The timing of Putin’s troops entry into Ukraine under the ISIS smoke screen in Iraq was no coincidence. A recent Economist article, titled Mr. Putin’s Wake Up Call, made the case for increased troop levels in Poland to send a “stronger signal” to Putin.

The Economist’s editorial thinking with regards to Russia is flawed in this case. Putin is not using conventional military strategy and tactics; he’s playing his own version of asymmetric warfare, and this cannot be countered with conventional doctrine.

America’s own Special Operations-centric military has become much better at asymmetric warfare strategy (with the exception of preventative solutions) since it was forced to adapt it after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. American military commanders surely see that conventional troop buildups are a thing of the past, and would be wise to influence NATO’s thinking in this regard.

“While asymmetric warfare encompasses a wide scope of theory, experience, conjecture, and definition, the implicit premise is that asymmetric warfare deals with unknowns, with surprise in terms of ends, ways, and means. The more dissimilar the opponent, the more difficult it is to anticipate his actions. If we knew in advance how an opponent planned to exploit our dissimilarities, we could develop specific doctrine to counter his actions. Against asymmetric opponents, doctrine should provide a way to think about asymmetry and an operational philosophy that would take asymmetry fully into account.”
US Army Doctrine