Small Wars Journal

Optimizing Foreign Internal Defense to Counter Dark Networks

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 11:55pm

Optimizing Foreign Internal Defense to Counter Dark Networks: Direct and Indirect Approaches for Security and Development Efforts

Bryan Dailey, Ian Davis, and Julius Managuelod


Al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates are not the only non-state threats to United States interests at home and abroad.  The U.S. and its global partners are threatened by a multitude of religious and political Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs), Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs), and other malign actors and networks.  In the conduct of their activities, these actors and groups exploit the environmental instability inherent in ill-governed spaces to further achieve their purpose.  Although their purposes vary, dark networks are inconsistent with the values and laws of the nation-states and serve catalysts for instability.  As the world becomes increasingly connected, so do illegal and covert dark networks.[1]   In Dark Networks as Problems, Raab and Milward found that dark networks tend to form cooperative relationships with other dark networks and may make and maintain ties to the legal (light) networks striving to destroy them.[2]  The relationships between legal and illegal networks make counter-network strategies exceptionally problematic, especially in ill-governed or fragile states.  Dark networks gain physical and ideological sanctuary in the absence of good governance and fill the vacuum created by dysfunctional or absent state structures.  They conduct illicit activities to achieve their objectives and operate in the shadows to prevent their illumination and interdiction by state security elements and competitors.  In many cases, they form cooperative relationships of convenience to optimize their capacity to achieve objectives.[3]  Many receive extra-organizational support from state security services as witting or unwitting proxies.  Inevitably, this results in further destabilization of fragile states and creates an environment that allows dark networks to thrive.

U.S. strategic security policies, such as the National Security Strategy, National Strategy for Counterterrorism, Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and the Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency, suggest the need to take a multi-national, whole-of-nation approach and build capacity to enable a network of global partners to counter traditional and irregular threats to U.S. national interests at home and abroad. Although investing in global partners and for security cooperation has the potential to yield great benefits, resources are limited.  Fiscal constraints compel reduced defense, foreign aid, and Security Sector Assistance spending to develop global partners.[4]  Therefore, the current resource-constrained environment calls for smart investment in time and resources that maximize the capacity to counter dark networks and minimize associated cost.

In light of vital U.S. national security objectives and mounting fiscal constraints, the United States must prudently invest time and resources to build our global partners’ capacity to counter dark networks abroad before they become a threat to the U.S. homeland.  A prudent investment is to optimize Foreign Internal Defense (FID) efforts with global partners to counter dark networks.  The optimal framework for conducting FID is holistic in nature. It focuses on building the host nation (HN) capacity to counter dark networks through direct and indirect approaches with security and development efforts.  Leveraging a direct and indirect framework of security and development efforts yields four pillars that can drive FID activities and enable global partners to counter dark networks: Attack the Network (Direct-Security); Provide Legitimate Alternatives (Direct-Development); Enforce Rule of Law (Indirect-Security); and Provide Essential Services (Indirect-Development). 

The first section of this paper provides background information on FID, current literature on dark networks, and introduces the conceptual framework of FID approaches and efforts.  The next four sections are devoted to describing key aspects of the four pillars of FID.  The final section summarizes our findings and presents the way ahead.


To counter global threats, the United States and its allies must build a network of global partners.  Informed by the National Security Strategy, the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance states:

Violent extremists will continue to threaten U.S. interests, allies, partners, and the homeland…  With the diffusion of destructive technology, these extremists have the potential to pose catastrophic threats that could directly affect our security and prosperity.  For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.[5]

Clearly, networks matter and dark networks pose a credible threat to U.S. national security in the homeland and throughout the world. [6]  As traditional threats to U.S. interests have become increasingly networked and diversified in their activities, the United States and its allies must build a global network and enable capacity to counter these adaptive enemies.[7]

Foreign Internal Defense

Today’s complex global security environment requires a collaborative and unified approach to counter threat networks.  It requires nation-states to have a keen understanding of the operational environment and the operational reach to interdict dark networks as they are illuminated.[8]  Building strong global partnerships and enabling partners to identify and counter threat networks as part of a HN internal defense and development (IDAD) program is a critical component of U.S. national security.  A HN IDAD strategy incorporates security operations, as well as political, social, economic, and development programs to address the drivers of instability. HN national policies, goals, priorities, resources, capacity, capability, and political will drive IDAD programs.  The goal of an IDAD program is to achieve five broad end states: a safe and secure environment; support for the rule of law; stable governance; creation and/or maintenance of a sustainable economy; and social well-being.[9]

Joint Publication 3-22, Foreign Internal Defense, defines FID as “the participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any of the action programs taken by another government or other designated organization to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, insurgency, terrorism, and other threats to their security in support of the of HN IDAD program.”[10]  FID is part of a comprehensive diplomacy, defense, and development program of security cooperation and assistance executed by the U.S. Departments of State (DoS), Defense (DoD), Agency for International Development (USAID), and other government agencies (OGAs).  The DOD conducts FID activities under the supervision of the DoS.  These activities are a part of U.S. foreign assistance and are conducted to enable partner nations to execute their IDAD strategy.  Multiple U.S. government (USG) agencies work in conjunction to support the programming, nesting, and synchronizing of the HN IDAD program.  USAID takes the lead in coordinating and synchronizing development efforts while DoD and OGAs leverage instruments of national power—diplomatic, informational, military, economic, as well as finance, intelligence, and law enforcement (DIMEFIL)—to execute security efforts in coordination with the HN.

