Small Wars Journal

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SWJ Blog is a multi-author blog publishing news and commentary on the various goings on across the broad community of practice.  We gladly accept guest posts from serious voices in the community.

by Martin Dempsey | Wed, 03/24/2010 - 6:22am | 4 comments
In my last SWJ blog entry, I introduced the Army Learning Concept 2015 being "championed" by the TRADOC G3. Following up on that post, I want to briefly highlight our discussions on this subject during last week's TRADOC Senior Leader Conference.

What resonated most clearly was the shared agreement that in order to increase rigor, maintain relevancy, and prevail in the competitive learning environment we have to change. Our current models have not kept pace with the rapid pace of change, the demands of Soldiers rotating in and out of the fight, and a continuous influx of Soldiers with significant "digital literacy."

We all recognize the challenge and are working to adapt our learning models. We're changing our assumptions to look at the problem differently, because we know we can't afford to come up with the same solutions. We're reaching out to those both inside and outside the military to help in this effort. I've asked the TRADOC G3 to draft a white paper that we'll circulate among the communities of interest in the next 90 days. I welcome views from across the force on ways to ensure we get this right.

GEN M. Dempsey

SWJ Editor's Note: The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command conducted a Senior Leader Conference last week. We asked TRADOC to provide us short "snap-shots" from the SLC for posting here. General Martin E. Dempsey is TRADOC's Commanding General.

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 03/24/2010 - 5:45am | 0 comments
Gates Seeks Review of Information Programs - Craig Whitlock, Washington Post.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered a review of the military's information operations programs in response to allegations that private contractors ran an unauthorized spy ring in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that Gates had instructed a small group of senior officials to determine whether there were any "systemic problems" with the operations, which include electronic warfare, psychological operations and other noncombat programs and have a budget this year of more than $500 million.

Gates's decision was prompted by reports that a senior Defense Department official, Michael D. Furlong, hired contractors to run a $24 million intelligence-gathering program to track down suspected insurgent leaders in Afghanistan. The program was shut down late last year after the CIA and some military officials complained that Furlong was operating an off-the-books spy network...

More at The Washington Post.

Caution Lights for the Military's 'Information War' - David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion.

It has become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, to speak of the "war of ideas" between Muslim extremists and the West. But there has been too little attention paid to the U.S. military's mobilization for this war, which is often described by the oxymoronic phrase "information operations."

To populate this information "battle space," the military has funded a range of contractors, specialists, training programs and initiatives - targeted on the hot wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the broader zone of conflict in the Middle East and Central Asia. Gen. David Petraeus, the Centcom commander who oversees that region, has been one of the military's most vocal proponents of aggressive information operations.

The potential problems were highlighted on March 14, when the New York Times revealed that a Pentagon official from the "strategic communications" realm had funded contractors to gather intelligence in Afghanistan. Last week also brought a report by The Post's Ellen Nakashima that the military, in an offensive information operation, had shut down a jihadist Web site that the CIA had been monitoring for intelligence purposes. In both cases, it seemed the military was wandering into the covert-action arena traditionally reserved for the CIA...

More at The Washington Post.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:31am | 3 comments
JFCOM Likes Navy IW Plane - Greg Grant, Defense Tech.

The quest for a low-cost, low-tech, irregular warfare aircraft to provide ground pounders with long loitering, on-call recon and strike got a big boost recently when Joint Forces Command's Gen. James Mattis threw his support behind the Navy and Air Force "Imminent Fury" effort.

Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that he was taking a personal interest in the classified project, being run chiefly out of the Navy's Irregular Warfare Office, that is looking at small turboprop aircraft for ground support. The sought after design falls somewhere between the Vietnam era OV-10 Bronco and A-1 Skyraider. It must stay aloft for a long time for surveillance needs but also have the punch to provide precise fire support when needed; a true "over the shoulder" aircraft for small ground units doing distributed operations in remote locations.

Mattis thinks using top-line fighter jets for close air support to troops patrolling rural villages in Afghanistan is overkill. As he diplomatically puts it: "Today's approach of loitering multi-million dollar aircraft and using a system of systems procedure for the approval and employment of airpower is not the most effective use of aviation fires in this irregular fight," he told the SASC...

More at Defense Tech.

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 03/22/2010 - 6:56am | 0 comments
Every so often Small Wars Journal receives master theses or articles based on a master thesis written at our professional military education institutions. We recently received two of particular interest and share them with you here

A District Approach to Countering Afghanistan's Insurgency - Naval Postgraduate School Master of Science thesis by Major David S. Clukey, U.S. Army.


