Small Wars Journal

Journal

Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog.

We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

by Alan Kelly | Wed, 01/19/2022 - 8:29pm | 0 comments
Why are bad guys so good at spreading disinformation and good guys so bad at stopping it? Through the lens of a patented and tested framework, the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies, the author illustrates how policies and practices of response do more to accelerate than slow the deceptive and mistaken messages hostile actors sow. This essay is recommended reading for practitioners of strategic communications, public diplomacy, information operations, psyops and related fields of influence management.
by Tom Johansmeyer | Wed, 01/19/2022 - 8:22pm | 0 comments
When there’s a natural disaster, according to conventional wisdom, civil unrest is likely to follow. That line of thinking is as seductive as it is intuitive. However, there isn’t much data to support it. The occasional half-hearted inquiry forced by the lack of empirical evidence generally leaves you as unsatisfied as your first self-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. The notion that natural disaster increases the risk of civil unrest taps into the dark sense that people will revert to survival instincts when the norm is threatened. When it comes to non-terror political violence following natural catastrophes, though, the historical experience just isn’t there. The occasional instance of it is an anomaly at best – and a debatable one at that – with almost no foundation of 70 years of catastrophe data.
by R. Evan Ellis | Fri, 01/14/2022 - 4:38am | 0 comments
The predictable triumph by Maduro loyalists in Venezuela’s rigged November 2021 elections was a symbolic nail in the coffin for the attempt by the de jure government of Juan Guaido to restore the more liberal type of democracy previously prevailing in the country. Venezuela now seems to ever more resemble Cuba, with an authoritarian government in control for the long haul. Yet while Venezuela is unlikely to return to democratic governance anytime soon, parallels to Cuba conceal the complex dynamic between regime figures, external state actors, and criminal and terrorist groups that is shaping the country’s future.
by Francisco Sollano Jr | Tue, 01/11/2022 - 5:22pm | 1 comment
This article is a mixed methods research study on Genaro García Luna—former head of Mexican Federal law enforcement—and his ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and other Mexican officials involved in the criminal organization from 2003 to 2008. This study thus explores the role and influence of corrupt Mexican officials that allowed for a secure and efficient illegal trafficking of drugs inside Mexico and into the United States. It should be noted that, not all individuals found in this Social Network Analysis (SNA) are assumed to be guilty or have been proven so via conviction in a court of law. The presumption of innocence is an important concept that applies to the actors discussed here.
by Mahmut Cengiz | Mon, 01/10/2022 - 2:57pm | 1 comment
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan at the end of August 2021—an event precipitated by the withdrawal of all remaining US troops in the country—questions about the Taliban’s ability to target the Western world and fears that Afghanistan would become a haven for al-Qaeda arose immediately in the minds of many government officials and non-government observers. Such concerns were well-grounded. This article analyzes the capacity of ISIS and al-Qaeda in terms of operational and organizational capabilities, use of violence, geographical expansion, and ideological inspiration for lone actors to determine which group—ISIS or al-Qaeda—is the greater threat to global security.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, by Jorge A. Pérez González | Mon, 01/03/2022 - 1:20pm | 1 comment
Field Report from Tamaulipas: English language version of "Informe de campo: Seguridad en Tamaulipas Hoy: Una Paz Simulada." Since 2010, the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas has been in a state of high-intensity armed conflict. Earlier that year, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas—who at one point worked together—began a brutal confrontation that led to levels of violence never before seen in the state. In the framework of the Mérida Initiative and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006–2012), the extreme conflict between two violent organized crime groups—which had militarized their strategies, diversified their operations and had access to high-caliber weaponry-intensified with the entry of federal forces into the state.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, by Jorge A. Pérez González | Fri, 12/31/2021 - 5:44pm | 0 comments
Field Report from Tamaulipas in Spanish: Desde el año 2010, el estado fronterizo mexicano de Tamaulipas se ha mantenido en una situación de conflicto armado de alta intensidad. A principios de ese año, el Cartel del Golfo y los Zetas—quienes en algún momento trabajaron de forma conjunta—comenzaron una brutal confrontación que desencadenó en niveles de violencia nunca antes vistos en la entidad. En el marco de la Iniciativa Mérida y la “guerra contra las drogas” declarada por el expresidente Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012), el conflicto extremo entre dos violentos grupos del crimen organizado—que habían militarizado sus estrategias, diversificado sus operaciones y que tenían acceso a armamento de alto calibre—se intensificó con la entrada de las fuerzas federales al estado.