The DoD elements conducting FID must coordinate with all stakeholders within the FID operational framework to achieve unified action, synchronize security and development efforts, and build HN capacity to counter dark networks.  Although FID is a core mission of special operations forces (SOF), they are not the only organization that conducts security sector assistance or assists in partner nation capacity building.  Conventional forces (CF), OGAs, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector organizations are help HNs to achieve benchmarks.[11]

Dark Networks

Dark networks are “interdependent entities that use formal and informal ties to conduct licit or illicit activities and employ operational security measures and/or clandestine tradecraft techniques through varying degrees of overt, or more likely covert, activity to avoid interdiction to achieve their purpose.”[12]  Although the term might be new, organizations that fall within the definition of what constitute dark networks have existed for quite some time.  They sometimes used by military leaders and politicians to leverage clandestine elements of politico-military organizations in an effort to weaken, modify, or replace the governing authority, typically through the use or threat of force.[13]  These clandestine elements, also known as undergrounds, have the following similarities: “their goals are illegal under the system within which they exist; their activities may be either legal or illegal, but they use primarily illegal means to achieve their goals; and they attempt to conceal the identity of their members and organization from the governing authority.”[14]  These illegal activities include not subversion, sabotage, and assassination, but also robbery, extortion, smuggling, and other forms of illicit finance to generate resources for their networks.[15]  Dark networks often conduct various forms netwar.  In The Advent of Netwar, Arquilla and Ronfeldt describe netwar as an “emerging mode of conflict and crime at societal levels, involving levels short of war, in which protagonists use network forms of organization, doctrine, strategy, and communication.”[16]  Likewise, dark networks conduct netwar to improve resiliency in achieving their purposes and often form mutually supporting cooperative relationships that create a crime-terror-insurgency nexus through the convergence of networks.[17]

Conceptual Framework for FID Optimization

An effective IDAD program connects a state’s people to their government and seeks the elimination of conditions that permit dark networks to thrive.  A U.S. interagency presence in a HN helps to synchronize U.S. and HN diplomacy, defense, and development efforts to optimize FID.  This enables the HN to blend four interdependent functions to prevent or counter internal threats: balanced development, security, neutralization, and mobilization.[18]  Security lines of effort focus on building the necessary human, physical, and virtual infrastructure to provide a safe and secure environment and enable legitimate rule of law.  This effort not only increases HN military and law enforcement services’ capacity to counter violent and illicit networks, it also leverages other HN actors with the capacity to deny dark network sanctuary and freedom of movement.  Increased environmental hostility can increase organizational inefficiencies and make them vulnerable to interdiction.[19]  Development efforts focus on improving a HN’s capacity and capability to influence legal behavior, provide essential services, and address the drivers of instability.

The framework for optimizing FID activities to counter dark networks is informed by U.S. national security policy, current security and development practices, and academic research.[20]  Specifically, it expands on the work of Nancy Roberts and Sean Everton in Strategies for Combating Dark Networks.[21]  Our framework consists of two dimensions: operational approaches (direct and indirect) and traditional IDAD efforts (security and development).    Direct approaches focus on illuminating and interdicting the ideology, infrastructure, communication, activities, and resources of a dark network.  They also seek to generate legal alternatives to illicit activity and compel malign actors to reintegrate into society.  By contrast, indirect approaches focus on changing the environmental conditions that foster dark network operations.  Using both approaches in tandem supports the interdiction of dark networks by lethal and non-lethal means.  Together, they alter dark networks’ operational environment so as to make it inhospitable for the survival of the dark network.[22]


Table 1: Framework for Countering Dark Networks

Our framework yields four critical FID activities that should be employed to counter dark networks: Attack the Network (Direct-Security), Provide Legitimate Alternatives (Direct-Development), Enforce Rule of Law (Indirect-Security), and Provide Essential Services (Indirect-Development).

Direct Approach for Security Efforts – Attack the Network

Security efforts are useful for attacking dark networks networks.[23]  The FID objective is to build HN capacity and capability to illuminate dark networks, disrupt their resources, and interdict their human, physical, and virtual infrastructure..

Illuminate the Network

By its own definition, a dark network takes active measures to remain concealed and to avoid detection and interdiction.  Adam Elkus from the Center for a New American Security wrote:

Today, there is still a rigorous debate over the structure and dynamics of al-Qaeda. That debate is complicated by the fact that al-Qaeda, like most violent non-state actors seeking to survive, exists in a murky realm. Intelligence--closed or open source--shines a light into the cave but cannot illuminate the entire structure. The main problem with the targeted killing program is precisely [sic] uncertainty over who the targets really are and how their deaths lead to strategic effect.[24]

The starting point to build partner capacity and capability to illuminate dark networks is to establish a bottom-up intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination mechanism.  Lessons from the British experience conducting counterinsurgency operations against the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) found the effectiveness of intelligence operations is dependent on the development of low-grade collection capabilities, the formation of specialized operations and units, and flexible technical means.[25]  The intelligence collection capacity of the HN requires can be enhanced by through low-cost human intelligence (HUMINT) networks, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and biometric collection systems to maximize situational awareness at the lowest level.[26]  Once information is collected, it must be analyzed in an efficient manner at the lowest level to be rapidly disseminated and exploited.[27]  The fields of visual analytics and social network analysis provide low-cost analytical tools for tracking, destabilizing, and disrupting dark networks by understanding how the network is structured.[28]  These analytic tools are critical to illuminate a dark network to determine its form, function, and logic.[29]  This provides the HN the capability to “find and fix” threats and pass the information to security forces to conduct “finish” operations and subsequent “exploitation, analysis, and dissemination.”[30]

Disrupt Infrastructure

After illuminating the dark network, the HN must have the capacity to disrupt the network by lethal and non-lethal means.  In general terms, dark networks consist of human, physical, and virtual infrastructure used by the Directive (Core and Peripheral), Operational (Lethal and Non-lethal), and Supportive (Active and Passive) components to conduct lethal and nonlethal operations to create value (work) and achieve their objectives.[31]  By leveraging security cooperation and security assistance authorities, the USG can train, resource, and advise effective HN security forces so they can execute surgical lethal and non-lethal strike operations to interdict dark network infrastructure.

Interdict Resources

The interdiction of resources and financial assets is a powerful tool to counter dark networks.  U.S. Executive Orders 13224, Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Persons who Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism, and 12947, Prohibiting Transactions with Terrorists Who Threaten to Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process, are part of the U.S. campaign to counter terrorism and illicit financing.[32]  These orders assist the U.S. and its global partners to identify known dark networks and counter their ability to generate resources to conduct operations.  Interdicting a dark network’s support and logistics systems separates the “fish (troop) from the water (population)” and has a long-term impact on the network.[33]

Direct Approach for Development Efforts – Provide Legitimate Alternatives

Development efforts work to provide legitimate alternatives.  The FID objective is to build the proper HN capacity to devalue illicit activity, create programs for reintegration, and break the cycle of violent and illicit behavior.

