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Technology Strategy in Irregular Warfare: High-Tech Versus Right-Tech

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, United States

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When faced with any type of irregular warfare, technology integration has proved to be problematic for developed countries with technologically advanced militaries. Developed countries train and equip their militaries and develop military doctrines that tend to focus on protection from other developed countries. Thus, these military agencies are well prepared for conventional warfare and assume they can use the same operational concepts against irregular adversaries as well. Unfortunately, this theory has proved incorrect. History suggests that developed countries rely on the most advanced technologies to provide an advantage in all operations however, high-tech does not always equate to right-tech. Through three related case studies, this thesis analyzes how strong actors use varying levels of technology to engage weak actors in irregular warfare, and how the misuse of technology can lead to defeat rather than victory forthe strong actors. I suggest that advanced militaries should develop technology strategies for irregular warfare that are based on tailored capabilities. Additionally, these agencies need processes that promote tactical and technological innovation to fill operational gaps in their capabilities for waging irregular warfare.

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