Small Wars Journal

Leveraging Lietuva: Establishing a 21st Century Nonlinear Warfare Centre of Excellence

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 12:37am

Leveraging Lietuva: Establishing a 21st Century Nonlinear Warfare Centre of Excellence

Victor R. Morris

In May Lithuanians celebrate “Partisan Day” in commemoration of the Partisan War, where approximately 100,000 Lithuanian Partisans fought a guerilla war against the Soviet Union in Lithuania from 1944 to 1953. During this time; the resistance was uniformed, organized and able to effectively control entire regions. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania formally declared independence from the Soviet Union and re-establishment of the State of Lietuva or Lithuania in English, which was met with sanctions, Soviet military responses and international attention. 1 These historical examples illustrate nonlinear and hybrid applications of warfare which include a combination of military and non-military means at all levels. 21st century nonlinear warfare applications are ultimately associated with long-term political outcomes delivered through whole of government sponsored unconventional and nonmilitary means which surpass the use of force.

In order to formally assess current and future threats to European security and the methods to counter such threats, this article seeks to elucidate nonlinear or hybrid warfare 2 definitions, historical applications of this type of warfare by Lithuanians, and justifications for the establishment of a “Nonlinear Warfare Center of Excellence” in Lithuania’s second largest city based on national civilian nonviolent defense strategies and existing Baltic Centers of Excellence (COEs). The proposed establishment of a center in Kaunas is meant to augment the existing NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence in Vilnius, Lithuania and NATO Joint Warfare Center in Norway, to create a better shared consciousness within the Baltics involving nonlinear State and non-State threats. For the purposes of this article, the historical nonlinear warfare focus is on two significant periods in Lithuania’s history: Klaipeda Revolt (1923) and Partisan War (1944-1953).

Defining 21st Century Warfare

“New generation, ambiguous, hybrid, nonlinear, unrestricted, irregular, unconventional and asymmetric” are all terms associated with 21st century warfare. Warfare is historically defined in two general forms: Traditional and Irregular. Traditional Warfare can be summarized as peer-to-peer or peer-to-near peer competitors fighting for the destruction of the other. This competition also involves seizing territory or resources. Irregular Warfare is defined as a “violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations.” 3 Irregular Warfare favors indirect approaches, asymmetric means and employs hybrid threat strategies to reach mutually benefitting effects. A central component of Irregular Warfare is unconventional warfare, which employs “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerilla force in a denied area.” 4  Another definition of Irregular Warfare outlines the achievement of “strategic objectives by avoiding an adversary’s conventional military strength while eroding an adversary’s power and will, primarily through the use of indirect, non-traditional aspects of warfare.” 5

Nonlinear warfare directly or indirectly employs military and non-military instruments in the physical domains and information environment 6 which are overlapped by cyberspace through the following comprehensive means: intelligence agencies, professional soldiers, special operations forces, insurgents, guerillas, extremist groups, mercenaries and criminals. This article utilizes the term nonlinear war in the same way as defined by 21st century Russian military or “Gerasimov” doctrine: as a means to achieve desired strategic orientation and geopolitical outcomes primarily using non-military approaches.  General Valery Gerasimov also states that the open use of forces often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.”

Additionally, contemporary nonlinear or hybrid warfare has been used to describe potent and complex variations of warfare in the 21st century. Although this type of warfare is not new, contemporary threat actors are redefining the application by employing 21st century technologies and combinations of diplomatic, intelligence, militaristic, economic, informational, cyber and humanitarian means in all domains to create war on all fronts. What further complicates or “blurs” this form of warfare is the persistent fluctuation and manipulation of ideological and political conflict-- key aspects of nonlinear warfare which extend past traditional coercive diplomacy and unconventional war.

