Countering 21st Century Threats: The Need for an Increased Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) Approach to Irregular Warfare

Countering 21st Century Threats: The Need for an Increased Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) Approach to Irregular Warfare

Lee Jae Hun, Peter Scharling Pedersen and Chad M. Pillai

Executive Summary

The United States and its Allies confront an increasingly volatile world where threats range from traditional state-on-state challenges to non-state transnational networks.  To successfully combat these 21st Century problems, in an era of resource and geo-political power constraints, the U.S. and its Allies need to develop a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) approach to Irregular Warfare (IW).  This is crucial because  according to Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction 3000.07 (Irregular Warfare), DOD Policy considers IW “as strategically important as traditional warfare and DOD must be equally capable in both.” 

Despite the necessity to conduct IW, DOD and the wider Interagency Community do not have a set of established and accepted concepts and doctrine.  Even the term IW is not universally accepted as it is closely related to the traditional concept of Unconventional Warfare (UW).  Other obstacles such as resolving tensions in U.S. staturoy law between traditional military and intelligence activities, briding the gap with non-security Departments and Agencies, and developing the necessary trust with bilateral and multilateral partners are components that need to be addressed in order to successfully conduct IW.  As result of researching the issues associated with developing a Joint, Inter-Agency, International, and Multinational (JIIM) approach to IW, the paper makes the following recommendations. 

• Establishing a universally accepted concepts and doctrines for IW, UW, Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Counter Insurgency (COIN), Counter-Terrorism (CT), and Security and Stability Operations (SSO).

• Address issues associated with how these activities fit within the context of Title 10 and Title 50 authorities, funding, and Congressional oversight. 

• Establishing a construct that allows a strategic Whole-of-Government capacity for operations coordinated by joint interagency task forces.  

• Continue to developing the Global SOF network.

• Increased intelligence sharing in areas of shared interests pre-crisis

• Establish political agreements and/or intentions with partners to address potential threats

• Establishing mutual trust through Building Partnership Capacity with capable SOF and intelligence organizations.

Introduction

The United States and its Allies confront an increasingly volatile world where threats range from traditional state-on-state challenges to non-state transnational networks.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, succinctly summarized these challenges as his 2-2-2-1 elevator pitch:  “Two are heavyweights - Russia and China; two are middleweights - Iran and North Korea; two are networks - Al-Qaeda and affiliates and transnational criminal networks; and the cyber domain.”[1] Compounding these security challenges are fiscal constraints stemming from the 2008 Financial Crash and its global repercussions along with continued political gridlock in Washington, D.C.  The increasing scale and diversity of these security challenges requires the U.S. and its Allies and Partners to consider innovative asymmetric and cost effective means to counter these challenges.  Today’s strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), efforts to challenge Russia’s actions in Eastern Ukraine or China’s behavior in the South China Sea, and the previous 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates the need for strategic tools beyond overt conventional military power.  To successfully combat known and unknown challenges, in an era of resource and geo-political power constraints, the U.S. and its Allies need to develop a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) approach to Irregular Warfare (IW).  This is crucial because  according to Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction 3000.07 (Irregular Warfare), DOD Policy considers IW “as strategically important as traditional warfare and DOD must be equally capable in both.  Many of the capabilities and skills required for IW are applicable to traditional warfare, but their role in IW can be proportionally greater.”[2] To be effective, there needs to be universally accepted concepts, doctrine, and legal authorities for IW within the JIIM construct.

The Concept of Irregular Warfare

The security establishment developed terms like Irregular Warfare, Hybrid War and 4th Generation Warfare in the 1990s and post 9/11 era; however, these terms, along with the rediscovery of insurgency and COIN, are all elements of what is traditionally considered Unconventional War (UW).[3]  Recognizing the ambiguity regarding the terms IW and UW, the Joint Staff Dictionary has defined them (See Table 1) as a means to provide a common understanding.

Table 1: IW & UW Defined

  • Irregular Warfare (IW): A violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s).
  • Unconventional Warfare (UW):  Activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.

JP 1-02: Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 15 December 2013.

Andru E. Wall broke down the three characteristics of UW and how IW is distinguished, in an article which are: (1) UW is “conduct by, with, and through indigenous forces; (2) those indigenous forces are ‘irregular’ (non-government forces); and (3) supports activities against the government or occupying power.”[4] According to Andru Wall, the third characteristic distinguishes IW from UW because IW is a “violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence,” while UW “may be waged in support of both conventional state-on-state conflicts and insurgencies.”[5]

The Joint Staff, in response to the 2008 edition of the DOD Instructions 3000.07 (IW), published the Irregular Warfare: Countering Irregular Threats Joint Operating Concept (JOC) in 2010 as a means to frame IW as the overarching doctrinal principle with five subordinate key activities: UW, counter-insurgency (COIN), counter-terrorism (CT), foreign internal defense (FID), and Stability and Security Operations (SSO).[6]  The IW JOC also calls for greater JIIM collaboration by stating that “to carry out these activities successfully, the joint force must collaborate with other governmental agencies, multinational partners, and, where appropriate, the host nation to understand the situation in depth, act in concert, and continually assess and adapt their approach in response to the dynamic and complex nature of the problem.”[7]

