Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Constant Fight: Intelligence Activities, Irregular Warfare, and Political Warfare
The Constant Fight: Intelligence Activities, Irregular Warfare, and Political Warfare

The Constant Fight: Intelligence Activities, Irregular Warfare, and Political Warfare

Bottom Line

  • The study of intelligence and nontraditional warfare is essential to fully understand the various, and sometimes indirect, means by which the United States can solve or manage national security threats beyond the traditional tools of diplomacy and military power.

  • Intelligence and nontraditional warfare activities are conducted daily to bring policymakers information necessary for decision-making, protect secrets, and implement policy decisions below the threshold of significant military action

  • Unfortunately, the constant fight of intelligence and nontraditional warfare are often not as well studied or understood as other traditional statecraft tools. Therefore, this new center at the Foreign Policy Research Institute will conduct scholarly research on intelligence and nontraditional warfare to facilitate understanding by the general public, as well as government and academic experts, on how these specialties provide for the nation’s security, caveats in their application, and lessons learned from past actions to inform future policy decisions.

Editor’s Note: This is the inaugural article for Foreign Policy Research Institute’s new Center for Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare.



– Wisdom is better than weapons of war.

Ecclesiastes 9:18


With the war in Ukraine and fears of war over Taiwan, America’s national security focus has turned from the threat of terrorism to the more traditional threats of inter-state competition and conventional or even nuclear war. The concern about threats posed by major state competitors, particularly Russia and China, is understandable. Both are nuclear-armed revisionist powers. Russia’s war in Ukraine aims to overturn the rules-based order in Europe and establish regional hegemony over its former Soviet empire; China’s growing capability to seize Taiwan possibly presages a similar effort in East Asia. Hence, efforts to revive and strengthen America’s strategic and conventional warfighting capabilities and industrial base are wise and overdue.  

Fortunately, major conventional wars are relatively rare. In the 125 years since the Spanish-American War made the United States a world power, it has engaged in major conventional warfare for only seventeen of those years. Unfortunately, conflict is not rare. In that same time frame, US military forces have engaged in what was once known as “small wars” and are now characterized as irregular wars in at least ninety-two of those 125 years. 

In addition to military interventions, after World War II the United States fought the Cold War, which featured a major peacetime intelligence establishment to discern the capabilities and intentions of our enemies as well as to provide early warning of aggression—the worst-case early warning scenario being the possibility of surprise nuclear attack. The Cold War utilized a wide variety of overt and covert methods, from information to paramilitary operations, as part of the struggle. With the end of the Cold War, many of these capabilities were left to atrophy in the belief that they were no longer necessary. The events of 9/11 proved otherwise and after two decades of struggle with nonstate threats, we have returned to the aforementioned concern over major state conflict.

As the United States concentrates its national security efforts to deter or prevail in wars against peer competitors, we should remember the parallel activities taking place every day that also keep our nation safe against these and other threats. Behind the backdrop of major conventional wars or the threat of such wars is the constant fight of intelligence and nontraditional warfare activities conducted daily to bring policymakers information necessary for decision-making, protect secrets, and implement policy decisions below the threshold of significant military action to deal with national security threats and problems. The statecraft tools (i.e., elements of national power used to implement policy) of intelligence and nontraditional warfare are focused on both major nation-state threats and threats posed by lesser powers and non-state actors. If still waters run deep, then intelligence activities and irregular and political warfare operations are what flow unseen along those underwater currents. They are as essential as any strategic or conventional military capability and are used more often. 

It is because of the essential nature of these tools of statecraft to US national security that the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) has created a Center for Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare within its National Security Program. The center’s mission is to facilitate the study of intelligence activities and nontraditional warfare to help educate and explore how they best support national security. Nontraditional warfare is the term FPRI has picked to emphasize the joint nature of the strategic ways of political warfare and irregular warfare to solve or manage national security problems and to encourage them to be thought of together as complementary vice competitive approaches. This term also recognizes that there are overlapping facets between the two strategic ways and hopes to encourage thinking of both ways seamlessly and not limited by boundaries. 

