Small Wars Journal

Counter-Unconventional Warfare Is the Way of the Future. How Can We Get There?

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 5:35pm

Counter-Unconventional Warfare Is the Way of the Future. How Can We Get There? - By Robert A. Newson, Defense in Depth

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain Robert A. Newson, CFR’s U.S. Navy fellow and a SEAL officer. He argues that the newly outlined “Counter-Unconventional Warfare” strategy will be the best way to counter the emerging threat of hybrid warfare witnessed most recently in Ukraine. Captain Newson acknowledges that this new mode of warfare will be difficult to adopt—yet failing to do so will carry much worse consequences…

Read on.


Move Forward

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 11:10pm

As for UW related to Russia, China, and Iran, Dave Maxwell and Outlaw have argued similarly that both Russia and China are pushing new forms of UW. Outlaw points out that the authoritarian nature of all three governments allows expedited coordination of such UW without the controversy that often accompanies Western whole of government and election politics-driven approaches. However, this argument falls short insofar as only adversary-inflicted kinetic warfare is likely to have incontrovertible immediate strategic effects on our NATO or Asian friends. Adversary UW efforts that are less than fully kinetic tend to alienate and consolidate the resolve of affected nations, meaning ultimately these means of UW will not matter much because they fail to win regional and world positive responses.

Nobody is fooled when Russians say their troops are on vacation or imply they are independent contractors hired by locally-oppressed peoples of Russian ancestry. Likewise, Chinese “lawfare” is unlikely to win favor in international law. Adversary UW means alone are more important as long-term means of building homegrown consensus for <strong>why</strong> Russia, China, or Iran are doing what they do. Our counter-UW efforts involving whole of government sanctions and (should I say it) sabotage may actually hurt our standing in the court of adversary and international opinion while having only temporary effects or even spurring adversaries to more drastic kinetic actions. Ultimately, however, countering UW comes down to conventional deterrence and credible Joint forces to include Army/Marine armored and light forces to stop or deter aggression with support from the air, sea, and multi-domain air defenses.

The major issue for the U.S. in any kinetic conflict is the combination of the tyranny of distance and the GRAMM capabilities of all three major adversaries. However, even given the extensive nature of A2/AD in the Pacific, China would have great difficulty consolidating gains from such UW attacks. In contrast in Europe, Russia (or China in North Korea) could easily exploit UW and missile attacks by simply driving across borders in dispersed armor rather than sailing amphibious forces one hundred (or more to the Senkakus, or mainland Japan and Philippines) miles under constant air and sea attack in easily-targeted Chinese sea and aircraft targets. Outlaw noted this elsewhere:

<blockquote>Actually the new Russian UW strategy has a secondary effect of being able to field test under combat conditions any new weapons systems one wants to field test. Especially in the area of high precision MRLS and artillery guided via radar.
By the way the use of high precision weapons is mentioned in one of the phases of their new UW strategy--hardly a coincidence.
#BreakingNews The Ukraine army 27th Artillery Regiment from Sumy lost 15-18 men in a Russian army BM-30 Smerch attack in #Starobelska last night
#Ukrainian tanks, APCs and military trucks pulling back along road from #novaidar in face of what soldiers say are Russian Smerch attacks.
#Ukrainian soldiers say their sleeping area in position near #Luhansk hit by #Russian Smerch rockets overnight.</blockquote>

Well that and enemy armor sounds to me like weapons that <strong>our</strong> counter-UW would be powerless to halt while prepositioned and deployed regular forces could deal with them along with air and sea domain systems. It’s well and good to observe Russian and Chinese UW philosophies but the later UW phases that seriously should concern us are those involving actual kinetic attacks of places like Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, and NATO countries in east Europe. Unless the U.S. and coalition partners are better prepared than some minimally-capable ground rapid deployment force and counter-UW speed bump in both theaters, the long-term consequences may be far more serious.

<blockquote>Yes, Cold War style deterrence is a form "countering" anything ones adversary might be planning, or doing. To include UW.</blockquote>

The conventional Army is the service best able to overcome these capabilities through company-sized armored slice prepositioning protected by air and missile defenses given the inherent hardening and rapid dispersion of the armored systems. Others services located in port or on local airfields are larger and softer targets vulnerable to surprise missile attack. Rotating Army elements can secure multiple-country prepositioning sites augmented by lighter elements airlifted to join our prepositioned armor and allies to hold points of entry until sea-deployed forces arrive. It is much easier to move armor intratheater distance to “unknown/unknowable” locations at required times. Let’s face it, the adversaries and likely theaters of most wars that matter to us in terms of vital interests <strong>are</strong> known. The more nations we preposition small armored forces, the more instant the coalition of the willing when adversary missiles start to fly.