DOD's definitions of IW and UW are not universally accepted within the interagency.  In fact, some former practitioners and scholars, such as David Maxwell, a retired Special Forces Colonel and a Georgetown University professor, states that the IW concept is too narrow and limited because “unconventional warfare at its core is about revolution, resistance, and insurgency (RRI) combined with the external support provided to a revolution, resistance, or insurgency by either the U.S. or others (who may or may not have interests aligned with the U.S. and may in fact be opposed to the U.S. and our friends, partners, and allies).”[8]  Likewise, we counter or support RRI through the use of UW and FID.  He further addressed the lack of a JIIM Doctrine or Policy for UW in his recent Small Wars Journal titled Do We Really Understand Unconventional War? When he stated “Although this definition [UW] now resides in the DOD dictionary there is no DOD or Joint level doctrine specifically for unconventional warfare.  There is no national policy for unconventional warfare.”[9]

The lack of a DOD or Joint Doctrine extends to the other elements of IW such as COIN, FID, and SSO.  Currently, specific Service Doctrine such as FM 3-24 (COIN) serves as Joint Doctrine. All of these specific concepts and doctrines address the need for a Whole-of-Government (WoG) approach to be successful since many of the challenges in the security environment require more than military solutions.  Additionally, bringing in the other elements of national power: Diplomatic, Economic, Informational along with cyber requires a broader application of irregular warfare among the interagency.   For sake of clarity, this paper addresses the application of UW in the broader sense as it relates to the IW JOC because it allows for a greater understanding of the challenges associated with a JIIM approach to IW.  It will also help address the perceived failures of IW in the past due to actual execution instead of a theoretically concept[10] which when properly conducted could prove far more successful and cheaper (treasure and blood) than more traditional forms of warfare.

Joint Doctrine for Irregular Warfare

As early as 2004, David P. Matarazzo’s Monograph Far More Intellectual than a Bayonet Charge: The Need for Joint Unconventional Warfare Doctrine recognized the deficiency in Joint Doctrine on Unconventional Warfare and recommended that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) be the lead agent for this doctrine.[11]  Recently, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the Army component to SOCOM, published its white paper titled Counter Unconventional Warfare that “describes how U.S. rivals are employing unconventional warfare (UW) — the external sponsorship of insurgent and separatist movements — and argues for a comprehensive JIIM strategy that applies political, economic, military and psychological pressure, with a prominent role for U.S. special operations forces.”[12] The white paper acknowledges the gain made across the Joint Force and Interagency in conducting COIN, CT, and SSO in Iraq and Afghanistan, but identified continued weakness in combating state sponsored hybrid or unconventional warfare strategies such as those employed by Russia in Ukraine, and Iran in Lebanon which is a growing concern to the U.S.[13] Additionally, according to David Maxwell, SOCOM is working on the first ever Joint Doctrine for UW.[14]  Establishing a universally accepted concepts and doctrines for IW, UW, FID, COIN, CT, and SSO will help bridge the gap with interagency partners and focus on any organizational and statutory reforms needed for full implementation. 

Joint and Interagency Construct for Irregular Warfare

Beyond universal concepts and doctrines, the U.S. confronts statutory and organization challenges in implementing a unified irregular warfare campaign.  Foremost is the understanding that IW and its subcomponent of UW does not belong solely to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, but to the wider interagency community due to its strategic nature.[15]  Robert A. Newson, a Navy SEAL and Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) Fellow identified this issue when he assessed the new Counter-Unconventional Warfare Concept by stating:

Counter-UW requires a whole-of-government approach and a comprehensive and integrated pursuit of political warfare, including economic sanctions, diplomacy, and the use of surrogates, military and law enforcement support to partner nations, and strategic communication and information operations. The U.S. has not displayed a strategic whole-of-government capacity beyond CT, counter-narcotic, and counter-proliferation tactical operations coordinated by joint interagency task forces. A considerable effort and strong leadership will be required to create this capacity. This task is so enormous it may take congressional legislation to create a strategic-level national counter-UW capability.[16]

During WWII, the United States had this capability when it conducted UW against Germany and Japan utilizing the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Army’s Special Forces.  Taking Newson’s assessment further, some have argued that today’s security environment may require the U.S. to re-establish an OSS-like organization.  In fact, Robert Caruso, a former Department of Defense and State official, recommended “combining existing intelligence agencies — the (CIA) National Clandestine Service, Defense Intelligence Agency, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, and the Joint Special Operations Command — into one entity.”[17] This entity’s charter would require it to play as ruthless as our adversaries.  This runs counter to what the 9/11 Commission recommended which called for all covert and clandestine actions transferred to the Department of Defense.[18]  However, it is unlikely that Congress would approve such a merger that would increase the size and power of the CIA, or even DOD, and would require a re-organization of existing oversight committees.  In the meantime, any national level irregular warfare doctrine and campaign will require it to navigate the perceived tensions between Title 10 (Traditional Military) and Title 50 (Intelligence Activities). 

