asymmetric warfare
n. Warfare in which the combatants have markedly different military capabilities and the weaker side uses non-standard tactics such as terrorism. (Also: asymmetrical warfare.)

Example Citation:
"The conflict is an example of asymmetric warfare, which does not match the relatively even strength of two conventional military forces. It occurs when a weaker combatant uses nontraditional weapons and strategy in order to obtain a fighting advantage over a stronger opponent. The Palestinians are employing asymmetric tactics in order to achieve concessions from a conventionally stronger Israeli opponent, Cordesman says, attacking Israeli settlements, detonating car bombs, using the media as a 'political weapon,' and even hacking Israeli computers."
—Jason Moll, "CSIS report: No end for Mideast violence," UPI, August 9, 2001

Earliest Citation:
"Prof. T.V. Paul questions this explanation about why nations make war by raising the issue of 'asymmetric conflicts' — those initiated by so-called weaker powers against a country or coalition of superior military force. He cites six cases in the history of such asymmetric warfare between nations, of which one is the Indian-Pakistani war of 1965."
—Shivaji Sengupta, "Why Weaker Powers Start Wars," The Ethnic NewsWatch, May 19, 1995

Notes:
You also see the idea behind today's phrase referred to as asymmetric conflict. This is a less popular term, but it's slightly older (first citation: 1993). It's used in the earliest citation for this sense of asymmetric warfare.

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