A writer, Andrea Filozof, has provided her thoughts on Unconventional Warfare (UW) and its use by the United States as a means of intervention. She believes that the Obama administration – having tried to scale back counterinsurgency and stabilization efforts – is attempting to use unconventional warfare as a means of achieving foreign policy goals.
Her basis premise is that unconventional warfare is not always a suitable avenue to achieve the foreign policy goals of the United States. To that extent the basis of her article is correct; UW doesn’t always fit. She believes that the operational success of proxy forces in a UW campaign does not mean that the U.S. interests are being taken care of. And she is correct in stating that the political aspect of a conflict needs to be taken into consideration when conducting UW.
However, where she misses the boat is in not explaining when and where unconventional warfare can work – and how it should work. And she assumes that the U.S. is doing UW in Syria and other parts in the Middle East – correctly; according to proven UW methodology and doctrine. There’s the rub. Most knowledgeable students of UW could easily point out that if we are doing UW in the Middle East then it is only one or two aspects of what a comprehensive UW campaign would actually look like.
UW can work in limited and unique circumstances – if properly planned and executed. Her article is thought provoking and worth a read. See “Unconventional Warfare Is Not The Answer To Your Problem”, War on the Rocks, September 28, 2016.