Since the initial invasion and ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001, International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and the United States (U.S.) military have lost the initiative and become sedentary in Afghanistan. This case study analysis considers if ISAF and the U.S. military are appropriately employing the current disposition of military forces to maximize effects against the insurgency in Afghanistan. This study objectively compares and contrasts the current ISAF and U.S. strategy with a district level FID/COIN methodology. This study explores why it is necessary to approach the problem at the district/village level to enhance the security, control, and influence of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRoA), and to eliminate systematically the conditions that have supported the insurgency in Afghanistan.

No Child Left Behind: COIN Strategies to Deny Recruitment of Adolescent Males in the Southern Philippines - Naval Postgraduate School Master of Science thesis by Major Herbert A. Daniels, U.S. Army.


Severing the link between the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Jolo population is critical to destroying the terrorist organization. The U.S. support to Philippine Security Forces (PSF) has helped to capture or kill the ideological cadre of the ASG but fails to prevent younger rebels from taking their place. While PSF continue to aggressively pursue the ASG, the U.S. has provided abundant assistance to improve the livelihood of the Jolo population. Positive results from the U.S.-supported development can be observed through increased access to healthcare and education. However, the strategy may fail to target a key demographic of the Jolo population, adolescent males, who currently make up approximately 80% of the ASG's estimated population of 400 rebels. To prevent their recruitment by the ASG, operations and development on Jolo must not marginalize adolescent males. The warrior traditions of the native Tausugs on Jolo present a challenge when it comes to addressing the needs of adolescent males and encourages their participation in the security and development of Jolo vice participation in rebellious or illicit activities.

Also see:

SWJ Theses Time -- (Part I)

Turning a COIN Problem into a Solution -- NPS Thesis at SWJ

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 03/20/2010 - 10:35pm | 0 comments
Via Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating on Tom Ricks's The Best Defense - The Best Defense has won the 2010 Digital National Magazine award for best blog! We second Joshua's take on Tom's efforts - Congratulations to Tom as well as the incredible community of readers who've helped make this blog a must-read.
by Robert Haddick | Fri, 03/19/2010 - 8:34pm | 4 comments
Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

Topics include:

1) Is this what defeat looks like?

2) Reining in rogues? Or stifling initiative?

Is this what defeat looks like?

On March 13, in two separate but seemingly coordinated attacks, gunmen in Juárez, Mexico, killed two employees of the U.S. Consulate, along with the husband of one of the employees. They were gunned down in their cars while returning from a children's party. Although in recent years U.S. citizens and government employees have died in the crossfire of Mexico's drug wars, this deliberate attack on U.S. government employees in Mexico signals a further escalation in the conflict. FBI agents investigating the murders guessed that the murders were meant to "send a message" to both the Mexican and U.S. governments.

The vast majority of the killings in Juárez and elsewhere in Mexico are the result of gangs battling for control of drug distribution markets. But the escalation of Mexico's violence began in December 2006 when President Felipe Calderón decided to attack the drug cartels which in his view were challenging the state's authority. The government's offensive has resulted in a complex, multisided, and violent scramble for markets, coercive power, and political influence.

What message did the gunmen intend to send with the murder of the consulate workers? It is a message easily recognized by students of irregular warfare. Insurgents competing with the government for influence over the population have pain as one of the principal tools in their toolbox. Apply the pain in a terrifying manner against even the most imposing symbols of authority -- in this case the U.S. government -- and political results may follow.

In Juárez, this tactic might be working.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 03/17/2010 - 10:37pm | 0 comments
Developing a Common Understanding of Unconventional Warfare by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Grdovic, US Army, Special Operations Command Central, in the latest issue of Joint Force Quarterly.

The current USSOCOM- and USASOC approved UW definition is significant for several reasons. First and foremost, it provides instant clarity to decisionmakers. With clarity come credibility, confidence, and trust, all of which are essential in the relationship between the special operations community and senior decisionmakers. Secondly, this definition brings a degree of accountability previously absent from this topic. Specifically, it ensures that individuals and organizations possess the associated professional knowledge and operational capabilities to claim proficiency in UW.

Developing a Common Understanding of Unconventional Warfare at JFQ.

*Hat tip to Colonel Dave Maxwell

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 03/17/2010 - 5:46pm | 5 comments

Those of you out there on the edge of alternate distribution models and the Burger

King approach to your media your way will be happy to know that SWJ Blog

is now available

via Kindle.

