Unrestricted Warfare: A Chinese Doctrine for Future Warfare?
MARINE CORPS UNIV QUANTICO VA SCHOOL OF ADVANCED WARFIGHTING
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Unrestricted Warfare is neither a revolution in military thought nor an executable doctrine for future warfare, but a collection of tactics, techniques, and procedures that have been used throughout history and will continue to be used by future adversaries. In February 1999, two Chinese Peoples Liberation Army PLA senior Air Force colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, published Unrestricted Warfare. This paper critically analyzes the concept of Unrestricted Warfare as it relates to future warfare doctrine. The book discusses why Unrestricted Warfare is not an original concept, provides three examples of why the concept would be difficult to adopt, explains what direction the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army PLA has taken since the book was published, and concludes with an analysis of the impact of the publication on future warfare. The author contends that Unrestricted Warfare fails to recognize that future war will still have its limitations. To adhere to the concepts of the book, a nation would have to conduct warfare with all elements of national power, resembling something closer to the Clausewitzian model of total war. There are major constraints to the implementation of this model, from directing a legitimate government to wage indiscriminate acts of warfare to the effects of warfare waged in an era of increased globalization. Additionally, the book fails to explain how a nation organizes, trains, and equips all of its elements of national power to execute the different forms and methods of Unrestricted Warfare. Unrestricted Warfare, as it is currently written, is less an executable doctrine than a collection of tactics, techniques, and procedures for future war adversaries.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics