Small Wars Journal

NATO Adapts to More Subtle Warfare Techniques

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:35am

NATO Adapts to More Subtle Warfare Techniques by Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is developing a new strategy to speed decision-making and improve its response to the kind of unconventional warfare the West says Russia has used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

NATO is hoping to complete the strategy in time for a July summit of alliance leaders in Warsaw. In a new effort at cooperation, officials have been working with the European Union, which is putting together its own plans…

A new hybrid warfare playbook would attempt to lay out the kind of assistance the alliance would provide should a member state come under outside pressure from Russia or another country. Such support could include sending cyber experts to help respond to computer hacking attacks, communication specialists to counter propaganda or even the deployment of NATO’s rapid reaction spearhead force…

Read on.


Outlaw 09

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 1:16pm

In reply to by Bill C.

A long article but it must be read to the end in order to fully understand the total failure of the Obama and Kerry Syrian FP......and why the Russian non linear warfare is currently highly successful......

Exodus and Betrayal. How a Syrian Nakba Was Created

02/09/2016 11:25 am ET

David Hearst

Editor, Middle East Eye


John Kerry, the US Secretary of State reportedly came close to revealing his true thoughts when he was accosted by two Syrian aid workers at a reception in London after the collapse of the Geneva talks last week.

The Syrians accused him of doing nothing to protect civilians from the onslaught they were facing in Aleppo. One of the aid workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her organization, told Middle East Eye that Kerry replied : 'Don't blame me - go and blame your opposition." The aid worker said Kerry blamed the government offensive on the opposition walking out of the talks.

Kerry got flustered in the encounter: "What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?" the aid worker said Kerry told her. Kerry then anticipated three months of bombing during which time " the opposition will be decimated."

Kerry's off-mike encounter deviated significantly from the official line. This was that Russia and Iran had offered Washington a ceasefire. Kerry's remarks differed also from the State Department's mantra that the brutality of Assad against the Syrian people had helped foster the growth of the Islamic State group. Apparently now, Syrians who resisted Assad's brutality were responsible for the barrel bombs being dropped on them.

After multiple avowals that Assad's army was on the point of collapse and after the ill-fated CIA training programmes, Syrian rebels are being sold down the river by the country that urged them to rise up five years ago.

The Deraa protests started peacefully. To that, all witnesses attest. Four factors turned those protests into an armed uprising: the brutality of the regime's response, Assad's decision to release jihadis from Sednaya Prison, an act which "islamised" the opposition, the Libyan intervention, and the intervention of foreign powers - Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The scenes today on the Turkish border are direct consequence of Obama's "intervention-lite" in Syria - a drip feed of weapons - but only 16 bullets per fighter per month. The Free Syrian Army has reportedly stopped receiving weapons for four months. Barack Obama boasted he was leading from behind in the Libyan intervention. That has changed in Syria. He is wringing his hands from behind.

There can be little doubt that Kerry's policy is twisting in the wind as a result of the Russian intervention. That much was evident from Kerry's meeting with Riyad Hijab general coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee, the body formed in Riyadh in response to American pleas for unity.

Kerry told Hijab that talks must begin before the bombardment stopped, that there was no timetable for Assad's departure; that the objective of the talks would be nothing less than a national unity government; and that the failure of the opposition going to Geneva would mean US cutting off aid to the opposition. Michael Ratney, US Special Envoy to Syria, attempted over to smooth things over by claiming there had been a misunderstanding caused by bad translation. But Hijab understood Kerry all too clearly.

Kerry's Damascene conversion took place in four stages. The first was Assad's chemical attack on opposition positions in Ghouta, in Eastern Damascus, which paved the way for Russian mediation which persuaded Assad to give up his stockpile of chemical weapons. This gave Russia a good argument to use with Kerry who refused at the time to recognise Assad's authority: If Assad was legitimate enough to negotiate with over the surrender of his chemical stockpile, he surely had to remain as head of a transitional government. Either way he had to be recognised as the de facto head of state. This is the logic Kerry has now accepted.

The second was Mosul, a city held by four divisions of the Iraqi army trained by the US to the tune of $25 billion which was captured by 350 ISIS fighters. The third was the Russian intervention on October 30 and the final nail in the coffin of Kerry's Syria policy was the attacks in Paris in November. Gradually Kerry began to see Assad as the lesser of two evils. Kerry bought into Sergei Lavrov's line that Russia had saved Damascus from falling into the hands of IS.

Kerry has come dangerously close to seeing the Syrian conflict as a binary fight between two forms of ruthless dictatorship - Assad and the Islamic State group . This is exactly how Assad himself, Russia, Iran and Arab autocracies in Egypt and the Emirates and Jordan, frame the conflict. And it is one of the main reasons why the Islamic State group is growing from strength to strength.

