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Newsletter 11-34
June 2011

Chapter 6. The Great UW Debate

COL David M. Witty

Reprinted with permission from the March-April 2010 issue of Special Warfare.

Un-con-ven-tion-al War-fare: noun

Activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary and guerrilla force in a denied area.

- approved definition June 2009

The Special Forces community has been trying to articulate a definition for unconventional warfare, or UW, for well over 50 years. The pages of previous issues of this magazine are full of articles discussing the definition and scope of UW. The community's failure to clearly state a concise definition of UW to itself, the Army, the joint force, and other government agencies makes it appear that it is at best, doctrinally adrift, or at worst, intellectually lacking. Given the increased emphasis on irregular warfare and the fact that UW is one of the five IW activities,1 the SF community needs to agree on what UW is or risk losing credibility.

This article will: 1) review previous UW schools of thought; 2) briefly review how the original founders of SF defined UW and the confusion caused by the various doctrinally approved UW definitions; 3) discuss the most current beliefs about UW; 4) describe the results of the UW Definition Working Group held at the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, or SWCS, in April 2009; and 5) examine the merits of the new UW definition approved by the commanders of the U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC, in June 2009.

Schools of Thought

A review of articles on UW published in Special Warfare reveals that until recently, there were three primary schools of UW thought, named here as the "traditionalist," "methodologist" and "universalist." The traditionalists believed that UW was exclusively either support to indigenous resistance movements aimed at ending foreign occupations or support to indigenous insurgencies aimed at coercing or overthrowing hostile governments.2 UW could be employed in support of a conventional-force campaign, but it would still have to be conducted through an indigenous resistance movement or insurgency.3 UW could not be employed against nonstate actors, because they have no overt infrastructure or occupying force to attack.4 Traditionalists made a clear distinction between UW; foreign internal defense, or FID; counterinsurgency, or COIN.5 FID defends a government, while UW coerces or overthrows one.6 UW should be defined in terms that leave no doubt about what it is.7 The traditionalist school of thought appears to be closest to what the original founders of SF meant by the term UW.

The methodologist school believed that UW was defined by its means of working by, with or through indigenous forces.8 In many cases, anything that was not an SF unilateral mission was considered UW, including FID and COIN.9 The term "unconventional operations," or UO, although never accepted in doctrine, was coined to describe working through indigenous counterparts; UO supported FID during peace and UW during war.l0 In other writings, methodologists said that SF's core purpose was to conduct UW; FID; special reconnaissance, or SR; direct action, or DA; and counterterrorism, or CT, through indigenous populations.11 Finally, methodologists believed that by using indigenous forces, UW could be employed against nonstate actors or insurgents inside sovereign regimes that the U.S. supported.12 A variation of the methodologist school gained considerable influence during the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when its viewpoint was codified into doctrine.

The universalist school believed that UW was everything and that the definition of UW needed to change to ensure its applicability. UW was SF's primary task, and everything else was a subset of it, including DA, SR and FID.13 They held that UW was applicable in every operational environment.14 Even before the attacks of 9/11, universalists believed, SF was involved daily in UW in scores of countries.15 Because UW was the core purpose of SF,16 its definition and scope needed to be greatly broadened to make it relevant for the 21st century.17 In fact, linking UW to guerrilla warfare and insurgency made it irrelevant, because the U.S. would never support a resistance movement or insurgency in the future.18 UW needed to be redefined so that SF could conduct UW unilaterally without indigenous or surrogate forces.19 The universalist school had much influence at the turn of this century, and in the summer of 2001, the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, or USASFC, adopted UW as an all-encompassing term for everything that SF conducts,20 although that was never accepted into doctrine. The universalist school has faded in recent years, likely because of the success of UW campaigns employing resistance movements in Afghanistan in 2001 and in northern Iraq in 2003, thus proving the continuing relevance of the traditionalist school.21

Original Concept, Definitions

When the founders of SF, Aaron Bank and Russell Volckmann, defined their term for UW, special forces operations, or SFO,22 it was support to resistance movements, based on their experiences during World War 11.23 SFO were defined as "the organization of resistance movements and operation of their component networks, conduct of guerrilla warfare, field intelligence gathering, espionage, sabotage, subversion and escape and evasion activities."24 Bank believed that a resistance movement had to have external support in order to gain liberation from a foreign occupation or freedom from a hostile regime.25

