Support: July 15, 2004

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The U.S. Army has established the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) in order to come up with battlefield tricks an enemy might develop, but do it before an enemy does, and develop ways to deal with these potential new enemy tactics. This is a continuation of the various taskforces and CSI: Iraq type operations that have developed over the last two years. The AWG is actually absorbing the existing IED (Improvised Explosive Devices, otherwise known as roadside bombs) Task Force (ITF), which was formed last year just to come up with better ways to deal with the attacks that were causing about a third of casualties in Iraq. The ITF was, in turn, a more formal effort to do what many of the combat divisions and other commands in Iraqi were doing independently. Some of these organizations were already distributing regular updates on new types of bombs and ambush tactics, as well as setting up special training programs to prepare new troops. 

The AWG currently has about 200 people assigned to it (civilian experts as well as military folks), and expects to add up to another hundred people in the next year or two. The main purpose of AWG is to speed up the collection of what the enemy is doing, figure out exactly what techniques, and weapons the enemy is using, come up with ideas to best deal with the enemy actions (or get solutions our troops have already come up with), and get the information out to American troops (army and marine, and navy and air force if needed) as quickly as possible. It was noted that the ITF had administrative and bureaucracy problems in doing all this just with IEDs. AWG is supposed to avoid these problems. That wont be easy. 

Since World War II (and probably before), the military did what AWG proposes to do. During World War II, Korea, Vietnam and parts of the Cold War, operations like AWG existed. During wartime, they tend to work pretty well, if only because theres a life or death incentive. Peacetime versions of the AWG have been less successful, and often fade away from misuse, or lack of use. Without the life or death wartime atmosphere, its apparently hard to keep an AWG operations going. 

Many of those involved with AWG are aware of the track record of these efforts, and are going to try and beat the odds. For the duration of the war on terror (which might be to the end of the decade, and longer), keeping AWG viable and useful wont be too hard. After that, well, its tough to seriously consider what enemy troops might do to you when theres not a war going on.


 


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