The Air Force just published its new doctrine statement for the war on terrorism, formally identifying how it wages “irregular warfare” and traditional war fighting.
The doctrine is part of the service’s effort to find its niche in what has been largely a ground forces conflict against al Qaeda terrorists and extremists worldwide and insurgents in Iraq.
In an appendix on understanding insurgencies, the report notes that they share common characteristics, including the use of religion.
“Insurgent groups often employ religion as a basis to portray their movement favorably and mobilize followers in pursuit of their political goals,” the report said, noting the Marxist-led Provisional Irish Republican Army “frequently used Roman Catholic iconography in its publications and proclamations, although many of its members were not devout Catholics.”
Regarding al Qaeda, religious ideology is the source of the group’s political goals as it seeks to “re-establish a worldwide Muslim Caliphate.”
“For many Muslims, this invokes the golden age of Islamic civilization and helps mobilize support for al Qaeda among some of the most traditional Muslims while concealing the fact that al Qaeda’s leaders envision the ‘restored Caliphate’ as a totalitarian state similar to the pre-2002 Taliban regime in Afghanistan,” the report stated.
Highlighting the difficulty for governments engaged in irregular warfare, the report states that countering insurgents involves both a political struggle and violent conflict.
“Insurgents win when they prevail in only one of these two struggles; the government on the other hand must win both struggles or they lose,” the report stated.