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 SWJ Editors | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 8:12am | 15 comments
Unconventional Counterinsurgency: Leveraging Traditional Social Networks and Irregular Forces in Remote and Ungoverned Areas by Major John D. Litchfield. U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) monograph, AY 2010.

The Sunni tribal uprising against Al Qaeda in Iraq, known as the Anbar Awakening, was the decisive event in the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. To capitalize on discontent between the Sunni population and Al Qaeda, U.S. commanders on the ground in Anbar Province applied more creativity and opportunism than deliberate application of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, which at that time did not fully grasp the importance of traditional social networks and irregular forces. The U.S. military is now attempting to capture the lessons of the tribal uprising in Iraq and incorporate those lessons into theory, doctrine and practice. More immediately, the U.S. must determine the applicability of those lessons to ongoing counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts across the region.

The paper argues that traditional social networks and irregular security forces represent a critical source of intelligence, political support and security for governments attempting to increase state control and legitimacy during an insurgency. Moreover, U.S. Army Special Forces are uniquely qualified to leverage traditional social networks and irregular security forces due to their unique training regiment, organization and experience in their capstone mission of Unconventional Warfare (UW). Ultimately these two claims provide the background for a central argument: the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) should refocus the counterinsurgency role of Army Special Forces on leveraging traditional social networks and employing irregular security forces to expand host nation control and security in contested, ungoverned or insurgent controlled spaces.

This monograph explains that tribes and traditional social networks continue to provide a degree of social order in some of the world's least governed and most volatile areas. Capitalizing on that underlying social order is critical to stabilizing remote areas and undermining insurgencies, especially when the government lacks favorable force ratios for counterinsurgency. The United States historically employed tribes and irregulars successfully in support of comprehensive counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines and Vietnam, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army Special Forces have demonstrated a unique ability to organize tribal networks for self-defense and lead irregular forces to secure remote areas and isolate insurgents. The U.S. must capitalize on this core competency that exists within the special operations community to effectively deal with the ungoverned spaces that abound in current areas of conflict and prevent them from becoming safe-havens for insurgents and violent extremists.

Read the entire monograph.

by Martin Dempsey | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 7:44am | 4 comments
After almost a decade of war and in an era of persistent conflict, I think it's important that we take some time to be introspective and think about what it means to be a part of a profession. As someone reminded me recently, "you're not a profession just because you say you are a profession."

Some aspects to keep in mind as we think about what it means to be a profession include among other things --- the special skills and expertise, the ethics that define our behaviors, a commitment to continued education and development, self-regulation, and in our particular case, subordination to civilian authority.

To serve as a initial catalyst for a discussion, I have posted an interview that I recently conducted with the Army Center of Excellence for the Professional Military Ethic who are profiling a number of Army leaders on "The Army Profession". By sharing this dialog with you, I hope to expand awareness and initiate a substantive dialogue on this important subject. I welcome you to view my interview at YouTube and below as well as encourage you to provide comments.

Gen. Martin Dempsey discusses the Army profession, leader development and decentralization - Part 1.

Gen. Martin Dempsey discusses the Army profession, leader development and decentralization - Part 2.

Gen. Martin Dempsey discusses the Army profession, leader development and decentralization - Part 3.
by Dave Dilegge | Sat, 07/10/2010 - 6:30pm | 29 comments
New feature here: Small Wars Journal's Saturday Night Quote (SWJ SNQ). Once a week we'll highlight a quote of particular note, insightfulness, or just damn funny - or maybe two or three if our site visitors are on a roll. The inaugural winner, and probably no surprise to our regular viewers out there in SWJLand, is Schmedlap. In response to "After 9 years, where it matters, we don't get COIN" he had this to say:

I'm starting to think that I never will. The shortcomings that you cite seem, to me, to be not unique to COIN. But inability to "get" them seems to always be held up as evidence of not getting COIN.