However, through the years, the original scope and definition of UW was poorly defined in doctrine, although doctrine still had to serve (as it does today) as the basis for any UW discussions. Doctrine provides a common language of understanding and a body of thought on how to operate. It is intended to serve as a general guide, not as a fixed set of rules that must be rigidly applied in every situation. FM 3-0, Operations (February 2008), states that doctrine provides "an authoritative guide for leaders and Soldiers but requires original applications that adapt it to circumstances."26 Doctrine also drives training and resource allocation, and it is agreed-upon by all concerned parties. But from the inception of SF, doctrinal confusion always existed about its roles and missions,27 and even Bank expressed concern about the misuse of terms concerning UW.28

As of June 2009, there have been 10 different doctrinally approved UW definitions,29 many of which have been vague or confusing. Although amplifying paragraphs in doctrinal publications following the definitions of UW usually tied it to resistance movements and insurgencies,30 the definitions themselves were often created with ambiguity. The first doctrinal definition, found in FM 31-21, Guerrilla Warfare (May 1955), states, "UW operations are conducted in time of war behind enemy lines by predominantly indigenous personnel responsible in varying degrees to friendly control or direction in the furtherance of military and political objectives. It consists of the interrelated fields of guerrilla warfare, evasion and escape, and subversion against hostile states (resistance)."31

In February 1969, FM 31-21, Special Forces Operations, stated "UW consists of the military, political, psychological or economic actions of a covert, clandestine or overt nature within areas under the actual or potential control or influence of a force or state whose interests and objectives are inimical to those of the United States. These actions are conducted unilaterally by United States resources, or in conjunction with indigenous assets, and avoid formal military confrontation."32 This definition introduces the concept of unilateral UW.

In December 1974, FM 31-21, Special Forces Operations, defined UW as "a broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy, enemy-held, enemy controlled or politically sensitive territory. UW includes, but is not limited to, the interrelated fields of guerrilla warfare, evasion and escape, subversion, sabotage, direct action missions and other operations of a low-visibility, covert or clandestine nature. These interrelated aspects of UW may be prosecuted singly or collectively by predominantly indigenous personnel, usually supported and directed in varying degrees by (an) external source(s) during all conditions of war or peace."33

FM 31-21A, Special Forces Operations (December 1974) (Secret), the classified portion of FM 31-21, expanded on the above definition by stating, "UW operations may be conducted against the external sponsor of an insurgent movement in a host country, or against insurgent movement in a host country, or against insurgent activities in a third country which either willingly or unwillingly accepts the use of its territory by the insurgents for bases, movement, or sanctuary. Their purpose is to support or complement IDAD (internal defense and development) in the host country."34 The ambiguity of the 1974 definition is evident.

In 2007, there were two doctrinally approved definitions of UW, one in joint doctrine and the other in Army/Army special-operations forces, or ARSOF, doctrine. The joint definition of UW found in JP 3-05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations (December 2003), defined UW as "a broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. It includes but is not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities and unconventional assisted recovery."35 This definition is also ambiguous, because it contains words and phrases that provide no specificity, such as "a broad spectrum," "normally of a long duration," "predominantly," "in varying degrees" and "includes, but is not limited to."

At the same time, the ARSOF definition approved by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC, commander in January 200736 and found in FM 3-05.201, Special Forces Unconventional Warfare (September 2007) (Secret) and FM 3-05.130, Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare (September 2008), defined UW as "operations conducted by, with or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency or conventional military operations."37 Irregular forces are defined as "armed individuals or groups who are not members of the regular armed forces, police, or other internal security forces."38

Doctrine developers believed that the new ARSOF definition would end confusion about the scope of UW by clearly defining its purpose as support to resistance movements, insurgencies or conventional military operations. Stating that UW could support conventional military operations demonstrated UW's relevance to the Army and the joint force. Including "by, with or through irregular forces" was meant to end confusion of UW with FID or other coalition activities that use regular forces.39 FM 3-05.130 (September 2008) also states that UW can be used against nonstate actors, increasing its relevance to the Global War on Terrorism while recognizing that nonstate actors do not have the same centers of gravity or infrastructures that have been critical in the past to traditional uses of UW. It also says that UW campaigns can be conducted "within or behind the laws of nonbelligerent states with which the United States is not at war."40

"The community's failure to clearly state a concise definition of UW to itself, the Army, the joint force and other government agencies makes it appear that it is at best, doctrinally adrift, or at worst, intellectually lacking."

USSOCOM non-concurred with the new ARSOF definition and recommended that it be redefined to support current and future applications of UW. However, the real problem with the 2007 ARSOF definition was that it stated that UW can be used to support "conventional military operations," eliminating the requirement for UW to be tied to a resistance movement or an insurgency. The use of any irregular force to support conventional military operations, be they militias, gangs, mercenaries or criminal networks, constituted UW. Defining UW as operations by, with or through irregular forces also makes UW a methodology rather than a operation that has a specific purpose, such as to coerce, disrupt or defeat a hostile government. In addition, UW could be used not only against state and nonstate actors but also against insurgents or terrorists in states that the U.S. supports.

