Sportswashing: The Newest Weapon in Influence Operations in Irregular Warfare

The mobilizing power of sports remains one of the strongest catalysts for international interaction, bringing people together to address issues, challenge social norms, and bond over shared goals. Sports, like most entertainment industries, tend to be adjacent to politics. Individual teams and players challenge, upend, and address social issues, such as racism and integration with baseball great Jackie Robinson and the T.C. Williams High School football team, or sexism with Billie Jean King’s famous “Battle of the Sexes” match. Still, involvement in external social issues was not the primary goal of professional athletics.

Russian Offensive Resistance Operations

Russian offensive resistance operations include the recruiting, training, and equipping of irregular forces abroad for the pursuit of national objectives. For example, in the Ukrainian province of Zakarpatia,  a right-wing Polish nationalist threw a Molotov cocktail into the window of the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Uzhhorod in 2018. In another example, Alexander Zakharchenko, a Ukrainian of Russian heritage in Donetsk, was so outraged by the 2014 Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that he went out to his garden, unearthed weapons that he had buried there, and joined the effort to found the Donetsk People’s Republic, a puppet regime controlled by Moscow.

Contrasting Chinese and American Approaches to Irregular Warfare

In the grand theater of global conflict, the strategic mindsets of the two world powers are often best summarized by the ancient board games of Chess and Wei Qi (Go). These games, emblematic of divergent cultural philosophies, illuminate the contrasting approaches to irregular warfare adopted by the United States and China. Chess, with its focus on the decisive defeat of a singular king, mirrors the direct, force-centric tactics of American military strategy. In stark contrast, Wei Qi, with its slow encirclement and control of territory, reflects the Chinese penchant for gradual, indirect methods and long-term strategic positioning.

Irregular Warfare in the Age of Technology

In our rapidly evolving technological age, the face of irregular warfare — historically characterized by asymmetric tactics and human-centric operations — finds itself undergoing a transformation. While technology promises amplified capabilities for those involved in irregular warfare, it also brings along its own set of unprecedented challenges.

The Legacy of Irregular Warfare Masters

Engulfed within the nebulous terrain that delineates the boundaries of irregular warfare, a domain characterized by its defiance of conventionality and its asymmetrical tactics, we find ourselves confronted with a pantheon of enigmatic leaders whose tales are etched in the annals of history. These leaders, whose inherent amalgamation of idiosyncratic traits and characteristics demarcates them from their contemporaries, also serve as indomitable beacons illuminating the path toward victory. While history has lauded leaders like Mao Zedong, T.E. Lawrence, Michael Collins, and Vo Nguyen Giap for their contributions in this arena, a closer examination of their strategies reveals both triumphs and controversies that surrounded their methods.

Russian Information Warfare Strategy: New IWC Translation Gives Insights into Vulnerabilities

J.D. Maddox, IWC Subject Matter Expert, Operations in the Information EnvironmentAndrew Liflyandchick, IWC Russia Analyst This Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) Insights article introduces and builds upon the IWC’s new translation of a Russian military article titled “Informational Support for National Security: Information Warfare Strategy.” This article, originally published in the 2016 issue of the Russian academic journal “National Security/nota bene,” […]

The Future of Irregular Warfare: The United States is Winning, Now What?

Since at least the Cuban Revolution during the Eisenhower administration, the conventional wisdom has been that the U.S. consistently fails in irregular warfare (IW) and that dramatic changes are required to remedy this situation. In the spirit of full disclosure, the Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) is an effort by the U.S. Congress to address the perceived IW crisis. The consensus view is so pervasive that, in a recent irregular warfare planning effort, a retired U.S. Army three-star, turned to this author and said: “maybe if we get this right, we will finally win a war.”

The Devil Went Down to Georgia: Executing Cyberspace Resistance to Counter Russia

Amidst the focus on Russia’s military engagements in Ukraine over the past year, not enough attention has been given to the cyber resilience needs of other countries on the periphery of the former Soviet Union. Notably, Georgia, Lithuania, and Poland warrant particular attention as they could become the next targets if Russia shifts its focus from Ukraine. Georgia, a victim of a Russian invasion in 2008 and a cyber-driven influence campaign in 2019, presents a compelling case study. Drawing from Ukraine’s experiences, Georgia can translate those insights into robust cyber resilience strategies to defend itself against future Russian aggression.

The Evolution of Intelligence Operations in Support of Irregular Warfare

Irregular warfare (IW), deeply interwoven with cultural, political, and sociological factors, has historically relied on the agility and adaptability of intelligence operations. As the fabric of warfare has evolved from the dense jungles of Vietnam to the digital frontlines of Ukraine, so too has the nature of intelligence shifted, from human-centric insights to technology-driven reconnaissance. Moving forward, the fusion of advanced technological innovations with intrinsic human understanding will redefine the essence of intelligence in IW, making it a more potent force in navigating the complexities of future unconventional conflicts. By delving into the distinct epochs of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, we can discern the shifting sands of intelligence in support of IW and envision what the future might hold. Many will claim that the future of intelligence lies in technology and this claim has taken the front stage in the past, but it was unequivocally refuted with many mishaps that could have been prevented. Let’s look at the evolution of intelligence and see what the future ahead looks like for it.