Trump Admin Authorizes 'Irregular Warfare' Operations Across Globe

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August 23, 2018

The Trump administration is undertaking efforts to grow and advance the U.S.'s "low-visibility, irregular warfare" operations across the globe, according to a new directive issued by the Pentagon.

A new Defense Department directive issued after approval from Congress authorizes and directs the Defense Department to amp up military support to foreign forces and "irregular forces [and] groups" in conflict zones across the world, according to authorizations granted in the annual 2018 defense budget.

Efforts will focus on growing U.S. military assistance to "to provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing irregular warfare operations by U.S. Special Operations Forces," according to the Congressional authorization.

The Defense Department has been allocated $10 million a year during the next three years to fund these irregular warfare operations.

"Authority may be used to provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals (collectively referred to hereafter as 'enabled forces') engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing and authorized IW [irregular warfare] operations by U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF)," according to the directive.

The Defense Department now has the ability to expand operations to a host a different countries, transfer "significant military equipment" to foreign forces even if such action was not previously approved, among other new authorities.

Congress had been concerned about the lack of authorities surrounding irregular warfare operations for some time, leading to the new directive.

"Adversarial nations are becoming more aggressive in challenging U.S. interests and partnerships and destabilizing regional order through the use of asymmetric means that often fall below the threshold of traditional armed conflict, often referred to as the 'grey zone'," the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in a report on the need for these operations.

"The committee notes that the ability of U.S. SOF [special operations forces] to conduct low-visibility, irregular warfare operations in politically sensitive environments make them uniquely suited to counter the malign activities of our adversaries in this domain," the report adds.

Congress has been communicating concerns that the Defense Department lacks resources and authorization for such operations.

The Pentagon directive was highlighted in recent report by the Federation of American Scientists.