The existence of two doctrinally approved but different definitions - the joint definition and the ARSOF definition - caused more confusion, because the term UW could be applied to many things. SF units were said to be conducting UW when in fact they were conducting what others would classify as advising and training foreign security forces, creating intelligence networks, conducting DA and SR, or performing other tasks in support of FID and COIN."41

The USSOCOM Global Synchronization Conference of October 2008, attended by staff officers from USSOCOM, USASOC, USASFC, SWCS, the Naval Special Warfare Command and the theater special-operations commands, identified a lack of understanding of UW throughout the Department of Defense and within the special-operations community. The lack of understanding of UW was attributed to the joint definition's ambiguity and the ARSOF definition's narrow scope. In reality, the 2007 ARSOF definition was problematic because it was not specific enough and was open to a broad interpretation. Following the conference, USSOCOM tasked USASOC to examine the definition and provide a recommended solution to the problem.

In order to determine the extent of the misunderstanding of UW, SWCS developed a 75-question UW survey to solicit the community's thoughts on the scope, purpose and definition of UW. The survey was taken by two groups, one at the Advanced Special Operations, or ASO, Conference in March 2009 and one at the UW Definition Working Group, or UWDWG, in April 2009."42 The results showed that there was little consensus on some fundamental issues concerning UW, particularly when it came to making a distinction between UW, FID, COIN and CT. See the chart below (Figure 6-1) for some statements from the survey and the groups' responses.

Graphic showing the results of a 75-question UW survey to solicit the community's thoughts on the scope, purpose and definition of UW

Figure 6-143

Another example that demonstrated the confusion over UW was an excerpt from a Combined Forces Land Component Command OPLAN previously used at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College: "2nd Battalion/10th SF remains responsible for FID in Georgia and conducts unconventional warfare (counterinsurgency) in conjunction with the Georgian SOF company to interdict ... insurgents."44

Current UW Schools of Thought

Based upon the results of the UW survey and numerous discussions within the SF community, SWCS determined that there are two current schools of thought, the irregular forces methodologist school (a variation of the methodologist school described earlier in this article) and the broad traditionalist school (a slight expansion of the original traditionalist school).

According to the irregular forces methodologist school, UW is an umbrella concept that encompasses a wide variety of activities conducted by irregular forces. The concept includes support to resistance movements and insurgencies, but it also includes other operations conducted by irregular forces. This concept distinguishes UW from other operations by the methodology of employing irregular forces: Any use of irregular forces would be considered UW operations. In this context, strikes, raids or sabotage missions conducted by SF and irregular forces are UW. The missions could be conducted against a state, terrorist organization or nonstate actor. The SF missions of DA, SR and CT are denoted as being exclusively unilateral or as actions taken with the recognized security forces of a state and not involving irregular forces.

The advantage of this school of thought is that it demonstrates that UW is relevant today and can be used against the United States' principal enemy, al-Qaeda, a nonstate actor. However, if UW operations to end a foreign occupation or overthrow a hostile government employ irregular forces, such as militias, gangs, mercenaries, warlords, tribes, criminal networks or opportunists, who are not based in a resistance movement or insurgency that has the support of the civilian population, success is less likely.

In fact, using those types of irregular forces and attempting to manufacture resistance or insurgent movements that lack the support of a state's population can lead to failure. Mao Zedong considered the employment of those types of irregular forces a "corrupt phenomena" that should be eradicated because they are dissociated from the people and unorganized.45 Examples include U.S. efforts in Albania and Latvia from 1951 to 1955, the Bay of Pigs in 1961, North Vietnam from 1961 to 1964, and Nicaragua from 1980 to 1988.46 Developing a guerrilla element without first developing a sufficient base of support is an unsustainable and doomed practice. As Mao stated, any resistance movement that is not firmly grounded with the popular support of the population "must fail."47

Another drawback to the irregular forces methodologist school is that irregular forces are increasingly being employed on the battlefield by conventional forces, and by this school's line of thought, they are conducting UW, which endangers UW's status as a task conducted predominantly by SF. An excellent example is the Sunni Awakening Movement in An bar Province in Iraq, also known as concerned Local Citizens, and later as the Sons of Iraq, or SOI. Many of the SOI were indigenous Sunni tribal insurgents who had fought with al-Qaeda in Iraq against the coalition and Iraqi security forces, but they later defected from al-Qaeda because of its brutality.