Decrease Value of Illicit Activity

Decreasing the value of illicit activity with development programs drives a wedge between dark networks and the population.  This makes by the participation in legal activities move valuable and less costly than illicit activity.  This strategy maximizes the use of information operations (IO) and civil-military operations (CMO) to encourage disengagement at the individual and collective levels from dark networks.  This pillar counters the push and pulls connecting supporters to the dark network and incentivizes cooperation with rule of lawMessaging to devalue cooperation with dark networks should exploit: personal trauma, such as combat experience or the loss of a friend or colleague due to violent ideologies or hatreds; disillusionment with the network’s leadership; stress of staying with the network/exhaustion of illicit lifestyle; the value of a normal “civilian” life, such as through marriage, finding a career, or beginning a family; and encourage competing social relationships or pressure by family/friends to avoid illicit activity. [34]  Ultimately, the goal is to influence the population to avoid illicit activity because there is more positive gain in participating in legal than illegal activities.

Another way is to increase the value of cooperating with the HN while decreasing the value of engaging in illicit activity.  The HN can provide cash rewards to neutralized members or surrendered extremists hoping the money spent will end the crisis or eliminate the networks through voluntary or involuntary attrition.  Cash rewards are not only applicable to former extremists, but also to informants who will identify the real time locations of high value targets (HVT).  The success of this strategy is in the Philippine model and ultimately led to the neutralization of Abu Sayyaf (ASG) leaders in the Philippines (Mindanao).[35]

Establish Reintegration Programs

Integration of rebel forces into existing government forces is a method of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and is not unusual in post-conflict settlements.  Reintegrating former fighters, rebels, and/or enemies back to society is one of the most challenging tasks inherent to every government.  Reintegrated members of dark networks may be vulnerable to recidivism and go back to their old ways, or be targeted by their former comrades if not properly protected and isolated from malign influence.  A key task to reintegration is to isolate reintegrees from their former network or organization and ease their transition to a new way of life.  The Philippines reintegrated 7,000 out of the 17,000 MNLF fighters in the Philippine Army and National police in 1997.  Although 10,000 members were disqualified for service for various reasons, 7,000 rebels became government security forces and most of them became loyal to the Philippine government.[36]  MNLF as fighting organization laid down their arms, transformed into a political organization, and now peacefully govern their own territory, named the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  

Reintegration plans should always be part of the strategy of the government’s strategy to counter dark networks to ensure lasting peace.  When the MNLF reintegrated into society, most of its leaders ran in local elections and many of them won.  The MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari was elected Governor of the newly formed ARMM. Many remained in service with the Philippine Army and fought in the war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from 2000 to 2001.  Many Philippine Army officers found leading former insurgents in combat was a great learning experience and admired the extent of the former insurgents’ bravery and alertness during combat.[37]

Break the Cycle of Violent and Illicit Behavior

Development efforts are instrumental in breaking the cycle of violent and illicit behavior to encourage disengagement from dark networks.  Once individuals decide to disengage, effective development efforts mitigate push factors that drive illicit behavior and facilitate “social reinsertion.”[38]  A Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) is a comprehensive, systematic and critical assessment of available evidence within a limited timeframe to inform psychological, social, and physical factors leading to disengagement.[39]  To maximize the effectiveness of development programs, HNs should conduct REA during the reintegration process to identify the specific causes that drove individuals to disengage from dark networks and tailor the development efforts to encourage further dissention.  Development efforts tailored to address the findings of the REA, along with the establishment of effective formal and informal governance systems responsive to the populous, play a critical role to ameliorating grievances and mitigate push factors to violent extremism.[40]

Positive social ties and family influence are strong pull factors to promote disengagement through education and local development programs.[41]  An educated community based on legitimate norms and values can make informed decisions and engage the state to address friction points through nonviolent action.  Development indicators for social wellbeing and education are: the HN’s capacity to address specific grievances, create positive community ties, isolate individuals from negative influences, and make extremism and illicit behavior socially unacceptable.

Indirect Approach for Security Efforts –Enforce Rule of Law

Development efforts work to enforce rule of law.  The FID objective is to build the proper HN capacity to with legitimate security forces, establish mechanisms for peaceful conflict resolution, and take measures to deny sanctuary and freedom of movement to dark networks.

Build Legitimate Security Forces

Scottish philosopher Adam Smith stated; “… the role of government is to provide for national defense, the administration of justice (rule of law), and the provision of certain public goods (e.g., infrastructure, education, health care).”[42]  These actions are preformed to enable stability and economic prosperity.  Laws are sets of guidelines societies agree to operate under.  Developing and enforcing the rule of law is something quite different requiring a multi-pronged approach to amalgamate resources and form a fair and equitable legal system.  Secretary of State Rice said, “The advance of freedom and the success of democracy and the flourishing of human potential all depend on governments that honor and enforce the rule of law.” [43]

The “means” for enforcing rule of law is a resourced, trained, and professional law enforcement entity perceived to be legitimate by the populous.  The U.S. has a host of organizations, which can assist in training foreign law enforcement agencies.  This includes elements from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), DoS Bureau for Rule of Law, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Secret Service, to name a few.  DoD is well suited to train HN military and paramilitary law enforcement response elements to enforce rule of law.  Many DoD tasks have dual applicability to war fighting and security operations.  They involve special training and specialized equipment, but many are easily adaptable to show-of-force operations, foreign internal defense, and counterterrorism.  DoD conventional and unconventional military elements can train the HN on tasks applicable to security assistance, humanitarian, and civic assistance operations.  Other nonmilitary tasks will require specified training to equipment applicable to law enforcement, such as restrictive rules of engagement, civilian interaction, interagency cooperation, and the potential for strategic outcomes from tactical decisions during peacekeeping, peace enforcement, support to insurgencies, foreign internal defense, and counterterrorism operations.[44]

Conflict Resolution

One of the most import aspects in the development of a legal system is successful conflict resolution.  To function properly, the citizenry must have confidence in the government’s ability to deliver justice and resolve disputes equitably.  The goal (ends) of a healthy legal system is to resolve conflict through nonviolent means.  For governments to be successful, the governed must see the benefit they derive from the government.  “The competence level of the government in office determines collective utilities (e.g., by determining the amount and quality of public goods), and each individual derives additional utility from being part of the government (e.g., rents from holding office).”[45]  A successful judiciary is a key pillar of a successful government, then conflict resolution is an imperative ends for a successful judiciary. 