Analyzing 20th Century Nonlinear Warfare in Europe: Klaipeda Revolt (1923) and Partisan War (1944)

The Klaipeda Revolt occurred in the Klaipeda Region of former East Prussia in January 1923. The region which is modern day northwestern Lithuania was detached from East Prussia, Germany by the treaty of Versailles and placed under French provisional administration. Lithuania’s reasons for the uprising were to unite with the region due to the large Lithuanian-speaking minority of Prussian Lithuanians and major port, which was the only viable access to the Baltic Sea for Lithuania. 7 Nonlinear warfare planning and execution can be identified in the phases of the revolt through: initial diplomatic, political and economic initiatives, propaganda campaigns, direct military actions and international diplomatic measures.  Initially, a delegation of Prussian Lithuanians unsuccessfully pleaded the Lithuanian case to a Conference of Ambassadors. This event was followed by a secret session conducted by the Lithuanian government where they decided to organize a revolt after re-assessing the ineffectiveness of additional diplomatic means. Additional planning elucidated that direct military action against the occupying French Regiment was too dangerous in both the military and diplomatic sense. The agreed course of action for the revolt was to stage it locally using tactics and techniques from previous revolts in the region using indirect military approaches. Prior to the propaganda campaign, Lithuania restricted trade to the region to demonstrate economic dependence due to insufficient food production. The goal of this non-military instrument was to maximize influence and attract supporters.

Next, the Lithuanian government financed and organized pro-Lithuanian organizations affiliated with the local press. With internal and external support, the local press reported on alleged Polish plans for the region as part of an information operations campaign. The objective of this campaign was to strengthen anti-Polish sentiment and shift public opinion towards Lithuania. Lithuanian activists were sent to various towns and villages to give patriotic speeches and organize pro-Lithuanian committees who would later become revolt and regime leaders. On January 7, 1923 one of the committees delivered a proclamation alleging that Lithuanians were persecuted by foreigners and that they had to right to take up arms against slavery.  The proclamation also pleaded the “Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union” for help. The Rifleman’s Union was a paramilitary organization who provided manpower for the revolt and solidified themselves as a historical fighting force.

Finally, the revolt started on January 10, with 1,090 volunteers entering the region from Lithuania wearing civilian clothes identified only by a green armband. Once in the Klaipeda Region they were met with local volunteers whose numbers grew as they passed through local cities. Once the contingent was consolidated, it was re-organized into three armed groups. During this period, the direct applications of conventional military tactics are applied to seize key terrain (Klaipeda) and secure the border with Germany. By January 11, the pro-Lithuanian Forces controlled the region, except for the city of Klaipeda. Klaipeda was defended by 250 French soldiers, 350 German Policemen and 300 civilian volunteers. 8 The situation in Klaipeda was eventually settled through cease-fires, diplomatic conventions and international acceptance. The revolt was eventually legitimized and the region became an autonomous region under the unconditional sovereignty of Lithuania. Although nonlinear war favors indirect and unconventional approaches, conventional or traditional applications are decisive to reach desired political objectives at the tactical and operational levels with regard to seizure of territory to form autonomous republics or states. History dictates that vulnerabilities in this convention were exploited by Nazi Germany when it supported anti-Lithuanian activities and campaigned for reincorporation of the region into Germany, culminating in the 1939 ultimatum.

Subsequently, from 1944 to 1953 Lithuanian Partisans waged guerilla warfare 9 in Lithuania against the Soviet Union.  At the end of World War II, the Red Army moved the Eastern Front towards Lithuania and occupied Lithuania by the end of 1944. Due to the Stalinist occupation and subsequent conscription of Lithuanians into the Red Army, thousands of Lithuanians fled into the forests for refuge. During this time, the groups became organized and centralized forming the “Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters” in 1948. 10 The Freedom Fighters employed irregular and asymmetrical military means to achieve a political objective involving the recreation of an independent Lithuania. The irregular forces and tactics were designed to be applied against superior opponents which are core tenants of irregular warfare.  The Partisan resistance in Lithuania was uniformed and well organized. They were able to control entire regions of the country until 1949 with effective hierarchical partisan units. Each unit employed cohesive nonlinear warfare means involving direct conventional military tactics and indirect nonmilitary information operations at all levels. A fusion of unconventional operations involving sabotage, subversion and assassination was also conducted to meet the overall political objectives. Some examples of nonlinear or hybrid applications from above involve indirect fire attacks with conventional mortars, ambushes, and printing underground newspapers. The Partisans published various bulletins and leaflets totaling a variety of periodicals. Another decisive example of using nonlinear means to reach a political end states involves protesting and disrupting elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR from 1946 to 1947.

Furthermore, nonlinear actions are countered with reactions which must take the same or similar form. The partisan operations were disrupted by the Soviet backed “Peoples Defense” formerly called the “Destruction Battalions” in 1941. The Battalions were a collaborators organization and consisted of recruits, volunteers, and felons. The battalions operated on ideology and were not reliant on rank and social status. The battalions were tasked with fighting against the armed resistance movement. They also employed irregular paramilitary tactics involving active combat, ambushes, reconnaissance and passive guard activities combined with terror campaigns 11 against the local population and perceived resistance supporters.  As a local force, the Peoples Defense was relatively successful because they spoke the language, knew the people, landscape and circumstances which allowed them to forcefully coerce economic actions involving forestry, peat extraction and road construction. The partisans responded by organizing reprisal actions against the Soviet collaborators, killing an estimated 19,000 collaborators 12. This aspect of the partisan resistance perpetuated the Soviet narrative portraying the fighters as “murderous bandits” thus adding more complexity to the ongoing information campaigns being waged on both sides. By the early1950s, Soviet forces had eradicated most of the Lithuanian nationalist resistance. Intelligence gathered by the Soviet infiltrators within the resistance movement, in combination with large-scale Soviet operations from1952 to 1953 managed to end the campaigns against them. Despite the overall outcome of the Lithuanian resistance movement, this event is of historical importance for this article because it demonstrates the execution of nonlinear war involving Soviet State and Lithuanian “Non-state” revolutionary actors in the 20th century.

Leveraging 21st Century Strategies and Institutions to Counter Nonlinear Threats

Centers of Excellence (COEs) are nationally or multi-nationally funded institutions that train and educate leaders from NATO member and partner countries. Some of their key tasks involve doctrine development and capabilities improvement through a variety of means. These COEs offer recognized expertise and experience that is crucial to both the Alliance, and to the adaptation of NATO. There are currently 20 COEs coordinated by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia, and all are considered to be international military organizations.  Although they are not part of the NATO command structure, they are part of a wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements. Each COE specializes in an area of expertise, which in most cases correlates to experience and national strength which benefits the Alliance.13 In the case of Lithuania, the strength lies in the forward thinking outlined in the 2015 Lithuanian Ministry of Defense’s manual entitled: "How to Act in Extreme Situations or Instances of War.” 14 The manual provides instructions for appropriate forms of civil disobedience in the event of an occupation involving armed soldiers with no insignia or government affiliation. There are specific sections which outline civil disobedience through strikes, blockades, disinformation, and the online organization of cyber attacks against the enemy. This manual captures what previous hybrid warfare assessments have failed through the acknowledgement of the potential of nonviolent resistance in countering aggressive hybrid war. National civilian nonviolent defense 15 encompasses the entire population, which includes all institutions, formal and informal networks as the resistance force. When the resistance force is coupled with the deployment of non military strategies involving communication and psychological operations, it wages a total war and targeted noncooperation with the aggressor in all systems and subsystems 16 which are instruments of nonlinear war.  Finally, the Nonviolent Civil Defense to Counter Russian Hybrid Warfare White Paper summarizes the aforementioned points by asserting that civil centric opposition makes invasion or later occupation unsustainable in the long term. “At its core, national civilian defense is a political struggle conducted by political means through flexible but integrated local and national networks of civilians that can mobilize hundreds of thousands or millions of people to engage in disciplined, self-organized, agile and flexible anti-aggressor actions. “ 17    Civilian nonviolent defense offers important short and long-term strategic advantages over traditional military strategies in defending people and territory, when combined with national security forces whose roles involve protection of the population and territorial defense.

