Thursday, September 11, 2014

Army Closes Army Irregular Warfare Center (AIWC)

The Demise of the Army Irregular Warfare Center

It appears that the U.S. Army is once again burying the hard-earned lessons learned of counterinsurgency. The same thing happened at the end of the Vietnam War. Forgetting the counterinsurgency lessons of Vietnam (the conventional army wanted to get ready for the Soviet troops that would invade western Europe) would cost us dearly in the early days of Afghanistan and Iraq. Once the army recognized that it was fighting insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq it had to quickly re-learn the doctrine, strategy and tactics of counterinsurgency. The early beginnings of the Counterinsurgency Center (now called the AIWC) had its origins in the need to gather up past COIN lessons learned and disseminate them in a field manual entitled Counterinsurgency (FM 3-24).

The Army is getting rid of the organization that would capture the lessons and educate the force on the past decade of fighting insurgents. On October 1, 2014 the Army Irregular Warfare Center (AIWC) will close its doors.  The AIWC mission is described below (taken from the AIWC portal):

"The AIWC integrates and collaborates information exchange and analysis for irregular warfare (IW) activities in order to advocate DOTMLPF-P solutions addressing IW capabilities and threats. AIWC synchronizes and assists in the development of IW and Countering Irregular Threats (CIT) enterprise to support a coherent Army strategy that accounts for building partner capacity, stability operations and other pre-crisis activities".

The IW center's focus was on integration, security cooperation, security force assistance, stability operations, and counterinsurgency. As defined by Joint Publication 1-02 (January 2011), "Irregular Warfare is a violent struggle between state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. 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". The five primary activities of IW include Foreign Internal Defense, Counterinsurgency (COIN), Counterterrorism, Stability Operations, and Unconventional Warfare.

The center, at one time it was called the "Counterinsurgency Center" (formed in 2006), is responsible for the development of irregular warfare doctrine (to include counterinsurgency). It had as its leader and staff members of the military community that were knowledgeable on irregular warfare in all its variations. It was recently responsible for the publishing of the recently issued FM 3-24, Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies, May 2014.

It is truly amazing that the Army would close AIWC. Irregular Warfare is the most common type of conflict in the world today. One only has to look around the globe for examples such as Russia's use of hybrid warfare in the Ukraine, the mix of conventional and IW by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and the current insurgency in Afghanistan where the Security Force Assistance mission is still ongoing.

It is unknown who will pick up the task of keeping the Army current on irregular warfare and counterinsurgency (perhaps they will leave that to the Navy or Air Force). A more appropriate organization would be the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School. At one time the U.S. Army Special Forces were considered the experts on counterinsurgency. One would have thought that the Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) would have been in charge of writing the 2006 version of FM 3-24. Perhaps the next update will come from SWCS in a few years?

See "Irregular Warfare Center to close Oct. 1", Army Times, September 1, 2014.
Learn more about the Army Irregular Warfare Center (AIWC).

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