By Buddy Blouin
Warfare has many different nuances and features. It continues to evolve, and focusing on one set of tactics during a certain war doesn’t always translate to other conflicts. Much of the fighting conducted by the American Armed Forces for over 20 years has involved asymmetric warfare. The use of this type of combat is due in part to the fact that America has a tremendous amount of resources, and many of our conflicts involve groups that don’t fall under a traditional government. Though training for these types of events is important, there have been multiple incidents that left the general public concerned, as exercises were a bit too close and personal stateside.

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What Is Asymmetric Warfare?

Asymmetric warfare is the use of unconventional warfare tactics during a war between two sides with different military powers or tactics. In many cases, this means a fight between an established army or force and rebels creating an insurgency against the law of the land. The established military side will typically have more resources, while militias will have a more informal approach with fewer resources. Violence is often conducted through various means. Asymmetric warfare & terrorism often go hand in hand, but there’s more to it than that. Additional asymmetric warfare examples include acts of rebellion, insurgencies, guerrilla warfare, and more.

Asymmetric Warfare Group

The Army Asymmetric Warfare Group was created during the War on Terrorism in 2006 to help fight against asymmetric warfare. The group was garrisoned at Fort Meade, Maryland. Serving in both the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, the group’s motto “Think. Adapt. Anticipate.” helped stifle both current and incoming threats. Consisting of less than 350 members, the group was deactivated in March 2021.

Training Can Be Problematic

Good idea: training our troops to be ready for anything and everything. Bad idea: conducting training among or near the general public, underestimating how intense it would be, or failing to get the word out in time. It’s always important to stay prepared, but it’s clear that simulated war exercises complete with fake, yet loud, rounds of ammunition and explosions going off can cause concern. Especially in residential and urban areas. The U.S. unfortunately has had such incidents occur when training troops for asymmetrical warfare, and tweaks to communication could help everyone. Such incidents prompted concern in San Antonio, Texas, in 2022. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command from MacDill Air Force Base was conducting drills involving asymmetric warfare near downtown SA when residents responded with concern. After all, even for a military-focused city such as San Antonio, such scenes are a bit unusual. Despite being given months of advanced notice, the local police forces did not warn the public of the drills until the day before, and obviously, the word didn’t get out enough. This would cause some concerns as explosions and helicopters near the Alamodome had many residents on alert. This wasn't the first time, however, civilians have been alarmed about such training. Back in 2015, thanks in part to misinformation from Russians and social media, residents across the country believed martial law was being imposed due to the Jade Helm 15 United States military training exercise. In 2019, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School’s Robin Sage training exercise had its students placed throughout North Carolina honing their unconventional warfare tactics. This would lead to an incident near an abandoned motel in Raleigh, NC, where things got far louder than anyone anticipated during the drill. That same year, additional, separate incidents in both the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, region as well as downtown Los Angeles, CA, would lead residents to question the actions of military personnel. It’s almost certain that no matter how great of notice you give the American public, there's always going to be a person or group of people that are out of the loop. Still, a genuine improvement of the American Armed Forces in how it communicates its intentions to the general public may not be the worst idea in the world.

Asymmetric Cyber Warfare

Asymmetric cyber attacks are a type of cyber warfare targeting the most vulnerable security flaw of a target and delivering massive damage using few resources. This is a common attack with smaller groups attacking larger institutions that lack numbers but can still deliver a punch. As technology continues to grow, so too do the access points that hackers have to our vital information. This is true of any organization connected online, including the military. Today, we're seeing a consorted effort by various branches, including the USAF and U.S. Space Force, to help defend against such attacks that come from both foreign and domestic threats. Asymmetric warfare, like other forms of conflict, continues to evolve. Online battles could play a bigger role if our next military conflict is in Europe or Asia, but no matter what, the American Armed Forces continue to train and prepare for various threats with its many exercises, and we're all thankful… just give us a heads up, guys.

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