Synchronizing Traditional Military and Intelligence Activities

Modern war requires the close collaboration between traditional military and intelligence activities and this is especially true when conducting UW.  Understanding the distinct and, in some cases, overlapping statutory guidelines for who will lead an unconventional warfare campaign and how within the irregular warfare framework is critical. The primary issue concerns the inherent authorities of “DoD and the CIA or more specifically, DoD-led “Title 10 [military] operations” versus CIA-led “Title 50 [intelligence] operations, referring to the respective United States Code titles that give each agency its authority.”[19] The divide between these two statutory titles revolves around the term “covert.” This is significant because the Joint Doctrine definition of “covert” differs from its statutory definition and it was a key change recommended by Colonel Richard Gross who analyzed the tension between DoD-led special activities vs. CIA-led in order to better align DOD and the CIA for future activities.[20]

Common definition also helps clarify the proper “Command and Control” of special operations forces conducting covert operations.  The 2011 raid to kill Bin Laden demonstrated the legal confusion over the “Command and Control” of the team that executed the mission.  The CIA was responsible for conducting Title 50 covert operations authorities to hunt and kill Bin Laden; however, the public announcements following the raid did not qualify it as a covert operation.  Additionally, SOCOM had the authority to lead global CT operations against Al Qaeda under its Title 10 authorities which fell under the scope of “traditional military activities.” According to Joseph Berger, this raises significant legal and policy concerns moving forward as the U.S. Government conducts future covert operations without the knowledge and consent of the host nation and the legal status of the forces conducting the operation.[21]  The concern is that military personnel operating under Title 50 may not be given the traditional Geneva Convention protections and instead may be prosecuted as spies.  However, the real tension is not who the command and control of a covert operation is, since the Secretary of Defense also has Title 50 covert authorities, but it has is more to do with who funds the operation and the congressional oversight requirements.[22]   There are three areas where this continues to create tension.

The first is when DOD wanted to rapidly expand the amount of personnel it dedicated for Human Intelligence (HUMINT) collection.  To some, DOD’s greater resource capacity threatened to overwhelm the CIA by fielding thousands of military intelligence personnel across the globe compared to the CIA’s hundreds of intelligence personnel and would have challenged the agency’s lead authority for the collection of foreign intelligence specified by Title 50.[23] Recently, this issue has subsided as DOD announced that it was scaling back the size of its HUMINT collection force that would have rivaled the CIA since it faced Congressional resistance for its perceived duplication to the CIA’s statutory responsibility.[24]

The second issue is the dual hatted nature given to the Secretary of Defense, and specifically to the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA)/Commander of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), within Title 10 and Title 50.  According to Andru Wall, “cyberwarfare is no longer the future of warfare – it is the present and future.”   Recognizing the emergent intelligence and military capabilities of cyber, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended that Lieutenant General Keith Alexander be nominated to be both the NSA director and CYBERCOM Commander.[25]  Cyber activities ranging from cyber intelligence gathering, cyber defense activities, and offensive cyber is conducted at light speed and the need for action may blur the distinction between traditional military and intelligence activities.  Also, the skills needed to conduct cyber intelligence are also the same needed for a cyber-attack.  Unlike other domains, the same individual in the cyber domain may serve both the traditional intelligence analyst and military direct action operative that would require simultaneous collection, analysis, and action.[26]  However, former Supreme Allied Commander-Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis, and Dave Weinstein’s Foreign Affairs articled Divide and Conquer highlighted these tensions resulting from the dual-hatted nature and recommended a split. They stated that while there “was an overlap between military and intelligence missions in cyberspace…it was a mistake to assume that they would complement, rather than impede, each other.” Additionally, they stated that “so long as intelligence collection and military operations are conducted in tandem, their practitioners will fight bureaucratic turf battles against their counterparts to gain priority in operational planning.”  This has led to the NSA dominating CYBERCOM and that “it was a mistake to presume that synergy could be achieved by suppressing the differences between these two organizations by placing them under the leadership of a single person.”[27] While a compelling argument, this is, according to Andru Wall, a fallacy in the understanding of the Title 10-Title 50 debate since it highlights the policy fights over “rice bowls” rather than actual statutory limitations.[28]

The third area of tension within the Title 10-Title 50 debate lies with Congress and its oversight and appropriations responsibilities.  The problem, or fundamental challenge, according to Andru Wall  “is that Title 10 and Title 50 are mutually supporting authorities that can be exercised by the same person, yet congressional oversight is exercised by separate, and often competing, committees and subcommittees.”[29] Hampering the Senate and House Intelligence Committees ability to provide better oversight is their lack of appropriations control of the intelligence community’s budget which is controlled by the Senate and House Armed Services Appropriations Committees.  The 9/11 Commission recommended Congress reform the intelligence committees so that they had the proper oversight and appropriations authorities, and would lessen the Title 10 and Title 50 debate.  This would allow them to focus simply on asking who authorized and led a covert action and which pot of money was used to fund it. [30] This new arrangement, for example, would make it easier for Congress to oversee the administration’s “Drone Policy” since there would not be such a contentious debate on whether the act was carried out by DOD or the CIA.[31]

The Title 10 and Title 50 debate is manageable due to the mutually supporting authorities allowed to DOD and the Intelligence Community.  Expanding that across the rest of the interagency will be difficult, but not impossible.  Title 50 does not only address the CIA and DOD, but the rest of the Intelligence Community that has intelligence agencies within the Department of State, Treasury, Justice, Energy, and Homeland Security.  In a non-declared wartime environment, the term warfare, especially in irregular warfare, is controversial to many of these non-DOD/CIA agencies because it is not conducive to other civilian agencies. [32] While Treasury, along with the Justice Department, has been very active in counter-threat finance activities to counter terrorist organizations like the Haqqani Network[33], it does not see its activities as inherently lethal.  Additionally, a common doctrine for IW among the interagency will allow DOD and the CIA to work closer with U.S. Country Teams globally to ensure unity of effort and synchronization of IW campaigns with U.S. National and Foreign Policy objectives.  While there are inherent difficulties in developing and executing a national, unilateral, approach to IW, with sufficient leadership they can be overcome.  Once the U.S. develops a comprehensive Joint and Interagency Doctrine for IW, it will make it easier to develop and/or strengthen bilateral and multilateral approaches to IW with its Allies and Partners.   