Risk aversion, blind adherence to SOP, unwillingness to partner and embed, obsession with PowerPoint, excessive force protection, neglecting personal relationships, lack of coordination - it sounds to me like we don't get war. Of any type. I don't understand why our lack of knowledge is so often characterized as a more narrow deficiency of not getting COIN.

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 07/10/2010 - 9:33am | 5 comments
The Military We Need: Maintaining the All-Volunteer Force - Tom Donnelly, AEI Center for Defense Studies.

Col. Paul Yingling is one of the most thoughtful soldiers of his generation. In particular, his articles in Armed Forces Journal on the failures of military leadership and the compact between the United States and the men and women who fight the Long War have provoked much needed debate. The second of these pieces, "The Founders' Wisdom," a call for a return to a conscript military as the most effective and equitable way to raise forces for this struggle, has merited particularly close attention, rebuttal, and now, thanks to the folks over at Small Wars Journal, an invitation to further discussion. An offer I can't resist.

Yingling makes three arguments for abandoning the current All-Volunteer Force. The first argument is based on the experience of the two world wars of the 20th century and based upon Yingling's reading of the American tradition. Both these points are suspect. Take the analogy between the world wars and the Long War. The world wars were, relatively speaking, large and short, overwhelmingly conventional and decided by firepower. The Long War is, well, long, and though it has taxed the current force nearly to its breaking point, it is still rightly regarded as a series of small wars or campaigns. And the "American tradition" must account for the Civil War as well as the world wars. While the Civil War marked the first use of conscription in America, both Federal and Confederate armies were volunteers; conscripts accounted for about 6 percent of the total Union army.

But Yingling also extends his reading of this tradition: "[T]his approach demands popular participation in national security decisions and provides Congress with powerful incentives to reassert its war powers. Unlike the all-volunteer force, a conscripted force of citizen soldiers would ensure that the burdens of war are felt equally in every community in America." This is a revealing quote, echoing two laments often expressed by American officers...

Much more at AEI's CDS.

by Robert Haddick | Fri, 07/09/2010 - 5:42pm | 1 comment
Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

Topics include:

1) Do we have the guts to enforce the new Iran sanctions?

2) Is Afghan development assistance making the problem worse?

Do we have the guts to enforce the new Iran sanctions?

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama succeeded in pushing another Iran sanctions resolution through the U.N. Security Council. That resolution gives countries the right (but not the obligation) to inspect ships suspected of carrying military and nuclear items the Security Council has banned from Iran. On July 1, Obama signed into law H.R. 2194, a statute that will allow the president to impose sanctions on people or companies anywhere in the world who deal with Iran's petroleum exploration and refining businesses. H.R. 2194 was a very popular bill; it passed 408-8 in the House and 99-0 in the Senate.

Obama now has all the sanction authority he could have hoped for. But now that he has these powers, will he have the will to use them? Employing the new sanctions will require Obama and the United States to experience some unpleasant side effects. The next phase of the tussle with Iran could involve a global game of chicken, and it's not clear who will blink first.

On July 6, the Washington Post ran a story about Iran's preparations for a naval clash in response to the ship inspection provision of the Security Council resolution. The article discussed Iran's "asymmetric" tactics against the U.S. 5th Fleet which could involve anti-ship missile attacks supplemented with suicide speedboat and aircraft attacks on U.S. warships near Iran. U.S. commanders, informed by war-games and training exercises, claim to be ready for these tactics.

A naval clash would seem to play to the U.S. military's strong suit. An Iranian attack would allow U.S. air and naval power to punish a broad range of Iranian military targets. The United States would seem to possess "escalation dominance" in this scenario.

But Iran's strategy would be primarily political, not military. Even one minor hit on a U.S. warship, one photograph of gray smoke coming from a U.S. hull, would exceed expectations and would be an Iranian moral victory. More importantly, Iran would hope to turn its losses into a propaganda victory -- an example of the U.S. bully beating up a small country. From an economic perspective, the Obama team would likely ponder the implications for the global economy of a naval battle in the Strait of Hormuz. For all these reasons, it might be in Iran's interest to arrange a provocation over the ship-inspection provision, engage the United States in a game of chicken, and see whether or not the Security Council resolution will have any meaning.

