Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2010

Preparing for One War and Getting Another?

Antulio J. Echevarria

September 2010

The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College


This monograph examines the fundamental argument that America's adversaries are shifting more toward irregular methods due to the demonstrated prowess of the U.S. military at conventional warfare. This argument is based on what one might call a paradoxical logic, not unlike that described by Edward Luttwak in his classic work, Strategy. Among other things, the monograph concludes that few genuine paradoxes exist in war; most principles that appear paradoxical are completely linear. Moreover, those adversarial states and nonstate actors employing irregular methods today were doing so long before the U.S. military demonstrated its superiority at conventional warfare, and will likely continue to do so.