Bilateral Approach to Irregular Warfare

In a democratic nation, developing a Joint and Interagency approach to IW is difficult enough, but such challenges pale in comparison to implementing it with an Ally, especially where there are differences in operational security, policy goals, command structures, and individual capabilities.[34] The reason boils down to mutual trust. Sharing requires openness. But any organization (or nation) that requires secrecy to perform its duties will struggle with and often reject openness.[35] Most governmental intelligence organizations, including the U.S. intelligence community, place more emphasis on secrecy than on effectiveness. [36] In developing an international (bilateral) approach to IW, there are two models available for study: (1) a parallel effort and (2) an integrated command structure.

The first model is based on the current U.S.-UK “special relationship” forged since WWII.  During WWII, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the U.S. OSS conducted a combined UW campaign against NAZI Germany.  The most successful Combined UW campaign occurred in Yugoslavia where the SOE and OSS working with local partisans pinned over 600,000 German and Italian troops fighting a COIN fight rather than being used to engage the Soviets and/or Combined U.S./UK forces on the eastern and western fronts.[37] There were difficult moments during the U.S.-UK Combined UW Campaign in Yugoslavia and the rest of Europe as a result of the lack of operational security and capabilities by the U.S.  However, by the end of the war, the OSS grew to be the equal of its UK SOE counterpart.[38]  

Since WWII, the “special relationship” between the U.S. and UK has grown stronger.  While the U.S. replaced the UK as the global super power, their mutual trust throughout the Cold War and the Post-Cold War has continued.  The mutual trust today is based on the close relationship between various U.S. and UK government organizations such as the U.S. and UK defense establishments (DOD and UK Ministry of Defense), Special Forces (USSOCOM and UK Special Force (UKSF) Directorate), Foreign Intelligence (CIA and Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6), Signal Intelligence (NSA and UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Domestic Intelligence (FBI and UK Security Service known as MI5), and the Diplomatic Agencies (U.S. Department of State and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)).  As recently as 2012, U.S. and UK Special Forces conducted a combined hostage rescue operation in Afghanistan that saved the lives of three UK aid workers.  U.S. and UK Intelligence assets support a combined UK Special Air Service (SAS) and Navy SEAL operation in the northern western Badakshan region demonstrated the close working relationship between the U.S. and UK.[39]  The U.S. and the UK have a history and the capability to implement a combined (military, diplomatic, and intelligence) IW campaign against current and future adversaries.

The second bilateral model is the integrated command structure that exists today between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) since the end of the Korean War. The U.S. and Korea have a strong lineage of combined UW operations.  During the Korean War, 8th U.S. Army established, trained, and equipped Korean guerilla units. Today, that relationship continues as part of the integrated U.S.-ROK Command Structure.  As part of the Defense of Korea, the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC), would provide a coordinated defense utilizing the ground, air, and sea components along with the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force (CUWTF).[40]

Currently, Special Operation Command Korea (SOCKOR) is responsible for planning, coordination and conducting combined special operation in support of the Commander, U.S. Forces-Korea (USFK) and Combined Forces Command (CFC) - Korea. SOCKOR exercises operational control of assigned Special Forces detachments in Korea and is focused on deterrence and preparation for the defense of Korea. If North Korea invades, SOCKOR and ROK Special Forces, composed of ROK Army, Navy, and Air Force, will operate as the CUWTF and in which the SOCKOR Commander serves as the Deputy Commander.  In fact, SOCKOR is the only Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC) where Host Nation (HN) SOF assets are integrated for combined operations and serves as a good example of a bilateral irregular warfare capability.[41]  The integration of Korean and U.S. SOF in combined exercises provides the means to further integrate their capabilities and sense of mutual trust. Current Operational Planning for the CUWTF focuses on defensive measure to defeat a North Korean UW campaign or in the event of a regime collapse in North Korea, secure North Korea’s WMD program. On the hand, attempting offensive irregular warfare against the North Korean prior to any conflict will be extremely risky due to the unpredictable nature of the regime and the high probability of miscalculation.  In spite of the solid integrated model, there is still room for improvement both in training and intelligence sharing.  Unlike the UK, the ROK does not enjoy the same level of access to U.S. intelligence as the UK. 

The article Challenges in Coalition Warfare highlight four critical factors needed to be successful in a bilateral approach to IW.  First, nations must share pre-crisis intelligence and continue to share intelligence openly focusing beyond pure military intelligence to the political and cultural dimensions.  Second, unity of command on policy and plans against a common adversary. Third, the importance of operational level talent that imbues trust among partners. And fourth, tactical actions or deeds shared with partisans to establish trust.[42] Transferring these factors or tenants into a multinational coalition is exponentially more complex and nearly impossible.

