A UNITED NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY A United National Security Strategy The United States
(U.S.) response to irregular threats go-back some 30-years
and although the history of those activities is important, the status of irregular warfare
(IW) today is the thesis of this paper. But briefly, U.S. Forces encountered an irregular threat in 1979 when 52 U.S. citizens were taken hostage inside the U.S. Embassy in Iran by militant Islamic students. The Department of Defense (DOD) attempted a rescue mission that did not turn out well. An official investigation was conducted and published in 1980
. In 1983 241 servicemen, mostly U.S. Marines, were killed in Beirut by suicide bombers from an Islamic jihad group. Two trucks filled with 12,000 lbs. of explosives were driven into a barracks complex and then detonated. These hybrid threats were carried out by non-state actors and confounded traditional means of resolution. That same year the U.S. launched a Joint Forces invasion of Grenada to assist a sovereign government with another irregular threat. The Desert One mission in Iran,
the “Holloway Report”,
the Beirut bombing, invasion of Grenada, and an adverse review of U.S. military structure
generated enough momentum to push bills through both the senate and the house. The bills called for a Joint Special Operations Command to content with irregular threats. President Regan signed the final bill on 13 Apr. 1987 and a Special Operations Command was activated 3 days later. The final bill was attached to the National Defense Bill 1987
. Since 1987 irregular threats have descended a long way into what appears to be an ever expanding
1. For a more extensive review of the U.S. responses to irregular threats see; United States Special Operations Command History (2008), produced by the U.S. Special Operations Command, History and Research Office, MacDill AFB, FL. 2. Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in JP 1-02, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Sep. 2013). Other descriptive terms are; confronting irregular challenges, hybrid threats, hybrid warfare, low-intensity conflicts, non-traditional war, and internal and transnational threats to stability. Irregular threats and irregular warfare are not the same. 3.
Holloway Report” (Aug. 1980), J
oint Chiefs of Staff Special Operations Review Group; Iranian Hostage Recuse Mission, Washington DC. 4.
“Defense Organization: The Need For Change” (1985),
Sen. Goldwater, Senate Armed Services Committee. 5. S. 2638 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1987, Sponsored by Sen. Barry Goldwater.