Successful conflict resolution is contingent on an effective and efficient court system.  Courts require infrastructure in the form of buildings, docking and case tracking systems, and a system of preserving the results for future study and application.  An effective court system is responsive to the peoples’ hierarchy of needs and fulfills the social contract between the state and its people, which devalues cooperation with dark networks. 

Deny Sanctuary and Freedom of Movement

Fragile states are often enticing to illicit activity and are ripe for the development and proliferation of dark networks.[46]  The lack of effective governance in fragile states creates safe havens for dark networks to operate.  Fragile states are often resource deprived, have porous borders, and lack the ability to provide essential services.  An effective technique to deny dark networks sanctuary and freedom of movement in the Philippines has been the ability for security forces to achieve persistent presence and engagement with the local populous.  This allows the security forces to gain and maintain situational awareness and counter dark network integration with the populous.

Indirect Approach for Development Efforts – Provide Essential Services

Development efforts work to provide essential services.  The FID objective is to build the proper HN capacity and capability to address the drivers of instability by providing stable governance, critical infrastructure, and economic prosperity.

Stable Governance

Stability is “characterized by minimal bureaucracy, efficient public service, and with an eye for financial integrity and better management of public resources can gain confidence from producers and equally enforce governmental rules and regulations with greater strength.”[47]  Participation creates a sense of ownership by the populations and counters the necessary environment to allow dark networks operate.  Stability is a value provided through good governance.

Critical Infrastructure

One of the most important values government provides is critical infrastructure, which provides a means for society to prosper.  Human nature is risk adverse and people tend to forgo an anachronistic environment for stability and formal order.  With order established, conditions are set for the creation of prosperity.[48]   For people to value a government, they must receive value in return.  Otherwise, the government is not sustainable.  It is often impossible for private enterprise to amass the financial resources necessary to conduct large infrastructure projects to provide benefit broad segments of society.  This infrastructure includes transportation nodes for commerce, educational and health institutions, governing bodies, and government facilities.  Therefore, government must engage the private sector and form a mutually supporting relationship to build critical infrastructure and set the conditions for economic prosperity.

Economic Prosperity

There is no direct correlation between poverty and creation of dark networks.  The lack of prosperity or the inability to government to deliver services does not create terrorists, but it does create an environment ripe for the exploitation by dark networks.  Violent extremists are created when there is discontent with the government.  “Discontent arises not so much from the system’s inability to deliver goods, services, and adequate standards of living, but from its (governments) inability to keep up with the expectations of, in particular, the educated, upwardly mobile and achievement-oriented elites emerge in the process of modernization and economic development.”[49]  The danger occurs when the lack of government creates a feeling of isolation.  Isolation leads people to believe the government forsakes them and are powerless to create an environment on their own and can change their lives for the better.  This feeling of powerlessness makes them willing to accept the presence of dark networks and even permit them to assume some traditional roles of the state like governance and economic opportunity.


The United States must make prudent investments in its global partners and build their capacity to counter dark networks abroad before they become a threat to the homeland.  Optimized FID maximizes the effectiveness of efforts to counter dark networks by taking a holistic approach to build HN capacity based on the specific conditions that permit the dark networks to exist.  The conceptual framework for the optimal holistic FID strategy focuses on building the HN capacity to counter dark networks and is based on direct and indirect approaches along security and development efforts.  Leveraging a direct and indirect framework of security and development efforts yields four pillars that can drive FID activities and enable global partners to counter dark networks: Attack the Network (Direct-Security); Provide Legitimate Alternatives (Direct-Development); Enforce Rule of Law (Indirect-Security); and Provide Essential Services (Indirect-Development).  Table 2 links pillars, objectives, and desired end states of optimized FID to counter dark networks.

Table 2: FID Pillars, Objectives, and End States

Our study revealed that the four pillars of optimized FID require constant collaboration and synchronization to maximize effectiveness of the HN IDAD program.  Collaboration begins with the HN government connecting to its people to identify and mitigate the drivers of instability.  Information gleaned from these connections informs security and development activities and reduces precipitators of violent and illicit behavior.  All of this is contingent on constant synchronization of the FID pillars.  In a resource-constrained environment, FID efforts need to be prioritized to maximize effectiveness and minimize expenditure of resources.  Based on our research, we offer the following efforts to building HN capacity and capability to execute and effective IDAD program actions to optimize FID to counter dark networks:

The first priority is to build intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination mechanisms to gain and maintain situational awareness.  This allows the HN to correctly identify the current conditions permitting the dark networks to exist.  Organic collection and analysis of HUMINT, SIGINT, biometric, and socio-cultural data by units of action decreases reaction time and aids in gathering data to inform the pillars of optimized FID.  This allows the HN security elements to take a proactive posture to countering dark networks.  Additionally, persistent engagement and cooperative relationship with the populous facilitates gathering information, denying sanctuary and freedom of movement, and “pulling” the populous closer to the HN government.  Information sharing and collaboration between security and development organizations is essential.  The HN must establish mechanisms to foster greater interoperability between the security and development communities of practice and collaborative information databases to inform direct and indirect approaches to counter dark networks.[50]  Once these databases are populated by security and development organizations, analysts are able to export this fused information for further analysis and exploitation at the local, national, regional, and international levels. 

Second, security sector assistance efforts must be purposeful and focus on building both surgical and shaping forces based on the nature of the relevant dark networks.  The surgical elements must have the capacity and capability to interdict the dark networks through both lethal and non-lethal means.  The shaping elements must have the capacity and capability to enforce rule of law, deny sanctuary, and connect the state to the people.  Both the surgical and shaping elements must maximize the use of CMO and IO achieves desired effects.

Third, the HN must develop a tailored disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program to counter push-pull factors that favor dark networks.  Integrated intelligence debriefings and REA by security and development elements are critical for tailoring the DDR program to ensure specificity and the optimum commitment of state resources.  Information gathered during the demobilization process informs the reintegration program and drives the intelligence cycle for security operations for direct and indirect approaches.

Finally, the HN must counter dark networks in a manner perceived as legitimate by the populous and have specificity relevant to dark networks.  Balanced security and development efforts focus on the nature of the threat and the drivers of illicit behavior optimize the expenditure of state resources.  Repressive tactics by security forces, corruption, and unwillingness to address grievances push the people away from the state and pull them toward the dark networks.  The HN must engage NGOs, IGOs, the private sector, regional partners, and the global community to maximize the effectiveness of its IDAD program and counter dark networks.

