In years past, it was not hard for foreign empires to gain the necessary legitimacy. A Brief History of Unconventional Warfare Though state sponsorship of irregulars is one of the oldest and commonest forms of warfare, its modern western iteration dates to the work of the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and British Special Operations Executive (SOE) with resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War. The spread of literacy and printed books allowed the American insurgents to appeal for popular support, thereby elevating the role of propaganda and psychological warfare. In its modern form it derives from Second World War resistance movements and organisations such as OSS and SOE who sponsored them. It is important neither to underestimate nor to overestimate the potency of guerrilla warfare. While UW remains a viable, low-cost method of indirect warfare, some of the assumptions underpinning traditional UW have diverged from reality in the last two decades. Even a small minority is enough to sustain a terrorist group, however, and al Qaeda has shown an impressive capacity to regenerate itself. But their conquests led to the creation of the Umayyad and Abbassid caliphates, two of the greatest states of the medieval world, which were defended by conventional forces. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, another decade was spent on large-scale counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and stabilisation operations, again in weak and failing (or occupied) states. Resistance actors, including terrorists and insurgent groups, have already mastered the use of offset command nodes, where control of elements in the field is exercised by cells offshore, hidden in major cities or inside adversary nations themselves. DOI: The next layer up, between detection and attribution, is that of covert operations in which an adversary cannot attribute responsibility, despite detecting the existence of an activity. Irregular warfare strategies must move beyond special forces, Pentagon says By: Aaron Mehta October 2, 2020 A squad of Navy SEALs participate in special operations urban combat training at … (Getty Images / Hulton Archive). 550-104, September 1966. A further factor dictated the transformation of nomads into regulars: the style of fighting practiced by mounted archers was so difficult and demanding that it required constant practice from childhood on for an archer to maintain proficiency. Still, by the turn of the twentieth century, most of Europe and North America was moving in a more liberal direction -- even those absolute monarchies, such as Austria, Germany, and Russia, that remained as such were making greater efforts to appease and direct popular sentiment. As an adjunct to this pyramidal concept of a resistance movement—and, again, codifying one particular sequence from Jedburgh-type operations—UW doctrine had solidified, by the 1970s, into a seven-phase model with stages as follows: In effect, this phasing takes the typical progression of a Jedburgh mission, aligns it with the SORO pyramid and plugs UW teams into the pyramid in a sequential bottom-to-top fashion. This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Statistics for experimenters, (2nd edition). But as soon as they saw the irregulars' effectiveness, they copied the Austrian example. Earlier work on netwar by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt also supports the notion of a mesh of multi-role cells that self-synchronise and swarm to support each other across multiple functional areas (Arquilla & Ronfeldt 1996; Brose 2017). The animated conversations have covered a wide variety of topics including terrorism and its implications in modern-day society, the Vietnam War, and literature. Likewise, the technological, demographic and geographical trends noted earlier are certain to continue, but highly unlikely to be linear. The new Ottoman army conquered Constantinople in a famous siege in 1453 and, within less than a century, advanced to the gates of Vienna. When the British did choose to fight, they did so skillfully and successfully; their counterinsurgency record is better than that of the French during the same period, and some of their campaigns, notably that in Malaya, are still studied by military strategists. Such was the fate of the Manchu, who, as the rulers of China, fought off the Dzungar (or western Mongols) in the eighteenth century and tried to fight off the Taiping rebels in the deadliest war of the nineteenth century. Instead of attempting to engage in guerrilla warfare -- which, even if unsuccessful, might have staved off ultimate defeat for years, if not decades, and inflicted considerable costs on the invaders -- most non-Europeans fought precisely as the Europeans wanted them to, that is to say, in conventional fashion. Once nomads began living among more sedentary people, they "easily lost their superior individual talents and unit cohesion," write the historians Mesut Uyar and Edward Erickson in A Military History of the Ottomans. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, vol. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 37. Human factors considerations of undergrounds in insurgencies, (2nd edition). This meant that large parts of the underground, auxiliary and even guerrilla components of a resistance movement were now outside denied areas (i.e. All operations will eventually be compromised, and sponsor identities will out. 2For Agas and Semut see Harrisson (1959) and Gin (2002). various, war can surely be of any kind, not only of two.28 The American Approach History reveals that violent clashes of interests often include irregular forces or factions that exist outside the authority of established states. Attempts by either insurgents or counterinsurgents to short-circuit the process usually backfire. Variation in particular characteristics confers selective advantage, with some variants performing better in a given state of the environment than others. And then, on December 24, 1979, the Soviets marched into Afghanistan, thus inspiring the mobilization of a formidable force of holy guerrillas: the mujahideen. The United States Air Force Academy for “The Pacification of the Philippines,” in Joe E. Dixon, ed., It suggests that in the future, low-intensity conflict could pose even greater problems for the world's leading powers than it has in the past -- and those problems were already vexing enough. DOI:, Kilcullen, D. (2019). Nor were fast-moving tribal fighters of much use in defending, administering, and policing newly conquered states. European soldiers in "small wars" were helped by the fact that most of the fighting occurred on the periphery of their empires in Asia and Africa against enemies that were