There may only be one chance in a generation for the Department of Defense (DOD) to close a significant hole in its national security capabilities.
The establishment of a facility devoted to the study, research, and education of irregular warfare (IW) as well as the training of officers and civilian professionals tasked with fending off unconventional threats and effectively implementing IW campaigns and strategies has been authorized by Congress. Initial signs, however, suggest that this chance provided by Congress, which comes at the ideal time to position the country for competition in the 21st century, in which IW may play an outsized part, may not be taken advantage of. With the Mac Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, Congress gave the Irregular Warfare Functional Center (IWFC) authorization to be established. The legislation states that such a center could “enhance and sustain focus on, and advance knowledge and understanding of, matters of irregular warfare,” and that it could “professionalize the next generation of U.S. leaders and staff officers.” It could do this by drawing on knowledge from the DOD and America’s top universities as well as by improving the U.S. military’s understanding of IW.