Tickling the Dragon’s Tail: The Destabilizing Effects of an Irregular Warfare Critical Mass

Authored by:
Ned Marsh
Published on 10/1/2019
Digital Only

Lieutenant Colonel Ned Marsh wrote this monograph while attending the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. He proposes that over time a metaphorical critical mass constructed of global irregular warfare (IW) actors, state and non-state, has developed. The core is now active and exists within an enabling contemporary environmental structure. State warfare hegemony has decreased conventional competition and increased asymmetrical strategies. The result of this has been the emergence of IW as a prominent strategy and a self-propagating chain reaction of IW activity. This activity is releasing increasingly dangerous levels of destabilizing effect. This monograph reviews IW theory and history, and describes the contemporary operational paradigm. It analyzes the effect of cumulative IW activity and discusses prescriptive approaches to the problem. It concludes that, if stability is an objective, then counter-IW must be holistically undertaken with strategies to reduce conventional warfare competition.