When most adversary nations other than China and Russia have under $10 billion in annual defense spending, it doesn’t require much math to calculate that they won’t field large modern armored and stealth aircraft forces, or capable navies within a decade plus. If new adversary states start to emerge, the unknowable starts to become better known. When half of Russian aircraft fall out of the sky in India and China must steal to gain technology that they then can’t reverse engineer or manufacture, we should be less concerned about future state and non-state technology and UW advances and more worried about getting credible defenses there in time as a “firstest with the mostest” deterrent with “there” being countries being attacked…not the deep interior of nuclear-armed nations.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 7:08am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Sparapet---here is why CFs are needed along side SOF/SF during UW Russian style.

CF brings counter battery abilities that does not exist on the SOF side. And if it is a mortar unit being manned by Russian GRU/SF units then they are fair game for the SOF side as well.

#Komaxidze: 20 remained 2C4 Tulip mortars in army are in the 8th specialized self-propelled mortar division army unit # 64493, fr #Tambov.

#Komaxidze: On the smaller mortar the men posing are "volunteers" fr #Akhbazia cleverly used by #Russian Special Services for #Ukraine.

#Komaxidze: The fact alone the 130 kg 2C4 Tulip shell is in #Ukraine is evidence of existence of Tulip in #Ukraine as there's no other way.

#Komaxidze: The fact the man stands next to black shells is likely as training ones but on the background fins of normal 53-Ф-864 are seen.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 2:43am

In reply to by Sparapet

Sparapet---your comments are interesting ---being one from the old guard SF days and having a close Ukrainian friend a SF company commander who is deep in the "ground fight" I see both sides of the same coin---and that is not COIN.

This UW strategy that Russian is carrying out calls actually for both SOF and CF---right now --SF and SOF units can carry out specific disrupt, delay and deep ambushing and diversion in the rear what cause confusion and slows down elite units that are right now inside the Ukraine. SF/SOF units against irregular forces---ideal fight.

But they do not have the depth and firepower to take on tank on tank and counter artillery battery fires and or conduct infantry on infantry attacks as that requires manpower.

Countering the Russian UW will require both SOF/SF and CF to do it right.

BUT that is only the violence side Russia is using right now that military violence cannot counter---cyber, info warfare, political warfare, political military pressures on other countries and using the UN and OSCE.

That requires a NCA response and strategy---which we simply do not have as they are only "seeing" the military side of the events and it takes an enormous amount of energy to counter the non violence side of the Russian UW strategy.

Right now the biggest Russian pushback is not from the US/EU/NATO it is the Ukrainians themselves defending with what they can COUPLED with the falling oil prices and truly sinking Rubel.

The economic failure right now of the Russian economy is probably restricting Putin far greater than anything the West has done and or not done.

How Slumping Oil Prices Hit Russia's Sanctions-Struck Oil Industry:…

Russian #ruble Continues Freefall: Ruble dip dents confidence in Moscow


Tue, 10/28/2014 - 9:17am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I think you are spot on with the idea that we can't match an authoritarian regime's "whole of government" strategic approach. I've been on the receiving end of Russian organized diplomatic maneuvering and one thing was clear, when they cared then there was a plan...and even when Russian diplomats in private expressed their frustrations, the plan was carried out.

Perhaps we are tactical because at that level it doesn't require complex inter-agency leadership. It might require the occasional bit of cooperation between like-minded agencies, but that is hardly "bringing national power to bear" and very rarely are agency sacred cows at stake.

But to your most interesting point about the Russian example that UW is not just a SOF solution. That is the heart of the matter. In that sense, UW is a strategy for the conduct of the conflict rather than a sum of tactics that are variously labeled special or conventional. Perhaps the term itself is a misnomer that confuses us by drawing a neat analogy between Special (i.e. Unconventional) and Conventional forces. We might more properly call it clandestine war versus open war. Stripped of it's campaign level association, UW as a collection of tactics becomes an operational/tactical aspect of a campaign that can more usefully align with special and conventional tactics. Thus, any campaign in any phase may rely more heavily on UW or CW tactical buckets without being drawn into a morass of cognitive dissonance brought on by conflicting frameworks. In that sense, what the original article calls C-UW becomes a more coherent thing and one that is less deserving of a "whole of government task force" (perhaps the article's weakest notion) and more deserving of its place in the Combatant Commander's and even the Joint Task Force Commander's arsenal.

