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Irregular Warfare (IW) Joint Operating Concept (JOC), Version 1.0

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Irregular warfare IW is defined as a violent struggle among state and nonstate actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an adversarys power, influence, and will. It is inherently a protracted struggle that will test the resolve of our Nation and our strategic partners. Our adversaries will pursue IW strategies, employing a hybrid of irregular, disruptive, traditional, and catastrophic capabilities to undermine and erode the influence and will of the United States and our strategic partners. Meeting these challenges and combating this approach will require the concerted efforts of all available instruments of US national power. Influencing foreign governments and populations is a complex and inherently political activity. This Joint Operating Concept JOC describes the military role in protracted IW campaigns however, these campaigns will fail if waged by military means alone. The nature of IW requires the US Government USG to achieve the level of unified action necessary to integrate all available instruments of national power to address irregular threats. The USG will have to develop Whole of Government approaches to waging IW at the political, strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Other government agencies must build their capacity to operate in unstable or hostile environments. Irregular warfare is about people, not platforms. IW depends not just on our military prowess, but also our understanding of such social dynamics as tribal politics, social networks, religious influences, and cultural mores. People, not platforms and advanced technology, will be the key to IW success. The joint force will need patient, persistent, and culturally savvy people to build the local relationships and partnerships essential to executing IW.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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