Additionally, there are existing center of excellence in the Baltic States which specialize in nonlinear instruments and approaches to warfare. In addition to Lithuania, there are centers of excellence in Latvia and Estonia who also share a similar nonlinear warfare history during the aforementioned periods. The center of excellence in Vilnius, Lithuania specializes in a broad range of energy security related subjects involving trade diversification trends, securing gas supplies and interdependence. Global gas trading is of high importance for Europe and potentially becomes an economic and resource instrument employed during nonlinear war. Next, the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga, Latvia is a phenomenal enabler for understanding and countering state and non-state actor information campaigns which have been assessed as a decisive nonlinear warfare instrument. This instrument is a crucial aspect of the aforementioned civil defense strategy and may be employed to counter adversary propaganda, plausible deniability 18 and false narrative information campaigns. Thirdly, Estonia is home to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence, located in Tallinn, Estonia. In 2007, Estonia was targeted with cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure, which highlighted for the first time potential vulnerabilities of NATO countries and lack of capability to deter or counter cyber attacks. This attack was also a harbinger of future state sponsored nonlinear warfare in Europe involving malicious cyber operations . Finally, the establishment of a forth Center of Excellence arms the Baltic States with better means to understand both the environment and threat actor goals involving nonlinear approaches to war. Lithuania is a prime candidate for this initiative because it leverages an existing nonlinear warfare defense strategy and collective understanding of both the Baltic Region and contemporary operational environment through a combination of physical and cultural proximity, purpose, mutual respect and shared history. When national defense strategies are fused with historical and recent experience in irregular warfare related activities involving counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, it leverages capabilities needed to understand and counter 21st century nonlinear threats.

In conclusion, the creation of another center of excellence in Lithuania’s second leading academic, economic and cultural city strengthens the Baltic bond through a holistic and whole of governments approach to understanding and countering nonlinear warfare through collective defense strategies and subsequent civil military cooperation and rapid response training. Nonmilitary means of hybrid war must be countered in kind through collective civil disobedience plans which integrate state institutions, emergency services, security forces, all source intelligence and population-centric grass roots movements 19 in all domains to include cyber centric collection, surveillance, dissemination and mobilization (counterintelligence, HUMINT and social media). In a western contemporary operational environment it is also imperative to leverage shared consciousness through democracy and history as a means to collectively prioritize (involving significant conventional threats), counter and deter nonlinear state or non state threats to the Alliance.

End Notes

1. Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania

2. There are a myriad of definitions for Hybrid Warfare and the instruments or means in which it is waged. Nathan Freier of the Center for Strategic and International Studies was one of key people that originally defined hybrid warfare involving four threats: (1) traditional; (2) irregular; (3) catastrophic terrorism; and (4) disruptive, which exploit technology to counteract military superiority.  David Kilcullen author of the book “The Accidental Guerrilla” states hybrid warfare is the best explanation for modern conflicts, but highlights that it includes a combination of irregular warfare, civil war, insurgency and terrorism. Journalist Frank G. Hoffman defines hybrid warfare as any enemy that uses simultaneous and adaptive employment of a complex combination of conventional weapons, irregular warfare, terrorism and criminal behavior in the battlespace to achieve political objectives.

3.  Joint Publication 3–26 Counterterrorism 2009 defines Irregular Warfare in concise terms on page viii.

4. The Counter Unconventional War White Paper (USASOC) 26 September 2014 defines unconventional warfare in joint doctrinal terms and lists it as a central operation or activity in Irregular Warfare.

5. Hybrid War: Is the US Army Ready for the Face of 21st Century Warfare by Major Larry R. Jordan Jr. 2008, defines Irregular War the same way as the US Special Operations Command and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and low intensity combat in 2005.