The announcement of the center and the release of this article on June 13, 2023, also coincide with the eighty-first anniversary of the founding of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1942, which conducted human intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, paramilitary operations, and information operations towards the common goal of victory over the Axis powers. This center will follow the OSS example by combining the study of intelligence with the study of political and irregular warfare, under the term of nontraditional warfare, to provide a better understanding of all these statecraft tools that are part of the constant fight and pay the same degree of attention to them that national security study programs provide to the more traditional statecraft tools of diplomacy, nuclear deterrence, and conventional military power. 

As part of the inauguration of this center, this article will define the terms and scope within which the center will operate. It will then explain why the center’s areas of study are necessary, since many of today’s national security issues (and many past disasters) have a nexus with intelligence and nontraditional warfare, and because of the paucity of resources outside the government committed to studying them. The article will conclude with a brief description of the center’s way forward. 

Defining Terms 

Intelligence is easy to define but difficult to discuss due to its inherent requirements for secrecy and even misdirection. Conversely, irregular warfare is easy to discuss but hard to define due to the difficulty in determining what exactly in warfare is “regular” and what is “irregular.” Political warfare, first defined by George Kennan, has never been a fully accepted term but it has existed for decades as a separate if unacknowledged form of statecraft. To study these three statecraft tools involved in the constant fight, we must first define them, however imperfectly.

What Is Intelligence? 

In essence, intelligence is knowledge and analysis designed to assist action. Per Executive Order 12333, which provides guidance for how the US intelligence community operates, intelligence includes both foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. Foreign intelligence means information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, foreign persons, or international terrorists. Counterintelligence is described as information gathered and activities conducted to identify, deceive, exploit, disrupt, or protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations, or persons, or their agents, or international terrorist organizations or activities.

What Is Irregular Warfare? 

The Department of Defense’s dictionary of military terms defines irregular warfare as, “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s).” In 2007, the Defense Department Joint Operating Concept (JOC) publication, Irregular Warfare, provided an expanded definition of irregular warfare by adding that, “Irregular warfare 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 JOC labeled irregular warfare as a form of armed conflict, replacing the term “low-intensity conflict,” and stated that it encompasses both insurgency and counterinsurgency; terrorism and counterterrorism. The Pentagon’s most recent JOC on irregular warfare, Irregular Warfare: Countering Irregular Threats, released in 2010, stated that activities to counter irregular warfare threats, undertaken in sequence, in parallel, or blended into a campaign plan, include counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency, and stability operations.

However, this is not the only definition of irregular warfare. Congress introduced its own definition in Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. This section provided the fiscal authorities to conduct irregular warfare activities, which were described as 

Activities in support of predetermined United States policy and military objectives conducted by, with, and through regular forces, irregular forces, groups, and individuals participating in competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict. 

Since he who pays the piper calls the tune, this description has legal standing although it does not seem to have been adopted in any Defense Department doctrinal publications. Even within Defense Department there are differing definitions. US Army manual FM 3-0 (Operations) defines irregular warfare as

the overt, clandestine, and covert employment of military and non-military capabilities across multiple domains by state and non-state actors through methods other than military domination of an adversary, either as the primary approach or in concert with conventional warfare. 

Besides these official definitions, there are numerous competing viewpoints of what is irregular warfare. One expert on irregular warfare doctrine, Lt. Col. (ret.) Mark Grdovic, argues that, “defining irregular warfare as a ‘struggle for legitimacy and influence over the population’ is defining it by its Ways, without consideration of the Ends.” 

With his emphasis on the ends vice ways, Grdovic recommends an alternative definition: 

Irregular Warfare is a methodology of waging warfare that degrades an opponent’s resolve, legitimacy or capabilities while simultaneously mitigating their strengths and avoiding direct conflict. The associated activities are generally carried out by some variety of irregular forces. 

He believes that irregular warfare is a way that a party in a conflict wages war because it is often its only viable option. Per Grdovic, insurrection, terrorism, and subversion are irregular warfare activities, and counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, foreign internal defense, stability operations, etc., are how nations counter irregular warfare threats. He believes that until the Defense Department determines if irregular warfare is a strategy, a portion of the conflict continuum or just a grouping of activities, it will never achieve the desired results for this topic.