As irregular tribal militias, they began to assist coalition forces - who paid, organized, equipped and employed them to provide local security - and the movement later spread throughout Iraq. Although the coalition forces wanted to incorporate the SOI into the Iraqi security forces, the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was mistrustful of the SOI, and Iraqi security forces conducted raids against them and arrested their leaders.48 Clearly, the SOI were not part of the regular security forces of Iraq and could only be labeled irregular forces. Conventional forces from the U.S. Army played a significant role in the organization and employment of the SOI.49

The other current school, the broad traditionalist school, is slightly more encompassing than the original traditionalist school. According to this school, UW is a specific type of special operation that enables resistance movements and insurgencies. According to the broad traditionalists, UW can involve numerous activities not exclusive to UW. These activities predominantly include guerrilla warfare, subversion and, to a lesser degree, escape and evasion using an indigenous network, sabotage and intelligence-collection. They could also include SR, DA, CT, advanced special operations, preparation of the environment and other activities employed in support of UW but not exclusive to it.

In this school's view, while the tactics, techniques and procedures associated with working with the components of resistance movements and insurgencies, i.e., guerrilla forces, undergrounds and auxiliaries, greatly enable SF to perform a wide array of other special operations, such as SR, DA, CT and FID, the use of irregular forces during the conduct of operations does not make them UW.

The broad traditionalist school categorizes operations by what they aim to achieve rather than the type of force that conducts them. Within that scope, the target of UW must be vulnerable to the effects of resistance and insurgency. The adversary must have some overt infrastructure that is susceptible to physical or psychological attacks. The adversary does not necessarily have to be a state government, but it does have to possess state-like characteristics, e.g., a de-facto government or an occupying military force exercising authority. Groups and networks that are strictly underground or clandestine in nature have different vulnerabilities and represent different challenges; these challenges require different skill sets and approaches. In other words, UW cannot be employed against nonstate actors unless they take on significant state-like characteristics.

An advantage of this school of thought is that it makes it considerably easier to identify what is and what is not UW. However, critics of this school argue that UW would seldom be employed, and it could be seen as largely irrelevant, because the U.S. might lack the political will to support resistance movements or insurgencies in the future. Another criticism is that according to the broad traditionalist definition, UW could not be employed against nonstate actors, al-Qaeda in particular, until they have reached a point where they become de-facto states with overt ruling authority and infrastructure.

The UW Definition Working Group

In an attempt to end the debate about the definition and scope of UW, SWCS convened the UW Definition Working Group, April 7-9, 2009, composed of key stakeholders in the SF community, to develop a consensus on the definition of UW. The UWDWG comprised 25 representatives selected from USSOCOM, USASOC, USASFC, SWCS, the Naval Postgraduate School, or NPS, the Joint Special Operations University, or JSOU, and the SOF Cell from the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The methodology of the working group was: 1) present a series of briefings on doctrine, the operational environment and the history of the UW definition; 2) divide into three groups to develop three proposed definitions; 3) present each group's definition for discussion and debate; and 4) reach agreement, either through consensus or vote, on one definition. USSOCOM, USASOC, USASFC,NPS and JSOU had one vote each; SWCS served as the facilitator. The only stipulations placed on the definition were that it adhere to doctrine (i.e., non-doctrinal terms could not be used in the definition), that it adhere to Army standards for the content of doctrinal definitions, and that it be based on classic theories of warfare that are still valid.50

At the conclusion of the UWDWG, the members agreed on the following definition of UW: "activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary and guerrilla force in a denied area."

Every word in this definition was thoroughly debated. UW was described as "activities" instead of "operations" because "activities" denote actions that could be nonmilitary, while "operations" are military-centric.51 "Resistance movement and insurgency" were included to connect UW to its historical context. "To coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power" was included to define UW by its purpose rather than by its methodology of working with indigenous or irregular forces. "Underground, auxiliary and guerrilla force" were included because they are considered to be the three common components of insurgencies.52 "Denied area" was included so that a support element far from the operational area would be described as "supporting UW" rather than "conducting UW." Nonstate actor was not included in the definition because it has no overt infrastructure to attack and was not deemed vulnerable to UW.

The commanders of USSOCOM and USASOC approved the definition in June 2009, stating that it was immediately the only approved definition for SOF and will be proposed for inclusion in all doctrine. They directed SWCS to rescind the existing UW publications, FM 3-05.201 (September 2007) (Secret) and FM 3-05.130 (September 2008), and publish new doctrine.53 SWCS is currently developing a new publication, TC 31-20, Special Forces Unconventional Warfare, which incorporates the new definition. The new definition is being included in all new doctrine.

