The US military and its allies are faced with the challenges of shifting focus toward great power competition while still maintaining the ability to counter threats on the fringes. Where does irregular warfare fit in this new strategic landscape?
Episode 32 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast explores the role of land forces within great power competition. This episode focuses on two white papers recently released by the chief of staff of the Army, one on competition and the second on multi-domain operations. Our two guests, including the chief of staff himself, discuss the implications for land forces within this strategic shift from counterterrorism to a national security strategy oriented on great power competition. They define success in competition as preventing a major war, and spend much of the conversation discussing the role of irregular warfare and shaping the environment as ways to deter near-peer competitors.
General James C. McConville is currently serving as the fortieth chief of staff of the US Army. A native of Quincy, Massachusetts, he is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and holds a master of science in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also a national security fellow at Harvard University. Gen. McConville has commanded at multiple levels, including a tour as commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and has held multiple joint staff positions.
Dr. Peter Roberts is the director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute and is a visiting professor of modern war at the French military academy. In addition to researching, publishing, and lecturing on a range of military topics, Pete hosts the Western Way of War podcast. Before earning his doctorate, Peter spent over twenty years as a career warfare officer in the Royal Navy, where he served around the world.
The hosts for this episode are Laura Jones and Kyle Atwell. Please contact them with any questions about this episode of the Irregular Warfare Podcast. This episode will also be released on the Western Wary of War podcast. The Irregular Warfare Podcast is a product of the Irregular Warfare Initiative, a collaboration between the Modern War Institute and Princeton University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project—dedicated to bridging the gap between scholars and practitioners to support the community of irregular warfare professionals. You can listen to the full episode below, and you can find it and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. And be sure to follow the podcast on Twitter!
Image credit: Staff Sgt. Sinthia Rosario, US Army
The following, I suggest, is the question that we should be asking re: these matters:
If the primary mission of the U.S./the West today is to advance — both in our homeland and elsewhere throughout the world — "revolutionary" political, economic, social and/or value change.
(These such "changes" — which may take some time — being considered necessary so as better provide for, and better benefit from, such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.)
And if the primary mission of our adversaries (those both here at home and there abroad and those both state and non-state actors) is to prevent these such "revolutionary" political, economic, social and/or value "changes" from being realized.
(Why? Because all members of the status quo — those both here at home and there abroad — all these are obviously threatened by this such "global change" initiative.)
Then, do Army Chief of Staff Paper No. One (re: "Multi-Domain Operations") and/or Army Chief of Staff Paper No. Two (re: "Competition") adequately explain how:
a. U.S./Western military forces ("modernized" or not)
b. In concert with those such forces of our allies
c. Intend to — and are capable of —
1. Helping us achieve our such worldwide "revolutionary change" objectives; this while:
2. Preventing/holding down opponents (those both here at home and there abroad) — whose common "containment" goal is to stop us from achieving our such "revolutionary changes"?
(If not, then should Army leadership be asked to "go back to the drawing board" — this, so as to provide us with such information?)
Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:
Much as the status quo world was threatened by the "revolutionary" political, economic, social and/or value changes that the Soviets/the communists sought to achieve — both in their homeland and abroad — in the Old Cold War,
Likewise the status quo world — both here at home and there abroad — is threatened by a worldwide "revolutionary" change initiative again today — in this case, as pursued by the U.S./the West.
As to these such "wars," the "containment" entities (the U.S./the West in the Old Cold War of yesterday; our great power competitors in the New/Reverse Cold War of today) understand that they can:
a. "Win" by:
b. Making common cause with those members of the status quo (for example: authoritarian regimes and conservative population groups throughout the world) who are currently threatened:
"Liberal democratic societies have, in the past few decades, undergone a series of revolutionary changes in their social and political life, which are not to the taste of all their citizens. For many of those, who might be called social conservatives, Russia has become a more agreeable society, at least in principle, than those they live in. Communist Westerners used to speak of the Soviet Union as the pioneer society of a brighter future for all. Now, the rightwing nationalists of Europe and North America admire Russia and its leader for cleaving to the past."
(See "The American Interest" article "The Reality of Russian Soft Power" by John Lloyd and Daria Litinova.)
“Compounding it all, Russia’s dictator has achieved all of this while creating sympathy in elements of the Right that mirrors the sympathy the Soviet Union achieved in elements of the Left. In other words, Putin is expanding Russian power and influence while mounting a cultural critique that resonates with some American audiences, casting himself as a defender of Christian civilization against Islam and the godless, decadent West.”
(See the “National Review” item entitled: “How Russia Wins” by David French.)
From this such perspective, how does (if at all?) a "modernized" U.S. Army explain how it can (a) overcome these such problems and (b) "win?"
If you believe that the U.S./the West is not engaged, today, in important efforts — both here at home and there abroad — to achieve:
a. Significant political, economic, social and/or value change; this,
b. So as to better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.
(This, indeed, being a national security priority.)
a. Re: here at home, consider the efforts being made by our great power competitors (see the quoted items that I provide at the bottom of my initial comment above) — which seem to be designed to take advantage of, and to utilize for their own "containment" purposes, those status quo individuals and groups, here at home, who are being adversely effected by these such "change" initiatives. And:
b. Re: there abroad, consider the following from our very own current Joint Publication 3-22 "Foreign Internal Defense." Therein, see Chapter II "Internal Defense and Development" (IDAD) and Paragraph 2, "Construct:"
a. An IDAD program integrates security force and civilian actions into a coherent, comprehensive effort. Security force actions provide a level of internal security that permits and supports growth through balanced development. This development requires change to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of people. This change may, in tern, promote unrest in the society. The strategy, therefore, includes measures to maintain conditions under which orderly development can take place."
As the above information would seem to indicate, U.S./Western and partner nation civilian and military forces; these must be organized, ordered and oriented (from Joint Publication 3-22 above) into:
a. "A coherent, comprehensive effort;" one designed to — both here at home and there abroad — :
b. "Maintain conditions under which orderly development" (i.e., necessary political, economic, social and value change — as is required so as to better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy) "can take place."
Bottom Line Question — Based on the Above:
Does Army Chief of Staff Paper No. One (re: "Multi-Domain Operations") and/or Army Chief of Staff Paper No. Two (re: "Competition")
a. Adequately explain matters in these such terms and/or
b. Adequately address these such requirements?