The point of this has not been to delve too deeply into doctrinal and definitional disputes similar to ancient theological debates of how many angels can dance on the top of a pin. Instead, it is meant to illustrate that irregular warfare has several definitions and even more interpretations, which can lead to confusion and even conflict over how the subject is to be understood. These differences, however, should not cause analysis/paralysis. There may not be one totally inclusive and agreed-upon definition for irregular warfare but, to quote a former Supreme Court justice, we know it when we see it. 

We have seen it throughout history in guerrilla wars fought by people resisting occupiers or repression. We saw it on almost every continent after World War II as colonies fought for independence. We saw it used as a tool by communists to take power and later as a tool by anti-communists to reclaim power. These struggles featured battles fought in mountains, jungles, deserts, alleys, and other venues but all as a part of an armed struggle for people’s hearts and minds. We have seen it for the past several decades across the Islamic world as violent Salafist extremists attempt, and sometimes succeed, to impose their form of belief above all others. We see it still today in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Africa’s Sahel region where numerous and competing armed groups have been engaged for years in either revolution, separatism, holy war, brigandry, or some combination of all four, which shows that motivations can vary even if techniques are similar. Finally, we see it today in occupied Ukraine whenever a collaborating policeman’s car blows up or anti-Russian slogans are painted on a building at night. What generations ago Robert Taber called the “War of the Flea,” Bernard Fall described as “Revolutionary Warfare,” and Frank Kitson named “Low-Intensity Operations,” we again call irregular warfare, using the same term T.E. Lawrence did over a century ago.

Therefore, while the 2007 JOC on irregular warfare stated that, “Irregular Warfare is a complex, ‘messy,’ and ambiguous social phenomenon that does not lend itself to clean, neat, concise, or precise definition,” it still must be defined to provide scope for future studies even if there is no single concise legal definition as provided for intelligence and intelligence activities. Since the Department of Defense definitions change with time or changes of command, and the one statutory definition seems to be honored only in the breach, the FPRI Center on Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare will take a flexible approach towards defining irregular warfare to allow for study of both its application in military operations short of declared wars as well as an enabler during major conventional hostilities. 

The center’s definition for irregular warfare will be 

A form of warfare by state or non-state groups in which one side fights another to achieve political goals via indirect methods such as insurgency, subversion, and terrorism and the methods used by the other side to defeat that effort. 

We are sure this additional definition will cause controversy and raise objections. They are welcome because our goal for the Center is to increase the study and awareness of irregular warfare, amongst other things, and the more that this issue is debated, the more practitioners and policymakers can see which ideas match best with the circumstances they face.

What Is Political Warfare? 

In 1948, George Kennan proposed that the United States conduct political warfare against the Soviet threat. He defined this term very broadly as, “the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.” He specifically mentioned the application of overt means such as political alliances, economic measures (the Marshall Plan), and “white” propaganda as well as covert methods such as the clandestine support of “friendly” foreign elements, “black” psychological warfare, and support to underground resistance in hostile states. To Kennan, political warfare was the logical extension of Clausewitz’s doctrine of war “being a continuation of policy with other means” in peacetime.

Political warfare is a term that never caught on as many of the departments and agencies within the government who conduct it do not like to think of what they do as warfare. When various elements of the US Agency for Global Media (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, etc.) broadcast, they consider their work as journalism and not warfare. The same applies to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control whose enforcement of economic and trade sanctions implements US law. Certainly, when US Agency for International Development officials work to help a foreign country battle poverty and disease or build its infrastructure, they do not see their efforts as warfare. Possibly the term “activities,” used most often to describe intelligence operations, would be more palatable and make the concept more acceptable.

Still, the use of these various statecraft tools could be considered a type of warfare, the continuation of policy with other means, if conducted as part of a coercive strategy against a hostile threat or to protect ourselves and others against that threat. Political warfare operations are simply the conduct of international relations between states in conflict. For want of a better term, warfare can apply in the Clausewitz-Kennan sense of the word. For the purposes of determining the scope of study of political warfare, the Center for Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare will use this definition that borrows heavily from Kennan’s initial concept: 

The overt or covert employment of elements of national power including cyber, economic, financial, informational, paramilitary, and political statecraft tools short of declared war against a hostile state or non-state actor to achieve political goals or to protect the United States, allies, and partners from the employment of similar methods by a hostile state or non-state actor.