Merits of the new definition

Critics of the new definition will argue that it is so narrow that UW will seldom be conducted, if at all - the United States will not have the political will to support resistance movements or insurgencies in the future. However, the decision to make war utilizing UW is for policy-makers, not for those responsible for developing doctrine and training to maintain capabilities.54 The United States has not employed nuclear warfare since August 1945; however, it did not attempt to redefine it to make it relevant. The fact that the United States possessed a nuclear capability was invaluable during the Cold War by deterring a Soviet attack. Today, the use of UW is at least as likely as the clash of regular armies in open warfare. In addition, it is conceivable that UW could be used in support of a FID or CT campaign. If a hostile government were to support an insurgency in a country where the United States is conducting FID to enable a host nation's COIN efforts, the United States could employ UW against the hostile government.

Another argument against the new definition is that it does not allow UW to be used against nonstate actors. UW is designed for use against a government or occupying power; a nonstate actor is neither. However, the fact that UW cannot be used against nonstate actors does not mean that those actors cannot be attacked - they could still be targeted using FID, DA, CT or SR. UW would be appropriate against al-Qaeda if the group accomplished its goal of establishing a new Islamic caliphate.55 If there was a need to develop clandestine surrogate networks in a country without its knowledge for the purposes of targeting terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, that would be CT, not UW.

"The new definition provides clarity on what UW is, and while it might not be perfect, it does reduce confusion. In defining UW by what it is meant to achieve rather than by the methodology employed, we can ensure that we are training to achieve the required skills and capabilities."

By maintaining the historical concept of UW as supporting a resistance movement or insurgency, the new definition makes evident that only SF are trained and equipped to conduct UW within the U.S. military and have specific supporting doctrine. Although other forces may be knowledgeable of techniques for employing irregular forces, that does not mean that they know how to advise or enable a resistance movement or insurgency. By defining UW as strictly support to resistance movements and insurgencies, we can ensure that we develop and maintain the skills needed to enable them. That will prevent what occurred in some previous UW attempts when planners demonstrated a lack of expertise in supporting resistance movements and insurgencies. In some U.S. efforts, planning started late or overly focused on the purely military aspects of creating units that were more like commandos than guerrilla units, with supporting clandestine elements with indigenous support. Supported forces were disconnected from the population and appeared to be manufactured by the United States.56

The new definition is also easily understood and is applicable to what an adversary does against U.S. interests. For instance, Iran has supplied weapons and advisers to multiple resistance movements in Iraq;57 we can now clearly define that the Iranians were conducting a UW campaign in Iraq and conceptually respond to it.

In the course of attempting to redefine UW as a methodology for employing irregular forces, we changed doctrine to describe FID as not employing irregular forces, only the recognized forces of a host nation. We characterized UW as using irregular forces that are not part of a state's recognized security forces.58 As noted already, if that were the case, conventional forces would have been categorized as having conducted UW in Iraq through the Sons of Iraq, who were not organized by or approved of by the Iraqi government. Furthermore, previous doctrine stated that the employment of irregular forces is an aspect of FID.59 That is more doctrinally correct, as FID is actions taken to protect a government,60 while UW is now clearly used for coercing or defeating one. The Sons of Iraq and the Civilian Irregular Defense Group of South Vietnam were employed to conduct COIN in support of FID, not UW. The employment of irregular forces that are not a part of the host nation's recognized security forces is still for the purpose of accomplishing the host nation's goals or U.S. goals for the host nation.

The most important aspect of the new definition is that it makes a clear distinction between UW and FID. That is vital, because the lines of effort in UW and FID are opposite. A line of effort "links multiple tasks and missions using the logic of purpose - cause and effect - to focus efforts toward establishing operational and strategic conditions."61 It is often the only way to link tasks, effects, conditions and end states, especially in activities involving nonmilitary factors,62 such as UW and FID. Lines of effort in FID could include developing security forces, conducting combat operations, securing the population, developing governance, establishing essential services and promoting economic growth.63 However, in UW, the lines of effort could include organizing insurgent infrastructure, gaining popular support, conducting armed conflict to de-legitimize a government and conducting subversion to undermine a government.64 Thus, if one believes he is conducting UW and is in reality conducting FID, the wrong lines of effort could be applied. For example, following the overthrow of a hostile regime by a successful UW campaign, SF might not rapidly transition to FID lines of effort to protect the newly established government and instead remain focused on the UW line of effort of capturing former regime members who would then have little power or influence. That would allow other segments of discontent within a state the breathing space needed for them to establish insurgent undergrounds and transition to guerrilla warfare.65 We would commit what Clausewitz considered the most grievous error in war: not determining the "kind of war" that we were conducting and instead turning it into something that is "alien to its nature."66

