In the three short months since the Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) “opened its doors,” to begin addressing the implications of “struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over relevant populations,” it has been using its broad range of authorities to reach out and begin creating partnerships and collaborations to ensure it fully addresses strategic competition below the threshold of military conflict. Those non-military challenges to international stability and security are political, economic, legal, informational, cyber, sociological, and so much more; areas where the Department of Defense knows it must reach out to partners with the knowledge, experience, and philosophies that are outside its core capabilities.
The United States’ ability to conduct an effective irregular warfare campaign is hampered by political realities and Department of Defense cultural norms. While there are many overlapping deficiencies, this inaugural IWC Insights paper discusses three prominent barriers to success: 1) a quick-win culture that incentivizes short-term fixes; 2) the lack of adequate irregular warfare education throughout the interagency community; and 3) promotion and leadership selection processes that undervalue the development of necessary language, cultural, and regional expertise for irregular warfare application. Each of these problems often reinforces the others. The Irregular Warfare Center aims to empower and promote research, education, and engagement with a wide range of interagency professionals, global partners, and members of civil society to increase their awareness of irregular warfare threats, cross-fertilize often segregated activities, and develop holistic approaches to combat present and future irregular warfare challenges.