In this context, political warfare should be seen as a statecraft tool normally, but not always, operating below the threshold of armed conflict. It can be debated where paramilitary covert action fits in as either a tool of irregular warfare because of its lethal character or as a part of political warfare because of its covert nature. Since paramilitary covert action in peacetime is conducted by non-Defense Department personnel, this article suggests it belongs as a tool of political warfare. There will be overlap between the two. The Defense Department’s irregular warfare doctrine recognizes that the successful application of its principles requires a whole-of-government approach and nonlethal measures, especially for counterinsurgency. Political warfare at times can certainly utilize Defense Department assets and expertise and/or run parallel to irregular warfare operations. This is why the two should be seen as complementary forms of statecraft and not competitive ones.

Why Study Intelligence Activities and Nontraditional Warfare?

The study of intelligence activities and nontraditional warfare is necessary to properly use and not misuse these tools, by understanding their advantages and pitfalls, just as we must understand the same for every other tool of statecraft. 

Because intelligence is such a protected and sensitive subject, what should and can be studied within that field? What should be studied is not tradecraft, which is for practitioners, but utilization. Both intelligence consumers in government and the general public should understand intelligence as an art and not as a science with guaranteed outputs based on verifiable inputs. They should understand that the intelligence community is proficient at stealing and analyzing secrets but less so at unlocking mysteries (i.e., anticipating the decisions of hostile parties that have not yet been made). The study of intelligence should provide an understanding of how intelligence works including its basic cycle of operation and the capabilities and limitations of its various specialties such as human intelligence, signals intelligence, and many others. Such study should educate about the challenges of collecting and analyzing information on hard targets be they nearly hermetically sealed countries such as North Korea or small, amorphous groups of security-conscious people banded together in terrorist groups or espionage networks. Understanding these issues can hopefully lead to intelligence consumers being less mystified by intelligence activities and more knowledgeable of capabilities and limitations so they can constructively engage intelligence providers about their requirements.

The study of intelligence should also help in understanding what is an “intelligence failure” to better inform public debate when such incidents occur. Is an intelligence failure simply a surprise attack that comes about because of a paucity of collection or the improper analysis of a threat, or is any foreign policy failure an intelligence failure? What happens when warnings are ignored or are deemed too vague to act on? When is an intelligence failure also a policy failure? What responsibilities do policymakers have in following intelligence warnings or prognostications when history is replete with examples of both successes and failures from when policymakers followed intelligence recommendations or ignored them and used their own instincts? The study and hopefully understanding of these issues can enhance how policymakers and intelligence consumers utilize intelligence in their jobs. It can also better inform discussions on intelligence shortfalls beyond simplistic accusations about “a failure to connect the dots” or similar remarks that miss both real problems and the ways to correct them.

The study of nontraditional warfare’s two component parts of irregular and political warfare is equally important. The sad fact is that there are many lessons that still need to be learned from past mistakes. Vietnam and Lebanon prefaced our twenty-first-century challenges in irregular warfare. As Afghanistan and Iraq have again demonstrated, the United States may be the world’s predominant military power, but it still does not understand how to fight an enemy who does not wear a uniform and when the conflict has no discernable front lines. Political warfare techniques could also bear additional scrutiny and improvement when one considers the challenges modern technology create in the areas of information warfare and disinformation or the challenges of using economic and financial sanctions against countries whose leaders do not care how much their own people suffer. However, proper understanding and utilization of political warfare means can bring benefits greater than the sum of their parts by achieving goals without having to resort to traditional warfare and its associated costs in blood and treasure. As a 2018 RAND study concluded, political warfare offers a chance to achieve political objectives by extending the range of conflict beyond conventional warfare to achieve effects at lower costs. The study caveats that this result is most likely if the objectives are sufficiently modest and if political warfare is conducted under conducive economic and social conditions within a targeted society to capitalize on existing discontent.

These are just a few reasons why the study of intelligence activities and irregular and political warfare is necessary, and even essential, to improve our national security capabilities and hopefully prevent the repetition of past mistakes. If one looks at national security reverses starting with Pearl Harbor, most of these have had some connection to a failure to properly analyze capabilities and intentions; a failure to provide warning of impending hostilities; a failure to deal with the challenges of irregular warfare; or the misuse of political warfare statecraft, especially covert action. 

