Irregular Tech for Irregular Warfare: AWD Motorcycles

War on the Rocks has published a superb article on Irregular Warfare under an image of a Christini 300 AWD motorcycle.

Christini 300 in the field. Source: WOR

I suppose you could call a motorcycle 2WD, yet that doesn’t do the concept justice. The wheels aren’t just both being powered at the same time to turn simultaneously. AWD means ensuring every wheel can be engaged with power as authorized.

The image serves as a great analogy, solving the “missing half” of power, which becomes the whole theme of the article:

…United States does not have the luxury of ignoring how China and Russia are advancing their interests in the gray zone short of armed conflict. Irregular warfare accounts for the missing half of strategic competition — information warfare, ambiguous or denied proxy operations, and subversion.

The list of five recommendations are excellent:

  1. Beyond “Center of Gravity” to “Strategic Levers”
  2. Elevate “Simultaneity” to “Concurrent Effects”
  3. Adding “Narrative,” or Shaping Information to Attain Influence
  4. Enabling with “Empowerment,” or the Right Tools to Wield Influence
  5. An Irregular Upgrade for 21st-Century Strategic Competition

For example, just to keep the Christini AWD motorcycle analogy going as long as possible, “simultaneity” means having 2WD instead of AWD. All the wheels turning at the same time in 2WD (or 4WD for that matter) is easier to engineer yet gives much worse actual traction versus all wheels with traction being authorized the power needed to turn. How’s that for narrative?

My only complaint is while they emphasize the way forward as an evolution instead of revolution, they start from Operational Design in 2010 instead of OSS lessons from WWII (“birth of modern American information warfare”). Earlier references might help point to an American capability for irregular power that is faster than and better executed than both allies and enemies.

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