Categorical Confusion? The Strategic Implications of Recognizing Challenges Either as Irregular or Traditional   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Strategic theory is necessary and should be useful, which is just as well because it is also unavoidable. Practical problem-solving soldiers 'do' theory when they design plans that explain how particular means and ways should achieve the desired and intended results. But, like medicine, theory is not always beneficial. The long familiar division of American security challenges and threats into two categories, irregular or traditional (regular), is seriously misleading empirically. However, alternative efforts at categorization (e.g., adding a hybrid category), are not a significant improvement. In this monograph, Dr. Colin Gray argues that assertions of categories of challenge do more harm than benefit to American strategic understanding. He posits that the conceptual approach least prone to wreak damage on our grasp of the problems of the day is to abandon broad categorization altogether. Instead, he finds and advises that the general theory of strategy (and of war and warfare) should be regarded as authoritative over all challenging episodes, while only foundational recognition allows safely for case-specific strategic theory and practice."

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Army War College (U.S.). Strategic Studies Institute: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/
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