considered "uncivilized" and therefore, under the European code of conduct, could be fought with unrestrained ferocity. As noted earlier, evolution is a continuous process that affects all actors in the resistance warfare ecosystem—adversary states, sponsors, domestic and international populations, resistance movements, neutral states and international institutions. Westerners thought that most of the areas they conquered were "primitive" and "backward," but in a sense, they were too advanced for their own good. The Arab Spring has proved to be far more potent an instrument of change than suicide bombings. In Vietnam, it was already too late, but in Iraq, the patient provision of security came just in time to avert an all-out civil war. Before 1945, since irregulars refused to engage in face-to-face battle, they were routinely underestimated. Holding down the fort: in Chilas, British India, 1898. you both make a good team, keep up a very interesting and informative series! The environment for modern resistance warfare is thus characterised by: This environment favours (and therefore encourages the replication of) resistance actors with the following characteristics: Obviously enough, this evolution has several implications for the traditional UW construct. Shooters, sensors and targets no longer had to be in the same geographical area. Nomads' military advantages seem to have persisted among guerrillas in the modern world; even in the last two centuries, during which states became far more powerful than in the ancient or the medieval period, guerrillas often managed to humble them. That is a sobering thought. It begins with a historical overview, examines how drivers of evolutionary change are manifested in modern resistance warfare and considers the implications for future UW. The 1960s saw the publication of influential manuals such as Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, by the French officer (and Algeria veteran) David Galula, and Defeating Communist Insurgency, by the British official Sir Robert Thompson, a suave veteran of Malaya and Vietnam. Indeed, if this analysis suggests anything, it is that we should be extremely sceptical about our ability to predict future UW. At the same time, the pyramid was cogently critiqued in a 2017 Special Warfare paper by Jeffrey Hasler. It also meant that UW teams—or extremist groups—wishing to work with a resistance movement were able to access it without infiltration or covert insertion, either by engaging members online or accessing them indirectly through diaspora networks. Several theorists—notably Dominic D.P. The updated model added the underground/armed component labels implicit in the 1966 version, changed the original ‘underground/above ground’ dichotomy to ‘clandestine/overt’ and replaced ‘preparation of parallel hierarchies for taking over government institutions’ (on the right of the old pyramid) with ‘preparation of revolutionary cadres and masses for revolution’ (now on both sides). Frederick the Great and other generals at first denounced the raiders as "savages." Throughout most of our species' long and bloody slog, warfare has primarily been carried out by bands of loosely organized, ill-disciplined, and lightly armed volunteers who disdained open battle in favor of stealthy raids and ambushes: the strategies of both tribal warriors and modern guerrillas and terrorists. To avoid similar calamities in the future, today's soldiers and policymakers need to accurately appraise the strengths and weaknesses of insurgents. The Evolution of Unconventional Warfare. In general, evolution is a process of change among organisms or populations in response to stimuli (‘selective pressure’) from an ecosystem. Redcoats certainly knew enough to break ranks and seek cover in battle when possible, rather than, in the words of one historian, "remaining inert and vulnerable to enemy fire." Yet, as we have seen, the evolution of modern resistance movements—against a background of urbanisation, littoralisation, the explosion of connectivity, the return of great-power military competition, the development of precision systems and social media—has encouraged the development of resistance actors who look different, and operate differently, from the classic pyramidal model. The combination of selection, variation and replication allows those best adapted to a particular environment to dominate. United States Army Special Operations Command 2016: 9, European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency 2017: 5,,,,,,,,, The U.S. Army has a particularly dismaying record of failing to adapt to "small wars," despite its considerable experience fighting Native Americans, Philippine insurrectos, the Vietcong, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and numerous other irregulars. In some places, states emerged only in the past century, and their ability to carry out such basic functions as maintaining an army remains tenuous at best. Understanding an adversary’s political limits—in terms of response time, range and nature of likely responses and constraints on leaders—thus helps to create space for liminal manoeuvre. Natural security: A Darwinian approach to a dangerous world. Teams might infiltrate to locations—say, a diaspora community in a country remote from the AO, but connected to it through electronic means—to engage in organisational development and political warfare. The average tribal society loses 0.5 percent of its population in combat every year. Archaeological evidence confirms that such losses are not a modern anomaly. In most cases, the decisions quickly backfired. This week, the Defense Department released an unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare (IW) Annex to the National Defense Strategy. The ubiquity of GNSS created new opportunities for communications, command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I), precision engagement, weaponisation of consumer technologies like drones and smartphones, and collaborative or remote engagement. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies 2, no. This, in turn, drew on First World War efforts like those of the Arab Bureau (including T.E. Ideally, in resistance or hybrid warfare the resistance acts an adjunct to conventional shaping (or strategic posturing) in such a way that campaign objectives are achieved before the first assault troops hit landing zones or the first tank crosses the line of departure. The people of Asia and Africa resisted the colonists' advance as best they could. 1, 2019, pp. Special Warfare, 30(3), 10–27. Johnson and Rafe Sagarin—have applied these concepts to irregular and asymmetric warfare (Johnson 2009; Sagarin & Taylor 2008). Harrisson, T. (1959). 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