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“Irregular Warfare: Nasty, Brutish, but not Short.”
Summary: On Sept. 15-16, 2009, the Strategic Research Department and the Brown Chair on Counterterrorism convened a two-day conference to discuss Irregular Warfare from historical, policy, strategic and operational perspectives. The term Irregular Warfare was defined in this conference to include insurgency by irregular forces fighting against their own governments and/or third nations; and counterinsurgency strategies adopted by governments to fight the irregular combatants. In this context, the first day dealt with insurgent warfare case studies; and the second day with the counterinsurgency responses of governments. The need to understand Irregular Warfare, the nature of current and future Irregular adversaries of the United States and her allies, the characteristics of such wars is increasingly clear. In a series of speeches, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stressed the importance of achieving a better understanding of Irregular War in order to counter it more effectively now and in the future. But the United States – like most states with large and often successful conventional/regular militaries – prefers not to fight Irregular Wars. Although American armed forces have fought as Insurgents since the founding of the Republic and more often as Counterinsurgents either directly or indirectly by helping an ally, there has been a marked reluctance to learn from history and from operational results. The purpose of this conference was to highlight the importance of this type of war, the difficulties of waging it, and its enduring presence.
The conference brought together 32 prominent academics, analysts and officers working on the issues associated with Irregular War. Below are video links to the available panels.

September 15-16, 2009
McCarty Little Hall Auditorium

Panel1.jpg Panel 1: Definitions, Characteristics, and Nature of Insurgency
Anthony James Joes, Saint Joseph’s University
Bart Schuurman, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Frank Hoffman, Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Mary Kaldor, London School of Economics and Political Science
RDML Philip H. Greene, Jr., USN, Navy Irregular Warfare Office
Moderator: CAPT Thomas C. Sass, USN, U.S. Naval War College
Panel2.jpg Panel 2: Historical and Contemporary Case-Studies of Insurgencies, Part I
Stathis Kalyvas, Yale University
John Tone, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ahmed S. Hashim, U.S. Naval War College
Jack McCuen, East West Connection
Moderator: Toshi Yoshihara, U.S. Naval War College
Panel3.jpg Panel 3: Historical and Contemporary Case-Studies of Insurgencies, Part II
Austin Long, Columbia University
Myriam Benraad, University of Paris
Thomas Johnson, Naval Postgraduate School
Brynjar Lia, Norwegian Defense Research Establishment
Jarrett Brachman, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
Moderator: Jonathan Pollack, U.S. Naval War College
Panel4.jpg Panel 4: Learning and Re-Learning Counterinsurgency, Part I
Erin Simpson, USMC Command and Staff College
Lt Col Jeremy E.D. Pughe-Morgan - Army's Counterinsurgency Centre
Sergio Catignani, University of Sussex
Stephane Taillat, Universite Paul Valery Montpellier-III
Mark Kramer, Harvard University
Moderator: COL Robert M. Cassidy, USA, U.S. Naval War College
Panel5.jpg Panel 5: Learning and Re-Learning Counterinsurgency, Part II
Michael Fitzsimmons, Institute for Defense Analyses
David Ucko, King’s College, London
Peter Mansoor, Ohio State University
Col Julian Alford, USMC, Institute for Defense Analyses
Moderator: COL David Brown, USA, U.S. Naval War College
Panel 6: Interagency, Ethical, Media and Non-Governmental Dimensions
      David Kilcullen, Crumpton Group
      Ganesh Sitaraman, Harvard Law School
      Thomas Rid, Johns Hopkins University
      Moderator: Peter Dombrowski, U.S. Naval War College

Naval War College Considers Irregular Warfare

Sept. 15, 2009

NEWPORT, R.I. - The Naval War College (NWC) commenced a two-day conference on Sept. 15 to promote the understanding and evolution of Irregular Warfare (IW).

The assembly brings together prominent key thinkers and analysts working on the development of insurgency and counterinsurgency over the course of time.  

“We are engaged in irregular warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and transnationally against Al Qaeda and its types,” said conference organizer Dr. Ahmed Hashim, a Strategic Research Department professor. “We need to have the armed forces and their mindsets and cultural awareness to take into account IW without losing the cutting edge of regular warfare.”

This conference is one way NWC is contributing to the study of this area of warfare. In addition to providing forums to research and discuss IW, NWC is also home to the Center for Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups and incorporates IW into the NWC curriculum.

Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates visited NWC to speak with the students and faculty about budget recommendations and underscored the importance of considering irregular warfare. During his speech, he stressed “the need to think about future conflicts in a different way. To recognize that the black and white distinction between irregular war and conventional war is an outdated model.”

Besides giving participants a greater understanding of irregular warfare, the NWC conference is designed to produce a book that will give a historical and theoretical grounding in irregular war in both dimensions of insurgency and counterinsurgency. This research will serve to inform decision makers at the strategic, operational and tactical level as well as students studying in this area.

Keynote speakers are Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, from the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command; John Nagl from The Center for a New American Security on why regular militaries find it hard to do irregular war; and Tom Ricks, author of “The Surge.”

The conference includes 27 panelists from various academic, research and military organizations. 

Rear Adm. Philip H. Greene, Jr., from the Navy Irregular Warfare Office, participated in the conference’s first panel, looking at the definition and nature of insurgency. 

“It’s about, in my view, confronting irregular challenges, which for our United States Navy is nothing new,” said Greene. “And if we look back over the heritage of our Navy, the notion of confronting or meeting irregular challenges and conducting irregular operations is really who we are and what we’re about.”

Greene pointed out that the Navy’s hallmark attributes of global presence, agility and adaptability are what enable our maritime strategy.

“It is about confronting irregular challenges globally with a full range of capability across the security spectrum from prevention to conflict, and it has to be done in conjunction with our interagency, our coalition partners, and our joint services working together,” said Greene. “Through partnership development and trust-based relationships, we contribute to others’ ability to solve their security problems.”

The conference panels are surveying both contemporary and historic case studies of IW, starting with the 1808 to 1813 Spanish Guerrilla War against Napoleon, considered to be the first modern insurgency. Panelists will analyze contemporary insurgencies in the Middle East and Al Qaeda’s transnational insurgency.

Panels are also discussing counterinsurgency strategies employed by governments faced with civil violence, how allies have contributed to solving serious internal problems, the evolution of U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, and the practice of counterinsurgency on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conference will conclude by exploring the problems posed by waging counterinsurgency, including interagency, ethical, media and non-governmental dimensions.

NWC’s Strategic Research Department within the Center for Naval Warfare Studies is hosting the conference. SRD's missions are to produce original research that informs the various levels of the national security organization and to support the academic curriculum at NWC.

From Naval War College Public Affairs