Expeditionary and Irregular Warfare Focus Area

This focus area seeks to enable naval forces to identify, anticipate, preempt and defeat adaptive irregular threats operating within the complex physical, cyber and socio-cultural domains. Irregular warfare includes the struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over relevant populations. Irregular warfare favors indirect and asymmetric approaches that involve acting, organizing and thinking differently than one’s opponent in order to circumvent or undermine his strengths while exploiting his weaknesses. 

Strategic Drivers: Emerging geopolitical and socioeconomic conditions have resulted in the rise of non-traditional threats, failed states and a decrease in assured host ation support. Naval forces will face potential adversaries armed with advanced and increasingly lethal warfighting capabilities. They will confront complex hybrid and irregular challenges across diverse, austere and distributed battlespaces.

Vision: Naval warfighters of the future will possess the full spectrum of expeditionary kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities required to defeat traditional threats decisively and confront irregular challenges effectively.

Description: The Expeditionary and Irregular Warfare (EIW) focus area investment will deliver enhanced capabilities across all warfighting functions in order to enable littoral access and crisis response across the range of military operations. These investments will facilitate sea-based, decentralized operations by high-performing, highly lethal, network-enabled small units capable of aggregating and disaggregating to meet the operational requirements of the most austere and complex environments. Specific areas for increased capability development include mobility, communication, sustainment and training. Additionally, EIW investments will enable our forces to be as effective in irregular warfare (IW) as they are in traditional warfare. This will be accomplished by developing technologies that increase the warfighter’s ability to maneuver within the human and informational dimensions of the modern battlespace. Specifically, EIW technologies will improve the warfighter’s ability to interact with target populations, identify threat activities, solve complex problems and adapt to ambiguous situations—at a tempo that outpaces that of our adversaries.


Irregular Warfare Battlespace Awareness

  • Adaptive planning and direction of collection assets
  • Sensors and sensor systems for observation and collection
  • Data fusion and analysis for actionable intelligence generation
  • Shared situational awareness and understanding

Influence Operations Enablers

  • Social, cultural, behavioral domain understanding, modeling and analysis
  • Adaptive thinking, planning and wargaming
  • Operational culture learning and language

Expeditionary and Distributed Operations

  • Sea-based and tailored tactical logistics
  • Mobility and combat load reduction
  • Lethality and survivability
  • Tactical warfighter preparation (cognitive, physical performance and fatigue mitigation)
  • Tactical command and control down to the small unit level

Irregular Threat Countermeasures

  • Counter asymmetric weapons and counter improvised explosive devices
  • Biometric identification and surveillance
  • Tactical site exploitation and forensics
  • Human and irregular platform tagging, tracking and locating

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