Small Wars Journal

unconventional warfare

Russian Rear Area Operations and the Resistance Operating Concept

Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:50pm
In 2014, the politico-military face of Europe changed considerably after the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and its follow-on subversion of, and incursion into, eastern Ukraine. While some decried Russia for “acting in a 19th-century fashion”, it became clear to many eastern and central European states, NATO members and non-members alike, that their 21st century security challenges now could include invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation. Nowhere in NATO was this challenge felt more acutely than in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They had regained their sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union, but unfortunately also regained the same geopolitical challenges to their security that they faced during their interwar existence – limited territory providing no strategic depth and a small population unable to generate conventional military forces that could deter a Kremlin hostile to their independence. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO took specific steps to increase Baltic security. Since 2017, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a proportionate deterrent force and to send a clear message that an attack on one would be met by troops from across the alliance. NATO has improved its security posture in the Baltics through multiple deployments and exercises and by investing in infrastructure and pre-positioned forces via the European Deterrence Initiative.

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Gray is Here to Stay: Principles from the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance on Competing in the Gray Zone - Modern War Institute

Gray is Here to Stay: Principles from the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance on Competing in the Gray Zone - Modern War Institute · 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.” 


DanielRiggs Thu, 03/25/2021 - 9:35am

1st Special Forces Command - A Vision for 2021 and Beyond

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 12:48pm

The updated 1st Special Forces Command Vision document can be accessed HERE

Command TeamForward:

"The 2018 National Defense Strategy articulates the need to shift towards Great Power Competition. While the fight against Violent Extremism persists, we must also turn our attention to near-peer adversaries who closed the gap on our Nation’s competitive advantages over the last two decades.

Despite these changes, the fundamental nature of our fight remains the same. The Irregular Warfare Annex to the 2018 NDS highlights that Irregular Warfare is inextricably linked to national security in the modern era. Our vision supports this enduring concept, which is foundational to our fight and is anticipated to remain an integral part of future National Defense Strategies as well. As masters of IW, we have always risen to the challenge - and we will continue to do so in the future. Just as our formations played an enormous role in the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency fights of the previous two decades, our role in competition will be crucial to set the conditions for success.

We will continue to serve as strategic sensors and members of influence networks which enable JIIM partners to impose costs on our adversaries in multiple domains, and set the conditions to win on any battlefield should deterrence fail.

To expand our competitive advantage, we must embrace revolutionary change needed to compete, deter and win against near-peer adversaries in an increasingly complex environment. We must focus our attention towards innovation that enables Convergence, Force Development, and CONUS-Based Operational Support. This vision lays the groundwork for how we will adapt to be the First to Observe, First to Influence, and First to Compete in 2021 and beyond."

(Editor's Note: I think this vision document well describes the two "SOF Trinities:"  Irregular Warfare, Unconventional Warfare, and Support to Political Warfare and the comparative advantage of SOF: influence, governance, and support to indigenous forces and populations).

“To Oppress the Free”: The Iranian Basij and the Dark Side of Unconventional Warfare Doctrine

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 12:42pm
Iran, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, has prioritized and dedicated significant resources to protecting the ruling regime from UW threats from within while (leveraging its empirically won UW principles) projecting highly capable UW forces abroad.

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Adding Strategic Nonviolence to the Unconventional Warfare Doctrine

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 1:13pm
In the era of great power competition, the United States can ill afford to ignore nonviolent resistance as an offensive strategy employable by ourselves, our allies, and also our enemies. The ability to achieve UW end states using strategic nonviolence will increase the options and capabilities available to policymakers and allow us to understand it when utilized against U.S. interests.

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Deterring “Competition Short of War”: Are Gray Zones the Ardennes of our Modern Maginot Line of Traditional Deterrence? SWJED Tue, 05/14/2019 - 12:51am
Unconventional Deterrence is not Unconventional Warfare any more than Nuclear Deterrence is Nuclear Warfare. The goal of UD is not to destabilize the societies of our enemies, rather the goal of UD is to deter our enemies from destabilizing our own society, and those of our Allies and Partners. While most of my contemporaries overly fixate on the strengths of our opponents and how they match up with inherent weaknesses of our own; I am far more interested in where their inherent weaknesses play to our strengths.

Green Berets: Rebuilding the Guerrilla Leader Identity

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 5:22am
Direct Action and Unconventional Warfare - one is in the movies, and the other is in the history books. Perhaps oversimplified, the differences between these two mission sets are at the heart of the Green Beret’s identity crisis. Both are clearly doctrinal Special Forces missions, but one dominates our cultural zeitgeist, while the other is relegated to a few weeks in the Q course and knowing glances at Semi-Annual Training Briefs.

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Russian Hybrid Warfare as Unconventional Warfare: Implementing a Counter-Unconventional Warfare Strategy

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 6:44am
To date, there are dozens of scholarly articles speculating on the nature of Russian unconventional actions. This debate has only led to further inaction. Rather than debate over the appropriate response to a new generation of warfare, policymakers should recognize that the Russian government is conducting a form of warfare that has been firmly rooted in U.S. military doctrine for over 50 years.

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