Multilateral Approach to Irregular Warfare

As with the bilateral approach, the single biggest factor in a successful IW campaign is mutual trust among partners.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance consists of 28 nations that require consensus among all members before action can be taken.  This is problematic when burden sharing among alliance members is not equal, the levels of mutual trust are uneven, and the various capabilities to conduct IW are less integrated.[43]  The political and military command structure within NATO does not foster the operational flexibility and operational security needed for a comprehensive IW campaign. 

The NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan and Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and forays into Eastern Ukraine has demonstrated NATO’s inability to conduct a coalition IW Campaign.  These two cases highlight NATO’s dilemma in dealing with both a state and non-state actors.  NATO was created to confront a traditional state-on-state conventional threat and all members are prepared to assume their Article 5 (attack against one is an attack against all) obligations to their fellow alliance members.  However, Russia’s recent IW (Ambiguity Strategy) has outfoxed NATO in response to events in Ukraine.  Russia recognizes the leverage it possesses due to energy and NATO’s sluggish response to events that require consensus among the 28 nations.[44]

The reason NATO is being outfoxed and incapable of responding is because there is no existing NATO doctrine describing IW. Some subcomponents like counterinsurgency are described, but IW in general and UW in particular is not. NATO’s recent 2014 summit issued its Strategic Concept for “Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Response.” However, there are already gaps in this approach, especially in the military component.[45]  While NATO does not have a codified doctrine, they are attempting to impart the lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, and etc. 

NATO, after specific analysis of the lessons learned across multiple theaters, decided to implement the NATO SOF Transformation Initiative (NSTI); led by NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ). It provides focused Special Operations advice to the Supreme Allied Commander – Europe (SACEUR) and the NATO Chain of Command on a collaborative, inter-dependent platform to enhance the Alliance SOF network. Through the NSHQ, NATO is transforming the current NATO SOF capability, i.e. leader education and development, doctrine, training and planning, information systems and infrastructure. The aim is to expand the NATO SOF community while enhancing its interoperability and capabilities.[46]

With regards to supporting a global SOF network for 2020, NATO is taking steps to ensure a greater integrated role for NATO SOF in Theater Campaign Planning from the start with a stronger SOF command component or core. NATO seeks to facilitate the synchronization of the SOF component contribution to the Commander’s campaign planning at the operational levels (and by proxy at the tactical levels). It should directly increase SOF’s own ability to resource, plan, and conduct SOF framework operations.  As a result, larger SOF communities have expanded their civil affairs units accordingly. This requires a close synchronization between civil affairs and typical SOF activities, including unconventional warfare, counter-insurgency and counterterrorism.[47]

Establishing a NATO SOF HQ is the first step towards being able to conduct future IW operations within a multilateral framework. The former Commander, USSOCOM acknowledges the positive nature of the establishment of the NSHQ because it allows U.S. and partner nations to share information, improve interoperability and, when necessary,  works together abroad. As a whole, the Global SOF network represents a way to improve the support to the Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) and Chiefs of Mission and to empower a global effort with capable allies and partners.[48] The challenges of creating the necessary trust between partners to share information are well known, but are critical and necessary in order to be able to conduct covert and clandestine operations in a multilateral environment.

Recent events in Syria and Iraq with ISIL, suggests that once again, the UN is unable to provide for a mandate to intervene. This leaves a coalition of the willing that over a long period has come to agree on certain actions. If this coalition where to utilize the full effects of IW, it should have established it years ago. At that time, the precondition of the strategic objective being important enough, was probably not significant enough to establish a coalition. Another challenge for the conduct of a multilateral IW campaign is the principle of overlapping objectives, which might be possible to establish with one partner, but gets more difficult with added partners.  Syria represents a recent example, and the historical example from WW2 where U.S. and UK did not always agree to the objectives and exactly which fractions to support.[49]

It is not likely that any time soon, we will see NATO conducting IW Campaigns, but the framework within a global SOF Network will enable coalitions between countries with shared interests in a specific area to agree to conduct future multilateral operations. Likewise, to achieve the full effect of IW, it needs to be coordinated with other agencies across the instruments of power (DIME). It is unclear how the interagency coordination will be organized and it will heavily depend on how each country within the network is organized. Preconditions for partnership in a specific case, at a minimum, the need to establish a common political agreement on the issue at hand.

Lessons Identified in the Application of IW

With the increasing threats to the U.S. and its Allies and Partners from both state and non-state actors, the need for a comprehensive JIIM approach to IW is needed.  Unfortunately, IW and its subcomponent of UW, COIN, and FID are hard to deal with among western governments due to the experience in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.  This is evident in the West’s response to the ISIL threat and the challenge of forcing President Assad of Syria out of power.  What many critics of IW fail to acknowledge is that campaigns to support insurgent groups fail when there is a lack of external support.  Lieutenant Colonel Jan K. Gleiman article Give (Unconventional) War a Chance reinforces this observation when he reviewed a CIA report on the short comings of support insurgencies and provide this analysis:

Studies of insurgencies and civil wars consistently demonstrate that external support is the most common enabler of insurgent success and that failure to isolate insurgents from external support is one cause of unsuccessful counterinsurgency campaigns. If external support matters so much in determining the outcome of civil wars, but U.S. and allied efforts have a bad record, what’s the obvious. conclusion? The problem isn’t that unconventional warfare doesn’t work; the problem is that we’re not good at it! The U.S. and its allies are either doing something wrong or failing to do something important.[50]

