The first day of this symposium will feature UNCLASSIFIED sessions. The second day features CLASSIFIED sessions, and a SECRET CLEARANCE is required to attend. There will be themed keynote addresses each day, as well as talks by other featured speakers. Roundtables will address particular challenge areas and seek to integrate diverse perspectives to further develop an understanding of unrestricted warfare threats and strategies, explore approaches to analysis and assessment, and examine technological counters to threats in both the information and physical domains.

A highlight of the symposium will be the closing panel of senior government officials who will offer their perspectives on this critical challenge and answer questions from participants. The symposium also features interactive audience participation using electronic groupware accessible by all participants. The collection of papers and transcripts of discussions will again be published in the Proceedings, and provided to all attendees as soon as practicable after the event. In this way, we seek to build a body of cross-disciplinary knowledge that is useful as an intellectual foundation for combating the unrestricted warfare threat.

Featured Speakers


Senior-Level Panel

The symposiumís culminating event is a panel of senior-level government and military officials who will offer their perspectives on integrating strategy, analysis, and technology to counter the unrestricted warfare threat. The panel will include representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice, including OSD and the Joint Staff, USSOCOM, the National Counter Terrorism Center, and the FBI. After presenting their views, the panelists will take questions from the audience.

What Is Unrestricted Warfare?

The United States is presently encountering a national security threat different than the conventional warfare for which we have become preeminent in the world. This new threat is becoming known as "Unrestricted warfare" and spans two of the four "security environments" identified by DoD for use in strategic planning: Irregular and Catastrophic, as contrasted with Traditional and Disruptive challenges. Both state and non-state actors, seeking to gain advantage over stronger state opponents, will employ a multitude of means, both military and non-military, to strike out during times of conflict.

What is new and different is that the few can impact the many, with a global reach enabled by advanced information technology. The effect is that tactical level engagements can now have immediate implications regarding strategic security postures.

The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules; nothing is forbidden. Unrestricted warfare employs surprise and deception and uses both civilian technology and military weapons to break the opponent's will. The recent book by Qiao and Wang offers an overview of unrestricted warfare, utilizing "unrestricted employment of measures, but restricted to the accomplishment of limited objectives." Among the many means cited in their description of unrestricted warfare are integrated attacks exploiting diverse areas of vulnerability to produce a grand strategy:

  • Cultural warfare by influencing or controlling cultural viewpoints within the adversary nation
  • Drug warfare by targeting an adversary nation with illegal drugs
  • Economic aid warfare by using aid dependency to control a targeted adversary
  • Environmental warfare by despoiling the natural environment of the adversary nation
  • Financial warfare by subverting the adversary's banking system and stock market
  • International law warfare by subverting the policies of international or multinational organizations
  • Media warfare by manipulating foreign news media
  • Network warfare by dominating or subverting transnational information systems
  • Psychological warfare by dominating the adversary nation's perception of its capabilities
  • Resource warfare by controlling access to scarce natural resources or manipulating their market value
  • Smuggling warfare by flooding an adversary's markets with illegal goods
  • Technological warfare by gaining advantage or control of key civilian and military technologies
  • Terrorism
Reference: Unrestricted Warfare, Col. Qiao Liang and Col. Wang Xiangsui, Panama City, Panama, 2002.

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The National Critical Challenge

The United States must adapt its national security focus to fighting and defending itself against the radical Islamic insurgency and future adversaries who choose catastrophic terrorist attacks as their weapon of choice. This involves development of strategy, concepts and capabilities appropriate to protracted conflicts of an unrestricted nature.

Unrestricted warfare will manifest itself across the full spectrum of political, social, economic, and military networks, blurring the distinction between war and peace and between combatants and bystanders. This type of war is not new, as noted by John F. Kennedy in 1962: what is new and different today is the global reach of adversaries, enabled by advanced information technology.
“This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origins—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat; by infiltration, instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him… It requires in those situations where we must counter it…. a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training.”
John F. Kennedy
USMA Graduation Speech, 1962

Symposium Objective

Given our recent experience, the United States expects unrestricted warfare to manifest itself across the full spectrum of political, social, economic, and military networks - blurring the distinction between war and peace, combatants and bystanders. This symposium series seeks to aid in developing the strategy, concepts, and capabilities appropriate to this protracted conflict by bringing together prominent strategists, analysts, and technologists. We hope that active participation and networking of symposium attendees will form a new, integrated community dedicated to countering our increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

Contact - Conference Facilities, 443-778-6540