Iran is not the only one that can play chicken over this issue. China's oil companies will soon be the dominant foreign player in Iran's energy sector.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 07/09/2010 - 4:31am | 9 comments
The New (and Old) Classics of Counterinsurgency - Laleh Khalili, Middle East Report.

... Counterinsurgency doctrine is interpreted, expanded and sometimes challenged in the proliferation of publications and blogs dedicated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One widely read blog is known by its URL, taches d'huile (oil spots), named after the anti-guerrilla tactic invented by French general Joseph Gallieni in the late nineteenth century. Gallieni's idea was that, rather than pushing forward across a broad front, the occupying army would gradually and evenly expand its control outward from a central stronghold, as oil spreads on paper. Other prolific bloggers include Abu Muqawama (nom de plume of Andrew Exum, an ex-Army Ranger who is completing a doctoral thesis on Lebanese Hizballah) and former Washington Post journalist Tom Ricks. Among the authors of books and articles are a number of active and retired military officers who publish in a range of venues, from Military Review and Small Wars Journal to think tank occasional papers series and, increasingly, university and trade press monographs. Crucially for counterinsurgency doctrine's cachet, many of these authors are soldier-scholars. Among those brandishing doctorates are Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster (North Carolina, history), retired Col. Conrad Crane (Stanford, history), retired Col. Peter Mansoor (Ohio State, military history), retired Lt. Col. John Nagl (Oxford, international relations), retired Col. Kalev Sepp (Harvard, history) and retired Lt. Col. David Kilcullen of the Australian army (New South Wales, politics). Then there is Gen. David Petraeus (Princeton, international relations), the motivating force behind the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the only general of the post-September 11 wars whose name is bruited for the presidency...

More at Middle East Report.

by Robert Haddick | Thu, 07/08/2010 - 3:57pm | 4 comments
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended General James Mattis, USMC to be the next commander of U.S. Central Command. Here is an excerpt from the DoD website:

If confirmed by the Senate, Mattis will succeed Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who now commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Mattis currently is commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

If confirmed, the general would have responsibility for operations from Pakistan to Egypt and Oman to Kazakhstan. He would be the combatant commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mattis served as the commander of the Marine forces that were first in Afghanistan in 2001. He also served as the commander of the 1st Marine Division during the initial push into Iraq in 2003. He left that job to serve as the commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He has served as the four-star commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command since 2007.

The general has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal twice, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with a "V" device for valor. He is from Pullman, Wash., and has been in the Marine Corps since 1972. He served as a battalion commander in Task Force Ripper during Operation Desert Storm.


An easy choice for Gates. Mattis seemed otherwise headed for retirement, a waste given the requirement for a strong choice at Centcom. Mattis' most urgent task is Centcom's diplomatic duties - in particular, establishing and extending relationships with political and military leaders around the Persian Gulf. Gen. Petraeus will handle Afghanistan and Gen. Austin will handle Iraq. Mattis will handle everything else, with Iran likely his top concern. The first step for Mattis on Iran is establishing his relationships with the GCC countries.

by Malcolm Nance | Wed, 07/07/2010 - 9:18am | 0 comments

Understanding Al Qaeda's True Center of Gravity

A Book Review of:

Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat, by Commander Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN

Reviewed by: Malcolm Nance

What steels the heart of educated men to slaughter innocent passengers and fly

a jetliner full of people into a skyscraper?  What power does a few minutes

internet chat with a dissident cleric hold that can make an officer of the United

States Army abandon his professional and military oath and gun down his fellow soldiers

in cold blood?  What desire makes other terrorists physically ill with jealousy

that they themselves were not chosen to die in a suicide attack?  Pondering

these questions gives one a glimpse of the dark heart and evil commitment of our

enemy, Al Qaeda.

