The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD(SO/LIC)) established Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) in 1999 to consolidate its research and development programs. The research and development effort that supports the interagency Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) was the first program to transition to CTTSO. The TSWG is divided into 10 subgroups.

Section 922 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directed ASD(SO/LIC) report directly to the Secretary of Defense. The Acting Secretary of Defense on November 18, 2020, authorized the ASD (SO/LIC) to transform the CTTSO to the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD).


The mission of the IWTSD is to identify and develop capabilities for DoD to conduct Irregular Warfare against all adversaries, including Great Power competitors and non-state actors, and to deliver those capabilities to DoD components and interagency partners through rapid research and development, advanced studies and technical innovation, and provision of support to U.S. military operations.

Organization and Purpose

The IWTSD supports the ASD(SO/LIC) in the development of capabilities for the DoD to counter and conduct the full spectrum of irregular warfare, which includes missions of unconventional warfare, stabilization, foreign internal defense, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency. Consistent with that purpose, the IWTSD will assume the former functions of the CTTSO in international cooperative research and development activities and will continue to develop and implement agreements and task plans with current and future international partners as approved by the ASD(SO/LIC) and in accordance with applicable DoD policy for international agreements. The CTTSO program management functions for the TSWG will be renamed and incorporated into the IWTSD, as needed.

CTTSO Business Process Diagram