The concept of asymmetrical warfare is a popular and much discussed issue in U.S. defense literature these days. Joint Vision 2010 (JV 2010), the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), and the National Military Strategy (NMS) are just a few of the documents that express concern about it. Understandably, the Secretary of Defense has made addressing the phenomenon a central theme of his administration.
All of that said, what exactly is meant by asymmetrical warfare? In broad terms it simply means warfare that seeks to avoid an opponent's strengths; it is an approach that tries to focus whatever may be one side's comparative advantages against its enemy's relative weaknesses. In a way, seeking asymmetries is fundamental to all warfighting. But in the modern context, asymmetrical warfare emphasizes what are popularly perceived as unconventional or nontraditional methodologies.
For most potential adversaries, attacking the United States asymmetrically is the only warfighting strategy they might reasonably consider for the foreseeable future. The Gulf War was an object lesson to military planners around the globe of the futility of attempting to confront the United States symmetrically, that is, with like forces and orthodox tactics.
The U.S. Army War College's Ninth Annual Strategy Conference was held at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The theme of the conference was "Challenging the United States Symmetrically and Asymmetrically: Can America Be Defeated?" There were some 150 attendees, including active duty military personnel as well as members of academe, the U.S. Defense and service departments, think tanks, corporations, and news media.
This book is an outgrowth of that conference, though it makes no effort to present a comprehensive and literal record of events in the mold of traditional colloquium "proceedings." Rather, the book is organized as an anthology of selected conference presentations, complemented by sufficient notice of roundtable and question-and-answer discussion to provide a glimpse of the vigorous interplay of ideas evoked by this most timely of topics.
Preliminary Observations: Asymmetrical Warfare and the Western Mindset * Part I: Symmetries & Asymmetries - A Historical Perspective * Technology & Asymmetrics in Modern Warfare * The Myth of Blitzkrieg * Asymmetric Response to American Air Supremacy in Vietnam * Part II: Threats * Introduction * Takedown: Targets, Tools, & Technocracy * Information Peacekeeping: The Purest Form of War * Terrorism & Asymmetry * Metaphors & Modern Threats: Biological, Computer, and Cognitive Viruses * Our New Old Enemies * Part III: State-On-State Approaches * Introduction * How We Will Lose the War with Russia: A Critique of U.S. Military Strategy * Regional State Competitors: The Case of Iraq * Beyond Russia and China: A Survey of Threats to U.S. Security From Lesser States * Part IV: Roundtable on Future Responses-Robert H. Scales, Jr., Timothy A. Kinnan, and John Allen Williams