The savvy and sharp-eyed among you have already noticed the RSS feed, Twitter,

and Facebook options in the left menu bar.  Sophisticated new media users,


send your constructive suggestions so we can continue to dial in our delivery.

Curmudgeons, ask your grandkids about this stuff.

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 03/17/2010 - 10:18am | 0 comments
Two days ago, the Economist posted this report on the My Lai Inquiry (H/T to Pete) on their YouTube channel. See also Calley's My Lai Apology.

The US Army conducted its own, secret inquiry into the massacre of civilians in Son My, South Vietnam on March 16th 1968, The My Lai Massacre. Tape-recordings were made of the more than 400 witnesses. Now, for the first time, these recordings can be heard along with the photographic evidence compiled by Lt General Peers and his inquiry team.

by Robert Haddick | Tue, 03/16/2010 - 11:53am | 9 comments
Yesterday, U.S. Joint Forces Command released its Joint Operating Environment 2010 report (JOE). JOE is an ambitious document, an attempt discuss a broad range of 25-year global trends, all in less than 75 pages. Topics range from demographics, economics, and the environment, to regional security issues, and then on to advice on how U.S. military forces should prepare for war in the 21st century. Each of JOE's numerous topics merits a book-length treatment. JOE's authors deserve praise for providing a useful executive summary of these trends and for discussing their implications for global security.

It is inevitable that observers will have their gripes with a few parts of JOE. Here are mine:

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 03/14/2010 - 1:59pm | 2 comments
Joint Operating Environment 2010


While U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Operating Environment (JOE) in no way constitutes U.S. Government policy and must necessarily be speculative in nature, it seeks to provide the Joint Force an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concepts to guide our future force development. We will likely not call the future exactly right, but we must think through the nature of continuity and change in strategic trends to discern their military implications to avoid being completely wrong. These implications serve to influence the concepts that drive our services' adaptations to the environments within which they will operate, adaptations that are essential if our leaders are to have the fewest regrets when future crises strike.

In our guardian role for our nation, it is natural that we in the military focus more on possible security challenges and threats than we do on emerging opportunities. From economic trends to climate change and vulnerability to cyber attack, we outline those trends that remind us we must stay alert to what is changing in the world if we intend to create a military as relevant and capable as we possess today. There is a strong note of urgency in our efforts to balance the force for the uncertainties that lie ahead. The JOE gives focus to those efforts which must also embrace the opportunities that are inherent in the world we imperfectly foresee.

Every military force in history that has successfully adapted to the changing character of war and the evolving threats it faced did so by sharply defining the operational problems it had to solve. With the JOE helping to frame future security problems and highlighting their military implications, the Chairman's companion document, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations (CCJO), answers the problems we have defined, stating how the Joint Force will operate. Taken together, these documents will drive the concept development and experimentation that will, in turn, drive our evolutionary adaptation, while guarding against any single preclusive view of future war. None of us have a sufficiently clear crystal ball to predict fully the changing kaleidoscope of future conflicts that hover over the horizon, even as current fights, possible adversaries' nascent capabilities, and other factors intersect.

We will update the JOE in a year or two, once we have a sufficiently different understanding to make a new edition worthwhile. If you have ideas for improving our assessment of the future security environment and the problems our military must solve to provide relevant defense for our country and like-minded nations, please forward them to J-5 (Strategy), Joint Forces Command.

J.N. Mattis

General, U.S. Marines

Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command


Joint Operating Environment 2010 -- Full Document

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 03/14/2010 - 7:06am | 24 comments
At Afghan Outpost, Marines Gone Rogue or Leading the Fight against Counterinsurgency? - Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post.

... The Marines are pushing into previously ignored Taliban enclaves. They have set up a first-of-its-kind school to train police officers. They have brought in a Muslim chaplain to pray with local mullahs and deployed teams of female Marines to reach out to Afghan women.

The Marine approach - creative, aggressive and, at times, unorthodox - has won many admirers within the military. The Marine emphasis on patrolling by foot and interacting with the population, which has helped to turn former insurgent strongholds along the Helmand River valley into reasonably stable communities with thriving bazaars and functioning schools, is hailed as a model of how U.S. forces should implement counterinsurgency strategy.

But the Marines' methods, and their insistence that they be given a degree of autonomy not afforded to U.S. Army units, also have riled many up the chain of command in Kabul and Washington, prompting some to refer to their area of operations in the south as "Marineistan." They regard the expansion in Delaram and beyond as contrary to the population-centric approach embraced by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and they are seeking to impose more control over the Marines...

