Air Force Views Irregular Warfare

In what might be seen as a response to last year’s popular Army Field Manual 3-24 on Counterinsurgency (pdf), the U.S. Air Force has issued a new publication on “Irregular Warfare” (pdf).

“Irregular warfare (IW) is defined as a violent struggle among state and nonstate actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. IW favors indirect approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities to seek asymmetric approaches in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.”

Though less rigorous and less original than the Army manual, the new document still contains points of interest.

It notes, for example, that counterinsurgency is not the sum total of U.S. military objectives. To the contrary, sometimes the U.S. will side with insurgents: “Various US government organizations are postured to recruit, organize, train, and advise indigenous guerrilla or partisan forces,” the document observes.

“In some UW [unconventional warfare] operations, the use of US military aircraft may be inappropriate, tactically or politically. In those cases, training, advising, and assisting the aviation forces of insurgent groups, resistance organizations, or third-country nationals may be the only viable option.”

See “Irregular Warfare,” Air Force Doctrine Document 2-3, 1 August 2007.

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