According to Gleiman, the reason why the West has not seen success recently in supporting insurgencies is because it simply is bad at it.  This reinforces the need for codified concepts, doctrines, and statutory authorities needed to conduct IW.  Also, while the U.S. and its Allies may wish to forego Irregular Warfare in the future, its adversaries will not.  As throughout their history, U.S. and its Allied leaders will find themselves drawn into irregular warfare campaigns.[51]  The psychological resistance of the U.S. and its Allies to put “boots on the ground” has clouded its perception of IW.  However, IW could be a way of avoiding putting “boots on the ground” while still trying to achieve the strategic objective in a conflict where use of ground forces is inappropriate and unacceptable. Instead of considering IW and UW as a crisis response, it should be used to prevent a crisis from morphing into a larger strategic threat.[52]

Conclusion and Recommendations

The historical observation of IW illustrates a continued need for a comprehensive JIIM approach to deter or defeat the traditional and irregular threats of the 21st Century.  In order to successful execute IW in the future, the following recommendations are offered for the development of future concepts, doctrines, statutory authorities, and planning.

  • Establishing a universally accepted concepts and doctrines for IW, UW, FID, COIN, CT, and SSO.
  • Address issues associated with how these activities fit within the context of Title 10 and Title 50 authorities, funding, and Congressional oversight. 
  • Establishing a construct that allows a strategic Whole-of-Government capacity for operations coordinated by joint interagency task forces.  
  • Continue to developing the Global SOF network.
  • Increased intelligence sharing in areas of shared interests pre-crisis
  • Establish political agreements and/or intentions with partners to address potential threats
  • Establishing mutual trust through Building Partnership Capacity with capable SOF and intelligence organizations.

Developing a JIIM approach to IW and UW despite possible opposition,[53]will provide future policy makers a critical strategic tool needed to deter or defeat future threats. 

End Notes

[1] Jim, Garamone. "Dempsey Gives Shorthand Account of Challenges U.S. Faces." Defense.gov News Article: Dempsey Gives Shorthand Account of Challenges U.S. Faces. May 14, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=122252.

[2] "Department of Defense Directive 3000.07: Irregular Warfare." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). August 28, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/300007p.pdf.

[3] Maxwell, David. "Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?" Small Wars Journal. October 23, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/do-we-really-understand-unconventional-warfare.

[4] Andru, Wall. "Demystifying The Title 10-Title 50 Debate: Distinguishing Military Operations, Intelligence Activities, and Covert Action." Harvard National Security Journal. January 1, 2011. Accessed November 6, 2014. http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Vol.-3_Wall.pdf.

[5] Ibid

[6] "IRREGULAR WARFARE: COUNTERING IRREGULAR THREATS JOINT OPERATING CONCEPT (JOC)." Defense Technical Information Service. May 17, 2010. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/concepts/joint_concepts/joc_iw_v2.pdf.

[7] (IRREGULAR WARFARE: COUNTERING IRREGULAR THREATS JOINT OPERATING CONCEPT, V2 2010)ibid

[8] Maxwell, David. "Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?" Small Wars Journal. October 23, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/do-we-really-understand-unconventional-warfare and e-mail exchange with David Maxwell on 5 November 2014.

[9] Ibid

[10] Gleiman, Jan. "Give (Unconventional) War a Chance." The Strategist: The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/give-unconventional-war-a-chance/?fb_action_ids=10154718052850322&fb_action_types=og.likes.

[11] Matarazzo, David. "Far More Intellectual Than a Bayonet Charge: The Need for Joint Unconventional Warfare Doctrine." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). May 26, 2004. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA429323.

[12] Gould, Joe. "U.S. Military Girds for More 'Unconventional Warfare'" Defense News. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141024/DEFREG02/310240035/U.S.-Military-Girds-More-Unconventional-Warfare-.

[13] "U.S. Army Special Operations Command Counter-Unconventional Warfare White Paper | Public Intelligence." Public Intelligence. September 26, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2014. https://publicintelligence.net/usasoc-counter-unconventional-warfare/.

[14] Maxwell, David. "Do We Really Understand Unconventional Warfare?" Small Wars Journal. October 23, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/do-we-really-understand-unconventional-warfare.

[15] Maxwell, David. "Unconventional Warfare Does Not Belong to Special Forces." War on the Rocks. August 13, 2013. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://warontherocks.com/2013/08/unconventional-warfare-does-not-belong-to-special-forces/.

[16] Newson, Robert. "Counter-Unconventional Warfare Is the Way of the Future. How Can We Get There?" Council on Foreign Relations. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://blogs.cfr.org/davidson/2014/10/23/counter-unconventional-warfare-is-the-way-of-the-future-how-can-we-get-there/#more-1007.

[17] Caruso, Robert. "In Fight against ISIS and Other Ruthless Enemies, U.S. Needs an Agency That Doesn’t Play Nice." The Boston Globe, September 18, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/09/18/fight-against-isis-and-other-terrorists-needs-ruthless-agency/f0NKxcsNkrzdszvzNn6cAP/story.html.

[18] Gross, Richard. "Different Worlds: Unacknowledged Special Operations and Covert Action." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). February 24, 2009. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA494716.

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] Joseph, Berger. "Covert Action: Title 10, Title 50, and the Chain of Command." Joint Forces Quarterly 4th Quarter, no. 67 (2012): 32-39.