More at The Washington Post.

by Robert Haddick | Fri, 03/12/2010 - 6:03pm | 26 comments
Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

Topics include:

1) Could "repetitive raiding" replace counterinsurgency?

2) A painful decade has improved civil-military relations.

Could "repetitive raiding" replace counterinsurgency?

After the last decade's costly experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, future U.S. leaders will very likely wish to avoid another nation-building effort that requires the suppression of a stubborn insurgency.

But wishing rarely makes problems go away. There might, hypothetically, be another occasion when a "rogue" regime needs to be removed in the interests of either regional stability or basic human rights. Is there an alternative to post-removal counterinsurgency and nation-building? And what about Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn rule" -- "you break it, you own it" -- referring to the United States' moral obligations to Iraq after the 2003 invasion?

Writing in Armed Forces Journal, Bernard Finel, a senior fellow at the American Security Project, rejects the Pottery Barn rule and offers an alternative to counterinsurgency, namely "repetitive raiding." Finel explains his proposal this way:

[T]he vast majority of goals can be accomplished through quick, decisive military operations. Not all political goals are achievable this way, but most are and those that cannot be achieved through conventional operations likely cannot be achieved by the application of even the most sophisticated counterinsurgency doctrine either.

As a consequence, I believe the U.S. should adopt a national military strategy that heavily leverages the core capability to break states and target and destroy fixed assets, iteratively if necessary. Such a strategy -- which might loosely be termed "repetitive raiding" -- could defeat and disrupt most potential threats the U.S. faces. While America's adversaries may prefer to engage the U.S. using asymmetric strategies, there is no reason that the U.S. should agree to fight on these terms.

After explaining why the United States should fight on its own terms rather than those that favor the adversary, Finel then applies the economic concept of marginal benefit versus marginal cost to discuss the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan. Finel argues that in both cases, the United States achieved most of its war objectives very early on. Cumulative costs at those points in the campaigns were trivial compared with what they would eventually become. In both wars, the United States stayed on in an attempt to achieve the remaining war objectives, paying massive marginal costs for the last few marginal benefits.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 03/12/2010 - 5:09pm | 91 comments
It's the Tribes? That's Stupid. - Lieutenant Colonel John Malevich, Canadian Army -- U.S. Army / U.S. Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, Combined Arms Center Blog.

When you are a stranger in a strange land, you need to be aware of, and hold on to, and be proud of your culture. In my experience you can become susceptible to myth and unfounded fears of a super warrior that you have not yet engaged. I was chatting with a young Afghan who, full of Pashtun bravado said to me "westerners were from a feminine culture," because we spent the majority of our economic activity on goods and services and not on weapons of war and the military. Being one half Irish and one half Yugoslavian culturally speaking, I am not inclined to walk away from a fight and "them sounded like fighting words to me." I asked my Pashtun buddy to show me how westerners greet each other. He extended his hand in a wave. I pointed out the open hand and said, "do you know why we do that? The open hand shows the other westerner that 'I have no weapons;' so, I won't try to kill you, this time." It seems we are not such an effete culture after all, my Pashtun friend!

In our ninth year of insurgency in Afghanistan it seems that we are turning to romantic notions and silver bullets to extricate ourselves from what seems like an unending conflict. The latest great hope is the tribes. The idea being that if only we could mobilize them, we would be halfway to a solution to this insurgency.

I think that this approach smacks too much of military orientalism. We seem to be looking for the Jean Jacque Rousseau "noble savage." Or in modern terms, I would call it the "Avatar Effect" or "Last Samurai last hope." In the search to find a way out we are pinning our hopes on the weakest link in the Afghan conflict chain.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 03/12/2010 - 8:17am | 0 comments
The Joint Warfighting Conference is now open for registration.

Navy MC2 (AW) Nikki Carter

USJFCOM Public Affairs

Online registration is now available for the fourth annual Joint Warfighting Conference being held May 11 - 13 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

U. S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), the U.S. Naval Institute, National Defense Industrial Associations Greater Hampton Roads Chapter and the local AFCEA Hampton Roads and Tidewater chapters will host the event.

Navy Capt. John Polowczyk, USJFCOM's business manager, said the Joint Warfighting Conference theme is, "Combatant and Coalition Commanders: What Will They Need Five Years From Now?" During the two-and-a-half day event panel discussions will explore this theme, also to be reflected in industry booths on the exhibit floor.