The level of moral corruption necessary to abandon one's entire upbringing and

commit an overt act of murderous treachery as a form of worship is often beyond

comprehension of the common man. The question, Why Do They Fight? is often

asked but rarely answered with clarity. From soldier to flag officer, responses

range from measured to the dangerously xenophobic. Unfortunately, many of our warrior's

beliefs about the terrorists are misguided, ill-informed and too often openly racist.

Many of our citizens and soldiers alike, succumb to the habit of making assertions

about our enemy with no basis in fact or reality.

A new book from the US Naval Institute, Militant Islamist Ideology:

Understanding the Global Threat written

by Cdr. Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN has the answers necessary to recalibrate our

misperceptions of the present terrorist opposition.  It is an excellent compendium

of historical, religious and ideological insights that reveals the terrific corruption

of Islam that makes up the Islamic militant worldview.  It is a book well suited

to giving our warriors a grounded understanding of not only who we are fighting

but what belief system make them so desperate to engage in asymmetric combat at

the cost of their own lives.

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 07/07/2010 - 7:47am | 0 comments
We have received permission to post the French Army manual Doctrine for Counterinsurgency at the Tactical Level, dated April 2010. H/T Lieutenant Colonel Franí§ois de Jaburn, Troupes de Marine.

The original title of the French version of this manual is "Doctrine de contre


In order to avoid confusion and possible misunderstanding with our allies, the French word "contre rébellion" is translated as "counterinsurgency". Although the American and

British meaning of this term better corresponds to the French notion of "stabilisation" (stabilization phase), counterinsurgency in this document, should exclusively be understood as referring to the tactical level of operations.

In the same manner, the French word "rébellion" which characterizes an armed

organization using guerrilla warfare and/or terrorism is translated as "insurgency".

Doctrine for Counterinsurgency at the Tactical Level.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 07/06/2010 - 6:22pm | 3 comments
Reality, Strategy and Afghanistan: Some Questions - Mark Safranski, Zenpundit.

Are all the strategic objectives in Afghanistan clearly defined and acheivable by military force?

Of the operational activities that might support our strategic objectives that require civilian expertise, why in nine years have we not sent adequate civilian agency representation and funding?

If military operations in Afghanistan require a single commander, why does the civilian side of the COIN campaign have authority divided between at least a half-dozen senior officials without anyone having a deliverable "final say" reporting to the President?

If Pakistan's "partnership" is officially a requirement for strategic success (and it is), why would Pakistan be a "partner" in helping stabilize an independent regime in Afghanistan that would terminate Pakistan's ability to use Afghanistan as "strategic depth"?

Is the Taliban more important to our national security than is al Qaida?

Much more at Zenpundit.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 07/06/2010 - 5:59pm | 2 comments
Call for Papers: Grounded Projections for a Vision of Alternative Futures

The Army Capabilities Integration Center's Future Warfare Division is sponsoring a symposium entitled Grounded Projections for a Vision of Alternative Futures. The symposium will be Nov 3-4, 2010, in McLean, VA.

The symposium seeks to explore possible challenges facing the military and how they might affect the future. The symposium will seek to explore various alternatives of what the future may look like in light of what is known today and the implications of various factors on the Army.

As the military prepares for 2030 and beyond, what challenges lie ahead? Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 2001, national defense concepts were based on an assumption that conventional threats would come from hostile nations. In hindsight, it becomes apparent that the real and emerging threats to national security were coming from non-state actors. The military held the belief that surveillance, communications, and information technologies would allow the United States to dominate the battlespace against any opponent.

These erroneous assumptions brought to light the need to study and view all possible alternative futures in the context of history and contemporary knowledge. Recent conflicts and emerging trends need studied from all aspects to provide holistic views of alternative futures. Theories about the character of future warfare must be grounded in knowledge of emerging threats to national security.

A thorough study of contemporary conflict in an historical perspective is needed to correct flawed thinking about the character of conflict, help define future challenges to international security and build relevant military and civilian governmental capabilities to meet those challenges.

Potential areas for study could include expanded globalization and evolution of science, technology and engineering developments; advances in technology and their potential impacts on armed conflicts; where conflicts are likely to rise and where stability is likely to take root; social, economic or environmental trends likely to impact future armed conflicts; the changing global demographics and generational values and their impact on future conflicts and forces.

