Asymmetric warfare is a form of irregular warfare – violent conflict between a formal military and an informal, less equipped and supported, undermanned but resilient and motivated opponent. The term is frequently used to describe what is also called guerrilla warfare , insurgency , counterinsurgency , rebellion , terrorism , and ...
- Irregular Warfare
Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States joint...
- Definition and differences
The popularity of the term dates from Andrew J. R. Mack's...
- Strategic basis
In most conventional warfare, the belligerents deploy forces...
- Irregular Warfare
(November 2011) The Asymmetric Warfare Group is a United States Army unit created during the War on Terrorism to mitigate various threats with regard to asymmetric warfare. The unit is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland and has a training facility at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
The Center for Asymmetric Warfare (CAW) was established in 1999. CAW is a U.S. Navy entity dedicated to supporting U.S. military forces, as well as local, state, and federal organizations, in countering and controlling the effects of asymmetric warfare, and in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
Asymmetric warfare originally referred to war between two or more belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly.
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- Definition and Differences
- Strategic Basis
- Tactical Basis
- Use of Terrain
- War by Proxy
- Asymmetric Warfare and Terrorism
- Examples of Asymmetric Warfare
The popularity of the term dates from Andrew J.R. Mack's 1975 article "Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars" in World Politics, in which "asymmetric" referred simply to a significant disparity in power between opposing actors in a conflict. "Power," in this sense, is broadly understood to mean material power, such as a large army, sophisticated weapons, an advanced economy, and so on. Mack's analysis was largely ignored in its day, but the end of the Cold War sparked renewed interest among academics. By the late 1990s, new research building on Mack's insights was beginning to mature, and, after 2004, the U.S. military began once again to seriously consider the problems associated with asymmetric warfare. Discussion since 2004 has been complicated by the tendency of academic and military communities to use the term in different ways, and by its close association with guerrilla warfare, insurgency, terrorism, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism. Military authors tend t...
In most conventional warfare, the belligerents deploy forces of a similar type and the outcome can be predicted by the quantity of the opposing forces or by their quality, for example better command and control of their forces (c3). There are times where this is not true because the composition or strategy of the forces makes it impossible for either side to close in battle with the other. An example of this is the standoff between the continental land forces of the French army and the maritime forces of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In the words of Admiral Jervis during the campaigns of 1801, "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea",and a confrontation that Napoleon Bonaparte described as that between the elephant and the whale.
The tactical success of asymmetric warfare is dependent on at least some of the following assumptions: 1. One side can have a technological advantage which outweighs the numerical advantage of the enemy; the decisive English longbow at the Battle of Crécy is an example. 1. Technological inferiority usually is cancelled by more vulnerable infrastructure which can be targeted with devastating results. Destruction of multiple electric lines, roads or water supply systems in highly populated areas could have devastating effects on economy and morale, while the weaker side may not have these structures at all. 1. Training and tactics as well as technology can prove decisive and allow a smaller force to overcome a much larger one. For example, for several centuries the Greek hoplite's (heavy infantry) use of phalanx made them far superior to their enemies. The Battle of Thermopylae, which also involved good use of terrain, is a well-known...
Terrain can be used as a force multiplier by the smaller force and as a force inhibitor against the larger force. Such terrain is called difficult terrain. A good example of this type of strategy is the Battle of Thermopylae, where the narrow terrain of a defile was used to funnel the Persian forces, who were numerically superior, to a point where they could not use their size as an advantage. For a detailed description of the advantages for the weaker force in the use of built-up areas when engaging in asymmetric warfare, see the article on urban warfare.
Where asymmetric warfare is carried out (generally covertly) by allegedly non-governmental actors who are connected to or sympathetic to a particular nation's (the "state actor's") interest, it may be deemed war by proxy. This is typically done to give deniability to the state actor. The deniability can be important to keep the state actor from being tainted by the actions, to allow the state actor to negotiate in apparent good faith by claiming they are not responsible for the actions of parties who are merely sympathizers, or to avoid being accused of belligerent actions or war crimes. If proof emerges of the true extent of the state actor's involvement, this strategy can backfire; for example see Iran-contra and Philip Agee.
There are two different viewpoints on the relationship between asymmetric warfare and terrorism. In the modern context, asymmetric warfare is increasingly considered a component of fourth generation warfare. When practiced outside the laws of war, it is often defined as terrorism, though rarely by its practitioners or their supporters. For example, terrorists often use women and children as human shields,which practise is not considered either moral or part of traditional symmetrical warfare. The other view is that asymmetric warfare does not coincide with terrorism. The use of terror by the much lesser Mongol forces in the creation and control of the Mongol empire could be viewed as asymmetric warfare. The other is the use of state terrorism by the superior Nazi forces in the Balkans, in an attempt to suppress the resistance movement.
The American Revolutionary War
From its initiation, the American Revolutionary War was, necessarily, a showcase for asymmetric techniques. In the 1920s, Harold Murdock of Boston attempted to solve the puzzle of the first shots fired on Lexington Green, and came to the suspicion that the few score militia men who gathered before sunrise to await the arrival of hundreds of well-prepared British soldiers were sent specifically to provoke an incident which could be used for propaganda purposes. The return of the British force...
After World War II
1. United States Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group (US MAC-V SOG)in Vietnam 2. United States support of the Nicaraguan Contras
Asymmetric warfare (or asymmetric engagement) is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement militias who often have status of unlawful combatants .
Asymmetric cryptography, in public-key cryptography; Asymmetric digital subscriber line, Internet connectivity; Asymmetric multiprocessing, in computer architecture; Other. Asymmetric relation, in set theory; Asymmetric synthesis, in organic synthesis; Asymmetric warfare, in modern war; Asymmetric Publications, a video game company
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The Asymmetric Warfare Group is made up by a headquarters and headquarters detachment and four squadrons, each one led by a Lieutenant Colonel: 1. Able Squadron (Tactical Operations) 2. Baker Squadron (Technical Operations) 3. Charlie Squadron (Selections and Training) 4. Dog Squadron (Concepts Integration) Each squadron is subsequently divided into troops commanded by Majors.
The U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group provides operational advisory support to Army and Joint Force Commanders globally to enhance Soldier survivability, combat effectiveness and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats in support of Unified Land Operations.
The AWG traces its origin to the 2003 Army Improvised Explosive Device(IED) Task Force. The Army G3 directed the establishment of the Asymmetric Warfare Regiment (AWR) in June 2004. The AWR eventually changed its title to the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG).
: warfare that is between opposing forces which differ greatly in military power and that typically involves the use of unconventional weapons and tactics (such as those associated with guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks) Challenging the United States in conventional combat is an invitation to disaster; combat operations emphatically demonstrated that when Iraq's army disintegrated under pressure from U.S. airstrikes and ground assaults.
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