Polowczyk said key command personnel will be at the USJFCOM booth throughout the three-day event to discuss different aspects of the command's mission in an open-forum setting.

He encourages USJFCOM staff members, and other DoD and community members, to register for the conference.

"This gives the command the ability to show industry and academia what we are doing and what they can do to help us achieve that," he said. "It is also equally important for USJFCOM staff to see what's going on and how they can integrate what they are doing into the bigger picture."

The booth also will provide information to industry and academia on how to partner with USJFCOM and to answer questions about employment opportunities at USJFCOM.

For more information, or to register for the conference, visit the Web site at

by Robert Haddick | Thu, 03/11/2010 - 10:33am | 6 comments
The case of Colleen R. LaRose, a.k.a. "JihadJane," shows significant weaknesses in the decentralized model of terror organization. Ever since Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri went into isolation, the fear in the West has been that terror conspirators would use a decentralized, bottom-up model to organize their actions. According to this theory, it is useless, and even counterproductive, to expend resources focusing on bin Laden and "al Qaeda Central." Dispersed, decentralized, and self-radicalizing cells, with no connection to al Qaeda Central, would continue the fight. The fearful assumption was that there would be no way for law enforcement authorities to monitor and prevent such dispersed bottom-up terror cell formation before attacks occurred.

LaRose thought that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, United States passport holder (which she is) could be a highly useful counter-surveillance asset to a jihadist terror cell. Where she and her co-conspirators erred badly was in their use of the internet to communicate. As the U.S. District Court's indictment of LaRose makes clear, the U.S. government, along with allied governments around the world, is very effectively using electronic surveillance to uncover terror conspiracies. The cases of Major Hasan and Umar Abdulmutallab are not exceptions; electronic surveillance and other intelligence gave advance warnings, which authorities discarded due to bureaucratic failings.

The decentralized terror model results in poor tradecraft, poor training, easy electronic monitoring, little internal security, and easy police penetration. Organizations typically address such weaknesses through institutional measures such as appointing quality leaders, establishing and enforcing higher standards, instituting training programs, removing incompetent personnel, etc. In other words, establishing central control. Al Qaeda can't do these things, or at least not very easily.

Proponents of the decentralized, self-organizing model will assert that a decentralized, self-organizing network is highly capable of learning, perhaps even faster than a centralized one. Possibly, but the assumption of rapid learning seems to require that the prospective terror cells have unfettered and secure electronic communications. That is clearly not the case.

What's a conspirator to do? Go back to "dead drops," chalk marks on walls, and whispered conversations on park benches? Is that how to advance the global jihad in the 21st century?

by SWJ Editors | Thu, 03/11/2010 - 8:41am | 2 comments
State Department Plans 7 New Posts in Public Diplomacy - Nicholas Kralev, Washington Times.

The State Department plans to create seven new senior positions to ensure that a public-diplomacy perspective is always "incorporated" in policymaking around the world, as well as to respond quickly to negative coverage of the United States in foreign media.

In an ambitious strategy that goes beyond any previous efforts to reach out to other countries, the Obama administration "seeks to become woven into the fabric of the daily lives of people" there, its top public-diplomacy official said Wednesday.

"We must do a better job of listening, learn how people in other countries and cultures listen to us, understand their desires and aspirations, and provide them with information and services of value to them," said Judith A. McHale, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs...

More at The Washington Times.

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 03/10/2010 - 8:38pm | 0 comments
The US Army/USMC Counterinsurgency Center is pleased to host Associate Professor Daryl Youngman, Kansas State University, and Lieutenant Colonel John Malevich, COIN Center Branch Chief for COIN, on a COIN Center Webcast 1000 CST, (1100 EST), (1600 ZULU) on Thursday, 11 Mar 2010.

Their briefing, based on a soon to be publish paper, is entitled 'Re-Evaluating the Afghan Balance of Power and Culture of Jihad'. The presentation, as will the paper, challenges our preconceived notions of the role that tribe, government and mullah play in Afghanistan and questions the wisdom of trying to win our counterinsurgency campaign without first conducting a critical examination of the root cause of the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Those interested in attending may view the meeting on-line at and participate via Defense Connect Online (DCO) as a guest. Remote attendees will be able to ask questions and view the slides through the software.

If you are having trouble connecting please contact Mr. Kirk Hicks at 913-684-5198 or DSN 552 so he can resolve your issue.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 03/09/2010 - 9:58pm | 2 comments
In Marjah, New Gains Could Offer Escape From Tragic Past - Mohammad Elyas Daee and Abubakar Siddique, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

Azizullah Khan might be this town's best example of civic-mindedness.

