Russia, China, Iran, and Islamists are waging unconventional warfare around the world, and the United States currently lacks a clear strategy to counter the threat, according to a recent report by the Army Special Operations Command.
“This challenge is hybrid warfare combining conventional, irregular, and asymmetric means, to include the persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflict,” states the Army white paper, Counter-Unconventional Warfare.
Foreshadowed by Iranian actions throughout the Middle East, and by Chinese “unrestricted warfare” strategists in the 1990s, hybrid warfare has now reached its most brazen form in Russia’s support for separatist insurgents in Ukraine.
[“Non-kinetic”] tools…include covert and clandestine special operations commando activities combined with political, intelligence, diplomatic, and financial warfare methods to counter the activities of states like Russia, China and Iran, and insurgent activities by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.
US government “lacks a cohesive [information warfare] strategy to counter adversary [unconventional warfare] campaigns conducted by state and non-state actors….”
Russian examples include
using special operations forces, intelligence agents, political provocateurs, and news media reporters, as well as transnational criminal elements in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“Funded by the Kremlin and operating with differing degrees of deniability or even acknowledgement, the Russian government uses ‘little green men’ for classic [unconventional warfare] objectives,” [according to the white paper].
Examples of the People’s Republic of China’s…techniques…include
unconventional warfare [based on the book,] Unrestricted Warfare…calls for using all means to defeat enemies, including cyber attacks, ecological warfare, financial warfare, and terrorism.
“China will use a host of methods, many of which lie out of the realm of conventional warfare,” [according to the white paper]. “These methods include trade warfare, financial warfare, ecological warfare, psychological warfare, smuggling warfare, media warfare, drug warfare, network warfare, technological warfare, fabrication warfare, resources warfare, economic aid warfare, cultural warfare, and international law warfare.”
Examples include China’s threat several years ago to sell off large US debt holdings to protest US arms sales to Taiwan, and cutting off sales of rare earth minerals to Japan in a dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Chinese news outlets also are used in media warfare….
Iran’s techniques are more limited in scope, but no less deadly:
“…Iran provides ‘material support to terrorist or militant groups such as HAMAS, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, and Iraqi Shia groups,’ [according to the white paper]. “Hezbollah is the primary terrorists’ proxy for Iran working together with a campaign of terror against Israel, the United States, and other western nations.”
It’s entirely possible that an administration more interested in American global interests would have missed this, also. It’s virtually certain, though, that this administration, bent as it is on American withdrawal from the world, wouldn’t have cared even had it recognized any of this.