Ensuring conventional military forces are relevant to the contemporary security environment and capable of coping with threats from hostile states as well as non-state actors should begin with a thorough study to help identify implications for how forces ought to be organized, equipped and trained as well as how leaders ought to be educated.

The symposium will seek to explore possible alternative future views of armed conflict in light of the current environments. Conclusions drawn from the presentations will be used to help guide Army training and leadership development through the next 20 to 30 years. Following the symposium, papers will be posted online.

The symposium will take place Nov. 3-4, 2010, in McLean, VA. Some travel funding may be available. For further details, call Dr Robert Wood at (757) 788-2148 or email abstracts to: no later than Sept. 1, 2010.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 07/06/2010 - 5:35pm | 0 comments
Counterinsurgency in Pakistan - Seth G. Jones and C. Christine Fair, Rand Monograph.

Since 2001, Pakistan has undertaken a number of operations against militant groups, including al Qa'ida, that directly affect U.S. national security. Despite some successes, militant groups continue to present a significant threat to Pakistan, the United States, and a range of other countries. Numerous militant networks - including al Qa'ida and other foreign fighters - exist in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and North West Frontier Province. Pakistan will not be able to deal with the militant threat over the long run unless it does a more effective job of addressing the root causes of the crisis and makes security of the civilian population, rather than destroying the enemy, its top counterinsurgency priority. In addition, Pakistan needs to abandon militancy as a tool of its foreign and domestic policy; it sends a confusing message internally and has a large potential to backfire.

Read the entire monograph at Rand.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 07/06/2010 - 9:18am | 0 comments
Middle East Studies at Marine Corps University invites you to a presentation by Mr. Haider Mullick, a Fellow at U.S. Joint Special Operations University and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, entitled "The Pakistani Surge: Progress and Challenges" scheduled for 1400-1530, 9 July 2010 at the Gray Research Center, Room 164-166, 2040 Broadway St, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Mr. Haider Ali Hussein Mullick is a fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Additionally, he consults with government organizations and advises on security, diplomacy, governance and development issues in South Asia. In the past he has conducted research at the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy Studies (U.S.-Pakistan Relations), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Pakistan's Political Economy and Reviving Failed States), and the Hudson Institute's Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World (Madrassa Education and Links to Islamist Militancy). He is the author of "Pakistan's Security Paradox: Countering and Fomenting Insurgencies".

Please mark your calendars and pass this announcement along to those who you think may be interested. More details will follow for subsequent presentations.

Resources and information pertaining to this lecture series are also available at the MES at MCU website at the following link:

Should you have any questions, or wish to RSVP for the event, please contact Adam Seitz at (703) 432-5260 or

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 07/05/2010 - 10:44am | 0 comments

A Warrior

Ethos by Bing West at National

Interest online.  Hat tip to Carl for sending this along:

Bing West wrote a very good article/book review dated June 28, 2010. 

Like all his stuff it is very insightful. 

Here is the


This is a review / comparison at the National Interest of a triple threat of

recently published and painfully relevant books, from an author who knows it when

he sees it:

David J. Kilcullen,


Ted Morgan,

Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam


Megan K. Stack,

Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An Education in War

Nothing follows.

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 07/05/2010 - 10:12am | 0 comments

Our June beg-a-thon

has come to a graceful conclusion.  With the generous support of a

committed core group of Small Warriors, we raised almost $10,000 -- $9,695 to be

precise. On the one hand, it's a tangible vote of encouragement an impressive

response to a couple of blog posts.  On the other hand, it amounts to 20%

of our goal of $50,000 to close the resourcing gap to support plans for a lot of

the content, responsiveness, and community support improvements we want to make

in the fall.

We have more work to do to resource our efforts and attain our goals. 

In SWJ as well as Afghanistan and the world. ;)

Our site renovation efforts are already budgeted and underway.  We're

looking forward to rolling out those enhancements later in the summer. We'll

then run as far and as fast with those new capabilities as our resources allow.