The views expressed in this essay are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy, or position of the United States or Philippine Governments.

End Notes

[1] Raab, Jorg, and H. Brinton Millward. "Dark Networks as Problems." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 13, no. 4 (October 2003): 419.

[2] Ibid., 415.

[3] Jurith, Ed. "Acts of Terror, Illicit Drugs and Money Laundering." Journal of Financial Crime 11, no. 2 (October 2003): 158-160.

[4] The security sector is composed of those institutions - to include partner governments and international organizations - that have the authority to use force to protect both the state and its citizens at home or abroad, to maintain international peace and security, and to enforce the law and provide oversight of those organizations and forces.  It includes both military and civilian organizations and personnel operating at the international, regional, national, and sub-national levels.  Security sector actors include state security and law enforcement providers, governmental security and justice management and oversight bodies, civil society, institutions responsible for border management, customs and civil emergencies, and non-state justice and security providers.  See Fact Sheet: U.S. Security Sector Assistance Policy

[5] U.S. Department of Defense. Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, January 2012, 1.

[6] For more information on why networks matter, see Castells, Manuel. "Afterward: Why Networks Matter." In Network Logic: Who Governs in an Interconnected World?, edited by Helen McCarthy, Paul Miller, & Paul Skidmore, 221-225. London: Demos, 2004.

[7] McRaven, William. "Posture Statement of Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander, United States Special Operations Command Before the 113th Congress House Armed Service Committee." The United States House of Representatives. March 6, 2013. July 6, 2013).

[8] Illumination as the identification and visualization of a network’s nodes, attributes, and their associates socio-cultural, geospatial, and temporal relationships.  See U.S. Joint Forces Command. Commander's Handbook for Attack the Network. Suffolk, VA, May 20, 2011. and Wells, G. Damon. "Conducting Security Force Assistance in a Rural District: Understanding the Operational Environment." Small Wars Journal. December 12, 2012. July 28, 2013).

[9]  United States Institute for Peace. Guiding Principals for Stability and Reconstruction. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace Press, 2009, 2-8.

[10] U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Foreign Internal Defense. Vols. I, Joint Publication 3-22. Washington, D.C.: Joint Chief of Staff, July 12, 2012, I-1.

[11] See Joint Special Operations University. Special Operations Forces Reference Manual. Third. MacDill Air Force Base: Joint Special Operations University, 2011, I-6. and Joint Special Operations University. Special Operations Forces Interagency Counterterrorism Reference Manual. Second. MacDill Air Force Base: Joint Special Operations University, 2011,1-1 – 1-32.

[12]  Davis, Ian S., Carrie L. Worth, and Douglas W. Zimmerman. A Theory of Dark Network Design. M.S. Thesis, Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School, 2010, 6.

[13] Molnar, Andrew R, William A. Lybrand, Lorna Hahn, James L. Kirkman, and Peter B. Riddleberger. Undergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary, and Resistance Warfare. Washington , D.C.: Special Operations Research Office, 1963, 3.  Additional information available at U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) Casebooks. January 25, 2013. (accessed August 4, 2013).

[14] Molinar et al., 27.

[15] Ibid., 7

[16] Arquilla, John, and Ron Ronfeldt. The Advent of Netwar. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 1996, 5.

[17] Horigan, John, and Max Taylor. "Playing the Green Card: Financing the Provisional IRA, Part 1." Terrorism and Political Violence 11, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 1-20., Horigan, Max, and Max Taylor. "Playing the Green Card: Financing the Provisional IRA, Part 2." Terrorism and Political Violence 15, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 1-60., Silke, Andrew. "In Defense of the Realm: Loyalist Terrorism in Ireland Part 1: Extortion and Blackmail." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 1998: 331-361., U.S. President. Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Addressing Converging Threats to National Security. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 2011, 6.

[18] Joint Publication 3-22, II-1 – II-9.

[19] Davis, Worth, and Zimmerman, Dark Network Design, 2.

[20] The U.S. Strategic Campaign Framework for Counterterrorism presents a holistic approach to global threats.  The campaign applies a direct enemy focused approach to counter VEOs, while concurrently an indirect approach focuses on building partner capacity to deter VEOs.  The indirect approach works to counter radical ideology, and shape the global environment to make it inhospitable to violent extremism.  See U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Counterterrorism. Vols. I, Joint Publication 3-26. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, November 13, 2009, III-2 – III-7.

[21] Strategies for Combating Dark Networks by Roberts and Everton explored a “kinetic” approach with two strategies (targeting and capacity building) and a “non-kinetic” approach with four strategies (institution-building, psychological operations, information operations, and rehabilitation). See Roberts, Nancy, and Sean F. Everton. "Strategies for Combatting Dark Networks." Journal of Social Structure 12, no. 2 (2011).

[22] This approach limits the dark network’s capacity to buffer hostility and coordinate work.  The goal is to make the network no longer “fit” in its environment and leads to illumination and interdiction.  See Davis, Worth and Zimmerman 2010, 61-63.

[23] For further information on Attack the Network (AtN) method, see U.S. Joint Forces Command. Commander's Handbook for Attack the Network. Suffolk, VA, May 20, 2011.

[24] Elkus, Adam. "Counterterrorism's Center of Gravity Problem." Center for a New American Security. September 11, 2012. July 28, 2013).

[25] Jackson, Brian A. "Counterinsurgency Intelligence in a "Long War": The British Expericence in Northern Ireland." RAND Corporation. January 1, 2007. August 04, 2013).

[27] Handbook for Attack the Network, I-6 – I-8.

[28] Visual Analytic and Social Network Analysis tools are available at: ,,,, and .  See Everton, Sean F. Tracking, Destabilizing, and Disrupting Dark Networks Using Social Network Analysis. 1.05. Montery, CA: Naval Postgraduate School, 2009. and MacCalman, Molly, Alexander MacCalman, and Greg Wilson. "Visualizing Social Networks to Inform Tactical Engagement Strategies that will Influence the Human Domain." Small Wars Journal. August 15, 2013. August 15, 2013).

