Friday, April 10, 2015

Should America fight more like Iran? Pentagon official raises eyebrows.

We do not need to fight like Iran.  When we talk about the unconventional warfare being conducted in the gray zone the assumption should not be made that we have to conduct operations the way they do.  We cannot and should not.  But we do have to be able to conduct our own political warfare (including unconventional warfare, counter-unconventional, and pro-active fashion unconventional warfare - See USASOC White Paper: "SOF Support to Political Warfare" here ).  The definitions of the 3 forms of unconventional warfare are on pages 19-21 of the white paper. This is my graphic representation.

Here is a link to the USSOCOM Commander's testimony from last month in which he discusses the gray zone.


Second, our success in this environment will be determined by our ability to adequately navigate conflicts that fall outside of the traditional peace-or-war construct. Actors taking a "gray zone" approach seek to secure their objectives while minimizing the scope and scale of actual fighting. In this "gray zone," we are confronted with ambiguity on the nature of the conflict, the parties involved, and the validity of the legal and political claims at stake. These conflicts defy our traditional views of war and require us to invest time and effort in ensuring we prepare ourselves with the proper capabilities, capacities, and authorities to safeguard U.S. interests.

As an organization that deals with crises that occur in the "gray zone," I believe USSOCOM has an important role to play in facilitating interagency discussion. 

Should America fight more like Iran? Pentagon official raises eyebrows.
The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian said the US need to be better at operating in the 'gray zone' of 'deception, infiltration, and persistent denial.' But that doesn't mean America has to play dirty, some expert say.
By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer APRIL 9, 2015
Mel Evans/AP/File
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WASHINGTON - The American military must become better at operating in a "gray zone" of war, one that sometimes calls for using "deception, infiltration, and persistent denial," the Pentagon's No. 2 official said in a little-noticed speech this week.
These are the sort of tactics that Russia has been using in Crimea and Ukraine, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work noted Wednesday in remarks at a strategy conference at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.
America's adversaries today use "agents, paramilitaries, deception, infiltration, and persistent denial - staying within that so-called 'gray zone,' " he told assembled officers. "That's a zone in which we don't typically operate, but one in which we must become more proficient."
Is America's second most senior civilian in the Pentagon suggesting that the country should ... play dirty? Is Russia really a model for what the kind of military action the United States wants to take?
Perhaps not, say several military analysts. Rather, his comments point to the evolving nature of war and America's need to change with it.
For the foreseeable future, America's wars will be fought in the gray zone, and it should seek to be as good in this realm as it is in conventional warfare. That means knowinghow to use militias as deftly as Russia and Iran do, how to use social media propaganda as effectively as the Islamic State, as well as how to cope with improvised explosive devices and cyber attacks.
"The whole concept of 'asymmetric' warfare just means that someone is not being stupid," says Paul Scharre, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security. "Why should you assume that our enemies won't be smart?"
(Continued at the link below)

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