Thanks again to all our supporters, financial and otherwise -- your

engagement with the site and your active participation in this small wars

community of interest enriches us all.  There are many ways to

support us, and we hope

we are helping you as you work to advance the field of practice. 

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 07/04/2010 - 6:41am | 1 comment

Gen. Petraeus Assumes Command of ISAF - SFC Matthew Chlosta , ISAF Public Affairs Office

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus emphasized the continuity of the counterinsurgency strategy as he assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force in front of the ISAF headquarters building, here.

Framed by towering pine trees, Petraeus was introduced by Germany Army Gen. Egon Ramms, the commander of NATO Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters Brunssum, in the Netherlands.

"As President Obama and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen have noted, my assumption of command represents a change in personnel, not a change in policy or strategy," Petraeus said. "To be sure, I will, as any new commander should, together with ISAF, Afghan, and diplomatic partners, examine our civil-military effort to determine where refinements might be needed."

"I feel privileged to be joining this critical effort at such a pivotal time," Petraeus said. "We are engaged in a tough fight. After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment. We must demonstrate to the Afghan people, and to the world, that Al Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which they can launch attacks on the Afghan people and on freedom-loving nations around the world. And with the surge in ISAF forces and the growth of our Afghan partners, we have a new opportunity to do just that...


Remarks by Gen. David H. Petraeus Upon Assumption of Command - Transcript

Petraeus Assumes Command of ISAF - Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 - Footage

Petraeus Calls for United Effort to Win Afghan War - Voice of America

In Kabul, Petraeus Stresses 'Unity of Effort' - Washington Post

Petraeus Seeks Unity in Afghan Effort - New York Times

Petraeus, Eikenberry Stress Unity - Los Angeles Times

Petraeus: 'We Are in This to Win' in Afghanistan - Associated Press

Afghan War At Critical Stage, Says Petraeus - Reuters

Afghan War's No. 2 Readies His New Boss - Stars and Stripes


Petraeus Takes Command of Afghan Mission - New York Times

Petraeus Takes Command in Afghanistan, Pledging Victory - Washington Post

Petraeus Takes Command of the Afghanistan War - Christian Science Monitor

Petraeus on Afghanistan: 'We are in this to Win' - Voice of America

Winning is NATO's Mission, Petraeus Says - American Forces Press Service

Petraeus Takes Over Afghan Fight, Vows 'to Win' It - Associated Press

Gen Petraeus Formally Takes Over Afghanistan Campaign - BBC News

Petraeus Advisor Predicts Changes in Afghan Strategy - Los Angeles Times

Afghans See Change in Command as a Threat to Safety - Los Angeles Times

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 07/03/2010 - 7:08pm | 0 comments
Pentagon Tightens Interview Rules - Voice of America

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered top military officials to inform the Pentagon before giving interviews to news media.

The new policy announced Friday comes little more than a week after the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, was forced to resign because of a published article. The U.S. magazine Rolling Stone last month published mocking comments McChrystal and his staff made about the Obama administration.

Pentagon officials say Secretary Gates was working on the new policy before that scandal. They added that the policy was not intended to restrict information or media access to officials.

Some reporters have expressed concern after the McChrystal episode that military officials will be wary of communicating with them.


Gates Tightens Rules for Military and the Media - New York Times

Pentagon Issues New Rules for Engaging the Press - Wall Street Journal

Gates Wants Military Interviews with Press Cleared - Associated Press

Gates Tightens Military's Media Rules - BBC News

Pentagon Tightens Media Rules for U.S. Military - Agence France-Presse

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 10:19pm | 2 comments

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

-- U.S. Declaration of Independence

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance.

-- John Adams

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-- Benjamin Franklin

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

-- Thomas Jefferson

by Robert Haddick | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 8:33pm | 7 comments
Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

Topics include:

1) The Pentagon's entitlement spending problem,

2) The U.S. is a spectator at Afghanistan's end game.