6. JP 2-01.3 Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment presents a holistic view of the Operational Environment. The information environment is the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information. It is made up of three interrelated dimensions: physical, informational, and cognitive.

7. Klaipeda Revolt

8. Klaipeda Revolt

9. US Army Training Circular 7-100 Hybrid Threat 2010 highlights a guerilla as a combat participant in guerrilla warfare, a member of military and paramilitary

operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces.
10.  Partisan War

11. Terror campaigns or urban terror campaigns are listed as one of many forms of total war contained in the book Unrestricted Warfare written by two modern era Chinese Colonels.

12. Partisan War

13. NATO Centers of Excellence

14. How to Act in Extreme Situations or Instances of War

15. Nonviolent Civil Defense to Counter Russian Hybrid Warfare White Paper. Maciej Bartkowski, Ph.D March 2015: Civilian nonviolent defense offers important short and long-term strategic advantages over traditional military strategies in defending people and territory. It exploits the political vulnerabilities of the adversaries. In particular, it looks for ways to undermine the essential pillars that sustain opponents and their war machinery while minimizing costs for the society under attack. Furthermore, national civilian nonviolent defense can instill a significant degree of civic empowerment, self-organization, decentralization, and civic solidarity–elements necessary for a successful post-war democratization.

16. JP 2-01.3 Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment presents a holistic view of the Operational Environment. A systems perspective of the operational environment strives to provide an understanding of significant relationships within interrelated Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, Infrastructure (PMESII) and other systems.

17. Nonviolent Civil Defense to Counter Russian Hybrid Warfare White Paper. Maciej Bartkowski, Ph.D March 2015.

18. Plausible Deniability is a core tenet of Russian Maskirovka Doctrine involving denial and deception. Maskirovka is a Russian term (Маскировка) broadly meaning military deception. Its earlier and narrower military meaning was simply camouflage. It later also acquired the intelligence meaning of denial and deception (wikipedia).

19. Grassroots movements can be classified as the “underground” contained in unconventional warfare doctrine where political mobilizations occur. The Euromaidan protests and Arab Spring are recent examples of this phenomenon. In a Lithuanian context it involves the legitimate government leveraging political mobilization as a defense mechanism.

Victor R. Morris is an Army civilian contractor and instructor at the U.S. Army Europe’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Germany. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of JMRC,US Army Europe, US European Command, the Department of the Army, NATO or Booz Allen Hamilton.


















About the Author(s)

Victor R. Morris is an irregular warfare and threat mitigation instructor at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany. He has conducted partnered training in sixteen European nations, with four NATO centers of excellence, and at the NATO Joint Warfare Center. A civilian contractor and former U.S. Army officer, he has experience in both capacities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twitter: @vicrasta3030



Sun, 12/04/2016 - 12:42pm

Finland for the win!…

Several NATO and EU countries are planning to establish a center in Helsinki to research how to counter "hybrid" warfare, a senior Finnish government official said on Monday.

Finland has a 1,300-km (800-mile) border with Russia, which has been accused of mounting "hybrid" campaigns in the Ukraine conflict - combining conventional and unofficial military means with cyberwarfare, propaganda and other indirect tactics.

The Nordic state, a militarily non-aligned EU member, last month voiced concern about what it sees as an intensifying propaganda campaign against it by the Kremlin.

Under-Secretary of State Jori Arvonen told reporters Finland had discussed the Helsinki "center of excellence" with the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden and the Baltic countries, as well as with EU and NATO officials.

"These countries have expressed strong support for founding this center. Some of them are yet to confirm their participation, but nevertheless we have enough support to move forward," he said.


inRead invented by Teads

He said hybrid attacks could be "diplomatic, military, technological or financial in their nature".

"For example, there has been a lot of talk here in Finland about Russia's influencing of information," Arvonen said.

He named Islamic State as another organization employing "hybrid" tactics, saying it used disinformation to radicalize people in Europe.

