Military Aviation: Issues and Options for Combating Terrorism and Counterinsurgency [Updated January 27, 2006] [open pdf - 207KB]
"By all accounts, the U.S. military dominates state-on-state conflict. In the past, non-state actors (terrorists, guerrillas, drug traffickers) appeared to be less threatening to U.S. national security than the well funded, well organized, and potent armed forces of an enemy nation-state. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 illustrate, however, that small groups of non-state actors can exploit relatively inexpensive and commercially available technology to conduct very destructive attacks over great distances. Today's U.S. armed forces were developed principally with state-on-state conflict in mind. Combating non-state actors, however, presents a number of distinct challenges in terms of operations, cost, and mindset. Non-state actors generally strive to hide within civilian populations. While U.S. policy makers typically seek quick and decisive victories, non-state actors seek protracted war. Non-state actors often employ cheap, commercially available weapons that often result in expensive responses by the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32737