[29] Jones, Derek. "Understanding the Form, Fuction, and Logic of Clandestine Insurgent and Terrorist Networks: The First Step in Effective Counternetworks Operations." JSOU Report 12-3. MacDill Air Force Base: Joint Special Operations University, April 2012.

[30] Faint, Charles, and Micheal Harris. "F3EAD: Ops/Intel Fusion “Feeds” The SOF Targeting Process ." Small Wars Journal. January 31, 2012.“feeds”-the-sof-targeting-process(accessed July 28, 2013).

[31] Davis, Worth and Zimmerman, Dark Network Design.

[32] U.S. Department of the Treasury. Terrorism and Illicit Finance Executuve Orders. August 8, 2011. August 17, 2013).

[33] Mao, Tse-tung. Chapter 6: The Political Problems Of Guerrilla Warfare. 1937. July 30, 2013).

[34] Fink, Naureen C., and Elli B. Hearne. Beyond Terrorism: Deradicalization and Disengagement from Violent Extremism. New York: International Peace Institute, October 2008.

[35] Fellman, Zach. "Abu Sayyaf Group." Center for Strategic and International Studies. November 28, 2011. July 27, 2013).

[36] Santos, Jr., Soliman M. "Chapter 7, MNLF Integration into the AFP and the PNP: Successful Cootation or Failed Transformation?(Case Study)." In Primed and Purposeful: Armed Groups and Human Security Efforts in the Philippines, edited by Diana Rodriguez, 162-184. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2010.

[37] Author’s field notes from operations conducted 2001.

[38] Silke, Andrew. "Disengagement or Deradicalization: A Look at Prison Programs for Jailed Terrorists." Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point. January 01, 2011. August 10, 2013).

[39] Disley, Emma, Kristin Weed, Anais Reding, Lindsay Clutterbuck, and Richard Warnes. Individual Disengagement from Al Qa'ida-influencedTerrorist Groups: A Rapid Evidence Assessmentto Inform Policy and Practice in Preventing Terrorism. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2012, 67.

[40] Jones, Seth G. Reintegrating Afghan Insurgents. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2011.

[41] Disley, et al. Individual Disengagement.

[42] Smith, Adam. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." Library of Economics and Liberty Online. Edited by Edwin Cannan. 1904. (accessed July 16, 2013).

[43] Rice, Condoleezza. "Remarks of the United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice." Berkley Journal of International Law 25, no. 1 (2007): 63-65.

[44] Taw, Jennifer Morrison. "Stability and Support Operations: History and Debates." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33, no. 5 (2010): 387-407.

[45] Acemoglu, Daron, Georgy Egorov, and Konstantin Sonon. "Political Selection and Persistance of Bad Governments." Quarterly Journal of Economics 125, no. 4 (2010): 1511-1575.

[46] Carter, Chantel. "Pre-Incident Indicators of Terrorist Attacks: Weak Economies and Fragile Political Infrastructures Bring Rise to Terrorist ORganizations and Global Networks." Global Security Studies 3, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 66-77.

[47]  Gani, Azmat. "Governance and Growth in Developing Countries." Journal of Economic Issues 45, no. 1 (2011): 19-40.

[48] Lipford, Jody W. "Adam Smith's Roles for Government & Contemporary U.S. Government Roles." Independent Review 11, no. 4 (Spring 2007): 485-501.

[49] U.S. Agency for International Development. Guide to the Drivers of Violent Extremism. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Agency for International Development, February 2009, 20.


About the Author(s)

Commander Dailey is currently serving as the Deputy Director for Strategic Plans and Policy at Joint Interagency Task Force West, Camp Smith, HI.  He was commissioned through Coast Guard Officers Candidate School in Yorktown, VA in 1992. CDR Dailey earned a BS in Business Administration from The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina, an MA in Public Administration from the University of Alaska, and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.  Prior to his current assignment, CDR Dailey served as the Operations Officer at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, HI.

Major Davis is currently en route to his next assignment at Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH), Homestead Air Reserve Base, FL.  He was commissioned through U.S. Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA in 2000.  MAJ Davis earned a BS in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College and a MS in Defense Analysis (Terrorist Operations and Finance Track) from Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, CA on 2010.  Prior to his current assignment, MAJ Davis served as a Company Commander and a Plans Officer in 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, FL.

Major Managuelod is currently serving as Commanding Officer, Reimbursable Fund Unit 72-100, Armed Forces of the Philippines Procurement Service (RFU 72-100, AFPPS).  He graduated at the Philippine Military Academy in 1999 with a degree of BS in Engineering. He finished his Master in Management (post graduate) degree at the Asian Institute of Management in 2011.  Prior to his current assignment, Major Managuelod served as the Director for Operations for the PH-US Office of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PH-US VFA). He also served in various positions in the Philippine Army from Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Company Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, and Brigade Staff Officer.


While this paper made some points worth considering, it missed the mark by a wide margin if the goal was to suggest ways to optimize our FID to counter dark networks. The paper was largely a rehash of the recommendations in Roberts’ and Everton’s paper titled "Strategies for Combating Dark Networks" with some FID doctrine sprinkled throughout the paper.

The authors correctly point out we’re currently in a resource constrained environment and likely will be for an extended period, but fail to make a convincing case that their proposed comprehensive FID approach would optimize our efforts against illicit networks (any network can be dark or invisible, it doesn’t imply it is a threat, what we’re focused on are illicit dark networks that threaten the US and its interests). In fact many of the approaches they recommend have been and continue to be employed unsuccessfully in a number of locations to include Afghanistan and Central America. We have little to show for our spending on these efforts.

The authors claim the threat to our nation is real due to the potential for a nexus between various illicit networks, so in theory a terrorist organization could leverage a trafficking network to gain access to targets in the US. Some academics argue this nexus claim is overstated, but I think there is at least some merit to it. Regardless what we have to focus on in a resource constrained environment is identifying the real threat that these networks pose to our security and focus on those that pose the most critical threats. I see some merit in discussing counter network operations holistically, but also see the risk in looking at terrorist and criminal networks through the same lens. While the line between them can be blurred at times, I see little evidence we can convince people in these networks to give up a profitable line of work, or turn on their deeply held beliefs. That along with efforts to promote good governance have been expensive and ineffective, so continuing down this path, at least with new proposals on how to it, hardly falls under the headline of optimizing our efforts. While out of the box thinking is an overused term, it would have been nice to see some original thinking on this topic, as it is much needed.

