In a recent address at the Special Forces Association Convention, the speaker highlighted the significance of Unconventional Warfare (UW) within the Special Forces (SF) landscape. Emphasizing the philosophical underpinning of the SF operations, the speaker stressed that, while some perceive UW as obsolete or in need of modernization, it remains an essential aspect of SF and has been integral to its many successful operations since 1952.
- Unconventional Warfare (UW) is defined as activities that enable an insurgency or resistance to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a nation or occupying power. The speaker was part of the group that developed this definition in 2009.
- UW is seen by some as a subordinate element of irregular warfare, which also includes Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Counterinsurgency (COIN), Counterterrorism (CT), and Stability Operations (STABOPS).
- There are two schools of anti-UW thought: one views UW as obsolete and the other believes it needs to be replaced with modern concepts like the triad of Special Operation Forces (SOF), Cyber, and Space. The speaker argues that UW philosophy continues to have a positive influence.
- The speaker posits that UW thinking, which involves non-conventional methods and problem-solving techniques for complex political-military problems, has been instrumental in nearly every successful SF operation since 1952.
- Special Forces’ philosophy incorporates two “trinities”: Missions of Irregular Warfare, Unconventional Warfare, Support to Political Warfare and the comparative advantage of Special Forces: Influence, Governance, Support to Indigenous Forces and Populations.
- The speaker emphasizes that the UW mindset has been utilized effectively in a variety of contexts and conflicts, including during the Vietnam era, the Cold War, and the Reagan era, and will continue to have relevance in the strategic competition of the 21st century.