Irregular Warfare: One Nature, Many Characters

Topics: World War II, United States, Central Intelligence Agency Pages: 5 (1740 words) Published: October 30, 2012
In his article, “Irregular Warfare: One Nature, Many Characters[1]” by Dr Colin Grey, he asserts “that the United States should undertake little irregular warfare. It would be a political and strategic mistake to identify irregular warfare, COIN especially, as America’s dominant strategic future (Grey 1).” I disagree, I would assert that due to the United States’ superior military power and technology, more stable political system (democracy), and globally dominate economy, we can and will, be successful in COIN operations. Examining each of these pillars of power will illustrate the advantage the United States has already demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how these pillars will give us the strategic advantage in irregular warfare or “COIN,” going forward.

Three pillars form the foundation of my argument of why the United States can and should engage in COIN operations in the future. The three pillars are; advanced military capability, a superior political system, and global economic dominance. Any of these pillars will dominate any adversary who would contemplate engaging in an insurgency against our country, but combined, no current state, individual or group has the capacity to overthrow or even successfully engage.

First, look at the pillar of military capability, as applied during our recent COIN operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US execution of COIN in Afghanistan has achieved success by virtually all military standards. To prove it, in soviet invasion of Afghanistan it is documented that “On December 27, 1979, under cover of an ongoing Soviet military buildup, heavily-armed elements of a Soviet airborne brigade were airlifted into Kabul, Afghanistan, to violently overthrow the regime of President Hafizollah Amin (Giradet 2) ” which resulted in years of COIN engagements in that country by the Soviet Union. Bottom line, over a much shorter period of time (1979-1988), and with more soldiers on the ground (over 113,000), the USSR lost nearly 13,310 soldiers, compared to 2000 deaths in Afghanistan so far for the US out of less than 100,000 on the ground (Giradet 2).

The United States also has a tremendous technological advantage over our adversaries and we are just now discovering ways to capitalize on these advantages. John Standhill recently wrote: “Because it may be difficult or impossible to distinguish between an insurgent, a supporter of an insurgency who is a non-combatant, and entirely uninvolved members of the population, counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic, or otherwise situational distinction between insurgents and non-combatants.” The United States is winning the COIN technology race, consequently, the longer this type of warfare is goes on, the more sophisticated and advanced our technologies and capabilities will be, and the enemy, will not able to adapt, further diminishing its success. Just a small example of where US military technology is going, “Ashima Devices has developed a 3D surveillance technology for use with the company's ForceField drones. These small unmanned helicopters can be clipped to a soldier’s standard ALICE field-gear kit When deployed, they provide a real-time, 3D view of the battlefield, including what's around a corner or rooftop, and can even simulate storming a building. The device uses a handheld computer to display the 3D view. You might recognize the name Harris Corp; this year, the company started assisting the Pentagon with a “situational awareness” tracking system. It uses video from military drones and creates a log of battlefield threats -- and can even flag one particular enemy troop for closer analysis (Brandon 3). And finally, “wired reported recently about the Team Technology Stingray, a device that shoots a tiny stream of water at thousands of feet per second -- it's like a water laser. The idea: A bomb diffuser could use the device to disable roadside IED bombs by shooting a high-powered stream...

Cited: 1. By Dr. Colin S. Gray, Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading, UK. The author of 22 books, his most recent (published in 2007) are Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy; and War, Peace, and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History. This article was originally a paper presented at the Air Force Symposium on Counterinsurgency, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, AL, 24–26 April 2007.
2. See E. Girardet, Afghanistan (1986); A. H. Cordesman and A. R. Wagner, Lessons of Modern War, Vol. III (1989); A. Saikal and W. Maley, ed., The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (1989); A. Hyman, Afghanistan under Soviet Domination, 1964–1991 (3d ed. 1992).
3. Ten Technological Advances to keep our Soldiers Safer. By John Brandon, published September 16, 2010 at Fox at
4 . CIA Factbook, Published 2012 at
5 .
6. Ben Connable and Martin Cilibicki, Published 2010 by the RAND Corporation at
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