Aspects of FID can be part of the solution, but often these illicit networks are not a threat to the nation they’re operating in. For example, Nigerian internet fraud networks are not a pressing threat to Nigeria, so why would tackling that problem be part of their IDAD strategy? Furthermore, Mexican and Central American states are reassessing their war on narco-traffickers because the cost of it doesn’t appear to be in their national interests. Another example from a not to distant past was the reluctance of the US to clamp down on IRA fund raisers due to the IRA’s popularity in some parts of the US. The take away is we simply can’t assume we have common interests and that a combination of lethal and non-lethal FID efforts will result in seriously disrupting an illicit network.

The authors also didn’t address the regional and global nature of these networks, which increases their resiliency. Even when we find a partner nation that will help us tackle an illicit network within their borders it generally results in pushing the nodes of that network into other countries to re-establish themselves. FID is bilateral in character, so FID is not the optimized approach to disrupting transnational networks, but rather efforts to gain multinational collaboration and cooperation to disrupt the illicit activity (INTERPOL, ASEAN, etc.) are. When that fails and we feel the threat is significant we need viable unilateral options that fall far short of war.

I was hoping the authors would provide suggested answers to what illicit networks really threatens us, and what approaches actually work in reducing that threat that are sustainable? I didn't find answers to these questions in this article, so I hope they are willing to retackle this important topic.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/09/2013 - 11:59am

In reply to by Robert J. Bunker

Robert--by the way I am not an expert---just someone who has physically seen too much history. I even had the opportunity to sit in/listen to numerous debates here in Berlin led by Andrea Baader and Ulrika Meinhof before they radicalized and created the BM and then the RAF here in Germany.

I mulled over the comments on the illicit economy and what is interesting and goes to the failure of COIN and to Mexico----what is the role of the population in an "old" insurgency or a "new" insurgency ie transitional criminal organizations controlling territory within the country and exercising blatant/shadow criminal governance vs elected governance?

Does the population have a voice in the insurgency and or criminal insurgency, do they support the government, or are they simply neutral?

I would argue that in the old insurgencies and that includes up to Iraq and AFG that the population is divided into three elements---those that support, those that reject and the vast majority sitting in the middle and being neutral---on the fence. The game for the insurgent is to move the neutrals to at least favoring/maybe favoring them ---holding the supporting population, and attacking those in the population that reject them.

One sees this from Mao all the way to Iraq and AFG in one form or another---the role of the counter UW team is to hold those that are favorable-- turn the neutral to supporters, and also attack those who reject the local government---not much difference to aims of the insurgent group.

Mexico on the other hand is a whole different game and I would actually include AFG in this group as well---what if in fact there is no specific grouping inside the population that supports anyone due to massive corruption at all levels of society.

Mexico has always had a high level of corruption since the Mexican revolution and it has reached a level that virtually no one ie politicans, police, military, business people, government workers, and even common citizens is not corrupted---now steps in the TCOs and drives that corruption to even higher levels driven by violence, money, and physical death threats that have an impact ie control.

How is the government or the counter UW force to start "winning" over the population when using violence themselves to dampen down the criminal
insurgency and it is know that even the counter UW force is led by corrupted officers?

Currently in the Mexican provinces that are heavily influenced by the TCOs the population is in fear of the government and the TCOs---so how does a government entice the population to support them when everyone knows they are just as corrupt as the TCOs are--not much motivation there so the population just bunkers in, prays they are not affected by the violence and goes about their daily lives as best they can--totally neutral.

All the while this bunkering in allows the TCO to slowly take over territory and provide a secondary form of governance namely criminal governance.

As long as the Mexican government is just as corrupt as the TCOs are the population will never make a decision on who to support-- in fact the sheer volumes of drug money are an enticement to the population to get involved with the TCOs.

BUT there is a recent development that should be deeply watched---what if the "silent majority" is getting tired of bunkering in and decides that protecting themselves is more important to them and their families than cowering and bunkering in---what if they take up arms and defend their own living space one street at a time, what if they can control neighborhoods?

They will then be clashing with the TCOs and the government as the corrupted government will view them as threats to the existing corruption society--but to a smart counter UW program this is the change that needs to be seen---a smart counter UW effort does not necessarily have to be via force---there are other support methods that can build on this subtle population development.

There are signs that the Mexican population in the TCO controlled areas has reached this point---question is will the local defense groups at some point clash with the government due to corruption thus themselves becoming insurgents?

Outlaw 09

Sat, 11/09/2013 - 3:53am

In reply to by Robert J. Bunker

Robert--point is taken---there is a deep difference though between the old and the new reality.

The two differences are 1) in the old there was an insurgency targeting a political solution to a perceived grievance even if that grievance was political and meant the overthrow of the existing government.

The second difference and here is the big difference in today's new reality --the new works on a global border crossing strategy with defined goals.

One might argue that Mexico does not fit the second difference but I would argue that a transnational criminal organization has in fact a strategy--control of the illicit drug trade that is outside the borders of Mexico--

NOW in the case of TCOs those criminal elements inside Mexico have moved in the reverse direction and are moving to secure territory and political power much as a old reality. Securing territory and political power is found in both the old and new reality.

In theory when we were using UW to counter the old there never was a thought given to TCOs being in fact a new reality-ie a drug driven insurgency because in those days most countries had their own individual gangs that did not cross borders---only in the drug trade was there international border crossing.

I would argue actually that with the fall of communism the TCOs took off as Eastern Europe lost physical control over them as their state security systems had collapsed---TCOs then got massively into weapons dealing, smuggling, human trafficking, drug, counterfeit products, money laundering and the list goes on.

It is now far easier to take your national passport and travel/cross borders in the entire world than it was in say 1985.

I would still argue that the old concepts are great tools to analyze what one is looking at and are great in analyzing the players and the interrelationships in order to formulate a strategic response.

You are right though the UW might not be capable of using force in say Mexico as force would only drive new players to emerge---we have seen that in the JSOC operations currently in AFG and to a degree in Iraq---though there they focused on the foreign fighters with more effect.

UW has a number of response capabilities like a scale of one to ten--the strategic planner once he thoroughly understands what is being seen can pick and chose on that scale depending on the desired end state.

Think we are saying probably the same thing just parallel.