"The aim of the center is to strengthen the involved parties' resistance and prepare for hybrid threats by training, research and exchanging of best practices," Arvonen added.

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Germany last week said it was alarmed that Russia might try to interfere in its national elections next year, echoing concerns raised in the United States before Donald Trump's presidential election victory.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Andrew Roche)


Thu, 07/30/2015 - 4:05pm

Time to think about "Hybrid Defense"


"Rather than focusing on fighting and winning that last stage, then, better that NATO and member states put more effort into stopping matters ever reaching it. In other words, a “hybrid defense” response, which, like hybrid war, combines military, political, intelligence and other instruments to win these new model conflicts without, ideally, a shot being fired."


Thu, 07/30/2015 - 3:07am

General Stan McChrystal's book "Team of Teams" discusses nonlinearity in Chapter 3: From Complicated to Complex in the Comets and Cold Fronts section.

Below are a few quotes and comments:

"Because of these dense interactions, complex systems exhibit nonlinear change." p 58.

'The same technologies that provided organizations like the Task Force with enhanced transportation, communication and data abilties simultaneously imbue our operating environment with escalating nonlinearity, complexity and unpredictability." p61

The Tunisia catalyst for the Arab Spring, pool and chess are examples of nonlinear escalation.


Fri, 06/26/2015 - 1:56pm

Press Availability with Secretary Carter at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium Excerpt:

"To make sure allied nations are prepared to counter hybrid warfare, we need to understand the tactics, techniques, procedures and resource implications that are required to do so. I've asked Secretary-General Stoltenberg to make this a priority at our next defense ministerial. Also because hybrid tactics are not exclusively military, countering them here in Europe will require working with non-NATO partners like the European Union."


Wed, 06/24/2015 - 3:36pm

In reply to by scott.a.carpenter2


Thanks for the feedback and commentary. I can clarify the quote that you mentioned. The term "total war" was misquoted from the "Nonviolent Civil Defense to Counter Russian Hybrid Warfare White Paper" by Maciej Bartkowski, Ph.D March 2015. The correct phrasing is "wages an everyday warfare of a total".

I meant "total" to mean "comprehensive" instead of the traditional definition of total war. A "comprehensive whole of government approach" is a very popular phrase nowadays. In the context of the article it means employing a comprehensive civil-military counterattack in the physical domains and information environment accelerated by deliberate and dynamic activities in cyberspace. Nonmilitary means here involve civilian resistance mobilization and information campaigns/true narratives in concert with domestic law enforcement (which is DIRLAUTH with military forces). Nonlinearity assessments can be made from this through the analysis of social media campaigns where a very small input can cause an enormously disproportional output.

More of a "reverse Arab Spring" where external, ambiguous and/or subversive elements are countered through nonmilitary means primarily. A planned Crisis Management Center of Excellence in Bulgaria supports these concepts, but the intent here was to leverage the existing infrastructure and stenghts in the Baltic States (which include military professionalism, pride and hospitality).

Good attention to detail BTW..


Wed, 06/24/2015 - 2:26pm

Victor, I think your article presents a good point. One thing is nagging is the quote, "When the resistance force is coupled with the deployment of non military strategies involving communication and psychological operations, it wages a total war and targeted noncooperation with the aggressor in all systems and subsystems 16 which are instruments of nonlinear war." 'Total War' is total warfare --thus it would include every possible means and ways to ensure survival. I think your concept is worth study and analysis to determine if it is, in fact, unique.


Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:32am

In reply to by Geoffrey Demarest

Dr. Demarest,

I read Section 8, Linearity and the Line of retreat twice. I am convinced by your assessment that armed struggles have varying linear characteristics. I going to re-read "Without Sky", which is a fictional piece written by Vladislav Surkov under the pseudonym Natan Dubovitsky. Surkov is a Russian businessman, politician and Putin political advisor. This is where I was exposed to the term nonlinear war in a "future war" context. The term only appears once from what I can tell.