He is a middle-aged farmer here, at the center of a recent large-scale military effort against the Taliban, in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand Province.

His dedication to community under the most trying of circumstances earned him the respect of Marjah's locals, who long depended on his pharmacy in the town's dusty bazaar as their only health-care option.

When news came that Afghan President Hamid Karzai would be visiting on March 7, following the anti-Taliban operation carried out by Afghan and NATO forces, it was Khan who was entrusted to speak for Marjah's residents. With their marketplace in ruins as a result of the offensive, the feeling was that Khan would be well-suited to present their demands and concerns based on firsthand experience.

Addressing the president inside the community's main mosque, Khan peppered his message with salutations and blunt grievances, even reminding the Afghan leader of his oft-repeated promises to step down if he failed to deliver security and services.

"We are not asking you to resign, but our patience is running thin," Khan told the only president that Afghans have ever elected. "For the past eight years the warlords have been ruling us. Their hands have been stained with the blood of innocents and they have killed hundreds of people. Even now they are being imposed on the people in the name of tribal and regional leaders. People are afraid to convey the real feelings of locals because they sense themselves to be in danger from all sides."

Khan pleaded for the government to ensure security, remove any military presence from schools and private homes, compensate locals for losses resulting from the recent fighting, and help rebuild schools, clinics, and irrigation canals.

His most impassioned and telling appeal, however, was for Karzai to avoid repeating a past mistake: Do not hand over control of local affairs to former militia commanders or other "people with influence."

The plea, met with cheers and nods of approval by the hundreds of locals assembled at the mosque, highlights a window of opportunity that has been opened in Marjah, a town that in many ways is a microcosm of what has gone wrong in much of southern Afghanistan...

Much more at RFE/RL.

by Dave Dilegge | Tue, 03/09/2010 - 12:42pm | 0 comments
The Small Wars Foundation (Small Wars Journal's non-profit parent organization), along with several government and private sector cosponsors, is conducting a small Tribal Engagement Workshop (TEW) on 24-25 March in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The objectives of this workshop are to: (1) Evaluate the value and feasibility of a tribal engagement approach in Afghanistan (2) Assess what secondary effects adoption of a tribal engagement approach would have on the political and military situation and (3) Identify the operational components of a tribal engagement approach in Afghanistan.

Particular issues we hope to address include:

- Is a tribal approach, and by extension a bottom-up approach, viable and feasible in Afghanistan?

- What are the baseline requirements at the international (NATO / ISAF / UN), national and operational levels to enable a tribal approach in Afghanistan?

- Is a tribal approach suitable for Afghanistan as whole, or only for certain geographical / tribal regions?

- How would a tribal engagement approach compliment and integrate with other NATO / ISAF efforts at the national, regional and district government levels?

- What conditions are required in Pakistan to enable a tribal approach in Afghanistan?

- What is the relationship of a tribal approach to other efforts in Afghanistan to include counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, stabilization and foreign internal defense operations / programs? What needs to be done to ensure these efforts are mutually supporting?

- What are both the desirable and the feasible / attainable construct of units / organizations to conduct tribal engagement?

- What are the operational (intelligence, logistics and command and control for example) and training requirements to adequately support a tribal engagement approach?

- What alternatives exist, other than tribal engagement, in implementing a bottom-up approach in Afghanistan?

The TEW will consist of three sessions conducted over a two-day period as described below:

Introductory Remarks, Keynote Address, Panel Discussions and "Charge" to Participants: One half a day plenary of formal briefings, panel discussions and Q&A covering the workshop agenda, objectives, methodology and subject matter expert presentations on tribal engagement and Afghanistan.

Tribal Engagement Working Groups: One day (plus) of guided / facilitated discussion by subject matter expert participants structured to specifically address the workshop objectives and document insights, observations and recommendations.

Working Groups Brief Out: Two hours of briefings and Q&A on working group findings.

While we are keeping the number of participants relatively small to facilitate the "work" in the working group session (and we have some physical space limitations) we do have the need for some additional (5-10 people) tactical and operational representation (both civilian and military) by personnel who have experience (especially in Afghanistan) and / or other expertise in regards to tribal engagement or other local bottom-up approaches. Again, we have some limitations as to the number of participants so we cannot entertain "sit in and listen" requests for this event.

SWF/SWJ cannot provide funding for travel or per diem -- though there are no other costs associated with the workshop -- breakfast and lunch will be provided on both days and dinner on the first.