by Andrew Milburn | Sun, 12/26/2021 - 6:16pm | 0 comments
In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State surged across the Syrian border into Northern Iraq, seizing Mosul almost without a fight. Beyond the city to its east, however, lay territory claimed by the Kurds; and here the Islamic State’s headlong advance foundered against a breakwater of Peshmerga defenses that surrounded Mosul on three sides. For the next eighteen months, Peshmerga and Islamic State fighters manned op- posing trench lines only a few hundred meters apart in a scene reminiscent of the First World War.
by Daniel Weisz , by Nathan P. Jones, by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 12/20/2021 - 3:51pm | 0 comments
An armed cell composed of ten members using high caliber weapons and six vehicles, two of which were reported to have been set on fire as a distraction, broke into the jail (Centro de Readaptación Social de Tula – Tula Social Correctional Center or CERESO) in Tula, Hidalgo, on 1 December 2021. The cell helped nine inmates escape including the presumed leader of the Pueblos Unidos (United Towns or Villages), José Artemio Maldonado Mejía, Alias “El Michoacano,” “El R” or “El Rabias.” Maldonado Mejía is an alleged head of the huachicloero (petroleum theft) enterprise known as the Cártel Pueblos Unidos. Numerous media reports mention the use of car bombs or explosives during the operation.
by Philip Wasielewski | Sun, 12/12/2021 - 9:45am | 1 comment
Russia’s use of subversion over the past three decades to undermine the military, economic, psychological, and/or political strength of liberal democracies via such means as propaganda/disinformation, paramilitary forces and proxies, assassinations, cyber-attacks, and similar methods is not a new form of warfare but instead is consistent with actions taken by Moscow ever since the October Revolution of 1917.
by Shannon Houck, by Joshua Gramm, by Brian Branagan, by John Crisafulli | Sun, 12/12/2021 - 9:36am | 0 comments
The weaponization of neurotechnology – neurowarfare – poses unique challenges in a strategic environment that emphasizes competition between major powers. As powers compete for influence against one another, neuroweapons that directly target the brain to sway an adversaries’ actions are likely to be employed with increasing frequency. No longer should we conceptualize the human mind as a target for psychological influence through communication operations over long periods of time; neurotechnology paves the way for influence via physical brain modification to achieve almost immediate psychological shifts. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are uniquely positioned to confront the complex and dynamic threats neurowarfare poses but is currently under-prepared to take up the challenge. In line with USSOCOM’s 2020 ‘Innovation for Future Threats’ priority, the present article aims to fill this gap by providing actionable recommendations: (1) immediately implement neurowarfare training across the SOF enterprise; (2) invest in research on (a) cognitive degradation caused by neuroweapons, and (b) neuroweapons detection, disruption, and targeting; and (3) develop doctrine on neurowarfare. Ultimately, SOCOM needs to take a proactive stance by developing ‘neuro SOF professionals’ equipped to navigate this new battlespace.
by Anibal Serrano | Wed, 12/08/2021 - 5:57pm | 2 comments
This article reviews the evolution of the 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles to Barrio 18 in Central America. 18th Street’s transnational shift was motivated by “internal and transnational migration flows,” as well as, the US increasing deportations of “foreign” criminals. As 18th Street members arrived in Central America, they brought their own US-based gangster culture, a particular way of dressing, talking, and bravado. These members were deported to countries where they had little to no understanding of the cultural dynamics, as many were born in Central America but raised in the United States. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were new environments, and each presented unique dynamics that 18th Street members had to adapt to, to survive.
by Max R. Rovzar, by Ron W. Sprang, by Keegan S. Guyer | Wed, 12/01/2021 - 5:37pm | 4 comments
Wargaming is often discussed as a necessary step in the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) for Army units, but it is an often misunderstood, or poorly executed due to time constraints. FM 6-0, Commander and Staff Organization and Operations, outlines the process and outcomes, but it doesn’t provide practical examples of useful tools or tactics, techniques, and procedures to reach the desired outcomes. “War-gaming results in refined COAs, a completed synchronization matrix, and decision support templates and matrices for each COA. A synchronization matrix records the results of a war game. It depicts how friendly forces for a particular COA are synchronized in time, space, and purpose in relation to an enemy COA or other decisive action tasks. The decision support template and matrix portray key decisions and potential actions that are likely to occur during the execution of each COA.”
by Franklin C. Annis | Wed, 12/01/2021 - 5:29pm | 0 comments
Marine Maxims by Col. Thomas Gordon is an exceptional resource for military self-development. Its short insightful chapters are filled with valuable leadership lessons suitable for junior noncommissioned officers to field grade leaders. Col. Gordon shapes what may normally be considered as cliché leadership lessons and gives them new life by discussing how these lessons impacted his career and how these issues will continue to impact the military profession in the future. In many ways, the way Col. Gordon has structured this book is how I wish every professional reading list should be presented. He briefly discusses the 50 valuable leadership lessons and how each impacted his own career and why these lessons will be important in the future before giving the reader at least one future book or resource to further explore the topic. I would highly recommend this book for military leaders and will likely be giving copies of this work to my supervisors and subordinates to help further spread the important lessons within these pages.
