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We are engaged in irregular warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and transnationally against Al Qaeda and its types,” said conference organizer Dr. Ahmed Hashim, a Strategic Research Department professor. “We need to have the armed forces and their mindsets and cultural awareness to take into account IW without losing the cutting edge of regular warfare.”
This conference is one way NWC is contributing to the study of this area of warfare. In addition to providing forums to research and discuss IW, NWC is also home to the Center for Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups and incorporates IW into the NWC curriculum.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates visited NWC to speak with the students and faculty about budget recommendations and underscored the importance of considering irregular warfare. During his speech, he stressed “the need to think about future conflicts in a different way. To recognize that the black and white distinction between irregular war and conventional war is an outdated model.”
Besides giving participants a greater understanding of irregular warfare, the NWC conference is designed to produce a book that will give a historical and theoretical grounding in irregular war in both dimensions of insurgency and counterinsurgency. This research will serve to inform decision makers at the strategic, operational and tactical level as well as students studying in this area.
Keynote speakers are Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, from the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command; John Nagl from The Center for a New American Security on why regular militaries find it hard to do irregular war; and Tom Ricks, author of “The Surge.”
The conference includes 27 panelists from various academic, research and military organizations.
Rear Adm. Philip H. Greene, Jr., from the Navy Irregular Warfare Office, participated in the conference’s first panel, looking at the definition and nature of insurgency.
“It’s about, in my view, confronting irregular challenges, which for our United States Navy is nothing new,” said Greene. “And if we look back over the heritage of our Navy, the notion of confronting or meeting irregular challenges and conducting irregular operations is really who we are and what we’re about.”
Greene pointed out that the Navy’s hallmark attributes of global presence, agility and adaptability are what enable our maritime strategy.
“It is about confronting irregular challenges globally with a full range of capability across the security spectrum from prevention to conflict, and it has to be done in conjunction with our interagency, our coalition partners, and our joint services working together,” said Greene. “Through partnership development and trust-based relationships, we contribute to others’ ability to solve their security problems.”
The conference panels are surveying both contemporary and historic case studies of IW, starting with the 1808 to 1813 Spanish Guerrilla War against Napoleon, considered to be the first modern insurgency. Panelists will analyze contemporary insurgencies in the Middle East and Al Qaeda’s transnational insurgency.
Panels are also discussing counterinsurgency strategies employed by governments faced with civil violence, how allies have contributed to solving serious internal problems, the evolution of U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, and the practice of counterinsurgency on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conference will conclude by exploring the problems posed by waging counterinsurgency, including interagency, ethical, media and non-governmental dimensions.
NWC’s Strategic Research Department within the Center for Naval Warfare Studies is hosting the conference. SRD's missions are to produce original research that informs the various levels of the national security organization and to support the academic curriculum at NWC.