"This was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the nineteenth, twentieth, and other middle centuries, the fight was usually between two sides: two nations or two temporary alliances. But now, four coalitions collided, and it wasn’t two against two, or three against one. It was all against all."

From an avant-garde perspective (Surkov background) "nonlinear" may entail techniques and ideas that are markedly experimental or in advance of those generally accepted; radical and daring manipulation of perception involving "managed democracy".

Additionally, Dr. Linda P. Beckerman's 1999 piece "The Non-Linear Dynamics of War" outlines in great detail the application of non-linearity, chaos and complexity theory to warfare. I'll re-read that piece also and provide some additional comments.

From an instructor's perspective, your works really assist me in developing my "Introduction to Irregular War" lesson plan. IW is a term that I will use consistently going forward. I look forward to reading the rest of WIrW. Thank you for your time and feedback.

Geoffrey Demarest

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 9:32pm

Oh oof. Sir, I entered to respond to a great post by Move Forward elsewhere in the blog and I saw this and I don’t have the discipline to not respond, or the time to do so well I guess. It’s great what you are doing in Lithuania and best of luck with it. That said, I have to put a chip out there for your consideration, though. Irregular war is not and has not been non-linear, even to the extent of non-violent strategies, say, ala Gene Sharp. Even those require logistic preparation and the lines which preparation supposes, as well as plans for the contingent escape of organizers. It’s just a little semantics I suppose, but I think non-linear can be an unfortunate turn of vocabulary that can have disabling upshots (and also that much of the literature leaning on the term is in err). Prosecution of irregular warfare might feature a lot of little lines rather than a few big ones, but they need preparation nevertheless. But hey, things translate.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 1:11pm

In reply to by Vicrasta

Thanks for the reply. I bet the Lithuanian Land Forces are effective and that is why I am suspicious of the focus on what our own military industrial complex or NATO can do in that region instead of thinking how local militaries may provide mass and bulk.

<blockquote>The one country that didn’t settle was Lithuania. I honestly don’t know if they made the right decision, but I can’t help thinking, Good fer them! Lithuania was all slotted in by NATO planners to be their military-medicine specialists—another nice clean non-combat role. But the Lithuanian Army, from what I hear, just wasn’t having it. The proudest unit in their armed forces is the Iron Wolf Motorized Brigade.</blockquote>

An argument I encountered again and again in 90s pieces from the US arguing against NATO expansion--or NATO with an expeditionary component--is that it took away from this sort of thing.

I think a certain amount of people (not you!) making arguments about NATO aren't the least bit concerned about these countries. They have other agendas in mind.


Sat, 06/13/2015 - 9:43am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)


Good discussion points and comments. I had not read the article you referenced and will re-visit some points from it later. Right now, I have to jump on my "fixie" to go get my beard trimmed and suspenders repaired. In all seriousness, my intent for the article was to leverage existing experiences and strategies involving military and nonmilitary comprehensive counter nonlinear war strategies.

Below is an excerpt for review:

"When national defense strategies are fused with historical and recent experience in irregular warfare related activities involving counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, it leverages capabilities needed to understand and counter 21st century nonlinear threats."

I can personally vouch for Lithuanian Land Force effectiveness and successes in Ghor Province, Afghanistan involving provincial reconstruction team efforts and missions (COIN). Additionally, their special operations forces also conducted effective operations in various locations for 13 years ending this month (CT, FID, COIN etc).

Finally, I have personally trained with Lithuanan Land Forces in Lithuania on two occasions and can attest to their professionalism, dilligence,and work ethic. We conducted "train the trainer" courses and left it to the leaders to adapt and implement training in their formations. Their abilities and experiences allowed them to learn the fastest of the 12 European countries I work with. That was a result of their experience, esprit de corps and ability to work with multinational partners effectively.

Now add that military ability (which includes the multinational Baltic BN), steady volunteer enlistment and conscription to civilian resistance concepts and synchronize them through mission command in ALL domains and the guys with no shoes on, smoking filterless pueblos won't have to worry.

