by SWJ Editors
Assessing and Targeting Illicit Funding in Conflict Ecosystems
Irregular Warfare Correlations
by Brigadier General David L. Grange and J.T. Patten
In December 2008, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a "Directive-Type Memorandum" whose subject was a DoD Counter-Threat Finance (CTF) Policy that included priority purposes to counter financing used by illicit trafficking networks in support of adversaries' activities, which may negatively affect U.S. interests. Countering threat finance included memorandum policy to deny, disrupt, destroy, degrade, and defeat these adversarial networks with many "counters" relying on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that follow Irregular Warfare concepts. Targeting and assessing the greater illicit funding mechanism within conflict ecosystems demands the same below-the-waterline tacit knowledge, situational understanding, and intelligence creation that most complex and unconventional operations require while keeping local populations out of the fray.
CTF and other Irregular Warfare efforts need an accurate contextual assessment identifying the nature of specific activity and the culture of the various ethnic groups involved to precisely apply the use of force or countermeasures while gaining (and retaining) legitimacy in the eyes of the civilian population. This requires understanding and circumstantial application of history, society, economic infrastructure/ecosystems, local/regional politics, tribes and clans or social ties, and legal structures. Combining typical joint-oriented preparation of the environment/battle-space with CTF doctrine details will require going beyond the capabilities in traditional financing theory and forensic techniques of transactional dates, amounts, sources of transactions, and personalities involved to more accurately identify, detect, predict, target, and actively interdict threat, terrorist, and / or illicit criminal finance activities.
By employing a hybrid of IW, CTF, and shared operating concepts, intelligence and forensic investigative strategies can become complimentary at the joint and interagency community of interest levels. Based on the illicit groups or actions involved and those government agencies covering them, a Whole of Government (or beyond) network of efforts will improve support to operational strategies at ground level up to the prosecution needs at the Justice level. From this community of purpose standpoint, Zones of Influence can be better established to contest the space that is utilized by criminal and adversarial purposes.