To see the civil war through this prism, you have to persuade yourself that the opposition to Assad consists exclusively of Salafi Jihadi extremists, supported by the Wahabi doctrines of Saudi Arabia and the imperial conceit of Erdogan's Sultanate in Turkey. You have to persuade yourself that the Syrian rebels, like IS, want to impose a brutal theocracy on a secular state.

You have,in short, to airbrush out of this landscape the faces and views of the majority Sunni population. You have to turn a deaf ear to the testimony of 4.6m refugees registered with the UNHCR. Nor are they the last. Another exodus is on its way in Aleppo. There are 150,000 civilians in rebel held eastern Aleppo and up to 250,000 others in the area. 70,000 have crossed into Turkey as a result of the Russian bombing and government advances and 31,000 are waiting at the border. The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday that 600,000 could be heading towards Turkey.

Why do they flee? Whom are they fleeing? Are they forced out by Jihadis imposing Sharia Law ? Are fleeing the warm embrace of a liberal, secular multi-confessional republic, as Assad likes to present himself as leading? If the Syrian army is a disciplined force, as its apologists maintain, why are hundreds of thousands of civilians so terrified of being liberated by it?

I spent a week in the refugee camps on Jordan's northern border asking these questions, going from tent to tent in search of answers. The following is a representative sample of the replies I got.

Meteb was a civil servant, the head of the transportation department in Baba Amr. Homs became the epicentre of anti-government protests, after protests in Deraa had been quelled by a large scale military operation. A Free Syrian Army brigade formed by defecting Syrian Army officers ambushed government forces around Baba Amr in October 2011 and defended the neighbourhood .When an Arab peace mission failed - the Syrian army hid their tanks under fake sand dunes to conceal their presence from the monitors , witnesses claimed - the army launched an offensive in February 2012.

"For six months there were no arms whatsoever. People only started using arms when they witnessed the brutality of the regime. The police would undress the women, force them to strip and put them on the tanks for people to watch." Meteb said.

Continued....a long read......

Bill C.

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:24pm

In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, much as in the Old Cold War of yesterday, one finds:

a. An expansionist superpower (the U.S. today; the USSR then) seeking to (1) alter the international order more in its favor; this, by (2) liberating populations from their oppressive regimes and by (3) transforming states and societies more along the expansionist superpower's own unique political, economic and social lines. And

b. Other entities (Russia, China, Iran, etc., today; the U.S./the West back then), for their part, (1) adopting a defensive mode and (2) working to prevent these such (from their perspective) unfavorable/negative liberations and transformations from occurring.

In this regard, the U.S./the West -- in the Old Cold War of yesterday and then being in the defensive mode -- using "unconventional warfare"/"hybrid warfare," etc., to thwart our opponents' such expansionist efforts, attempts and designs.

In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, it is our opponents who now appear to have adopted a defensive mode and who, like we ourselves in the Old Cold War, appear now to be using "UW"/"hybrid warfare," etc., to thwart, in our case today, our such expansionist efforts, attempts and designs.

Thus to see such things as "unconventional warfare" and "hybrid warfare" -- in the light offered above -- as a defense operations?

And, likewise in the light offered above, to view such things as "counter-UW" and "counter-hybrid warfare" as means/measures undertaken by the expansionist power to:

a. Overcome such resistance as is being offered by one's defensive opponents and to, in spite of such defensive/resistance efforts,

b. Achieve one expansionist designs anyway?

Outlaw 09

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 6:12am

More from the Iranian non linear warfare front that NATO does not address....

“Moderate Rouhani”: If IRGC was not in #Iraq& #Syria,we had no security& couldn't do #IranDeal.

Not to mention that ever important Iranian land corridor to Hezbollah.......

Outlaw 09

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:23pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Today Iranian General Rezia died in Aleppo hundreds of miles away from any known Shia shrine in Syria

OR let's use the Khameinei "speak"......

@khamenei_ir “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers. 8:12

Obama seriously assumed there is some form of Iranian moderation?????

It is almost like the US and NATO do not want to address non linear warfare outside of Europe......

Outlaw 09

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:17pm

Kind of sums up Iranian non linear NATO needs a much larger "view of nlw"......

This goes to the term.."transnational Shia jihadists" developed and deployed first by Khomeini......and now Khamenei
‏@khamenei_ir Martyred defenders of shrines devoted their lives to defend country, nation, religion and the Islamic Revolution.

