Utopia or Oblivion?

This report is part of a broader project on wargaming and futurism that included the design and execution of a futurism-focused wargame, Utopia or Oblivion?, that was cohosted by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and Johns Hopkins University, and ran from March 25 to April 10, 2021.

Building a Bigger Tent: Women and Irregular Conflict

In December 2022 this Center introduced ourselves with an essay that outlined our intent to create a big tent by “entering into partnerships and resource agreements with academic institutions.” Your Irregular Warfare Center (IW Center) is pleased to report that last month about two dozen civilian universities joined us in Washington, DC, to discuss the comprehensive research, education, and outreach plan we promised. More importantly, the Center is on track to accomplish the three main tasks directed by Congress in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act. But wait, there’s more!

Three Lessons from the Front: Economic Warfare in Russia / Ukraine

A country’s economy is core to its ability to provide a better life for its people, develop and fund social services, and ultimately create the means for war. Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump both used speeches in 2017 to directly link economic might to the pursuit of national interests. It should therefore come as no surprise that economic warfare tactics are getting a much-needed refresh as we re-enter a multi-polar world with specific challenges to both the United States’ economic hegemony, as well as the international rules-based system.

Simple Sabotage 2.0: the Threat of Pro-Russian Civil Resistance in Ukraine

Resistance is an asymmetric tool that can be used by an underdog to fight against an oppressor or a foreign military occupation. However, the Russo-Ukrainian War has demonstrated that this concept can also be used by an occupying force. As part of the Irregular Warfare Center’s (hereafter, IWC) ongoing mission to illuminate and address irregular threats posed to the U.S. and its allies and partners, the Center recently obtained and translated a Russian handbook designed to instruct pro-Russian Ukrainian citizens on how to resist the Ukrainian government; something that is especially relevant in recently recaptured territories.

The Defender’s Dilemma: Identifying and Deterring Gray-Zone Aggression

Elisabeth Braw’s central thesis in The Defender’s Dilemma: Identifying and Deterring Gray-Zone Aggression is that gray-zone aggression has become an increasingly more pervasive and complex challenge for nations than traditional war and that defense strategies are often inadequate to address gray-zone aggression. Braw pointedly argues that gray-zone aggression, which refers to acts of aggression that fall between the traditional definitions of peace and war, has emerged as the preferred mode of modern conflict as states seek to assail Western institutions and values through non-traditional means, such as cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, and economic coercion.

The Conceptualization of Irregular Warfare in Europe

This report is the first in a series of volumes in which the Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) explores the commonalities and differences of the conceptualization of irregular warfare across U.S. allies and partners. This initial volume compares and contrasts this conceptualization among five European academic institutions: the Netherlands Defence Academy, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, the Swedish Defence University, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and the Military Academy of Lithuania. Each of these institutions replied to surveys the IWC designed, assessing how these institutions individually conceptualize and teach irregular warfare and related concepts.

Blind Sided: A Reconceptualization of the Role of Emerging Technologies in Shaping Information Operations in the Gray Zone

In June 2022, Facebook and Twitter accounts suddenly focused their wrath on Australian company Lynas. The previous year, Lynas—the largest rare earths mining and processing company outside China—had inked a deal with the U.S. Department of Defense to build a processing facility for rare earth elements in Texas. Over a year after the deal was signed, concerned Texas residents began taking to social media to loudly voice opposition to the deal. They claimed the facility would create pollution and toxic waste, endangering the local population. Residents disparaged Lynas’s environmental record, and called for protests against the construction of the processing facility and a boycott of the company.