Otherwise, I think the SOF community owes the CF community an explanation of OIF and OEF. Namely, an explanation of whether, when, what, and why those were or were not UW campaigns. An awful lot of people are awfully confused right now on the subject, which I would say is at the heart of the SOF vs CF strategic primacy debate (see SOF Service articles/arguments).

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 7:42am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Again this is the perfect example of the complexity of the Russian UW---just when one gets used to Russian info war tactics then they shift again--so hoes does say the Us government shift as fast to counter it---it does'nt is the answer.

In the Minsk 1 and 2 applauded by the West and signed by Russia agreements there is no mentioning of elections being held by the separatists other than those held by the Ukrainian government.

The Ukraine has basically implemented all aspects and yet Russia just keeps on flipping the agenda and twisting and turning around even signed agreements if it pleases them to fit their declared end state---in this case the "New Russia" annexation of eastern Ukraine.

AND notice not a single from the West and or EU and or NATO "pushback" on the Russian FM statements giving the illusion the West agrees with Russia.

Lavrov claims Sunday's elections in separatist "republics" are "main aspect of Minsk agreements, imp. f legitimacy"…

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 7:32am

In reply to by Sparapet

Dave M gave a great summary between the US and say the Russian form of UW.
Russia versus US Unconventional Warfare Summary

US UW is very tactical, narrow, and limited, it is very SOF focused
Russian UW is joint and interagency and employs conventional as well as special operations forces
SOF and Conventional and Diplomatic and Economic focus
Broader tasks – e.g., no fly zones, blockades, EW, deception, propaganda
US 7 phases – “How to” for SF/SOF
Russian Eight phases – an outline for strategic employment of more than SOF

This was a comment of mine today on the thread do we understand UW?

Good examples of the Russian UW complexity just in two days;

1. yesterday the Russian FM states Russia will respect the Ukrainian elections but there were a number of BUTs connected to the statement

2. Then today Russia states it will recognize the elections of their mercenaries AND

3. then this today;
#BREAKING An immediate Russian offensive is expected north east of #Mariupol.
#Mortar and #Grad fire was follwed by the sighting of 40 APC!!

4.Once again #NATO called Russia to withdraw its forces from the eastern #Ukraine border. Statement by the secretary general

5. the Russian FM last Friday openly stated via RIA "we do not have much influence over the separatists and many do not believe that"

6. this is what they do when their own propaganda does not match real results ...Of course ...
Pro-Russian "Opposition Bloc" accuses the Ukrainian govt. of "massive rigging" of the election results in #Donetsk oblast.

Layered over these actions was today the record low Ruble against the USD/Euro rates---so one might conclude that serious Russian economic problems has no influence on Russian decision makers once the UW strategy is implemented as it drives against a defined end state-- come heck or high water.

Simply put their UW strategy supports their political warfare goals as defined by their geo political decisions.

THAT is the core reason the US never will get off the DoD defined tactical definition of UW and C-UW.

In our system of government we can never match the speed of an authoritarian ruled country and therein lies our own core problem with the new Russian UW strategy.


Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:51pm

The more I think about it the less I understand "hybrid warfare". So hybrid warfare is supposed to be a combination of UW and CW, right? So, it's not new. It's not even unusual. In all fact it seems so common as to be undeserving of a distinction. One could say, if one wanted to be ultra-conservative and recent, that it has been the norm ever since OSS went behind the lines in Europe.

The other thing I don't quite understand is how UW is going to be "turned against the US". I suppose one could construe AQ/IS recruitment and incitement of domestic terrorism as a form of UW. But I am not seeing a game changer, sky is falling, we can't deal kind of argument here. Other than that, C-UW would be mostly a point-counter-point kind of strategy from us, which may have its place in the strategic tool box, but isn't exactly a game changer. After all, isn't that the sort of thing the all of the Cold War proxy games were about? paraphrase a college professor of mine, I don't see an original hypothesis in this essay.

Hans Morganthau -- 1967 -- in his "To Intervene or Not To Intervene:"

"The United States and the Soviet Union face each other not only as two great powers which in the traditional ways compete for advantage. They also face each other as the fountainheads of two hostile and incompatible ideologies, systems of government and ways of life, each trying to expand the reach of its respective political values and institutions and to prevent the expansion of the other."

