadows allowing for plausible deniability if confronted.
1. What is the main purpose of covert warfare?
The primary goal of covert warfare is to secretly influence events in foreign countries without their knowledge, or without being detected. By remaining hidden, states or organizations can alter the course of specific events in a manner favorable to them, all while maintaining plausible deniability.
2. How does covert warfare differ from traditional warfare?
The major difference lies in the level of secrecy. Traditional warfare is overt, meaning actions are publicly acknowledged. In covert warfare, the parties involved carry out actions secretly and do their utmost to ensure their involvement does not become known.
3. Can covert warfare lead to an actual war?
Yes, covert warfare can escalate to an overt war if the covert activities are discovered and attributed with proof. This could lead to retaliation, possibly resulting in full-blown conflict.
4. Who typically engages in covert warfare?
Covert warfare isn’t exclusive to any particular entity. However, it’s typically practiced by states, intelligence agencies, or non-state actors like terrorists or rebel groups. It can serve as an alternate strategy when traditional military intervention is not feasible or desirable.
5. Are there legal restrictions on covert warfare?
International law generally frowns upon covert warfare, but regulation is complex due to the inherent secrecy. National laws also vary greatly. It’s worth noting that if covert actions violate international laws, such as carrying out assassinations, they could be considered war crimes.