So I’m trolling for something to blog about and end up on some lefty Canadian site that links me to a site I have already called for shutting down, and they in their infinite wisdom have leaked an unclassified Field Manual. I check it out. Interesting stuff. Whoever leaked it to the people who uploaded it to the Web violated the distribution restrictions and the destruction notice instructions. That’s bad. The leaked document is unclassified, not even For Official Use Only, and looks to be accessible to anybody with an Army Knowledge Online account so the leaked information does not represent a security breach. That’s good. The people who uploaded this document have their own agenda for discrediting its proponent. That’s bad. I have my own agenda for highlighting selected paragraphs out of the FM relevant to the subject matter of this blog. That’s good, to me anyway. If you really want links they’re not that hard to find on your own.
What follows is my modified and edited versions of selected paragraphs from the leaked FM, presented in the order I came across them.
The United States possesses overwhelming conventional military superiority, and other nation-states recognize that a direct military threat to the United States is a losing proposition. Therefore, large-scale and direct conventional war against the United States is increasingly unlikely. Competition in the international environment using all instruments of power, however, remains timeless and continuous. Competitors now concentrate on the nonmilitary instruments of power in the natural intercourse between nations. Most such intercourse remains peaceful and routine. Enemy competitors, however, use the instruments of power as weapons. Moreover, not all modern enemy competitors are synonymous with nation-states.
International actors in the current era have awakened to the potential of such “unconventional” methods for compelling an enemy to do one’s will. Avoiding the advantages of U.S. military power, these international actors seek to erode the ability of the United States to employ that comparative advantage.
Using the other instruments of power—especially the informational—they seek to employ what is variably referred to as “irregular,” “asymmetric,” or “unrestricted” warfare. Even when violence is joined, direct methods are generally avoided for the classic techniques of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, sabotage, subversion, and insurgency.
The current definition of Unconventional Warfare is as follows:
Operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations.
This definition reflects two essential criteria: UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and
such surrogates must be irregular forces.
Irregulars, or irregular forces, are individuals or groups of individuals who are not members of a regular armed force, police, or other internal security force. They are usually nonstate-sponsored and unconstrained by sovereign nation legalities and boundaries. These forces may include, but are not limited to, specific paramilitary forces, contractors, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistance or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketeers, and other social or political “undesirables.”
Irregular Warfare is “a violent struggle among state and nonstate 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 capacities in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.” IW is inherently a protracted conflict that will test the resolve of the United States and its partners.
Adversaries will pursue IW strategies, employing a hybrid of irregular, disruptive, traditional, and catastrophic capabilities to undermine and erode the influence and will of the United States and its strategic
partners. Meeting these challenges and combating this approach will require the concerted efforts of all instruments of U.S. national power.
IW is about people, not platforms. IW does not depend on military prowess alone. It also relies on the understanding of such social dynamics as tribal politics, social networks, religious influences, and
cultural mores. Although IW is a violent struggle, not all participating irregulars or irregular forces are necessarily armed. People, more so than weaponry, platforms, and advanced technology, will be the key to success in IW. Successful IW relies on building relationships and partnerships at the local level. It takes patient, persistent, and culturally savvy people within the joint force to execute IW.
What makes IW different from conventional warfare is the focus of its operations—a relevant population—and its strategic purpose to gain or maintain control or influence over the population and to support that population through political, psychological, and economic methods. IW is marked by a struggle among state and
nonstate actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population; it primarily involves an indirect approach to erode power, influence, and will; and that it is determined by the characteristics of the adversary and is not, as such, a new or independent type of warfare.
UW is a component and method of prosecuting IW, but UW and IW are each distinct. Both IW and UW focus on influencing relevant populations. However, whereas IW does not necessarily require
operations with irregular forces, UW is always conducted by, with, or through irregular forces.
By definition, UW consists of operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces. Such engagement with the “human terrain” is fundamentally a conflict of ideas.
In both the foreign and domestic arenas, planners should continuously monitor adversary attempts to deliberately mislead foreign and domestic audiences. Planners must employ responsive friendly information surrogates to counteract misinformation. Domestically, “misinformation” is a politically contentious concept.
I added the word surrogates to the above paragraph and deleted the word foreign.
The manipulation of information can be an
effective weapon that can shape Target Audiences’ perceptions. The calculated and integrated use of specific messages is a component of attempts to persuade or dissuade certain behaviors in the context of a UW campaign. PSYOP units are specifically designed to execute such efforts. However, the variety of information capable of affecting human perception is enormous; only a tiny percentage of such information sources resides within the military’s direct ability to wield.
The range of adversaries capable of threatening the United States, its allies, and its interests include states, nonstate organizations, and individuals. Some states with traditional military forces and advanced systems, including cruise and ballistic missiles, could seek to control key regions of the world. A few of these states are “rogues” that violate treaties, secretly pursue and proliferate WMD, reject peaceful resolution of disputes, and display callous disregard for their citizens. Some of these states sponsor terrorists, providing them financial support, sanctuary, and access to dangerous capabilities. Some nonstate actors, such as terrorist networks, international criminal organizations, and illegal armed groups, menace stability and security. Even some individuals may have the means and will to disrupt international order. Some of these adversaries are not politically constrained. This makes these adversaries, particularly nonstate actors, less susceptible to traditional means of deterrence. Adversaries are increasingly seeking
asymmetric capabilities and are using them in innovative ways. They avoid U.S. strengths, such as precision strikes, and seek to counter U.S. power projection capabilities by creating antiaccess environments. Such adversaries will target civilian populations, economic centers, and symbolic locations as a way to attack U.S. political will and resolve.
The purpose of perseverance is to ensure the commitment necessary to attain the national strategic end state. Some joint operations may require years to reach the termination criteria, and operations may be both measured and protracted. The underlying causes of the crisis may be elusive, making the achievement of decisive resolution difficult. The patient, resolute, and persistent pursuit of national goals and objectives is often a requirement for success. This effort frequently involves measures from all instruments of U.S. national power to supplement military efforts.
The purpose of legitimacy is to develop and maintain the will necessary to attain the national strategic end state. The basis for legitimacy is the legality, morality, and rightness of the actions
undertaken, as well as the will of the U.S. public to support the actions. Legitimacy is frequently a decisive element. The perception of legitimacy by the U.S. public is strengthened if obvious national or
humanitarian interests are at stake and American lives are not being needlessly or carelessly placed at risk.
Even my eyes are beginning to glaze over by now. We’ll come back to this later.
Nobody said being a volunteer civilian irregular auxiliary counterpropagandist was going to be easy.