Irregular Warfare: New Challenges for Civil-Military Relations
Strategic Forum no. 234
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
Success in the highly political and ambiguous conflicts likely to dominate the global security environment in the coming decades will require a framework that balances the relationships between civilian and military leaders and makes the most effective use of their different strengths. These challenges are expected to require better integrated, whole-of-government approaches, the cooperation of host governments and allies, and strategic patience. Irregular warfare introduces new complications to what Eliot Cohen has called an unequal dialogue between civilian and military leaders in which civilian leaders hold the true power but must modulate their intervention into military affairs as a matter of prudence rather than principle. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated that irregular warfare which is profoundly political, intensely local, and protracted breaks from the traditional understanding of how military and civilian leaders should contribute to the overall effort. One of the key challenges rising from irregular warfare is how to measure progress. While there is disagreement about the feasibility or utility of developing metrics, the political pressure for marking progress is unrelenting. Most data collection efforts focus on the number of different types of kinetic events, major political milestones such as elections, and resource inputs such as personnel, money, and materiel. None of these data points serves easily in discerning what is most needed namely, outputs or results. A second major challenge centers on choosing leaders for irregular warfare and stability and reconstruction operations. How to produce civilian leaders capable of asking the right and most difficult questions is not easily addressed. Meanwhile, there has been a general erosion of the traditional Soldiers Code whereby a military member can express dissent, based on legitimate facts, in private to ones superiors up to the point that a decision has been made.
- Government and Political Science
- Unconventional Warfare