Ending the debate

The definition and scope of UW have always been an emotional issue for the SF community. Perhaps because UW was the original, and for a time, only SF task, the community feels a need to be able to apply the term at any time. However, by calling something UW that is not, we endanger the capability of actually supporting resistance movements and insurgencies and following the correct lines of effort. We also continue to confuse ourselves. Should we continue to redefine the meaning of a term just because it might not be immediately relevant? Probably not, but that is what we have done with UW. We should accept the new definition, end the debate and execute the numerous tasks at hand rather than periodically dividing into schools of thought to debate the true meaning of UW. The new definition provides clarity on what UW is, and while it might not be perfect, it does reduce confusion. In defining UW by what it is meant to achieve rather than by the methodology employed, we can ensure that we are training to achieve the required skills and capabilities.67 We hope the debate is over.


1. Department of Defense Directive 300007, Irregular Warfare, 1 December 2008, 2.

2. MAJ Robert G, Brady, "Mass Strategy A Different Approach to Unconventional Warfare," Special Warfare, Summer 1989, 27; MAJ Kenneth E. Tovo, "Special Forces Mission Focus for the Future," Special Warfare, December 1996, 8; COL J. H. Crerar, "Commentary: Some Thoughts on Unconventional Warfare," Special Warfare, Winter 2000, 38; and D. Jones, "UW/FID and Why Words Matter," Special Warfare, July-August 2006, 26. A resistance movement is defined as "an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability." See Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 12 April 2001 (as amended through 19 August 2009), 470. Insurgency is defined as "the organized use of subversion and violence by a group or movement that seeks to overthrow or force change of a governing authority. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself." See JP 1-02, 268.

3. Brady, 27, and LTC Mark Grdovic, "Understanding Unconventional Warfare and U.S. Army Special Forces," Special Warfare, September-October 2006, 20.

4. D. Jones, 25-26.

5. FID is defined as "participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any of the action programs taken by another government or other designated organization to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency." See JP 1-02, 216. COIN is defined as "those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency," See JP 1-02, 130.

6. MAJ Mike Skinner, "The Renaissance of Unconventional Warfare as an SF Mission," Special Warfare, Winter 2002, 19; D. Jones, 23; and Grdovic, "Understanding UW," 18.

7. D. Jones, 27, and Grdovic, "Understanding UW," 22.

8. COL Mark D. Boyatt, "Special Forces: Our Core Purpose," Special Warfare, Winter 2001, 8; and CPT Robert Lee Wilson, "Unconventional Warfare: SF's Past, Present and Future," Special Warfare, Winter 2001, 27. Today, describing UW as by, with or through indigenous forces would be problematic, since UW would be widely conducted by U.S. conventional forces. For instance, General Raymond T. Ordierno, Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, said, "Our forces continue to conduct full-spectrum operations - by, with, and through the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces)." See "An Interview With Raymond T. Odierno," JFQ, Issue 55 (4th Quarter 2009), 121.

9. MAJ Christian M. Karsner, "21st-Century Relevance of Mao's Theory on Popular Support in Guerrilla Warfare," Special Warfare, February 2005, 32; and Wilson, 24.

10. Boyatt, "Unconventional Operations Forces of Special Operations," Special Warfare, October 1994, 10. Note that doctrinally, FID can be conducted during wartime.

11. Boyatt, "Special Forces: Who Are We and What are We?," Special Warfare, Summer 1998, 37; Boyatt, "Special Forces Core Purpose: What vs. How," Special Warfare, Winter 1999, 19; and Boyatt, "Special Forces: Our Core Purpose," 8. SR is defined as "reconnaissance and surveillance actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to collect or verify information of strategic or operational significance, employing military capabilities not normally found in conventional forces. These actions provide an additive capability for commanders and supplement other conventional reconnaissance and surveillance actions." See JP 1-02, 509. DA is defined as "short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover, or damage designated targets. Direct action differs from conventional offensive actions in the level of physical and political risk, operational techniques, and the degree of discriminate and precise use of force to achieve specific objectives." See JP 1-02, 163. CT is defined as "operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, pre-empt, and respond to terrorism," See JP 1-02, 132.

12. MAJ Dean S, Newman, "Operation White Star: A UW Operation Against An Insurgency," Special Warfare, April 2005, 29, 32-33.

13. COL Michael R, Kershner, "Unconventional Warfare: The Most Misunderstood Form of Military Operations," Special Warfare, Winter 2001, 2-7.