Notice the term "Islamic Revolution"...I take heat everytime I use that term here from some SWJ commenters.....but if one looks at the 50 odd years of articles and stratements made by Khomeini it is all there to read...and this WH never saw it coming?????

Outlaw 09

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:11pm

This is all well and great from NATO but right now there is absolutely no US leadership to be seen especailly when it comes to non linear warfare and the if necessary use of force by Obama.....

Syria the second Russia and Iranian non linear warfare front is the best example of Obama in non action.....

Can the dismal failures of both Obama and Kerry get any worse..yes they can and will......

Syria has been the bloody graveyard of American conviction: America’s Syrian Shame

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist

America’s Syrian Shame
Roger Cohen FEB. 8, 2016

The troubling thing is that the Putin policy on Syria has become hard to distinguish from the Obama policy.

Sure, the Obama administration still pays lip service to the notion that Assad is part of the problem and not the solution, and that if the Syrian leader may survive through some political transition period he cannot remain beyond that. But these are words. It is President Vladimir Putin and Russia who are “making the weather” in Syria absent any corresponding commitment or articulable policy from President Obama.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is now virtually encircled by the Syrian Army. A war that has already produced a quarter of a million dead, more than 4.5 million refugees, some 6.5 million internally displaced, and the destabilization of Europe through a massive influx of terrorized people, is about to see further abominations as Aleppo agonizes.

Aleppo may prove to be the Sarajevo of Syria. It is already the Munich.

By which I mean that the city’s plight today, its exposure to Putin’s whims and a revived Assad’s pitiless designs, is a result of the fecklessness and purposelessness over almost five years of the Obama administration. The president and his aides have hidden at various times behind the notions that Syria is marginal to core American national interests; that they have thought through the downsides of intervention better than others; that the diverse actors on the ground are incomprehensible or untrustworthy; that there is no domestic or congressional support for taking action to stop the war or shape its outcome; that there is no legal basis for establishing “safe areas” or taking out Assad’s air power; that Afghanistan and Iraq are lessons in the futility of projecting American power in the 21st century; that Syria will prove Russia’s Afghanistan as it faces the ire of the Sunni world; and that the only imperative, whatever the scale of the suffering or the complete evisceration of American credibility, must be avoidance of another war in the Middle East.

Where such feeble evasions masquerading as strategy lead is to United States policy becoming Putin’s policy in Syria, to awkward acquiescence to Moscow’s end game, and to embarrassed shrugs encapsulating the wish that — perhaps, somehow, with a little luck — Putin may crush ISIS.

Obama’s Syrian agonizing, his constant what-ifs and recurrent “what then?” have also lead to the slaughter in Paris and San Bernardino. They have contributed to a potential unraveling of the core of the European Union as internal borders eliminated on a free continent are re-established as a response to an unrelenting refugee tide — to which the United States has responded by taking in around 2,500 Syrians since 2012, or about 0.06 percent of the total.

Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame, a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.

Obama’s decision in 2013, at a time when ISIS scarcely existed, not to uphold the American “red line” on Assad’s use of chemical weapons was a pivotal moment in which he undermined America’s word, incurred the lasting fury of Sunni Gulf allies, shored up Assad by not subjecting him to serious one-off punitive strikes, and opened the way for Putin to determine Syria’s fate.

Putin policy is American policy because the United States has offered no serious alternative. As T.S. Eliot wrote after Munich in 1938, “We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us.” Syria has been the bloody graveyard of American conviction.

It is too late, as well as pure illusion, to expect significant change in Obama’s Syria policy. Aleppo’s agony will be drawn-out. But the president should at least do everything
in his power, as suggested in a report prepared by Michael Ignatieff at the Harvard Kennedy School, to “surge” the number of Syrian refugees taken in this year to 65,000 from his proposed 10,000. As the report notes, “If we allow fear to dictate policy, terrorists win.”

Putin already has.

Dave Maxwell

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 1:03pm

Russia doth protest too much. (2d para in the quote)


QUOTE Even after determining a hybrid attack is occurring, deciding to move the spearhead force wouldn’t be easy, officials said. In many situations, allies could worry such a move would risk the alliance being seen as the aggressor. NATO officials said it is critical for the alliance to craft a measured public relations strategy to go alongside any deployment of the force.

Russian officials say that NATO is too quick to see the hand of Moscow in legitimate political uprisings.They also argue NATO risks destabilizing Europe if it lowers the threshold of the alliance’s collective defense to include responding to so-called hybrid threats.

Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said the alliance was using the threat of hybrid warfare “to find justifications for the alliance’s activities on its ‘eastern flank.’’’ END QUOTE