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Irregular Warfare and United States Case Study

Pages:5 (1609 words)




Document Type:Case Study



Irregular warfare refers to the violent process through which various non-state and state actors fight for influence and legitimacy over populations. While the full might of military power may be employed, irregular warfare generally uses asymmetric and indirect approaches to reduce the power, will, and influence of the adversary. Because of the irregular approaches, such a process is usually very “messy” and the actions during such a war cannot be distilled into a clear definite and repeatable process. The process is usually characterized by terrorism, counterterrorism, insurgency, and counterinsurgency (Department of Defense Washington DC, 2017).

Just like in any organization, the execution of war takes place at various levels from the tactical level to the top strategic level. One can understand irregular warfare by breaking it down into various levels. At the top strategic level, influence and control over the target population determine irregular warfare. At the operational level, there is a focus on carrying out war campaigns and operations. On the ground at the tactical level, the personnel focus on the application of the indirect and asymmetric warfare tactics and procedures. The goal as would be in any other kind of warfare is to achieve the strategic goals and win. When a war is won, the winner gets to exert dominance and control over the conquered territory, military force, and population (Department of Defense Washington DC, 2017).

Organizational Stressors during Irregular Warfare

To erode and undermine the will, influence, and power of the adversary, irregular warfare usually utilizes attrition, exhaustion, subversion, and coercion. The result is that they get to exercise political authority and dominance over the conquered population and their military force. The term “irregular’ is used because the aggressor has the strategic goal of gaining and maintaining influence and control over the conquered population by using economic, psychological, and political methods. In the long-term, most populations generally gravitate towards legitimate governments that they have chosen to represent them. Where people are being led by a dictatorship, the dissatisfaction can be taken advantage of by an irregular force to overthrow the government or take control over various administrative regions from the central government (Department of Defense Washington DC, 2017).

There are different mindsets and modes of operations that apply to irregular warfare whose focus is to control a population rather than defeat an enemy as is the case in regular warfare. The general dynamics of warfare haven’t changed much over the centuries. Since the beginning of time, wars have been clashes between organized groups fighting over various interests. In the 21st century, the organized groups extend beyond organized groups represented by states and governmental borders. There are regular and irregular armed forces with competing interests today and some of them do not operate under internationally accepted standards and conventions of war (Department of Defense Washington DC, 2017).

Insurgency and counterinsurgency represent a big portion of irregular warfare activity today. The goal of insurgency is to overthrow and take the place of an established political structure and government. Usually, insurgency…

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…involved in the war, their ability to adapt as circumstances change on the ground, and the leadership ability of the generals. Field grade officers play a crucial role in providing resources needed by the leaders of the small units. These resources include money, intelligence, and training. The collective effort can win a combat against an adversary in both regular and irregular warfare (Davis, 2010).

Today, organizational readiness must include adoption and proficiency in modern military technology. However, it is notable that irregular warfare has not been disrupted by technology. In irregular warfare, factors such as history, psychology, and sociology play a much bigger role in designing the dynamics of the conflict including the intensity and persistence (White, 1996). A counterinsurgency campaign must, therefore, rebuild the trust and confidence of the people in their legitimate government and promote a sense of patriotic nation building among the people. It is hard for an insurgency movement to arise among populations that are well fed, secured, properly housed, clothed, and productively employed. In the same vein, it is fruitless running a counterinsurgency operation without putting an effort into improving the livelihood of the people (Davis, 2010).

Organizational readiness should also involve welcoming various third parties such as NGOs to provide support and aid to local governments and communities. Such NGOs can identify areas that can be potentially exploited to work towards winning a combat or building good will with the population to win them over. The organizations can also help in promoting commerce by building business centers,…

Sample Source(s) Used


Davis, R. G. (Ed.). (2010). US Army and Irregular Warfare 1775-2007: Selected Papers From the 2007 Conference of Army Historians: Selected Papers From the 2007 Conference of Army Historians. Government Printing Office.

Department of Defense Washington DC, (2017). Irregular Warfare (IW) Joint Operating Concept (JOC). Washington: 2007. 100 p. Cit, 03-02

Lundberg, K. (2006). The Accidental Statesman: General Petraeus and the City of Mosul, Iraq. Kennedy School of Government, Case Program.

White, J. B. (1996). A different kind of threat: Some thoughts on irregular warfare.

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