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US Teaches Terrorism As “Irregular Warfare”

January 4, 2009

America’s Hidden Role in Hamas’s Rise to Powerhamas_war0402img_assist_custom

The United States bears much of the blame for the ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and nearby parts of Israel. Indeed, were it not for misguided Israeli and American policies, Hamas would not be in control of the territory in the first place.

America’s official version of Terrorism.  Reading this 2008 U.S. Army Manual brings into focus how America uses its own terrorism, euphemistically calling it “irregular warfare”.  Thank you Existentialist Cowboy for pointing me to this document…

Army Special Operations Forces  Unconventional Warfarewar-is-terror

Unconventional warfare: Operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations. (FM 3-05.201)

1-19. JP 1-02 defines IW (Irregular Warfare) as “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 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.
1-20. 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.

1-21. Waging protracted IW depends on building global capability and capacity. IW will not be won by the  United States alone but rather through combined efforts with multinational partners. Combined IW will require the joint force to establish a long-term sustained presence in numerous countries to build partner  capability and capacity. This capability and capacity extends U.S. operational reach, multiplies forces available, and provides increased options for defeating adversaries. The constituent activities of IW are—

  • Insurgency.
  • COIN.
  • UW.
  • Terrorism.
  • CT.
  • FID.
  • Stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations.
  • Strategic communication (SC).
  • PSYOP.
  • Civil-military operations (CMO).
  • Information operations (IO).
  • Intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities.
  • Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions that support or sustain IW.
  • Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries.


1-22. The above list of operations and activities can be conducted within IW; however, they are not new and most are addressed in current joint and Service doctrine. What is new is their application within the IW conceptual construct. The list of activities considered together is also useful in characterizing how IW is distinct from conventional warfare and its emphasis on major combat operations (MCO). Particularly noteworthy is that UW (including support for insurgencies), CT, FID, PSYOP, … are well-suited to be major practitioners of IW.

I found several precursors to the refined document above.  It shows the US   use of terror as an acceptable option.  The number of US and allied players that are educated in these operations are  capable of changing their alliances and aiming their knowledge back to the US.  We have already experienced this, but, the media is instructed to ignore the fact that Taleban, Hamas and Al Qaeda are students of US training and recipients of US weaponry.


Of course, IW as an “Un-Official” operation has been used for decades.  Secrets must be revealed at some point.  The US Constitution and International Law were never considered as a hindering factor, only an irritant.  This required these “Black Operations” to remain classified, public opinion could cause problems. This is also the argument for using mercenaries who allow our government to deny complicity, using American Tax Dollars.  Bush has advocated using terroristmercenaries like Black Water from the beginning.  See where that has taken us?  The cost of this tactic has cost us the America we used to enjoy.

Irregular Warfare (IW) – Joint Operating Concept (JOC) – Version 1.0 11 September 2007

Insurgency and counterinsurgency are at the core of IW. The purpose of
insurgency is to overthrow and replace an established government or societal
structure. Terrorism and counterterrorism are activities conducted as part of IW
and are frequently sub-activities of insurgency and counterinsurgency.
However, terrorism may also stand alone when its purpose is to coerce or
intimidate governments or societies without overthrowing them.

… since our adversaries employ terrorism and transnational criminal activities against
the interests of the United States and its partners, these activities are included
below as examples of the range of operations and activities that can be conducted as part of IW:
• Insurgency
• Counterinsurgency (COIN)
• Unconventional warfare (UW)
• Terrorism
• Counterterrorism (CT)
• Foreign internal defense (FID)
• Stabilization, security, transition, and reconstruction operations  (SSTRO)
• Strategic communications
• Psychological operations (PSYOP)
• Information operations (IO)11

• Civil-military operations (CMO)
• Intelligence and counterintelligence activities
• Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms
dealing, and illegal financial transactions, that support or sustain IW
• Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries

Too many books on this subject are available …

For the Military Art and Science Majorafterrortraining

Irregular Warfare Specialty Track

The U.S. Army and Irregular Warfare by John Gates in 2002

Naval Postgraduate School – Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare

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