Special Forces Unconventional Warfare
Training Circular No. 18-01, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 30 November 2010
Training Circular (TC) 18-01, Special Forces Unconventional Warfare, defines the current United States (U.S.) Army Special Forces (SF) concept of planning and conducting unconventional warfare (UW) operations. For the foreseeable future, U.S. forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.
TC 18-01 is authoritative but not directive. It serves as a guide and does not preclude SF units from developing their own standing operating procedures (SOPs) to meet their needs. It explains planning and the roles of SF, Military Information Support operations (MISO), and Civil Affairs (CA) in UW operations. There are appropriate manuals within the series that addresses the other primary SF missions in detail.
The primary users of this manual are commanders, staff officers, and operational personnel at the team (Special Forces operational detachment A [SFODA]), company (Special Forces operational detachment B [SFODB]), and battalion (Special Forces operational detachment C [SFODC]) levels. This TC is specifically for SF Soldiers; however, it is also intended for use Army wide to improve the integration of SF into the plans and operations of other special operations forces (SOF) and conventional forces.
Commanders and trainers should use this and other related manuals in conjunction with command guidance and the Combined Arms Training Strategy to plan and conduct successful UW operations. This publication applies to the Active Army, the Army National Guard (ARNG)/Army National Guard of the United States (ARNGUS), and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) unless otherwise stated.
The proponent of this TC is the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS). Submit comments and recommended changes on Department of the Army (DA) Form 2028 (Recommended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms) directly to Commander, USAJFKSWCS, ATTN: AOJK-DTD-SF, 2175 Reilly Road, Stop A, Fort Bragg, NC 28310-5000. This TC is designed to be UNCLASSIFIED in order to ensure the widest distribution possible to the appropriate Army special operations forces (ARSOF) and other interested Department of Defense (DOD) and United States Government (USG) agencies while protecting technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means. Unless this publication states otherwise, masculine nouns and pronouns do not refer exclusively to men.
Chapter 1: Overview
There is another type of warfare—new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest. President John F. Kennedy, 1962
The Commander, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), defines UW as activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.
INTRODUCTION TO UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE
1-1. The intent of U.S. UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives. Historically, the military concept for the employment of UW was primarily in support of resistance movements during general-war scenarios. While this concept remains valid, the operational environment since the end of World War II has increasingly required U.S. forces to conduct UW in scenarios short of general war (limited war).
1-2. Enabling a resistance movement or insurgency entails the development of an underground and guerrilla forces, as well as supporting auxiliaries for each of these elements. Resistance movements or insurgencies always have an underground element. The armed component of these groups is the guerrilla force and is only present if the resistance transitions to conflict. The combined effects of two interrelated lines of effort largely generate the end result of a UW campaign. The efforts are armed conflict and subversion. Forces conduct armed conflict, normally in the form of guerrilla warfare, against the security apparatus of the host nation (HN) or occupying military. Conflict also includes operations that attack and degrade enemy morale, organizational cohesion, and operational effectiveness and separate the enemy from the population. Over time, these attacks degrade the ability of the HN or occupying military to project military power and exert control over the population. Subversion undermines the power of the government or occupying element by portraying it as incapable of effective governance to the population.
1-3. Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 3000.07, Irregular Warfare, recognizes that IW is as strategically important as traditional warfare. UW is inherently a USG interagency effort, with a scope that frequently exceeds the capabilities of the DOD alone. There are numerous, uniquely defined terms associated with UW (Figure 1-1, page 1-2).
These terms developed over the years from various military and government agencies, as well as the academic world. Many of the terms used to define UW appear to closely resemble one another and most are found in Joint Publication (JP) 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, or JP 3-05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations.
1-4. The following chapters contain vital information for U.S. Forces. In addition, there are four appendixes. Appendix A provides an example of an area study, Appendix B gives an example of an SF area assessment, Appendix C contains a sample program of instruction for resistance forces, and Appendix D details SF caching.
- Figure 1-1. Unconventional warfare terminology
THE ROLE OF UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE IN UNITED STATES NATIONAL STRATEGY
1-5. Three documents capture the U.S. national strategy: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the National Military Strategy. The National Security Strategy states the President’s interest and goals. The National Defense Strategy is the DOD contribution to the National Security Strategy. The National Defense Strategy also provides a framework for other DOD strategic guidance, specifically for campaign and contingency planning, force development, and intelligence. The goals and objectives of the President’s National Security Strategy guide the National Military Strategy. In addition, the National Military Strategy implements the Secretary of Defense’s National Defense Strategy. The National Military Strategy provides focus for military activities by defining a set of interrelated military objectives.
1-6. USG support to a resistance or insurgency can manifest in any of the following manners:
Indirect support. In limited-war scenarios, overt U.S. support for a resistance movement is sometimes undesirable. In these cases, the USG may indirectly render support though a coalition partner or a third-country location. The USG normally limits indirect support to logistical aid and training. Limited war presents a much more restrictive environment that requires low-profile execution of all USG support operations.
Direct support (less combat). In general-war scenarios, the visibility of USG support is less controversial, which expands the nature of possible USG support to include a wider scope of logistical support, training, and advisory assistance. U.S. assistance can include advisors in sanctuaries or insurgent-controlled areas not in direct combat. The United States can also render assistance from a neighboring country.
Combat support. Combat support includes all of the activities of indirect and direct support in addition to combat operations.
1-7. Before providing support to a resistance movement or insurgency, planners must consider how the ideology and objectives of the resistance movement affect strategic interests in the region. Planners must ensure leadership clearly defines U.S. national strategy and goals before planners make any determination regarding the appropriateness of support to a resistance movement or insurgency. Without a clear understanding of the desired effects and end state for a region or conflict, it is impossible to assess whether support to a resistance or insurgency would achieve favorable results.
1-8. Successful planners weigh the benefits of providing support to resistance forces against the overall strategic context of a campaign. They must not allow a desire to conduct UW or to produce a purely military effect dominate their judgment. Support to resistance forces does not simply contribute to a military effort; it undoubtedly alters the geopolitical landscape of a given region. Planners may deem a specific insurgent effort feasible and appropriate to the military effort, but consider it strategically unfavorable because of the political risk of the effort or the potential for increased regional instability.