Episode 1: Words Matter: Irregular Warfare Definitions and Constructs

Episode 1: Words Matter: Irregular Warfare Definitions and Constructs


Robert S. Burrell, Ph.D., Richard Tilley, David H. Ucko, Ph.D.



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Guests Robert S. Burrell, Richard Tilley, and David H. Ucko join host Col. Dave Brown to discuss the definition of Irregular Warfare (IW), its changing construct in DoD, and its overall utility. The group touches on the broader dimensions of the “competition” space indirectly affecting both IW and the larger international security environment.

Article: A Full Spectrum of Conflict Design: How Doctrine Should Embrace Irregular Warfare, Robert S. Burrell, March 14, 2023

Article: JP 1 Volume 1, Joint Warfighting, 27 August 2023

Article: Redefining Irregular Warfare: Legitimacy, Coercion, And Power, David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks, Oct 18, 2022



Robert S. Burrell, PhD
is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Joint Special Operations University with several years of adult learning and teaching experience at the graduate and undergraduate level. My area of expertise and scholarship includes international diplomacy and human intelligence, as well as military history, theory, and doctrine. Previously, I taught history at U.S. Naval Academy. I am also the former editor-in-chief of special operations doctrine. A retired Marine with combat experience, I am an Asia-Pacific expert with 12 years living and working in Japan, Korea, Philippines, and Thailand, as well as a diplomatic tour at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.

Richard Tilley serves at the J7 office of IW & Competition. Formerly the principal advisor to Chairman Joint Chiefs and Joint Staff concerning ability to wage IW sustain campaigns of strategic competition against our adversaries. Directed CJCS’ Joint Irregular Warfare Assessment. Led efforts to institutionalize and integrate IW and strategic competition capabilities and activities across the Joint Force and in coordination with interagency, multinational, and other domestic and foreign interorganizational partners. Prior to joining the Joint Staff in 2021, Richard served as a strategist in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security analyzing adversarial competitive strategies and orienting the Department’s sensitive activities and special operations. Previously served as the national security advisor to a senior member of the HASC, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

David H. Ucko, PhD is a Professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) of the National Defense University, Washington DC, where he teaches irregular warfare and strategy to international military and civilian practitioners. From 2019-2023, he was the chair of CISA's Department of War & Conflict Studies (WACS) and, from 2018-2022, the Director of the Regional Defense Fellowship Program, whereby he led the College's international deployment of mobile education teams. Dr. Ucko is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and a senior visiting fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.

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U.S. Naval War College, Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups, CIWAG, Irregular Warfare, IW, definition, security, Robert Burrell, Richard Tilley, David Ucko, Trident, Armed Groups, Joint Publication 1, Special Operations Forces, SOF

Episode 1: Words Matter: Irregular Warfare Definitions and Constructs