The Pentagon's entitlement spending problem

A recent report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) explained the dismal trends that are bogging down the Pentagon's budget. Over the past decade, the budget, after subtracting out inflation, has almost doubled. Yet during that time, the number of aircraft and warships has declined and those that remain have gotten older. Funding has expanded at Reagan-like levels. But compared to the Reagan years, there has been relatively little modernization resulting from all of that spending.

The operational costs of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a large part of the problem. According to the CSBA, 20 percent of defense spending (including supplemental budgets) between 2001 and 2010 went to operational costs of those two wars. But the remaining 80 percent of the spending doesn't seem to have produced much new capability.

The rapid escalation in the cost of new weapons -- partly caused by frustrating mismanagement in research and procurement practices -- has resulted in a bleak return on investment for taxpayers. In 1985, during the peak of the Reagan defense buildup, the Pentagon bought 338 new tactical fighter aircraft and 23 new warships, among other items. In 2008, procurement spending was 33 percent higher after adjusting for inflation, yet the department could afford only 56 new airplanes and 7 new warships. One wonders whether the increases in weapons quality have been worth the inflation in unit costs.

But it is the Department's personnel costs that will pose the biggest headache in the future. Just like entitlement spending in the domestic budget, salaries, health care, and family services benefits granted today compound into the future and are politically impossible to retract. In order to reduce stress on ground troops making repeated deployments to the war zones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expanded Army and Marine Corps headcounts by 92,100 immediately after taking office in late 2006. Meanwhile, Congress has consistently upped the ante on the Pentagon's salary requests. Just like everywhere else in the economy, the Pentagon's health care bill has run wild, tripling the rate of inflation in the rest of the economy since 2001 -- it now consumes nearly a tenth of the Pentagon's base budget. And in order to retain experienced personnel constantly separated from their families, Congress has expanded a variety of family benefits.

The result has been a growth in inflation-adjusted personnel costs from $73,300 per head in 2000 to $126,800 in the 2011 budget. When it comes time for Congress to roll back defense spending, this compensation will be untouchable. Training, maintenance, and equipment modernization will suffer the cuts.

Gates has rightly made the preservation of the all-volunteer force his top budget priority. Military success depends first and always on the quality of the soldiers in an army. That requires competitive compensation.

But just like any other enterprise struggling under financial pressure, the military will soon have to examine whether there are new paradigms that might allow one soldier to make the same contribution to security that ten or a hundred previously did.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 4:19pm | 36 comments
What Really Happened at Wanat - Kirk Ross, Proceedings.

Some press accounts have placed blame for M4 carbine malfunctions at the Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan, squarely on the weapon's manufacturer. In fact, other factors could have led to the disaster there...

Read the entire article at Proceedings.

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 7:25am | 4 comments
Center for Naval Analyses Workshop

While the United States has focused on the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan, the role of India has remained largely overlooked. Since 2001, India has restored diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, invested heavily in reconstruction projects, and increased bilateral trade. As a result, Pakistani-based terrorist groups who initially planned attacks on Indian soil, now also increasingly target Indian workers and diplomats in Afghanistan. How can the United States better work with its fellow democratic ally? What opportunities can Afghanistan pursue with India?

Please join the Center for Naval Analyses for a workshop on India's role in Afghanistan: Security, Politics, and Trade, on Monday, 12 July, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Panelists include: Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (confirmed); Steve Coll, President of the New America Foundation (confirmed); Ali Jalali, Distinguished Professor at NDU's Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (invited), S. Frederick Starr, Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center (confirmed); and moderator Dr. Jerry Meyerle, Research Analyst at CNA (confirmed).

The workshop will be held in the Gold Room of the 2168 Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Please RSVP to or 703.824.2436 by Friday, 9 July.

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 07/02/2010 - 6:51am | 0 comments
Joe Galloway - Steven Pressfield interview with the man who set the standard for today's journalists.

You ask me to analyze what has always made me jump when others might pause. Tough question. I've always been competitive and 22 years at United Press International (UPI), the now defunct news wire service, only sharpened that edge. UPI's motto was always: A Deadline Every Minute. You learned to move fast, get the story fast and first, write fast and leave The Associated Press in the dirt.

