Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher P. Maier Addresses Crucial Role of Irregular Warfare at the Semi-Annual Irregular Warfare Forum

December 16, 2023

Dec. 5, 2023

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Christopher P. Maier, delivered a keynote address at the semi-annual Irregular Warfare (IW) Forum.

The event, co-hosted by the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and the National Defense University College of International Security Affairs, convened leaders from diverse sectors to discuss critical IW policy, doctrine, training, and education in the context of strategic competition.

In his remarks, Secretary Maier emphasized the pivotal role of IW in achieving national security objectives. He underscored how IW enables a whole-of-government approach during competition, supporting both campaigning and deterrence—core principles outlined in the National Defense Strategy.

Drawing from two decades of experience collaborating with interagency colleagues on counterterrorism and stabilization operations, Secretary Maier highlighted the importance of layering effects to maximize impact.

The forum provided a platform for leaders across the military, government, business, and academia to engage in robust discussions. Secretary Maier’s insights aligned with the broader efforts led by the Joint Staff’s Director for Joint Force Development, Lt. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, to realign IW policy with the 2022 National Defense Strategy.

As part of a suite of DoD implementation guidance documents, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III published the Irregular Warfare Implementation Guidance, , now the cornerstone of this effort to integrate IW across the DoD’s plans and capabilities. The guidance signifies a substantial reorientation of the department’s direction and intent regarding IW.

This effort aligns with the department’s focus on customizing deterrence and optimizing coordination both within and outside the department, as outlined in the National Defense Strategy. For Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, this involves ensuring that both conventional and special operations forces participate in IW planning and campaigning to achieve the strategic objectives set forth in the National Defense Strategy.

Read the Secretary of Defense’s memo on the Irregular Warfare Implementation Guidance here.