Where does irregular warfare fit within the framework of national security policy? Does the recently released Irregular Warfare (IW) Annex attenuate focus, or relegate IW to a policy afterthought? How can IW concepts become enduring elements of a comprehensive effort toward competition and conflict with US adversaries?

Episode 16 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast is an examination of the IW Annex to the National Defense Strategy of 2018 and includes substantive insight from the US Department of Defense office responsible for the product’s development and recent release. Retired Col. David Maxwell and Mr. Deak Roh explain the impetus for producing the annex and its relevance in an era defined by great power competition. They then discuss the practical considerations of implementation and institutionalization of the annex’s concepts, from aspects of campaign planning to professional military education, and emphasize the critical roles of both special operations and conventional forces. Importantly, our guests evaluate the manner in which these concepts can become enduring elements of the US national security strategy and a crucial component of political warfare in the future.

David Maxwell is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a thirty-year veteran of the US Army, retiring as a Special Forces colonel. He served over twenty years in Asia, primarily in Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. Following retirement, he served as the associate director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Col. Maxwell has taught unconventional warfare and special operations for policymakers and strategists at graduate schools across the Washington, DC area.

Deak Roh is the acting principal director in the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism (SOCT). Prior to this role he was the director for irregular warfare policy in SOCT, where he led the Office of the Secretary of Defense team to revamp irregular warfare policy to focus on great power competition, including leading the development of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy. He has twenty years of experience in defense and security policy.

The Irregular Warfare Podcast is a collaboration between the Modern War Institute and Princeton University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. You can listen to the full episode below, and you can find it and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. And be sure to follow the podcast on Twitter!