Thanks for that link and correlation which was unknown to me.

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:22pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

East vs. West and the romantic 'othering' of the exotic, whether the so-called East of the West or the so-called West of the East.

I only use so-called because I'm thinking of narratives, not suggesting such entities aren't useful to think about or don't exist.

For someone that is irritated by post-modernists, I sure don't mind some concepts, do I?

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:20pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

During the 90s debate about NATO expansion, this point was made but it wasn't popular with many people, the debate that Europe could defend itself, theoretically, even the smaller states, and that the US could be present as an "offshore balancer".

Europe is used when people want to say, "there is no Europe" that can defend itself, but the West is used when people want to say the US should take the lead in defending Europe (those in Europe that don't want to pay for some things and those in the US that want to press hegemonic concerns).

Neat little rhetorical trick

Madhu (not verified)

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:17pm

Is this article a reaction to this?:

<blockquote>They’re easy to mock, but the real problem with Lithuania’s crying hipster soldiers is that there aren’t enough of them. The Russian juggernaut can crush a few thousand extra men with ease and then impose that same fait accompli on NATO. It is the leaders who will not build an adequate military, not the young men who must fill it, who are the real cowards. For Lithuania absolutely possesses the ability to defend itself, to deter a Russian invasion and render NATO intervention almost unnecessary. It’s estimated that there are just under seven hundred thousand Lithuanian men fit for military service, and, lest poststructuralist artists clutch their pearls about imbalanced gender expectations, let’s add in the more than seven hundred thousand Lithuanian women who are also able to serve. When mobilized, such an army would dwarf Russia’s; when entrenched, Lithuania’s army would present the Russians with their own fait accompli:....</blockquote>…

VP Biden was a NATO expansionist during the 90s, wasn't he? So NATO expansion and its argument are a legacy sort of thing for him?

<blockquote>Senator Joseph Biden - Co-chairman of the Senate NATO Observer Group and a supporter of both NATO and enlargement, has warned that "for NATO to remain a vibrant organisation... the non-US members must assume their fair share of direct enlargement costs and for developing power projection capabilities. To do otherwise would cast the United States in the role of 'the good gendarme of Europe' - a role that neither the American people, nor the Senate of the United States, would accept."(2)</blockquote>

I wonder if this is the reason for the zigzagging policy. And the VP was a part of the crowd that initially looked at Afghanistan through the lenses of the Cold War, in the very early 2000s?

There is a sort of general desire for to support NATO but no hard thinking about what it really means for member nations as responsible entities within a larger alliance. Even in so-called frontline states.

The recent PEW surveys are quite interesting in this regard. Many people like the general idea of NATO as a protector and spreader of good governance and democracy but pretty much no one really wants to fund it, even frontline states(whatever frontline means to the larger alliance


Wed, 06/10/2015 - 5:41am

In reply to by CBCalif


Thank you for the comments and for referencing updated materials from Boyd, which I will take a look at. You are correct about the conventional war notation being a western world view.

Conversely, that is one of the reasons I chose to use the term "nonlinear war" which was elucidated by Vladislav Surkov. This approach ultimately uses power to cause confusion and ambiguity, which facilites the "end" involving a constant state of destabilized perception which can be controlled.

An interesting article about one of those many conflicts we normally never read about.

To the notation that “Traditional Warfare can be summarized as peer-to-peer or peer-to-near peer competitors fighting for the destruction of the other [which] competition also involves seizing territory or resources,"one might add “as viewed by those of the Western World's military" – where the subject country is, of course, located. That definition of "traditional warfare” and its aimed at results applies in Clausewitz’s world or sphere of intellectual influence, but as I was rather recently reminded by again reading the updated (ppt) version of John Boyd’s Pattern of Conflict, "traditional" may take on different meanings when applied to the followers of Sun Tzu -- in their rather different approaches to the means and ends of conflict.