Post-the Cold War, the United States came to be the only great power left that sought to advance (both through war and through other means) its ideology, its system of government and its way of life -- and the only great power left that sought, via these methods, to expand the reach of its political, economic and social values and institutions; these such efforts being undertaken so as to gain greater access to, and greater power and control over, more of the world's human and other resources.

It is against this backdrop, I suggest, that we must look at the more-recent "countering" efforts and approaches (to include political and unconventional warfare) that have been made by such less-powerful entities as Russia, China and Iran. Currently these nations -- working together and/or separately and with other state and/or non-state actors -- seek to prevent the further advance of our ideology, our system of government and our way of life, and seek to prevent the further expansion of our political, economic and social values and institutions; thereby preventing, they believe, the United States from gaining greater access to, and greater power and control over, the human and other resources contained (1) within their regions and (2) within the world.


a. As the United States, post-the Cold War, has attempted to use the appeal of its ideology, system of government and way of life, etc., (the "shining house on the hill" approach) as a "political warfare" means/methods to advance its hegemonic(?) agenda (outlined above),

b. Various less-powerful entities have banded together -- in classic "balancing" fashion -- to counter our such efforts; herein, using political and unconventional warfare approaches of their own. These such approaches often being based on (1) the appeal of their own, more-indigenous/"close to home" identities and (2) the appeal of their own (albeit outdated) "shining houses on the hill" (ex: the Russian Empire; the Islamic Caliphate).

Is it from this hegemonic/anti-hegemonic-classic "balancing" viewpoint, that I have attempted to provide above, that we might better understand, and better study and address, the contemporary political and unconventional warfare problems, challenges, etc., that we face in the current era?


Mon, 10/27/2014 - 6:03pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Don't mean to jump into this thread mid-stream, but something you said caught my eye.

It seems to me that there is no actual way to "get involved" without picking a side. Being a truly neutral party is near impossible, as our very presence alters that balance of the system. I am not aware of any FID/UW/COIN or whathaveyou that would fit the bill of us creating stability at the expense of a host nation government's agenda, where that host nation isn't our enemy. Getting chummy with rebels because a negotiated settlement seems to be the most rational solution to a problem isn't being neutral, it's picking the rebels' side. Just because you have conditions attached to your position doesn't make you neutral. As such, the political game that would need to be played to convince the host nation that a settlement is in their interest when they are not already on board with a compromise would be a hell of a lift for our fantastically blunt foreign policy establishment.

Robert C. Jones

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 11:13am

In reply to by Bill M.

Strategic concepts are broad and fundamental in nature. Otherwise the are not really strategic. Specifics are found in tailoring to the unique facts, culture and history of any given situation. C-UW in Ukraine or Belarus would look very different than in Mali.

state UW actors are susceptible to deterrence and sanctions; non-state UW actors like AQ are not. In Mali we would refine our FID with the national security forces to be more like our efforts in the PI; and we would drop the AQAA bundling disaster, limiting our CT to foreign AQ UW agents and the foreign fighters they bring with them. We would need to conduct UW with the regional group now known as AQIM in an effort to offer them a better chance at addressing reasonable grievances with the government than AQ offers. We would have to play all sides against the middle. Taking sides doesn't work well for getting to more balanced and durable results. The host government will likely not like it, but this is about our interests, not making someone happy. By being postured with the rebels we could apply non violent pressure as so many successful insurgents have done.

We just really need to get out of the business of killing and suppression of other government's disenfranchised populations on their behalf, and justifying it on some half-baked perspective on interests. While we have changed what we call vital, what actually is vital has not changed much at all.

Bill M.

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 10:38am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

We may be talking past one another, or we may just disagree on points presented in your argument.

"Illegal political competition - often manifesting in very war-like violence. C-UW has to focus more on the problem between the targeted populations and the government being challenged, rather than on some insurgent "threat" to work."

