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Old 11-29-2005   #1
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Default Irregular warfare an RMA?

This is my first post and would like to say hello. I found the site yesterday and couldn't believe that I have missed this until now. I am looking forward to some good discussions.

I have attached an article from Defense News. I thought it was a positive sign that we are heading down the right track, but I was surprised by the fact that irregular warfare was referred to as a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). I wouldn't say it was a RMA, but was the first form of combat. If anything, modern warfare would be the RMA when compared to irregular warfare. It is a thought I have been exploring. Maybe we need to view modern 3rd generation warfare as an outgrowth of irregular warfare and not the other way around?

From Defense News, 28 Nov 05

U.S. Troops Must Wage Irregular Warfare Against Insurgents: Experts

Nearly three years into a bloody, protracted conflict with guerrilla fighters in Iraq, the U.S. military is still struggling to define irregular warfare and understand its complexity, according to a panel of experts.

In Iraq, American troops are fighting a diffuse network of guerrilla cells, with a flat versus hierarchical structure, able to melt into the supporting population after attacking U.S. forces, according to the panelists who discussed “The Future of the U.S. Military and Irregular Warfare” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, on Nov. 22. Because irregular warfare’s center of gravity is the mindset of the population, not an enemy’s conventional forces, it requires a more sophisticated approach than the traditional application of overwhelming firepower.

“Irregular warfare is the true revolution in military affairs, not technology,” said Geoffrey Lambert, a retired major general and former commander of the U.S. Army’s special forces. “It is a philosophy of warfare that strives to attain its objectives by attacking an opponent’s will to fight without engaging in conventional battle.”

To wage irregular warfare against networks of independent, decentralized insurgent cells will require that the U.S. military mirror, in many ways, the enemy’s structure: Small, self sufficient and autonomous forces, or what the military terms special mission units, are the optimal organization for finding and destroying small enemy cells, said Army Special Forces Maj. James Gavrilis.

Special operations forces can adapt and transform to an enemy’s tactics more rapidly than large conventional units can, Gavrilis said. The ongoing global war on terror has taxed American special operations forces because their ability to work with the local population and gather human intelligence places them at the front end of the intelligence-gathering process, he said. The forces also are used in Iraq to go after what the military terms high-value targets.

Both Lambert and Gavrilis agreed that special operations forces in Iraq focus too much on tactical engagements and not enough on local community building. Lambert agreed that the easy metrics of killing or capturing suspected insurgents fits the American mindset more readily than the often painstaking task of delivering good governance to an embattled population.
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Old 11-29-2005   #2
Bill Moore
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Default You're right, but

This is the oldest form of warfare, but it is empowered with information technology, which enables a simple, tactically insignificant IED to have a disproportional effect in the global media. It's the same, yet it is different. I think we'll be wrestling with these differences and what they mean to our military for some time.

As for MG(R) Lambert's comments about Special Operations being too focused on pulling the trigger he is probably right. This is largely the result of key SOF leaders at the theater and above coming from the shooting side of our community instead of coming from the Special Forces side. Those not familiar with Special Operations should note that we have units that specialize in pulling the trigger and others that specialize in providing good governance, and then you have the ever flexible and capable Special Forces that can do both to varying degrees. At the end of the day, CA, PSYOP, and many SF units are focused on providing that good governance (along with some conventional units that understand the type of war their fighting). Other Special Operations units like the Rangers, SEALS, and others remain focused on killing terrorists and insurgents. There is nothing wrong with this, the part that is broken is that the trigger pullers should be in support of SF insteand of the other way around for this conflict based on priority of effort and skill sets.

That is just one small problem in one isolated community, DoD as a whole as a lot of work to do to improve their ability to deal with irregular forces. While I think this problem needs to be addressed, I still think we have to maintain our conventional warfighting skills also, so that makes the challenge that much more difficult.
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