This is not to point fingers but to point out that there is much to study and learn from history, especially US history since 9/11. There are many recent events, which with study could provide beneficial lessons to the entire national security community. For example, after almost two decades, have the post-9/11 intelligence reforms produced any discernible advantages or solved any specific problems or have they just added more bureaucracy to the system? Where do we go now with irregular warfare after the fall of Afghanistan? What have we really learned in two decades of irregular warfare operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere? How useful is our public diplomacy at winning hearts and minds or countering disinformation? What should we really expect from economic and financial sanctions imposed on hostile states? Should peacetime offensive cyber operations be a military function or a covert action? Why is it that despite numerous programs and reforms, we never have sufficient foreign language expertise amongst our diplomatic, intelligence, and military personnel? 

These are just a few illustrative examples but enough to show that there are important questions to be examined and that the fields of intelligence activities, irregular warfare, and political warfare need to be studied and understood with the same seriousness we provide to other fields such as diplomacy, nuclear strategy, and conventional warfare.

Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities for policymakers to study these questions other than via on-the-job training. There are very few institutions of higher learning granting advanced degrees in intelligence studies or irregular warfare. For intelligence, part of this is due to the inherent secrecy of intelligence activities, which makes academic research nearly impossible until original documents are declassified. Many universities also do not consider intelligence activities to be worthy of study. It is a rare few who participate in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) scholar-in-residence program. While because of secrecy and compartmentalization, intelligence practitioners may be best placed to conduct such studies, there are few mechanisms for them to do so beyond the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence. The other limiting factor is that since these operations are the “constant fight,” practitioners are constantly engaged in them with no downtime to conduct lessons learned research and then study their conclusions.

Fortunately, for irregular warfare and to a more limited extent political warfare, the opportunities for study and education are greater but not extensive. Recent legislation established an Irregular Warfare Center to serve as a central mechanism for developing Defense Department irregular warfare knowledge, concepts, and doctrine. Part of its charter is to prevent a recurrence of the “boom-or-bust” approach towards studying irregular warfare as happened after previous peaks of interest in the subject during the 1960s and 1980s. Other military resources include the Modern War Institute’s Irregular Warfare Initiative at West Point, and the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups at the Naval War College. The Defense Intelligence Agency’s intelligence college has been repurposed as the National Intelligence University and since 2021 has been under the control of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The military’s various war colleges provide instruction on national security strategy but naturally focus mostly on conventional military operations although each has representatives from the intelligence community and courses on intelligence, irregular warfare, and aspects of political warfare. The Defense Department’s primary expertise for teaching irregular warfare is found at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs, whose mission is to serve as the flagship for education and the building of partner capacity in combating terrorism, irregular warfare, and integrated deterrence at the strategic level. This effort is supplemented by the Joint Special Operations University of the US Special Operations Command.

Regrettably, there are almost no similar resources for most civilians to become educated in irregular and political warfare. Few colleges and universities provide studies in irregular warfare because they also do not conduct war studies as part of a general academic aversion to the study of war. Exceptions exist but academia rarely provides the seedbeds for research and knowledge on these subjects as it did in the past for nuclear deterrence theory and various area studies programs, which had their roots in the National Defense Education Act of 1957. This is unfortunate because the academic and think tank communities could greatly enhance national security via the study of intelligence activities, irregular warfare, and political warfare and the publishing of their results. 


Foreign intelligence informs national security decisions, counterintelligence protects national security secrets, political warfare challenges enemies below the threshold of declared war, and irregular warfare is the form of warfare the United States is most likely to face throughout the world and for which we do not have the best track record. This article considers intelligence activities and nontraditional warfare to be the constant fight whose operations occur daily but (hopefully) rarely see the light of day. Their sheer ubiquitousness can make them seem almost like background noise to the national security leadership especially as it refocuses on major nation-state threats. 

While we concentrate attention and resources on possible, and admittedly dangerous, fights with nuclear-armed states, there is a danger of not keeping a similarly concentrated attention on the constant fight. There is a pattern in American history that as Washington, D.C., focuses on one object, it often loses focus on many others. That is why efforts to study intelligence and nontraditional warfare, understand their capabilities and limitations, and catalog lessons learned from past operations are essential to prevent another reoccurrence of the boom-or-bust phenomenon that leads to neglect and atrophy despite the daily demands put on the elements that conduct these operations.

