Characterizing and Exploring the Implications of Maritime Irregular Warfare
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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Given U.S. involvement in and support for multiple counterinsurgency COIN and counterterrorism CT campaigns in various theaters, particularly over the past decade, the concept of irregular warfare has become increasingly prevalent among defense strategists and analysts HQDA, 1961, 2006, 2008 U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2008 Newton et al., 2009. Irregular warfare IW includes many more activities than just COIN and CT, and, despite the fact that some of these campaigns are occurring or have occurred in maritime environments, current conceptions of irregular warfare do not focus on the specific requirements and opportunities related to conducting IW in the maritime realm Mullins, undated. While we recognize that ground forces carry out the bulk of irregular warfare activities, the purpose of this analysis is to describe the strategic potential of maritime irregular warfare MIW and to assess its operational and tactical characteristics based on a sample of recent MIW operations. In doing so, we aim to inform future U.S. investments in force structure and future IW doctrine regarding the maritime aspects of IW and how they fit with other IW domains. Although maritime forces are often employed primarily in support of ground operations, our research shows that in environments with a maritime component maritime operations tend to have a noticeable comparative advantage over land-based operations in terms of mobility and can involve a smaller or less visible footprint in a host nation.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics