Via e-mail (not yet posted to National Defense University's Institute for National Security Studies website) -- Strategic Forum Number 234 - Irregular Warfare: New Challenges for Civil-Military Relations by Patrick M. Cronin.
Success in the highly political and ambiguous conflicts likely to dominate the global security environment in the coming decades will require a framework that balances the relationships between civilian and military leaders and makes the most effective use of their different strengths. These challenges are expected to require better integrated, whole-of-government approaches, the cooperation of host governments and allies, and strategic patience.
Irregular warfare introduces new complications to what Eliot Cohen has called an "unequal dialogue" between civilian and military leaders in which civilian leaders hold the true power but must modulate their intervention into "military" affairs as a matter of prudence rather than principle. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated that irregular warfare - which is profoundly political, intensely local, and protracted—breaks from the traditional understanding of how military and civilian leaders should contribute to the overall effort.
One of the key challenges rising from irregular warfare is how to measure progress. While there is disagreement about the feasibility or utility of developing metrics, the political pressure for marking progress is unrelenting. Most data collection efforts focus on the number of different types of kinetic events, major political milestones such as elections, and resource inputs such as personnel, money, and materiel. None of these data points serves easily in discerning what is most needed - namely, outputs or results.
A second major challenge centers on choosing leaders for irregular warfare and stability and reconstruction operations. How to produce civilian leaders capable of asking the right and most difficult questions is not easily addressed. Meanwhile, there has been a general erosion of the traditional Soldier's Code whereby a military member can express dissent, based on legitimate facts, in private to one's superiors up to the point that a decision has been made. Many see the need to shore up this longstanding tradition among both the leadership and the ranks.
A third significant challenge is how to forge integrated strategies and approaches. Professional relationships, not organizational fixes, are vital to succeeding in irregular war. In this sense, the push for new doctrine for the military and civilian leadership is a step in the right direction to clarifying the conflated lanes of authority.
Irregular Warfare: New Challenges for Civil-Military Relations (Full PDF Article)