The Pentagon on October 2, 2020 released a summary of the “Irregular Warfare Annex” to the National Defense Strategy of 2018, citing the need to innovate irregular or unconventional capabilities, and combine them with traditional combat power, to maintain the upper hand in global power competition.
Irregular warfare is a struggle among state and non-state actors to influence populations and affect legitimacy.
IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other
capabilities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will. It includes the specific missions of
unconventional warfare (UW), stabilization, foreign internal defense (FID), counterterrorism (CT), and
counterinsurgency (COIN). Related activities such as military information support operations, cyberspace
operations, countering threat networks, counter-threat finance, civil-military operations, and security
cooperation also shape the information environment and other population-focused arenas of competition and
The annex notes the willingness of China, Russian, and Iran to use disinformation campaigns to achieve, political, military, and economic objectives, and also the emergency of technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing to enhance the U.S. capability to process information, identify trends, and disseminate actionable intelligence to the warfighting community and decision makers.
Read the full “Summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex” here.