Pentagon raises status of 'irregular warfare'
Washington (AFP) Dec 4, 2008
The Pentagon has issued a directive putting the fight against terrorism and guerrilla warfare on the same footing as traditional warfare in terms of military planning and doctrine, officials said Thursday.
The directive was signed December 1 by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who outlined roles and responsibilities for developing capabilities for fighting non-conventional threats.
"It is DoD (Department of Defense) policy to recognize that IW (irregular warfare) is as strategically important as traditional warfare," the directive said.
Under the directive, irregular warfare is defined as encompassing counter-terrorism operations, guerrilla warfare, foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency and stability operations.
It instructs the Defense Department to develop capabilities to:
-- identify and prevent or defeat irregular threats from state and non-state actors
-- extend US reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces
-- train, advise and assist foreign security forces and partners
-- support a foreign government or population threatened by irregular adversaries
-- create a safe, secure environment in fragile states.
Pentagon officials acknowledged the US military has been performing these missions for years in Afghanistan and Iraq, but say the directive gives a formal bureaucratic structure to those efforts.
"It codifies roles and responsibilities," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.
The directive follows the release of a US defense strategy in July that places the "Long War" against extremism above potential conventional challenges from China and Russia.
"For the foreseeable future, winning the Long War against violent extremist movements will be the central objective of the US," the defense strategy paper said.
Separately, the Joint Forces Command released a report Thursday that warns that US military must be prepared for a full range of conflicts over the next 25 years.
"Nuclear and major regular war may represent the most important conflicts the Joint Force could confront, but they remain the least likely," the report said.
"Irregular wars are more likely, and winning such conflicts will prove just as important to the protection of America's vital interests and the maintenance of global stability," it said.
The report said it would be difficult for US forces to prepare for such a wide range of threats.
But it added, "The difficulties involved in training to meet regular and nuclear threats must not push preparations to fight irregular war into the background, as occurred in the decades after the Vietnam War."
The report, called "Joint Operating Environment 2030," said the prospect of there being a peaceful, more cooperative world in 25 years hinges on prosperity generated by globalization.
It warned that without massive increases in energy production and refining, "a severe energy crunch is inevitable" by 2030, which could tip poor countries into collapse and seriously impact China and India.
"The real danger in a globalized world, where even the poorest have access to pictures and media portrayals of the developed world, lies in a reversal or halt to global prosperity," the report said.
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