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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Asymmetric Warfare—Definition | Alternative Operational Concepts | Anti-Access Strategy | Power Projection—A Military Strategy | Anti-access: A Strategy Threat | Anti-Access: Weapons Threat | Anti-access: Political Threats | Countering Anti-Access Strategies | Global Strike CONOPS | Summary ]

Title: Asymmetric Warfare—Definition

Action: A picture of a bust of Sun Tzu is shown on the left side of the screen. The following quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is shown next to the picture:

If he (the enemy) is superior in strength, evade him. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared; appear where you are not expected.

Voice: The concept of asymmetric warfare has been around for centuries. The great military strategist Sun Tzu wrote about avoiding an enemy’s strength and attacking where he is unprepared.

Action: The picture and quote are removed from the screen. The following quote by Lt Col Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., USMC National Defense University, is shown on screen:

Asymmetric Warfare:

Leveraging inferior tactical or operational strength against American vulnerabilities to achieve disproportionate effect with the aim of undermining American will in order to achieve the asymmetric actor’s strategic objectives.

Voice: While Sun Tzu’s statement captures part of the asymmetric warfare concept, Lt Col McKenzie’s definition is more complete. It addresses the core concept of applying one’s strength against an adversary’s weakness but also addresses several key elements of successful asymmetric attacks.

Action: The relevant points in the quote are highlighted as they are mentioned in the narration:

Voice: These elements include achieving disproportionate effects; identifying the enemy’s national will as the target; and the attainment of strategic objectives as the goal. The term asymmetric warfare officially entered the Department of Defense vocabulary when it appeared in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review.

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