14. Kershner, 4.

15. Kershner, 2-3.

16. COL Gary M, Jones and MAJ Christopher Tone, "Unconventional Warfare Core Purpose of Special Forces," Special Warfare, Summer 1999, 5.

17. Gary Jones and Tone, 9, 14.

18. Gary Jones and Tone, 9.

19. Gary Jones and Tone, 12-13; and Dr. Keith D. Dickson, "The New Asymmetry: Unconventional Warfare and Army Special Forces," Special Warfare, Fall 2001, 18.

20. D. Jones, 22-23.

21. A final UW school, although undocumented, is the Ambiguous School. The Ambiguousists desire to keep the definition of UW vague so that SF missions can be labeled as UW as required, for reasons that go beyond doctrinal considerations. In academic circles, UW is generally described as anything that is not conventional warfare, giving it a very loose definition. See Hy S. Rothstein, Afghanistan and the Troubled Future at Unconventional Warfare (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006), 16.

22. Aaron Bank, From OSS to Green Beret: The Birth at Special Forces (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1986), 152, 156.

23. Bank, 149-51; and Alfred H. Paddock, Jr., U.S. Army Special Warfare Its Origins, Revised Edition (Lawrence, Kan.: University of Kansas Press, 2002), 120.

24. Bank, 163.

25. Bank, 132.

26. FM 3-0, Operations, February 2008, para 0-2.

27. Paddock, 120.

28. Bank, 151.

29. FM 31-21, Guerrilla Warfare, May 1955, 2; FM 31-21, Guerrilla Warfare and Special Forces Operations, September 1961, 251; FM 31-21, Special Forces Operations, June 1965, 4-5; FM 31-21, Special Forces Operations, February 1969, 3-1; FM 31-21, Special Forces Operations, December 1974, 3-1; FM 31-20, Special Forces Operations, September 1977 (Confidential), 43; FM 31-20, Doctrine for Special Forces Operations, April 1990, 3-1; JP 3-05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations, December 2003, 11-7; FM 3-05, Army Special Operations Forces, August 2006, 2-1; and FM 3-05.201, Special Forces Unconventional Warfare, September 2007 (Secret), 1-1.

30. For instance, see FM 31-20, April 1990, 3-2; FM 31-20-3, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces, September 1994, 1-24; FM 3-05.20, Special Forces Operations, 2-1; and JP 3-05, December 2003, 11-7.

31. FM 31-21, May 1955, 2.

32. FM 31-21, February 1969, 3-1.

33. FM 31-21, December 1974, 3-1.

34. FM 31-21A, Special Forces Operations, December 1974 (Secret), 3-1. IDAD is defined as "the full range of measures taken by a nation to promote its growth and to protect itself from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency. It focuses on building viable institutions (political, economic, social, and military) that respond to the needs of society." See JP 1-02, 276.

35. JP 3-05, December 2003, 11-7. This definition is also found in the current version of JP 1-02.

36. CW4 Jeffery L. Hasler, "Defining War New Doctrinal Definitions of Irregular, Conventional and Unconventional Warfare," Special Warfare, April-March 2007, 22.

37. FM 3-05.201, September 2007 (Secret), 1-1; and FM 3-05.130, Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Wartare, September 2008, para 1-2. Both FM 3-05.201 September 2007 (Secret), and FM 3-05.130, September 2008, have been rescinded.

38. JP 1-02, 282.

39. FM 3-05.130, September 2008, para 1 11.

40. FM 3-05.130, September 2008, para 3-90.

41. For instance, see Dr. C. H. Briscoe, "Reflections and Observations on ARSOF Operations during Balikatan 02-1," Special Warfare, September 2004, 56, where the 1st Special Forces Group leadership envisioned a UW campaign in the Philippines vs. FID following the 9/11 attacks; Dr. Cherilyn A. Walley, "Civil Affairs: A Weapon of Peace on Basilan Island," Special Warfare, September 2004, 30, where the U.S. would apply a COIN model to UW efforts in the Philippines vs. FID; CSM William Eckert, "Defeating the Idea: Unconventional Warfare in the Southern Philippines," Special Warfare, November-December 2006, 18, where the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines is conducting UW in the Philippines vs. FID; and LTC Dave Duffy, "UW Support to Irregular Warfare and the Global War on Terrorism," Special Warfare, May-June 2007, 14, where SF is conducting UW in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime vs. FID or COIN.

42. The ASO Conference occurred March 23-27, 2009, at San Diego, Calif., and was attended predominately by warrant officers and senior NCOs from USSOCOM, USASOC, the Naval Special Warfare Command, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and the theater special-operations commands. Twenty-five personnel took the ASO Conference UW survey. The UWDG occurred April 7-9, 2009, at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was attended predominately by senior field-grade and warrant officers, sergeants major and civilians from USSOCOM, USASOC, USASFC, SWCS, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Joint Special Operations University and the Combined Arms Center SOF Cell. Twenty personnel took the UWDWG UW survey.

