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Irregular Warfare (IW)

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"To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." -
Sun Tzu


Irregular Warfare is defined as ". . . activities in support of predetermined United States policy and military objectives conducted by, with, and through regular forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals participating in competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict." [1]


Irregular Warfare Center. The IWC serves as the central mechanism for developing the DOD's irregular warfare knowledge and advancing the DOD's understanding of irregular warfare concepts and doctrine in collaboration with key allies and partners.

IW Global Network. The Irregular Warfare Center established the IW Global Network that consists of several Functional Area Networks (FANS). These FANs cover the topics of contested logistics, mission assurance, medical resilience, intelligence, emerging technologies, and information operations.


Defense Primer: What is Irregular Warfare?, Congressional Research Service, CRS IF12565, January 4, 2024, PDF, 3 pages.

Summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense, 2020, PDF, 12 pages.

Summary of the National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense, 2018, PDF, 14 pages.

Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) Studies (

Special Forces and Irregular Warfare, (

Irregular Warfare Publications, (

Irregular Warfare News, (

"From irregular warfare to Irregular Warfare", Veritas, Vol. 19, No.1, 2023, ARSOF History, United States Army Special Operations Command.

Articles about Irregular Warfare

Robert S. Burrell, "How to Integrate Competition and Irregular Warfare", Modern War Institute at West Point, August 5, 2021. The author argues that U.S. joint doctrine should include both conventional deterrence and irregular competition to compliment the current categories of traditional warfare and irregular warfare.

Steve Ferenzi et al, "Overmatch by other means: integrating Irregular Warfare into Joint Force Wargaming", Military Times, July 29, 2021. An extremely informative article about integrating Irregular Warfare (IW) and resistance activities concepts into wargaming events of the professional military education system.

Susan Bryant and Tom Nagle, "Wargaming for the New Great Game", Modern War Institute at West Point, April 30, 2021. The authors contend that wargaming will help participants explore irregular warfare systems and understand issues, opportunities, and constraints of IW.

Michael P. Noonan, "Not Just for SOF Anymore: Envisioning Irregular Warfare as a Joint Force Priority", Modern War Institute at West Point, April 21, 2021.

Seth Jones, "The Future of Competition: U.S. Adversaries and the Growth of Irregular Warfare", Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), February 4, 2021.

Eric Robinson, "The Missing, Irregular Half of Great Power Competition", Modern War Institute at West Point, September 8, 2020.

John A. Pelleriti et al, "The Insufficiency of U.S. Irregular Warfare Doctrine", Joint Forces Quarterly, 2nd Quarter 2019, PDF, 9 pages.


[1] Definition by Congress, found on 131 STAT. 1642 (page 360), Public Law 115-91, December 12, 2017, U.S. Congress.



Home > Topics > IW








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