When I went to Vietnam to cover the war in the spring of 1965 I had just turned 23 years old. I spent my first seven months covering the U.S. Marines. The learning curve is steep in combat. You learn to read a situation, or a man, instantly and if you are wrong it can cost you your life.

At the core, down deep, is a willingness to act on instinct when the situation leaves no time for chewing things over or searching the memory for a textbook solution. I trust my instincts. They are the sum total of all I know, all I have read, all I have experienced, all I have learned. Instinct has served me well all my life. It has permitted me to jump when others might not, and survive to tell the stories.

Read the entire interview.

by SWJ Editors | Thu, 07/01/2010 - 6:31pm | 2 comments
President Obama's 2011 Deadline in Afghanistan Stirs Controversy

Ravi Khanna

Voice of America

The change in the US military command in Afghanistan has brought to the forefront yet again the controversy over President Obama's July 2011 deadline in Afghanistan. Is it a deadline for the US to begin actually withdrawing its troops? Or is it a deadline to assess the progress made in breaking the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, in order to determine the future course of action.

President Obama set the deadline in December of last year, as he announced his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. "These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces," he said. "And allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011".

But hours after the announcement, officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates began downplaying the deadline, amid fears that it might send a wrong message to the Taliban and also to the Pakistanis and Afghans.

The controversy came up again as the U.S. Senate was confirming General David Petraeus to replace ousted General Stanely McChrystal.

Continue on for the entire story...

by Robert Haddick | Thu, 07/01/2010 - 11:01am | 3 comments
This week the American Enterprise Institute published an essay I wrote about containing and deterring Iran ("If war is not the answer"). The theme: An explicit U.S. security guarantee protecting Persian Gulf allies from Iran may look appealing (compared to the alternatives), but it will be difficult to define, tough to credibly implement, and contain its own sizable risks and costs.

An excerpt:

President Obama will soon have to face the realization that the sanctions strategy against Iran has fared no better than his bid to engage Iran's leaders in direct negotiations. Iran's strategy of patiently playing for time, generating diplomatic support from the developing world, and convincing China and Russia to dilute sanctions at the Security Council is working. The United States and its allies have not been able to develop sufficient leverage to disrupt Iran's strategy.

Short of war, the only course remaining for the United States and its allies is containment and deterrence. A key component of such a strategy would be a security guarantee, explicitly extending the U.S. nuclear umbrella over its Arab allies around the Persian Gulf. Compared to the prospect of war, and with the other strategies having failed, an explicit U.S. security guarantee may look appealing. In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned the possibility of extending a "security umbrella" over the Middle East and repeated the idea in February 2010.

But a security guarantee protecting the Persian Gulf allies from Iran will not be easy. It will be difficult to define, tough to credibly implement, and contain its own risks and costs. Before agreeing to a security guarantee, U.S. policy makers need to consider these costs and risks. They should prepare programs that will increase the chance of such a strategy's success. Perhaps most important, U.S. policy makers need to be open with the American public about what a commitment to a security guarantee will mean. As was the case during the Cold War, broad public acceptance is necessary if a security guarantee is to be credible and sustainable.

Click here to read the essay.

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 06/30/2010 - 8:58am | 2 comments
Legitimizing Army Psychological Operations, by Alfred Paddock, Jr., was published earlier this year in Joint Force Quarterly and expands on Paddock's Small Wars Journal article PSYOP: On a Complete Change in Organization, Practice, and Doctrine.

Once again, we hear discussion within the U.S. Army on whether the name psychological operations (PSYOP) should be changed—an issue that has arisen periodically for years. The term, defined broadly as the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behavior of foreign audiences, is characterized by some as "toxic," "disinformation," "unsavory," and with other pejorative words. This criticism inhibits the ability of PSYOP units to support U.S. military forces and to interact with other executive branch agencies—or so goes the criticism. Thus, some argue, the term must be replaced.

I believe this would be a mistake...

More from Joint Force Quarterly.