If you think you have what we are looking for (and we have to be selective in order to have a manageable event) and are interested please e-mail me (Dave Dilegge) at ddilegge (at symbol), with TEW Information in the subject line, and I'll provide additional details. Comments below are closed for this post.

by Martin Dempsey | Tue, 03/09/2010 - 10:57am | 5 comments
Army Learning Concept for 2015 - Thinking Soldiers -- Learning Army!!

The operational environment is exceptionally complex with an expanding array of threats. Increased competitiveness is the norm. Recognizing that fact means that in order to prevail in future conflict we must first win in the competitive learning environment.

To that end, we are developing an Army Learning Concept to describe a 2015 learning environment that will be more effective in meeting the needs of our Soldiers and leaders. Derived from major themes of the Army Capstone Concept and the Army Leader Development Strategy, it will provide the basis for building and adapting our learning models and future information needs while ensuring we still deliver the high-quality content our Soldiers need and deserve.

The Army Learning Concept for 2015 will guide all Soldiers and leaders through a continuum of learning for the duration of their careers. We are going to cut the chaff and augment the most effective aspects of our current learning system while ensuring relevant and rigorous training and education is available and accessible, and not just on the institutional side of the Army. This is a shared responsibility between the operating and generating force as we lead the Army into a future characterized by its persistent learning environment.

SWJ Editor's Note: The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is conducting a Senior Leaders Conference this week. While invited, SWJ could not attend due to scheduling conflicts. That said, we've asked TRADOC to provide us short "snap-shots" from the SLC for posting here. General Martin E. Dempsey is TRADOC's Commanding General.

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 03/08/2010 - 11:24am | 1 comment
2010 International Women of Courage Award - U.S. Department of State.

Secretary Clinton announced the 10 winners of this year's International Women of Courage (IWOC) award. On March 10, Secretary Clinton will present the awards to the honorees at the Department of State.

The awardees are:

Shukria Asil of Afghanistan for promoting government responsiveness to the needs of women.

Colonel Shafiqa Quraishi of Afghanistan for integrating women into the government and police force.

Androula Henriques of Cyprus for fighting human trafficking.

Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic for ending discrimination based on country of origin and the human rights abuses of statelessness.

Shadi Sadr of Iran for advocating for women's legal rights and an end to execution by stoning.

Ann Njogu of Kenya for seeking social transformation and being at the forefront of reforms in Kenya.

Jansila Majeed of Sri Lanka for strengthening rights for internally displaced persons.

Sister Marie Claude Naddaf (a.k.a. Sister Marie Claude) of Syria for working for social services for women.

Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe for documenting human rights abuses.

Much more, to include biographies, at The U.S. Department of State.

A Woman of Courage: Col. Shafiqa Quarashi - By Staff Sgt. Sarah Brown, NTM-A / CSTC-A.

Calm, quiet and poised, Col. Shafiqa Quarashi doesn't give the impression of a passionate defender of women's rights, that is, until she speaks. With her voice ringing with conviction, Shafiqa boldly tells an audience full of females that they will never get their rights by sitting at home; they have to go out and get them, to demand them.

"No one will give your rights to you as a gift, you have to take them. Who is saying women can't do anything. We can do everything, anything you want," she said. "We have to fight against corruption and those who are against women working." It is with speeches like this, given at the Ministry of Interior's International Women's Day recognition ceremony March 4, that it's easy to see why Shafiqa, an Afghan National Police office, was selected as a 2010 International Woman of Courage.

The award, presented by U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, will be presented to 10 women from around the world March 10 at the State Department; 75 women were nominated from more than 70 countries including Zimbabwe, Iran, Republic of Korea, Kenya, Syria, Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka...

Much more at NTM-A / CSTC-A.

by Robert Haddick | Mon, 03/08/2010 - 9:23am | 2 comments
Last Friday's New York Times had a story about the U.S. government's support for the Somali government's effort to drive the Al Shabab militia out of Mogadishu. According to the article, U.S. security assistance in Somalia is no secret. The issue is what role the U.S. Department of Defense currently has in Somalia, what role it will have in the future, and whether there will be any significant role for U.S. general purpose ground forces in the security assistance missions in Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere in the region.

According to the article, U.S. surveillance drones are in the air over Mogadishu. The article describes a Somali government motor pool containing rows of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and gun trucks, presumably refurbished with U.S. assistance. The article also discusses a six-month military training program that has recruited thousands of young Somali men, transferred them to military training camps in neighboring countries, and returned them to participate in an upcoming government offensive against Al Shabab. Finally, the article mentioned training for Somali intelligence officers and logistical support for an African Union peacekeeping force that is supporting the Somali government.