Keeping in mind UW requires an external sponsor. If not, it isn't UW according to the U.S. doctrinal definition. You didn't assign responsibility in your comment above, but you imply we have some responsibility the next paragraph. The U.S., in many cases, has pushed for better governance in countries where we see storm clouds forming on the horizon. These efforts historically have been largely ineffective. More importantly, the external actor has their own agenda regardless of any particular population group that may, or may not, be under represented by the government in the targeted country. UW is not limited to supporting insurgencies. The USSR's support for the Red Army in West Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy are examples of using surrogates to pursue limited objectives. The effected governments didn't need to change how they governed, because that was never the issue (there was no mass support for these movements). They needed to conduct aggressive, yet surgical, security operations to neutralize the threat. Every situation is different, there isn't one simply model that adequately explains the dynamics of any conflict. The one thing we must do is seek greater understanding, and avoid applying template solutions, whether political or tactical. Ukraine is more complex, Putin leveraged his surrogate motorcycle gang the Night Wolves to facilitate subverting and mobilizing the population, smuggle weapons, and otherwise organize the resistance in Eastern Ukraine long before he invaded. This gang is present throughout Eastern Europe, and we can assume their activities are sanctioned by the government of Russia. I'm sure an argument can be made that the ethnic Russians in Ukraine desire to return to the Russian orbit. An argument can be made the non-ethnic Russians in the contested areas of Ukraine don't want to be dominated by the Russians. Not all conflicts are amiable to peaceful solutions. If states and people believe in something strong enough they will fight for it. Who wins the fight determines the future, that is an Machiavellian as you can get. As Clausewitz said (paraphrasing), the outcomes of war are never final. We fool ourselves if we think we can address every underlying cause that drives conflict. As Brad Pitt said in the new movie Crusher, "ideas are peaceful, history is violent." We need to accept and continue to prepare for that reality. On the other hand, I agree we need to be much more selective where we commit military force.

"Most C-UW activities would ideally be in "phase 0"; but also could be done once things go hot. C-UW demands we be more pragmatic and Machiavellian in our approach. Focused on fostering the stability necessary to some vital interest - not blindly dedicating ourselves to keeping the challenged government in power and uncoerced as our measure of success."

Vital interests are getting harder to define in a globalized world. One could argue that international norms are a vital interest. In that case, a threat to those norms anywhere that isn't challenged results in a new internal norm that threatens our vital interests. Vital interests are driven by the opinions of our political leaders. What Clinton and Wilson saw as vital differed significantly from what Truman and Bush saw as vital.

"We need to deal with the reality of the situations we face, and stop seeing them through the cloudy lens of our deeply flawed doctrine and definitions."

Agree, but there is reality associated with war that so far tends to endure, and any attempt to wish it away could be very dangerous. Our political leaders determine our strategic ends, and how our country will pursue them. Military leadership is obligated to provide their best advice on the feasibility of their proposed courses of action. If our civilian leaders continue to demand the military solve the problem, then we need a military strategy that facilitates achieving the policy goals, not just winning battles. If one is not available, then McMasters may be right, we may need more senior leaders to resign instead of pursue an amoral strategy that will only bleed America's treasure (human and wealth) needlessly, and ultimately achieve nothing. We fall short here, and I know you are attempting to address this shortfall, but your ideas so far are too broad and vague to be of utility. They are philosophical, now if the time to get to the next level of fidelity and offer specific recommendations.

Robert C. Jones

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 9:50pm

In reply to by Bill M.

Illegal political competition - often manifesting in very war-like violence. C-UW has to focus more on the problem between the targeted populations and the government being challenged, rather than on some insurgent "threat" to work.

Most C-UW activities would ideally be in "phase 0"; but also could be done once things go hot. C-UW demands we be more pragmatic and Machiavellian in our approach. Focused on fostering the stability necessary to some vital interest - not blindly dedicating ourselves to keeping the challenged government in power and uncoerced as our measure of success.

We need to deal with the reality of the situations we face, and stop seeing them through the cloudy lens of our deeply flawed doctrine and definitions.

Bill M.

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 7:05pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

We are talking about warfare, the use of violence to impose will. Sounds like you are talking about a legal political process that has obviously failed by this point. Please clarify.

Robert C. Jones

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 2:02pm

Yes, Cold War style deterrence is a form "countering" anything ones adversary might be planning, or doing. To include UW.

When I first teed up the concept of C-UW here on Small Wars back in 2008 I was thinking more about how we counter in a more comprehensive and appropriate way the UW strategy of AQ than we continue to do with our counter tactic approach of CT and BPC.

We have been far too symptomatic, and essentially working to suppress those symptoms. Predictably our tactical efforts are actually being counter productive strategically.

C-UW bundles actors by their primary purpose for action, not their shared ideology, tactics or affiliations. C-UW seeks to out compete the UW actor for influence with the aggrieved populace targeted by the UW actor and offer them less disruptive approaches for addressing their reasonable concerns with governance in support of diplomatic pressure. C-UW works towards reducing the negative energy in the system.

