asymmetric warfare


variants or less commonly asymmetrical warfare
: warfare that is between opposing forces which differ greatly in military power and that typically involves the use of unconventional weapons and tactics (such as those associated with guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks)
Challenging the United States in conventional combat is an invitation to disaster; combat operations emphatically demonstrated that when Iraq's army disintegrated under pressure from U.S. airstrikes and ground assaults. So Iraqi insurgents have increasingly resorted to unconventional or "asymmetric" warfare—hit-and-run ambushes, snipings and the extensive use of homemade bombs—to inflict casualties while minimizing their own risks.Ed Timms, Dallas Morning News, 13 Nov. 2003
But the kind of asymmetric warfare that typifies combat with terrorist and other armed groups is nothing new.Kenneth Roth, State News Service, 30 Dec. 2009
… Marines would become key players in irregular and asymmetrical warfareJohn D. Burrow, Marine Corps Gazette, January 2011
asymmetric war noun
or less commonly asymmetrical war
The United States and its allies are already fighting asymmetric wars in Afghanistan and Iraq … Anthony H. Cordesman et al., Lessons of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War, 2007
General (Retired) Montgomery Meigs stated that asymmetric war dominates the attention of the public today, as we face this new challenge of terrorism within America's borders … John M. House, Why War? Why an Army?, 2008

Word History

First Known Use

1991, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of asymmetric warfare was in 1991

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Dictionary Entries Near asymmetric warfare

Cite this Entry

“Asymmetric warfare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

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