It goes without saying that intelligence activities and nontraditional warfare are just as effective and useful in protecting against peer competitors as they are against other threats. Intelligence on the capabilities and intentions of peer competitors is essential, as is the intelligence community’s ability to provide warnings of attack and detect attempts at denial and deception to mask possible aggressive intents. Every conventional war has an irregular aspect that can serve as an effective force multiplier. Political warfare can also serve as a force multiplier in a variety of functions, seen and unseen. 

However, since large conventional wars, despite their awesome consequences, are not the norm historically, and there are often long periods between them, the constant fight of intelligence collection, counterintelligence efforts, counterterrorism operations, economic and financial sanctions enforcement, public diplomacy, and many other efforts will always be the majority of national security activities even if they do not receive the lion’s share of the budget or of policymakers attention. For example, while there are several references to intelligence and even one mention of counterintelligence in the 2022 National Security Strategy, there is no mention of information operations, public diplomacy, or irregular warfare. The 2022 National Defense Strategy mentioned irregular warfare only twice in passing, which is interesting since it was only four years ago that the 2018 National Defense Strategy had an entire irregular warfare annex. Hopefully, this omission is not a harbinger that the “bust” part of the boom-or-bust cycle for irregular warfare is about to repeat itself.

It is for these reasons that FPRI has created a Center for Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare within its National Security Program to facilitate the study of these subjects. FPRI recognizes that irregular warfare and political warfare are two distinct entities. However, as stated above, FPRI also recognizes that these two separate tools of statecraft complement each other and that there can be overlap between them in their policy applications.

The decision to use the word “nontraditional” to describe the combination of irregular and political warfare activities stems from the Department of Defense Directive on irregular warfare, which describes “traditional warfare” as 

A form of warfare between the regulated militaries of states, or alliances of states, in which the objective is to defeat an adversary’s armed forces, destroy an adversary’s war-making capacity, or seize or retain territory in order to force a change in an adversary’s government or policies

FPRI’s use of “nontraditional” simply applies the opposite of the traditional warfare construct for conflict with states or nonstate entities short of declared war in which the primary actors are not regulated militaries and the objective may not be the defeat of an armed force, destruction of war-making capacity, or the seizure or retention of territory but is to force a change in the adversary’s government, or policies or in the case of nonstate actors, such as terrorist groups, to defeat them and their ideology. Therefore, the center’s description of nontraditional warfare will be “the combination of irregular and political warfare to achieve political goals short of declared war or to serve as force multipliers in the event of a declared war.”

FPRI has eschewed calling this combination of irregular and political warfare activities “hybrid warfare” because that term has become a conglomeration of numerous and often conflicting definitions and interpretations. Nontraditional warfare for FPRI is our way of describing two different types of statecraft tools, each of which has numerous facets, to encourage the study of both in tandem and not separately. It is not meant to describe a military strategy or type of threat but a way of looking at policy options for the best ways to respond to national security problems that cannot be solved via direct military conflict. As two sides of the same coin, irregular and political warfare provide most of the statecraft tools to address issues that cannot be managed solely with diplomacy or by resorting to conventional military action or war. 

The center’s scholarly research on intelligence and irregular warfare and political warfare combined as nontraditional warfare, aims to facilitate understanding by the general public, as well as government and academic specialists, on how these specialties provide for the nation’s security, caveats in their application, and lessons learned from past actions to inform future policy decisions. It will do this via two methods:

  • Educate to help others navigate: The Center will conduct scholarly research of the past to help educate the general public on intelligence and nontraditional warfare, and why they are important to US national security. It will also assist practitioners with lessons learned from history to guide them in their current duties.
  • Trailblaze new paths: The Center will investigate current challenges in the fields of intelligence and nontraditional warfare and recommend possible solutions to these challenges, with an emphasis towards the unorthodox or the revolutionary. It will also explore the horizon for both oncoming challenges and threats to America’s ability to conduct these operations.

The Foreign Policy Research Institute’s motto is, “A nation must think before it acts.” Hopefully, the inauguration of this center will help fulfill that motto. Please stay tuned.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities. 

Image: Department of Defense