[22] Andru, Wall. "Demystifying The Title 10-Title 50 Debate: Distinguishing Military Operations, Intelligence Activities, and Covert Action." Harvard National Security Journal. January 1, 2011. Accessed November 6, 2014. http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Vol.-3_Wall.pdf.

[23] (Wall 2011)Ibid

[24] Miller, Greg. "Pentagon's Plans for a Spy Service to Rival the CIA Have Been Pared Back." The Washington Post, November 1, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagons-plans-for-a-spy-service-to-rival-the-cia-have-been-pared-back/2014/11/01/1871bb92-6118-11e4-8b9e-2ccdac31a031_story.html?wprss=rss_national-security.

[25] Andru, Wall. "Demystifying The Title 10-Title 50 Debate: Distinguishing Military Operations, Intelligence Activities, and Covert Action." Harvard National Security Journal. January 1, 2011. Accessed November 6, 2014. http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Vol.-3_Wall.pdf.

[26] Ibid

[27] Stavridis, James, and David Weinstein. "Divide and Conquer: Why Dual Authority at the NSA and CyberCom Hurts U.S. Cyber Security." Foreign Affairs. October 23, 2013. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140206/james-g-stavridis-and-dave-weinstein/divide-and-conquer.

[28] Andru, Wall. "Demystifying The Title 10-Title 50 Debate: Distinguishing Military Operations, Intelligence Activities, and Covert Action." Harvard National Security Journal. January 1, 2011. Accessed November 6, 2014. http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Vol.-3_Wall.pdf.

[29] Ibid

[30] Ibid

[31] Kuyer, Josh. "CIA or DOD: Clarifying the Legal Framework Applicable to the Drone Authority Debate." National Security Law Brief. April 4, 2013. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.nationalsecuritylawbrief.com/cia-or-DOD-clarifying-the-legal-framework-applicable-to-the-drone-authority-debate-2/.

[32] Painter, David, Mark Weaver, and Scott White. "Reorganizing for Irregular Warfare." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). December 1, 2009. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA514365.

[33] Peters, Gretchen. "Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. July 31, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2014. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/haqqani-network-financing.

[34] Duke, J. Darren, Rex Phillips, and Christopher Conover. "Challenges in Coalition Unconventional Warfare." Joint Forces Quarterly 75, no. 4th Quarter (2014): 129-34.

[35] "The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction." Final Report of the WMD Commission. March 31, 2005. Accessed November 8, 2014. http://fas.org/irp/offdocs/wmd_report.pdf.

[36]  Hovis, John H. "CI at Avnet: A Bottom-line Impact." Competitive Intelligence Review 11, no. 3 (2000): 5-15.

[37] Duke, J. Darren, Rex Phillips, and Christopher Conover. "Challenges in Coalition Unconventional Warfare." Joint Forces Quarterly 75, no. 4th Quarter (2014): 129-34.

[38] Ibid

[39] Rayment, Sean. "How the British Hostages Were Rescued in Afghanistan." The Telegraph, June 3, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/9307833/How-the-British-hostages-were-rescued-in-Afghanistan.html.

[40] "Combined Forces Command." United States Forces Korea. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.usfk.mil/usfk/content.combined.forces.command.46?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.

[41] "Special Operations Command Korea History." Special Operations Command Korea. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/sockor/?page=history.

[42] Duke, J. Darren, Rex Phillips, and Christopher Conover. "Challenges in Coalition Unconventional Warfare." Joint Forces Quarterly 75, no. 4th Quarter (2014): 129-34.

[43] Daalder, Ivo. "U.S. Ambassador: Consensus. Rule in NATO 'Unsustainable' If Burden Sharing Remains 'So Unequal'" Atlantic Council. June 18, 2013. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/U.S.-ambassador-consensus-rule-in-nato-unsustainable-if-burden-sharing-remains-so-unequal.

[44] Mastriano, Douglas. "Defeating Putin's Strategy of Ambiguity." War on the Rocks. November 6, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://warontherocks.com/2014/11/defeating-putins-strategy-of-ambiguity/.

[45] Ralby, Ian. "Comprehensively Limited: NATO's Disconnected Approach to Security." War on the Rocks. October 30, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2014. http://warontherocks.com/2014/10/comprehensively-limited-natos-disconnected-approach-to-security/.

[46] "NATO Special Operations Headquarters." NSHQ. Accessed October 23, 2014. https://www.nshq.nato.int/nshq/about/.

[47] Mitchell, William. "Building a Componential Danish SOF for a Global SOF Network." Royal Danish Defence College. January 1, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://forsvaret.dk/FAK/Publikationer/Briefs/Documents/SOF COMPONENT.pdf.     

[48] McRaven, William H. "POSTURE STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL WILLIAM H. McRAVEN, USN COMMANDER, UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND." Senate Armed Services Committee. March 11, 2014. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/McRaven_03-11-14.pdf.

[49] Basilici, Steven P., and Jeremy Simmons. "TRANSFORMATION: A BOLD CASE FOR UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). June 1, 2004. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a424658.pdf.

[50] Gleiman, Jan. "Give (Unconventional) War a Chance." The Strategist: The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.aspistrategist.org.au/give-unconventional-war-a-chance/?fb_action_ids=10154718052850322&fb_action_types=og.likes.

