Information Papers

Army Initiatives to Improve Irregular Warfare Capabilities

What is it?
The Joint Operating Concept (JOC) defines irregular warfare (IW) as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence and will.”

U.S. Army superiority in middle to high-intensity conventional operations has driven our adversaries to avoid direct conventional military confrontation and, rather, to pursue indirect means to achieve their strategic objectives. The Joint Staff and Department of Defense directs the Army to retain its conventional warfare capabilities while expanding the capabilities and capacities for full-spectrum operations and specifically irregular warfare in the latest Quarterly Defense Review.

As outlined in the JOC, the term irregular warfare includes:

What has the Army done?
The Army is continuing to develop and incorporate each of the areas in the irregular warfare JOC throughout the doctrine, organization, training, material, leader development and education, personnel, and facilities spectrum. Specifically:

Army doctrine is evolving to facilitate full-spectrum operations in a Joint, interagency, and multinational operating environment. The Army’s new capstone doctrine, FM 3-0 “Full Spectrum Operations,” provides the intellectual and doctrinal foundation for the Army to include irregular warfare in the full spectrum of its operations.

Ongoing transformational changes to leader development and training will provide the Army with the multiskilled leaders required in irregular warfare.

The Army is constantly improving counterinsurgency-focused individual and collective training to prepare Soldiers for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Improved knowledge management via the Web is providing Soldiers with instant access to information required in full-spectrum operations.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue to integrate irregular warfare capabilities into individual and collective training. Additionally, the Army will analyze current and emerging irregular environments to enhance readiness, identify any need to modify training, and ensure successful operations.

Why is this important to the Army?
The Army will continue to transform into a full-spectrum force capable of responding to a myriad of threats in an era of persistent conflict. This transformation includes developing adaptive and culturally aware leaders who are comfortable operating in irregular environments, such as population centers.