FPRI: COMPLEX IRREGULAR WARFARE - PART I
A good article from FPRI
that I am posting in its entirety after my friend and former FPRI man Bruce Kesler
helpfully pointed out that I should read the distribution rights fine print :o)
I am breaking this in two parts. I disagree with some of the author's normative choices but think, in general, that he has a very solid point. Given that he is surveying the spending priorities of all the services, some quibbling could hardly be helped.Foreign Policy Research Institute
50 Years of Ideas in Service to Our Nation
COMPLEX IRREGULAR WARFARE
by Frank G. Hoffman
January 6, 2006
Frank G. Hoffman is a Researchá Fellow at the Center for
Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) in Quantico, VA,
and is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the FPRI.The views
represented here are the author's alone and
do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or
the U.S. Marine Corps.
The U.S. National Defense Strategy identifies
irregular challengers as an increasingly salient problem.
The ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was expected to
shape America's capacity to deal with nonlinear and
irregular warfare, as well as balance the Pentagon's
overdrawn checkbook But like the last two evolutions, this
QDR will probably be a dud.It is mired by major programs
the Services cling to, despite their high costs and
irrelevance in an era of intra-state warfare and global
insurgency. OSD's leadership cannot convince the Services,
Congress, or swarming army of lobbyists that we need to
shift the Pentagon's budget towards more irregular threats
and away from a rigid focus on conventional warfighting.
This essay outlines the emergence and implications of
Complex Irregular Warfare.This mode of warfare builds upon
and exploits nontraditional modes of warfare.The rise of
Complex Irregular Warfare is the natural reaction to
America's overwhelming military superiority. The United
States has pushed future opponents to alternative means that
are purposely designed and deployed to thwart Western
societies. This mode of warfare exploits modern
technologies and the tightly interdependencies of globalized
societies and economies. A more appropriate alternative to
America's current overall security architecture and its
national security investment portfolio is offered to shape
America's military against this threat.
The nature of tomorrow's irregular wars is not completely
clear. Most likely it will evolve into "War Beyond Limits"
as described by a pair of Chinese Colonels in a volume
entitled "Unrestrictedá Warfare." It certainly will not
break out as described in the Pentagon's strategy, with
enemies choosing discrete options between conventional,
irregular, catastrophic or disruptive strategies.We will
face hybrid forms purpose built to exploit U.S.
vulnerabilities. This would include states blending high-
tech capabilities like anti-satellite weapons, with
terrorism and cyber-warfare directed against financial
targets or critical infrastructure. They will surely
involve protracted and extremely lethal conflicts like the
insurgency in Iraq. Such wars will be neither conventional
nor low intensity. Above all, the enemy will be protean.
The posture of U.S. military forces under such a strategy
requires greater nuance and more of an indirect approach
than yesterday's Garrison Era. Forward presence will be
costly but invaluable, shifting rather than fixed, depending
on the current context. Forces will have to be designed to
maintain American interests across a broader array of
missions and against more adaptive enemies.The following
constitutes an outline sketch of the changes needed.
The evolution of the Division-based Army to one centered on
modular BrigadeáCombat Teams (BCTs) is spot on. These are
more self-contained,cohesive, and faster to deploy. But
the Army's plan to transition the Army's 10 Divisions, (33
BCT equivalents)into 43 smaller BCTs needs reexamination.
Creating the overhead costs for theá new BCT cuts out real
combat power, and the proposed mix of Heavy (armor), Medium,
and Infantry á brigades (19/6/18) is too conventionally
The "modularity" concept offers less than meets the eye.
The claim that the proposal increases combat power by 30
percent measures only a 30 percent increase in the number of
brigades, and not true combat power. The Army plan
decreases the number of Total Force maneuver battalions from
201 to 161. More thaná 20,000 "trigger pullers" have been
sacrificed to produce larger number of arguably weaker
units until the Future Combat System is fielded. In theory
the FCS will use better computers, sensors, and networks to
compensate for traditional firepower, but the program will
not deliver anything until at least 2015.
To rebalance the Army for an era of Complex Irregular War, 7
heavy brigades should be traded for more medium and infantry
BCTs. Adding 3 Stryker Brigades and third infantry
battalion to the 18 IBCTs provides more balance for
irregular warfare. In effect, by reversing the shift to
create additional brigades and their overhead, a net total
of 13 maneuver battalions can be created, within the Army's
current manpower totals.This would represent a significant
increase in true combat power, adding "boots on the ground,"
and enable "full spectrum operations" and the ability to win
the peace as well as the fighting phases.
America's airpower dominance will have to be reshaped to
provide relevant strategic and operational effects. This
will require the Air Force to expand its missions in space
and cyberspace, as well as provide a modernized strategic
strike capability. The $200 million F-22 "Raptor" may be a
technological marvel, but it's an investment that reflects a
misappropriation of funds for an irregular world.Thus, it
should be cancelled with its funding shifted to new long-
range bombers. A bomber with a range in excess of 2,000
miles is needed. The Air Force buy for the Joint Strike
Fighter can be cut in half, and those funds shifted towards
investments in the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles.
To adapt for the 21st century, the Marines should shift its
orientation from major combat operations and amphibious
assaults to focus on protracted Small Wars. They should
achieve more modularity by shifting away from the separate
Marine Division and Aircraft Wings to standing Expeditionary
Maneuver Brigades,with roughly 15,000 Marines each. Each
of these would be supported by new units for Information
Warfare, Special Operations, andá Security
Cooperation/Foreign Military Training tasks.
Considering the nature of a second Small Wars era, the Corps
should terminate or sharply reduce plans for the V-22 Osprey
and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). The tilt-rotor
Osprey is too expensive and too fragile for expeditionary
employment. The Marines are making too many operational
compromises in their ground systems to get around the
limitations of the $80 million V-22. The $8 million EFV
affords seamless high-speed transition from sea to deep
inland objectives for forcible entry operations. It is too
optimized for very rare ship-to-shore maneuver, and is not
adequate for tactical maneuver of Marines during Small Wars.
The resources allocated to the V-22 and EFV programs should
be applied to simpler, less vulnerable, and more rugged
modes of air and ground mobility.
END PART I.