The Department must institutionalize irregular warfare as a core competency for both conventional and special operations forces, sustaining the ability to impose costs and create dilemmas for our adversaries across the full spectrum of competition and conflict. To accomplish this vision, the Department will:
Break the reactive cycle of investment in IW capabilities by institutionalizing lessons learned from past conflicts, and preserving a baseline of IW-focused expertise and capabilities;
Sustain IW as a core competency for the entire Joint Force, not just Special Operations Forces;
Ensure widespread understanding and sufficient expertise in IW;
Ensure its approach to IW becomes more agile and cost-informed by developing and employing resource-sustainable IW capabilities;
Seize the initiative and use IW capabilities proactively to expand the competitive space, defeat our adversaries’ competitive strategies, and prepare for an escalation to conflict, if required; and
Organize to foster and sustain unified action in IW with interagency partners as well as key allies and partners.
RECENT LESSONS GUIDE OUR APPROACH
The United States has deep experience conducting irregular warfare, beginning with the first major American overseas expedition against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800s, and continuing through the campaign to degrade the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. We have generated countless lessons from our history of irregular war. However, we often struggle to consolidate our tactical successes and military gains into enduring strategic outcomes and adapt our capabilities for great power competition. In periods of emphasis on great power competition, we must not discard the ability to employ our IW capabilities and mindset proactively against irregular threats from state and non-state actors.
We Remain Underprepared for Irregular War
Our adversaries seek to undercut our global influence, degrade our relationships with key allies and partners, and shape the global environment to their advantage without provoking a U.S. conventional response. As we reorient the Department towards great power competition, we do not have the luxury of discarding our wellhoned ability to wage irregular war as we have done in the past.
For example, the United States entered irregular wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq unprepared to conduct the major counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns and counterterrorism campaigns that followed.
例如，美国在越南、阿富汗和伊拉克进行了非常规战争，但没有准备好进行随后的平叛 (COIN) 及反恐行动。
Most Military Capabilities Can Be Applied in an Irregular Context
Successful military contributions to irregular warfare require a deliberate and sustained integration of conventional and special operations capabilities. Our experience in the Cold War suggests that longstanding traditional military activities—force movements, partner engagements, public affairs, partner logistical support, security force assistance, intelligence and counterintelligence activities, and training—complement and mutually support irregular mission objectives such as competing for influence and legitimacy, the foreign internal defense of allied states, and preparations for unconventional warfare.
Conventional forces have executed, can execute, and even lead most IW missions. Conventional forces have supported or led counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan; stabilization missions in Bosnia and Somalia; and other irregular campaigns. Even when special operations forces (SOF) have taken the lead in unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense missions, they are heavily enabled by conventional forces. As we shift towards great power competition, our conventional forces must not lose the ability to wage irregular war.
Conventional Overmatch Encourages Adversaries to Pursue Indirect Approaches
As we seek to rebuild our own lethality in traditional warfare, our adversaries will become more likely to emphasize irregular approaches in their competitive strategies to negate our advantages and exploit our disadvantages. Their intent will be to achieve their objectives without resorting to direct armed conflict against the United States, or buy time until they are better postured to challenge us directly. The purpose of competition is not only to gain military advantages, but also to defeat adversaries’ strategies, shape their perceptions, and deny their strategic objectives in the pursuit of national interests.
Irregular War Requires Unified Action
The successful conduct of IW relies upon unified action with our U.S. interagency and multinational partners. Our competitors have operationalized clandestine criminal activity and predatory economic behavior as components of their own approach to irregular warfare. However, structural divisions limit our ability to respond to non-military aspects of adversarial competition. No single U.S. Government department or agency has primacy in the prosecution of irregular conflict or adversarial competition. We cannot assume unified action will occur on its own. We must pursue it deliberately.
非常规战争的成功需要依赖我们美国各机构之间及跨国合作伙伴间的统一行动。我们的竞争对手将秘密犯罪活动和掠夺性经济行为作为他们非常规战争操作的组成部分。 然而，对我们而言，机构的划分限制了我们对敌方非军事行动的反应能力。美国政府没有一个部门或机构的主要任务是起诉非常规冲突或是对抗性竞争。我们不能假设统一动作会自动发生。 我们必须刻意而为之。
Recent Operations Set a Standard for an Enduring Approach
Recent experience suggests there are more effective and less costly ways to achieve strategic success in IW. Since 2014, conventional and special operations forces have worked closely together in Iraq and Syria to improve the longstanding “by, with, and through” approach to IW. These operations have proven to be more cost-effective than doing it ourselves. We have a model, but institutionalization of these lessons requires an enduring, whole-of-Department approach.
最近的经验表明，有更有效及成本更低的方法来实现非常规战争的战略成功。自 2014 年以来，常规部队及特种作战部队在伊拉克和叙利亚密切合作，不断改进非常规战争中长期存在的“by-with-through”作战方法。这些行动证明了by-with-through 方法比我们自己运作更加节省成本。我们有模型，但是这些经验教训的制度化需要持久的，整个国防部的共同努力。