THE UTILITY OF IRREGULAR WARFARE IN GREAT POWER COMPETITION
Hall, James G.
Pitt, William T.
Sepp, Kalev I.
Blocksome, Patricia J.
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The publication of the 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2018 National Defense Strategy generated renewed focus on great power competition (GPC). This research sought to determine if and how irregular warfare could shape the current competitive environment by analyzing historical case studies and applying lessons from successes and failures to the contemporary era. The research determined that irregular warfare can shape the competitive environment in two primary ways: by disrupting America’s competitors in the achievement of their national objectives, and in strengthening a partner’s capacity for resilience and resistance to a great power’s aggression. Additionally, the research uncovered the importance of preparing irregular options ahead of a crisis for use in the event of escalation to traditional conflict. In light of these forms of irregular warfare and of the ever-increasing complexity in the competitive space, it was determined that small, agile, and purpose-built teams with broad irregular warfare capabilities should be created to execute irregular warfare campaigns, not missions, that consider the overall intent, the trajectory of the environment, and the place in the national irregular warfare strategy for GPC. Ultimately, this research has determined that the United States must embrace competition and the objectives of irregular warfare parallel with the goals of GPC; therefore, irregular warfare should be a central component of the American GPC strategy.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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