[51] Boot, Max. "More Small Wars: Counterinsurgency Is Here to Stay." Foreign Affairs. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142187/max-boot/more-small-wars.

[52] Basilici, Steven P., and Jeremy Simmons. "TRANSFORMATION: A BOLD CASE FOR UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE." Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). June 1, 2004. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a424658.pdf.

[53] Boot, Max. "More Small Wars: Counterinsurgency Is Here to Stay." Foreign Affairs. October 24, 2014. Accessed October 24, 2014. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142187/max-boot/more-small-wars.

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Comments

Gentlemen,

What your article proposes seems reasonable and, in my opinion, has a fair chance of getting a green light.

But for those readers who aren't well steeped in US culture, I think it's worth a moment to evoke "Pragmatism" in relation to these various threats or circumstances you've highlighted.

Without going into excessive detail, American (US) culture overwhelmingly bows to, and defers to this particular philosophic concept when faced with new, complex, and perplexing changes and problems. Simply put, we judge a given policy or philosophy or etc. not on what IT SAYS or PROPOSES it will accomplish, but rather on what we understand to be the demonstrable or discernible product of said policies adoption, including all the unforeseen and unpredicted consequences. As a result, our culture tends to view complicated or elegant solutions to broad problems with great skepticism, if those solutions have not, or can not produce unqualified outcomes that are generally conceded to be 'zero sum wins'.

In terms of IW, the political and public consequences of the blowback from a failed 'experiment' are huge factors senior American leaders and officials have to consider… yet lacking easy solutions, most of what the US does in IW in many areas is, by default, experimental. Moreover, there are some SOLUTIONS via IW to problems facing our Nations that due to the means of accomplishing said solution, represent an impossible legal and cultural paradox for much of the US military and political establishment… in other words, there are some questions it is foolish to provide the correct answer for if one is an American… not because doing so will be improper or fail to be recognized as worthy of merit, but rather because the: "Cure is WORSE than the malady", to paraphrase a common aphorism. In Korean or European cultures, I'm sure there are parallels, although none comes to mind.

Let me offer you a different angle. In the US, most military personnel view terrorism and etc. as a problem that is immune to traditional US Law Enforcement countermeasures. Yet the current US Executive does not share this view, and has overwhelmingly appointed officials and adopted policies who are determined to force the Law Enforcement solution approach, square peg it might be, into the round keyhole of international terrorism and cyber warfare (two IW areas of many)… At the same time the current admin has, in public, advocated multiple, overtly contradictory positions (which, given it's failures and the Pragmatic prism used to judge the effectiveness of it's governance, it MUST do). Yet the architects of notable successes in both Afghanistan and Iraq each ran afoul of the Admin POLITICALLY, and as a result either temporarily removed from the public eye or kept in legal limbo. In sum, until at least mid 2017 honest and/or straight forward discussion of IW solutions (or experiments) that don't satisfy a rather fuzzy political litmus test, are not wise subjects to discuss or even broach in forums where a special interest close to the administration might take offense or jump to the wrong conclusion (and there's A LOT of them).

On the bright side, if you were to re-tailor this proposal substituting "military" components for US domestic DHS and DoS factions, you'd be describing EXACTLY what the WH has adopted as it's cyber warfare policy. lol.

Best,

A. Scott Crawford

From the authors' "Introduction" section:

"Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, succinctly summarized these challenges as his 2-2-2-1 elevator pitch: 'Two are heavyweights - Russia and China; two are middleweights - Iran and North Korea; two are networks - Al-Qaeda and affiliates and transnational criminal networks; and the cyber domain.' ”

Let us look at these threats/challenges in context and thus ask: (1) How do Russia and China, North Korea and Iran, Al Qaeda/affiliates and transnational criminal networks and the cyber domain (2) threaten and/or challenge the United States?

Let me propose the following answer: These entities, individually and/or collectively, stand in the way of:

a. Where the United States wants to go. (To wit: a more western-looking, a more western-oriented and a more western-led world.)

b. And how the United States wants to get there. (For example: via joint whole-of-governments efforts designed to transform outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic and social lines. [In this "transformational" light, to understand why a "whole-of-government," rather than some other approach, is considered absolutely necessary.])

Now we have something to work with, something to bounce ideas off of (such as these authors' suggestions) and someway to determine if these such ideas (re: our political objective outlined at my paragraph "a" and "b" above) are likely to helpful or not.

Thus, the question becomes:

Will "an increased joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational (JIIM) approach to irregular warfare" provide that we might:

1. Overcome our 2-2-2-1 opponents and

2. Achieve, in spite of their obstructionist/containment efforts, our expansionist political objective -- of a more western-looking, a more western-oriented and a more western-led world?

And here the answer would seem to be "maybe."

Herein to ask:

a. Just because our 2-2-2-1 opponents have adopted irregular/political warfare -- as a/the primary means/method by which they will stand in our way and thwart our expansionist efforts.

b. Does this mean that we, likewise, must adopt as an irregular/political warfare approach, in our case to:

1. Overcome their such obstructionist/containment methods. And achieve, in spite of these,

2. The expansion of our ideas, our way of life, our way of governance, etc.?

Or do we, in fact, have better ways and better means (other than simply following our opponents' irregular warfare "bait" or "ploy" lead) that we might use to overcome our opponents and achieve our political objective?