According to Vice Adm. Robert Harward, US Joint Forces Command deputy commander, the command’s recently released Joint Operating Environment (call it JOE) 2008, which focuses on threats facing the US military over the next 25 years, drew much of its inspiration for addressing irregular warfare from two recent experiences—the US challenge in cleaning insurgents out of Iraq’s Sadr City and the Second Lebanon War of 2006. Harward told defense reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that “small decentralized units were able to move quickly and mobilize,” enabling them to take advantage of capabilities not usually associated with non-state groups (such as the use of rocket attacks and employment of sophisticated communications gear) and to create great leverage from it. “I think we’re seeing these small militia-like entities use technologies that were previously only available to state actors”—something that changes the battlefield significantly, he said. As a result, JFCOM is melding training and development activities of its urban operations office and IW center to try to develop war games with more applicable IW challenges to better prepare US and allied forces. Harward added that part of the US coalition’s success in Sadr City centered on adapting tactics, such as integrating intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets with smaller combat units, to enable them to better challenge a mobile, well-organized enemy.
May 5, 2021