Gray is Here to Stay: Principles from the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance on Competing in the Gray Zone - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by Kevin Bilms · March 25, 2021
An important essay today.America must embrace its irregular warfare capabilities and be able to compete in Great Power Competition where dominant ' 'fight" is best described as political warfare. Irregular warfare is the military contribution to political warfare (and by DODD 3000.7 and the IW annex to the NDS consists of CT, FID, UW, COIN< and stability operations).
Although I am heartened by the author citing some of Bob Jones important work on unconventional deterrence I am disappointed he did not point out one of the most important sentences in the interim guidance: "We will maintain the proficiency of special operations forces to focus on crisis response and priority counterterrorism and unconventional warfare missions." Unconventional warfare is the foundation of irregular warfare and conventional warfare is at the root of the two SOF trinities: irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and support to political warfare and the second being the comparative advantages of SOF: influence, governance, and support to indefgeigenous forces and population.
UW thinking informs everything SF/SOF should do.
UW is fundamentally problem solving; using unique, non-doctrinal and non-conventional methods, techniques, people, equipment to solve (or assist in solving) un.
UW is fundamentally about influencing behavior of target audiences (which can include a population, a segment of a population, a political structure, or a military force); therefore, it is an integral action arm of IO/PSYOP.
I am heartened to see the Biden administration use unconventional warfare when there are so many antibodies out there against it.
But I also commend Congress for providing the best description of irregular warfare that will never be adopted by the doctrine gatekeepers on the Joint Staff. In the 2018 NDAA it wrote: Irregular Warfare is conducted “in support of predetermined United States policy and military objectives conducted by, with, and through regular forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals participating in competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict.”