Asymmetrical Warfare



Asymmetrical warfare in international military planning describes a set of strategies for operating in developing countries.

This project demonstrates a series of design and counter-design objects that lead to an asymmetrical transformation of landscape space. The “vacancy” and informal infrastructure embedded in Afghanistan’s landscape has been transformed by years of military operations; it has been occupied not only by waves of military but by the infrastructure they have left behind. On either side of base security perimeters are discrete but connected forms of infrastructure: the traces of civilian and military planning, that of the wealthy country, and that of its developing counterpart. This asymmetry is identified in the contrast between a US military zone adjacent to agricultural areas, vacant terrain, and the architecture of mud villages. The project examines infrastructure in pre-war, wartime and post-war military evacuation scenarios. After military evacuation, Afghanistan’s infrastructure landscape becomes uneven, making possible a revolution of space utilization, societal elements, and the economy.*

*Begram Airforce Base, Till, 2015.
Courtesy of Google Maps.


After 13 years of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, American troops began evacuating and “demilitarizing” U.S. military bases. Transportation, and armored vehicles, cargo and combat planes, military and non military gear, living necessities among other remnants have been discarded, destroyed, and distributed into scrap yards spread outside every U.S military base. While the infrastructure present in scrap yards has been destroyed and deactivated, there is an economic value in the material, weight, and cost of the scrap items, especially scrap metal. The Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicle (MRAP) is one example of this military remnant cost. Designed to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), each MRAP costs approximately $1. 3 million USD. Due to the high shipping price of returning these MRAP’s to the U.S., the Pentagon decided to leave behind 2000 MRAPs, ordered to be dismantled and crushed so they could not be rendered useful to future U.S., political opponents in Afghanistan.

Afghan Laborers transport loads of scrap.
Afghan Laborers transport hesco wall barriers.
The U.S. is leaving $7 billion worth of supplies in scrap yards such as this one near Bigram Air Field.
Bagram Air Field.

Courtesy of Javier Manzano for The Washington Post. Courtesy of Anja Niedringhau.

Navistar Defense Maxxpro Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicle.
An MRAP Cougar HE tested in January 2007, with landmines detonating around it.

The “V-Hull,” the MRAP’s most fundamental protective component, was used to retrofit military vehiles, such that the vehicles so modified dissipate shock and absorb blast energy. 2007 witnessed a high rate of IED related deaths. The pentagon invested $50 bollion USD. on the engineerng, manufacturing, personal training, and transferring of these MRAPs into the U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. The intent was to increase crew survivability; the MRAP absorbs the explosion, sacrificing the substructure of the vehicle while protecting the lives of the military personnel inside the vehicle.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone is an airspace of an unmanned Aerial system, it is infrastructure controlled locally and from across the globe using a satellite connection. The reaper is capable of carrying anti-armour, air-to-ground precision guided weapons. Laser guidance can can be provided either from the launcher, airborne target designator, or from a ground based altitude, carries a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. As a repeated scenario the creation and implementation of this infrastructure requires a support system of engineering, manufacturing training, maintenence, with a high economic value of $56.5 million USD. for a single drone including four aircraft with sensors, grounded station, and predator primary satellite link.



Afghanistan’s high plateaus and steep mountains have served throughout history as obstacles to foreign imposition. It is in the informal infrastructure of the landscape fabric of Afghanistan that has over the course of time proved to be the most fundamental weaponry used over the course of time against foreign invasion. The bewildering, uncontrolled geometry of the terrains, steep mountains, loose shale, thick forests, and open patches of land project the informality. The Korengal valley for instance is a place of event whereby informal infrastructure proved its effectiveness and whereby formal infrastructure emerged in all ranges of sophistication, structure, materiality, and methods of implementation in order to counter this landscape infrastructure.