Friction in the U.S. Army During Irregular Warfare
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Recent efforts in war conducted by the U.S. Army reveals a pattern of success at traditional warfare and great friction during irregular warfare. Historic analysis confirms this trend, and reveals a dominant grammar of traditional warfare supported by a narrative reinforced throughout Army history all the way back to the American Revolution. While military tradition and doctrine highlight the dominant grammar of traditional warfare, the alternate grammar of irregular warfare is visible only when politicians force the Army to conduct operations in that manner. Doctrine and theory from other nations, although available, did not facilitate maturation of this second grammar in the U.S. Army. Opportunities existed during periods of conflict for inclusion of the irregular warfare grammar, but the Armys culture only accepted traditional warfare. The Vietnam conflict provided the most obvious opportunity for acceptance of an irregular method of warfare, but both the public and the military establishment ultimately rejected it. As our all-volunteer force enters a period of transition after a series of traditional and irregular wars, doctrinal changes and political realities may lead to increased acceptance of the irregular warfare grammar. The deeply rooted, traditional narrative, however, may also overpower this latest aberration and maintain the paradigm of traditional warfare firmly rooted in the Armys identity.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics