Paul Burton emphasizes the importance and complexity of Irregular Warfare (IW) education, comparing traditional warfare to a game of checkers and IW to multiple simultaneous chess games. He critiques the Department of Defense’s current educational approach and emphasizes the necessity of a broad-based education, hands-on experience, and self-study for those in Army Special Operations Forces to truly understand and navigate IW challenges effectively.
- Comparison with Traditional Warfare: Irregular Warfare is likened to playing multiple chess games at once, where each move in one game impacts the others, highlighting the complexity of IW as compared to traditional warfare.
- Current State of Defense Education: The Department of Defense’s educational infrastructure is found lacking in its approach to IW, with a disproportionate budget allocated to training over education and a focus on Violent Extremist Organizations that has left a gap in comprehensive IW education.
- Need for Comprehensive Education: To truly understand IW, one requires a broad-based education encompassing history, economics, sociology, political science, logic, and critical thinking, as well as studying IW case studies in their geopolitical, economic, and sociological contexts.
- Importance of Experience: Hands-on experience, garnered through diverse deployments and working with inter-agency and international partners, is crucial for a practical understanding of IW challenges and solutions.
- Self-Study: Given the limitations in formal IW education opportunities, self-study becomes essential for those wanting to master IW. This involves deeper exploration than brief podcasts or sound bites and should be tailored to one’s role and level in the military.