Elevating IW, Formally

The Pentagon has issued a new directive (DODD 3000.07) that sets irregular warfare on the same footing as traditional warfare. The directive, signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England earlier this week, states that it is DOD policy to “recognize that IW is as strategically important as traditional warfare.” This is not new-think for the Bush Pentagon, but the document codifies what defense leaders have been saying. For instance, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, when he was still Acting Secretary in mid-September, said the Air Force must shift IW from its ad-hoc status. More than two years earlier, then Air Combat Command boss Gen. Ronald Keys expounded on what USAF’s new fighters—the F-22 and F-35—would bring to IW, countering naysayers who declared them obsolete for the new style of warfare. Donley wants USAF to flesh out its role in IW, saying he’s looking for “a broader strategic consensus” within the Air Force. The new DOD directive defines IW as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s)” that “favors indirect and asymmetric approaches … to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.” Central to the new policy is a requirement for the service Secretaries to maintain organizations to train and advise foreign forces, like the Air Force unit that trains foreign aviation defense elements, which Air Force Special Operations Command has been planning to increase in size and recently augmented with a Reserve unit.