The Importance of Airpower in Supporting Irregular Warfare in Afghanistan

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By Col Bernie Willi, USAF.

Recently, the Department of Defense increased its emphasis on irregular warfare (IW), a concept difficult to define although most military professionals know it when they see it. Identifying IW as one of the department’s core mission areas, the Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report of 2009 then defines it as "operations in which the joint force conducts protracted regional and global campaigns against state and non-state adversaries to subvert, coerce, attrite, and exhaust adversaries rather than defeat them through direct conventional military confrontation. Irregular warfare emphasizes winning the support of the relevant populations, promoting friendly political authority, and eroding adversary control, influence, and support."