War should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy. Wars must vary with the nature of their motives and the situations which give rise to them.
The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.
Carl Von Clausewitz
The game of strategy can, like music, be played in two keys. The major key is direct strategy, in which force is the essential factor. The minor key is indirect strategy, in which force recedes into the background and its place is taken by psychology and planning.
General Andre Beaufre
An Introduction to Strategy
The functions of the Military Departments are as follows:
To prepare forces and establish reserves of manpower, equipment, and supplies for the effective prosecution of war and military operations short of war . . .
Joint Chiefs of Staff Publication 0-2
This manual addresses military operations in low intensity conflict (LIC). These are military operations which support political, economic and informational actions.
The term low intensity conflict reflects an American perspective. Indeed, the term is a misnomer. To peoples more directly affected, the threat is immediate and vital. To us, it is subtle, indirect, and long-term; but potentially it is just as serious. The actions which take place in low intensity conflict are distinguishable from those in conventional war, more by differences in kind, than by degree of intensity.
Regardless of perspective, the instruments for the resolution of a conflict must be appropriate to its nature. The arsenal of national power includes political, economic, informational, and military instruments. The nature of the conflict environment determines the way leaders employ them.
The desired end-state is routine, peaceful competition among nations. In this environment, the states of the world pursue their own interests, sometimes in harmony, but with enough commonality of interests to avoid violence. The military instrument of national power, although primarily focused on deterring war, is employed in support of political, economic, and informational efforts to achieve US goals and help preserve this peacefully competitive environment.
In war, military force contributes directly to the achievement of strategic aims; the direct use of military power establishes the conditions which make achievement of the desired political end-state possible. The political, economic, and informational instruments of national power support the military effort to establish those conditions.
Between peace and war is the ambiguous environment which has come to be called low intensity conflict. In LIC, the contribution of military force to the achievement of the strategic aim is indirect; that is, military operations support nonmilitary actions which establish the conditions under which the strategic aim can be realized. Frequently, these operations and actions assist friendly governments or resistance groups.
Military operations in LIC may include tactically direct actions such as direct assistance, strikes, raids, and shows of force or demonstrations. However, political, economic, or psychological objectives shape the way in which even these tactically direct operations are executed. At the operational and strategic levels military operations in LIC are best understood as indirect operations conducted for political, economic and psychological effects. While the concepts of direct and indirect operations are different, they are complementary, not mutually exclusive. It is possible, and sometimes necessary, to secure policy objectives by indirect operations, direct operations, or both.
When the United States uses military power directly against a hostile force in strikes or raids, the principles of combat operations govern tactical actions even though they occur in an environment short of declared war and are significantly influenced by constraints of policy and strategy.
Any conflict situation can involve elements of all three environments-routine peaceful competition, LIC, and war. Low intensity conflict does not invariably escalate into war. Indeed, military operations in LIC are designed to prevent that occurrence. Neither does war inevitably resolve all aspects of a conflict between nations. War can evolve into some form of LIC. Contemporary trends suggest that this type of transition is likely in the future.
Army Field Manual (FM) 100-5 and the Air Force's One and Two-Series manuals generally provide comprehensive and time-tested capstone doctrine for the direct engagement and defeat of an enemy in war. Their tenets characterize successful conventional military operations and apply, at the appropriate level, in LIC. However, in low intensity conflict, other imperatives--political dominance, legitimacy, unity of effort, adaptability, and perseverance--shape, guide, and add dimensions to these tenets. Most military initiatives require a blend of the tenets of conventional war and the imperatives of LIC. The relative influence of these principles changes with the evolving conflict. Commanders must be sensitive to this shift in emphasis, constantly focus on their objectives, and maintain a clear vision of the kind of war they are fighting.
This manual fills a void which has existed in the Army and the Air Force for some time. It complements warfighting doctrine by providing operational guidance for military operations in LIC from which implementing doctrine can be developed. In the Army, the implementing doctrine will appear in specific operations manuals and will be integrated into branch and functional manuals. In the Air Force, it will appear in appropriate tactics, training, and operations manuals. There are also cases which require specific "stand-alone" implementing doctrine. Combatting terrorism and peacekeeping are two examples. This manual provides a common conceptual framework for successful military operations in LIC and a common doctrinal base to aid service interaction. It will enable the Army and the Air Force to provide effective support to the unified and component commands.