We will do many of the same tactics, but with new focus, priority and purpose.

Bill M.

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 1:31pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Cite your sources for your comments in a. It isn't that way just because you say so. What authoritative document tells us this is our strategy?

Do you assume that other nations are not trying to impose their will upon others and expand their influence? Would they do so if the U.S. didn't exist? If the answer is yes, then are you not simply pointing out the reality of international politics?

To your comment in para 1. Is Iran using UW to expand its influence strictly in response to the U.S., or do they maybe have an issue with the Sunni power bases?

We are only the center of our universe. Yes other countries respond to our actions, but they also respond to the actions of others in ways that has nothing to do with the U.S..

A way to understand why counter-unconventional warfare may, indeed, be the way of the future:

a. The United States, post-the Cold War, adopted an expansionist strategy (think, for example, of "engagement and enlargement"); the purpose of which was -- and still is -- to gain greater power, influence and control over the human and other resources of the world.

b. The manner by which this political objective was/is to be achieved was/is via (1) the initial transformation of such lesser states and societies as those contained in the Greater Middle East and via (2) the further transformation of such great powers as Russia and China; all to be transformed/further transformed more along modern western political, economic and social lines.

c. For their part, certain entities within the Greater Middle East -- and within China and Russia -- sought/seek to prevent the United States from gaining such greater power, influence and control over their human and other resources.

d. The manner by which these entities seek to prevent our such expansionist efforts (much as we sought to prevent the expansion of Soviet/communist influence during the Cold War) was/is via the common strategy of "containment" and/or "roll back;" an integral part of which was, is and could be the adoption and use of unconventional/hybrid warfare ways, means and methods.

e. Given these facts and circumstances, then our "whole of government" and "political warfare" mission becomes:

1. How to counter/overcome, specifically, the unconventional/hybrid warfare ways, means and methods that our opponents are using/may use to resist our expansionist efforts.

2. How to counter/overcome, generally, their common "containment/roll back" strategies -- designed and adopted to achieve this same end.

3. How to, in spite of such resistance, move forward to transform/further transform these states and societies anyway and, thereby,

4. Gain, as we desire, greater direct -- or indirect -- power, influence and control over their human and other resources.

Bill M, below, suggests that, to be effective, we may need to think outside the box.

This would, indeed, seem to be appropriate, given the post-Cold War role-reversal that I have outlined above.

Bill M.

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:31pm

The U.S. has conducted C-UW for an extended period during the Cold War. It was largely a UW fight between two opposing ideologies that were incompatible. Unfortunately the C-UW white paper limits itself to our legacy COIN and FID doctrines, and fails to break new ground. These doctrines will always have relevance, but assuming the character of the threat is different in some regards, that would imply a need to break new ground. If you disagree with my assumption that the character of UW has not changed, then the paper is sufficient as written.

However, looking are continued inability to achieve our aims with our existing COIN and FID doctrines, that indicates we need to change. We tend to confuse temporary tactical victories during our FID and COIN operations as progress, when recent history tells us repeated that those victories are too often fleeting in nature. We also tend to ignore how our adversaries are using UW to make progress over time. As the author knows these are not wars of mass, where we can apply mass against a specific decisive point and achieve our aims. Mass will always play a role at the tactical level for short duration, but deploying a large number of ground force or throwing billions of dollars at a problem will neither solve, nor is the approach sustainable. While we have the capabilities, probably 70% of the doctrine we need to prepare our forces, we do not have a good strategic appreciation of the challenge. We do not readily accept critical assessments of our current operational and strategic approaches. We also do not have the necessary authorities and approvals needed to rapidly adapt to how the threat adapts to us. We are still largely stuck with a legacy Cold War system of Title 10 authorities.

We need to expand our view on this topic if we are going to make progress.


Thu, 10/23/2014 - 9:21pm

I am so tired of hearing some Navy guy with Seal behind his name create a new language to intellectually elevate himself and say this is the way of the future. He doesn't get it. Special Operations are necessary but Special Operations folks up against regular forces with air, tanks and artillery and they get their butts kicked. Hybrid warfare, counter unconvential warfare? A fight is is fight, you do what you have to do to win. American soldiers have always been able to adapt. Someone has to have their backs. Sounds to me like the author has not been in a fight against other regular forces. Your strategy speaks to "lets get by on the cheap". Why don't you develop a strategy that overwhelms your potential enemies and puts the word Defeat or Win in your language. I don't like the way you think!