The new reality drives on multiple different items that was not previously seen in the old--agree and that is largely technology driven ie say money laundering---in the old days electronic transfers were largely unknown --had to be done by hand and in person. Counterfeit goods the same ---technology allows for exact copying--that did not exist in the old. Drugs now have literally multiple ways for moving them globally---in the old days mostly via ships and limited smuggling on airlines---now they fly entire plane loads from South America to Africa and ditch the planes there.

Trying to say yes that concepts ie tactics, techniques and procedures are about the same for both---strategy is the big difference.

Does that makes sense?

Robert J. Bunker

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 9:09pm

RE: "also if insurgency has morphed then old lessons learned in many instances are not applicable to the new reality".

I will concede that you are the SF/UW expert-- no arguments. Also I'm probably unclear in what I'm trying to convey re my concerns about insurgency morphing-- I'm coming from a different direction.

Lets go with the premise that insurgent TTPs are basically the same as they have been-- though in Mexico the locals appear very well versed with the corruptive component/et al-- not that it matters for this response. So the "new reality" is not tactical/operational but a shift in the context of the host environments in which insurgency are taking place. What I'm driving at is the strategic context is now changing. Even if we get UW, counter-UW, or whatever response protocol right against an opposing armed non-state group/VNSA/insurgent/etc- we essentially take them out-- this operational win does not make for strategic victory. The host environment will then breed new armed non-state group/VNSA/insurgent/etc because it is fertile-- the illicit economy is robust, an underclass/disenfranchised segment exists, etc. The old reality was if we conducted UW/COIN etc properly then we were in good shape since we excised the insurgent threat as a new group would not readily emerge in the host environment. Development/nation-building founded on a formal economy does not work in many of the host environments today because the money is in the illicit economy so we may find ourselves in an endless cycle of taking out armed non-state actors only to see new ones come in to fill the vacuum created by the last one we took out. R.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 7:02pm

In reply to by Robert J. Bunker

Robert---you make an interesting comment ---"also if insurgency has morphed then old lessons learned in many instances are not applicable to the new reality".

I come out of the true SF training days of UW, have extensive UW field experience, and have led UW forces---based on the 60/70s.

If the comment is correct then what I experienced in Iraq in 2005/2006 as an interrogator talking with hundreds of detainees ---a large number who were insurgents from AQI and the IAI ---I should have seen new tactics, techniques and procedures---the "new reality".

BUT this was the surprise of surprises---there were no differences--training was the same, methods for communication---a tad different due to cellphones and the internet, financing---same as the old days, ambush and IEDs same as the old with the exception of the RC IED---EFPs were platter charges in the old days, recruitment and I/O virtually the same and the list could go on --virtually identical to the UW days of the 60s.

It was a mild homecoming--once I understand that there was little difference working with insurgents became a breeze as all I did was look for the subtle differences---those differences were the key.

What was interesting and it was something I was not prepared for and is new--a global strategy and how was that strategy being carried out by AQI and the IAI now the JRTN. New for me was the inability of officers and staffs to see that a strategy did in fact exist.

What was also new was the acceptance of a concept that many thought was successful but in the end failure-COIN---COIN blinded us from asking the core question---what is the strategy and do we respond via UW or counter UW.

Trying to be pop-centric and focusing on COIN actually in my opinion diverted people from understanding what they were seeing.

That is the problem again with IW--it is confusing, a high number of organizations are involved with it and it causes a smokescreen causing many to stop looking at UW.

The really intriguing debate would be is in fact the same tactics, techniques and procedures seen in say Mao's days similar to say what we are seeing today in the Philippines, Nigeria, Iraq, or Mexico.

Kilcullen just released a new book where he argues the fight will be in the cities--I would argue that insurgencies are in fact urban as well as rural--feeding off of each and yet intertwined ie Mexico, Iraq, Vietnam.

When pressured in the cities the rural offers pull back, refit and rearm areas---for attacks back into the cities ---rat runs between cities are keys to look at ie Iraq and Mexico and the list goes on.

Yes it would be an intriguing debate......not so sure the COIN types would engage though.

Robert J. Bunker

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 5:45pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

RE: I am really unsure what is new outside of a series of new terms that causes confusion and diverts from terms that have been used over the last 40 years when discussing tactics/techniques/procedures of insurgents/guerrillas.

I'm starting to think that we really need to compare older views of insurgency & the context in which they emerged
(the constitution/integrity of states) with some of the newer views of insurgency within a +/-2000 context. It would seem part of the issue is the changes taking place with the international political economy (IPE) concerning
the rise of the illicit economic zone and 'insurgent' end states-- ones different than classical/political ones. I agree that "new terms" cause confusion if the old baselines/insurgent forms still dominate but if they have morphed then such new terms would be needed. Also if insurgency has morphed then old lessons learned in many instances are not applicable to the new reality. This makes for an intriguing debate...

Outlaw 09

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 1:49pm

It is an interesting article as we have seen exactly what is mentioned in this para but it was "seen" in in Iraq in 2005---begs the question as to why we never "saw" this exact description of dark networks in Iraq when it was in front of us all the time.

Some of us (a hand full) "saw and understood" this in 2005 but it did not fit the concept of COIN as COIN never did fully understand the UW strategy being carried out in Iraq by both AQI and the IAI/JRTN.

Raab and Milward found that dark networks tend to form cooperative relationships with other dark networks and may make and maintain ties to the legal (light) networks striving to destroy them.[2] The relationships between legal and illegal networks make counter-network strategies exceptionally problematic, especially in ill-governed or fragile states. Dark networks gain physical and ideological sanctuary in the absence of good governance and fill the vacuum created by dysfunctional or absent state structures. They conduct illicit activities to achieve their objectives and operate in the shadows to prevent their illumination and interdiction by state security elements and competitors. In many cases, they form cooperative relationships of convenience to optimize their capacity to achieve objectives.[3] Many receive extra-organizational support from state security services as witting or unwitting proxies. Inevitably, this results in further destabilization of fragile states and creates an environment that allows dark networks to thrive.

It is also interesting that the description in the previous para would fit any insurgent group that has fought from 1993 until 2013 so again I am really unsure what is new outside of a series of new terms that causes confusion and diverts from terms that have been used over the last 40 years when discussing tactics/techniques/procedures of insurgents/guerrillas.