43. During the CIDG mission in South Vietnam, SF trained irregular forces to conduct pacification in interior regions and border surveillance activities along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to prevent infiltration from North Vietnam. At its height, the CIDG program constituted more than 40,000 irregulars. See Paddock, 158-59.

44. The OPLAN has not been used since 2007. E-mail exchange with LTC Casey J. Lessard, U.S Army Command and General Staff College, 13 January 2010.

45. Mao Zedong, On Guerrilla Warfare, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 44-45.

46. Mark Grdovic, A Leader's Handbook to Unconventional Warfare, SWCS Pub 09-01, November 2009, 32-36.

47. Mao, 43-44

48. Leila Fadel, "Key U.S Iraq Strategy in Danger of Collapse," McClatchy Washington Bureau, August 20, 2008, available at ""; Ned Parker, "Iraq Seeks Breakup of Sunni Fighters: The U.S. backed force faces arrests could return to insurgency," Los Angeles Times - Article Collection, Aug. 23, 2008, available at ""; Ron Synovitz, "Tension Runs Deep Between Iraqi Government and Awakening Councils," Radio Free Europe, Radio liberty, April 7, 2009, available at ""; for a good overview of the Sons of Iraq, see William S. McCallister, "Sons of Iraq: A Study in Irregular War," Small Wars Journal, 2008, available at ""; and for a good overview of conventional forces employing the Sons of Iraq, see MAJ Andrew W. Koloski and LTC John S. Kolasheskl, "Thickening the Lines: Sons of Iraq, A Combat Multiplier," Military Review, January-February 2009, 41-53, available at " art007. pdf".

49. Kimberly Kagan, The Surge: A Military History (New York: Encounter Books, 2009), 197.

50. It was assumed that the beliefs of the classic theorists of war, such as Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and Mao, were still valid, because the UWDWG had insufficient time to develop a new theory of warfare in three days.

51. JP 1-02, 5, 397.

52. Grdovic, Leader's Handbook, 10.

53. USASOC Message DTG 301341Z, Jun 09, Subject: Unconventional Warfare (UW) Definition.

54. Brady, 27.

55. D. Jones, 25-26, and Grdovic, "Understanding UW," 19, for a description of U.S support to the Contras in Nicaragua.

56. Kagan, 159.

57. FM 3-05.202, Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense, February 2007, para A-9.

58. LTC John Mulbury, "ARSOF, General Purpose Forces and FID: Who Does What, Where and When?" Special Warfare, January-February 2008, 19; FM 3-05.137, Army Special Operations Forces Foreign Internal Defense, June 2008, para 1-2; and FM 3-05.130, September 2008, para 1-11.

59. FM 31-20-3, September 1994, 1-19, 1-10; and FM 3-05202, Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense, February 2007, paras A-9, F-9.

60. JP 1-02, 216.

61. FM 3-0, Glossary-9.

62. FM 3-0, para 6-66-6-67. Army doctrine makes a distinction between lines of effort and lines of operations. A line of operations is a "line that defines the directional orientation of a force in time and space in relation to the enemy and links the force with its base of operations and objectives." See FM 3-0, para 6-62. A line of operation is space-and-time based, while a line of effort is logic-of-purpose based. In Army doctrine, lines of effort were formerly referred to as logical lines of operations. See FM 3-0, 0-6. In joint doctrine, there are two types of lines of operations, physical and logical. Physical lines of operations are used to "connect the force with its base of operations and objectives when positional reference to the enemy is a factor." Logical lines of operations are used to "visualize and describe the operation when positional reference to an enemy has little relevance." See JP 3-0, Joint Operations, 17 September 2006, incorporating change 1, 13 February 2008, IV 13-14. A line of effort in Army doctrine corresponds to a logical line of operations in joint doctrine.

63. FM 3-0, Figure 6-6; FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, December 2006, para 4-19; and D. Jones, 24. Note that D. Jones and FM 3-24 refer to these as logical lines of operations vs. lines of efforts. See endnote 62.

64. D. Jones, 24; Mark Grdovic, Leader's Handbook, 9; and FM 3-05.130, September 2008, para 1-27. Note that Grdovic and FM 3-05.130 refer to these as lines of operations vs. lines of effort. See endnote 62.

65. D. Jones, 25.

66. Karl von Clausewltz, On War, translated and edited by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), 100.

67. Grdovic, "Understanding UW," 23.


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