Strategic Realities in Irregular Conflict

Published Date: January 10, 2013

This book seeks to answer two questions: Why is irregular conflict so hard? Can we do it better? The concept of “strategic realities” applies to both questions. Problems arise in the irregular conflict arena that generally do not arise in either conventional conflict or classic development, yet irregular conflict also requires understanding each of those domains—and something more besides. When we undertake responses to an irregular conflict, we do so with organizations that are designed, educated, and trained for other purposes. Jerry-rigged solutions can work and sometimes have, but success usually comes only because of stellar ad hoc efforts, and not because of a focused systemic approach.

There is no shortage of writing on irregular conflict—Afghanistan and Iraq have made certain of that—but the virtue of this book comes from the experience of those writing it and their willingness to tell it as it is, both problems and proposed solutions. The authors look both into problems faced in and by the host nation and at the United States’ approach to irregular conflict in the field and in the bureaucracy. Beyond description, the authors attempt to meld multiple perspectives and propose solutions that those with experience believe could generate more effective results.