But what is the U.S. military's current role in Somalia? "This is not an American offensive," said Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for Africa. "The U.S. military is not on the ground in Somalia. Full stop." However, the article did quote an anonymous U.S. official who forecast future American air support and direct action missions in Somalia.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. government has tried, with sketchy results, just about every approach to mitigating risk from Somalia. Previous strategies have included a large-scale humanitarian intervention, benign neglect, air strikes, small scale raids, support to warlords, and support for an invasion by Ethiopia. The latest iteration appears to be a methodical and comprehensive foreign internal defense campaign, presumably conducted mostly by other government agencies and contractors.

U.S. special operations forces may soon play a larger role for a time inside Somalia. Across the water in Yemen, they are likewise supporting the FID mission there. The results from the latest efforts in Somalia and Yemen may determine whether this OGA/SOF FID (and perhaps UW) approach will be the new strategy preference for U.S. policymakers. After Iraq and Afghanistan, will the U.S. enter a "post-COIN" era? Will the current operations in Somalia and Yemen be the model for the future? And what future roles should the general purpose ground forces prepare for?

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 03/06/2010 - 9:42pm | 5 comments
The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad

Book Review by Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert J. Bebber

Download the full article: The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad

How is it the United States failed to see a growing insurgency within Iraq after a lightning fast victory over Saddam Hussein's military in 2003? In his book, Mr. Steven K. O'Hern does a valuable service by detailing America's intelligence failure. Despite the massive undertakings of the 9/11 Commission and other "post 9/11" intelligence reviews, major flaws still plague our intelligence system. These flaws place our uniformed service members at risk and undermine our national security.

Mr. O'Hern served as the director of the Strategic Counterintelligence Directorate (SCID) of Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) for six months in 2005. The primary mission of the SCID was to identify and locate insurgents who were conducting attacks against Coalition Forces. It was mainly a human intelligence (HUMINT) operation, collecting information from Iraqis who were recruited and trained for the task.

O'Hern traces our intelligence failure in Iraq to three general areas: lack of emphasis and appreciation of HUMINT, the "stovepipe" structure of our intelligence community (i.e., agencies' keeping intelligence to themselves and not sharing it with one another), and the inability/unwillingness to acknowledge threats until after they have manifested. Much was made of the pre-9/11 era's "wall" between intelligence agencies in law enforcement and national security, who intentionally or by prohibition did not share intelligence. This failure led to the inability of analysts to "connect the dots," which might have better warned us of an impending terrorist attack. Despite the restructuring of America's intelligence community, O'Hern says we have failed to learn our lesson. "The single largest hindrance to effectively understanding and acting on intelligence is the intelligence community's collective failure to share information," (p. 208). Frequently, military intelligence units conducting operations do not share their information, creating overlap or even causing units to work at cross purposes.

Download the full article: The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad

Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Jake Bebber is an Information Warfare Officer stationed at Navy Information Operations Command, Maryland. He served as the Information Operations officer for a Joint Provincial Reconstruction Team in Khost Province, Afghanistan in 2008. He holds a doctorate in Public Policy from the University of Central Florida.

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 03/06/2010 - 4:17pm | 5 comments
In Afghan War, Letting Women Reach Women - Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times.

... These are not your mother's Marines here in the rugged California chaparral of Camp Pendleton, where 40 young women are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in one of the more forward-leaning experiments of the American military.

Next month they will begin work as members of the first full-time "female engagement teams," the military's name for four- and five-member units that will accompany men on patrols in Helmand Province to try to win over the rural Afghan women who are culturally off limits to outside men. The teams, which are to meet with the Afghan women in their homes, assess their need for aid and gather intelligence, are part of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's campaign for Afghan hearts and minds. His officers say that you cannot gain the trust of the Afghan population if you only talk to half of it.

"We know we can make a difference," said Capt. Emily Naslund, 26, the team's executive officer and second in command. Like the other 39 women, Captain Naslund volunteered for the program and radiates exuberance, but she is not naí¯ve about the frustrations and dangers ahead. Half of the women have been deployed before, most to Iraq...

More at The New York Times.

Also see Half-Hearted: Trying to Win Afghanistan without Afghan Women - Captain Matt Pottinger, Hali Jilani, and Claire Russo, Small Wars Journal.