Asymmetric Conflict 2010   [open pdf - 223KB]

"Asymmetric warfare emerged as a major theme in U.S. defense planning with the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the shift in focus from peer adversary wars to major theater wars and smaller scale contingencies. At the same time, there has been rising concern about the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons, as well as missile delivery systems, and about their potential utility in asymmetric strategies. These twin factors gave rise to the Defense Counterproliferation Initiative in 1993, which sought to improve the capability of U.S. military force to project and prevail against regional adversaries employing weapons of mass destruction. A decade later, and as the United States begins a Quadrennial Defense Review with a new administration, it is useful to take stock so that mid-course corrections might be made to ensure that desired capabilities are achieved and the challenges of asymmetric warfare fully and competently addressed. Over the last decade, a good deal of thinking has been devoted to defining the asymmetric challenge. Asymmetric conflicts are understood to involve asymmetries of both capability and interest. On capability, the asymmetry in both conventional and nuclear power is much to the benefit of the United States, with the aggressor's imperative to act in ways that do not motivate Washington to bring to bear its full power potential. On interest, the asymmetry--as the aggressor might perceive it--contrasts his ostensibly vital concern against U.S. interests that by definition are over-the-horizon. Asymmetric strategies are the means by which the militarily-weaker state tries to bring whatever advantages it has to bear on the critical weak points of the stronger party. The perceived weak points of U.S.-led coalitions include, for example, the need to project power over long distances, the need for partners in such regional wars, and casualty aversion." Note: This document has been added to the Homeland Security Digital Library in agreement with the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) as part of the PASCC collection. Permission to download and/or retrieve this resource has been obtained through PASCC.

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IDA Document D-2538
Public Domain. Downloaded or retrieved via external web link as part of the PASCC collection.
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