by Fatima Jaghoori | Wed, 12/01/2021 - 9:41am | 0 comments
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories from and about the people in Afghanistan, those who have escaped and those who seek freedom. We wish to highlight the suffering, sacrifices, and desire for freedom of our Afghan allies as well as people and organizations who are helping to ensure the safety of those left behind and the integration of those who have made it to safety and freedom.
by Isaac Poritzky | Tue, 11/30/2021 - 4:45pm | 0 comments
In the SWJ Book Review, SWJ-El Centro Intern Issac Poritzky reviews Professor Michael Kenney's examination of radicalization in Great Britain, "The Islamic State in Britain: Radicalization and Resilience in an Activist Network."
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 11/27/2021 - 3:57pm | 0 comments
The drug trafficking faction (facção) in the “Complexo de Israel” (Israel Complex) led by Álvaro Malaquias Santa Rosa, known as Peixão (Big Fish) built a bridge over a canal in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte (North Zone) to elude police surveillance.  The bridge connects the Favela das Cinco Bocas, in Brás de Pina, to Cidade Alta, in Cordovil.
by Alexandra Phelan | Tue, 11/23/2021 - 11:12pm | 1 comment
Five years after the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), it is reported that the Biden administration will remove the organization from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations. SWJ–El Centro Fellow Alexandra Phelan examines the delisting in this commentary.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 11:58pm | 0 comments
The triple border has become a free territory for criminal activities and even worse, for terrorist activities. Despite the multiplication of actions, laws and meetings of the authorities of the highest hierarchies of the countries that make up this area: Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, in addition to the monitoring of different governmental agencies of the United States.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 7:35pm | 1 comment
La Triple Frontera se transformó en un territorio “liberado” para las actividades criminales y, peor aún, para las actividades terroristas. Ello, pese a que se multiplicaron las acciones, leyes y encuentros de las autoridades de las más altas jerarquías de los tres países — Argentina, Brasil y Paraguay — que lo integran y del monitoreo de diferentes agencias gubernamentales de los Estados Unidos.
by Howard Campbell | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 3:11pm | 2 comments
Dr. Howard Campbell, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) weighs on Season 3 of "Narcos: Mexico." In his commentary, Campbell, author of “Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez” and the recently released "Downtown Juárez: Underworlds of Violence and Abuse" asserts that the Cártel de Juárez should actually be called the Cártel de El Paso y Juárez.
by Daniel Weisz | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 12:04am | 2 comments
Review of Howard Campbell's "Downtown Juárez: Underwords of Violence & Abuse by SWJ−El Centro Associater Daniel Weisz. In this book, Campbell, a noted ethnographer of Mexico's "Drug War Zone," examines he conditions that lead to violence in central Juárez.
by Bem Japhet Audu | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:23am | 2 comments
The proliferation of arms and military bases on the continent of Africa according to some scholars, has been responsible for violence, crime, and terrorism especially in the sub-Saharan region. It has become one of the banes to security and development challenges in Arica since the end of the cold war. The wave of proliferation across Africa has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people each year in countries like Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria. In Nigeria for instance, arms and violence conflict proliferation across the country has ravaged lives and properties, and over 2000 people reported dead in the country.
by Emilio Iasiello | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:19am | 0 comments
Beijing uses five-year plans as guides to support its intelligence collection efforts, particularly cyber espionage campaigns that can be executed against several targets across the globe. Already Chinese operations against renewable energy organizations have provided competitive advantage to Chinese companies who were able to win contracts and help bankrupt at least two foreign competitors.
by Andre R. Mohammed | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:13am | 0 comments
The roots of modern counterinsurgency are often traced to Colonial Wars or Small Wars of the 19th Century. One case which may demonstrate such a relationship is the South Africa Border War (1966-1989) in which variables such as, intelligence and people-centered operations utilized by the South African Defence Force (SADF) demonstrated striking similarities to C.E. Callwell’s reflection on 19th Century Small Wars.
by Cüneyt Gürer, by Mehmet Alper Sozer | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:09am | 0 comments
The NATO and Turkey relationship has a history of almost 70 years, and it has not always gone smoothly and in harmony, rather this alliance can be described most of the time problematic at best. That fact does not necessarily mean that each side has not mutually benefited from one another though.
by Ian Kippen | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:55am | 0 comments
Rules of engagement (ROE) are the embarrassing uncle at a family party. He is engaged in polite conversation but spends most of the time in the corner being denied top-ups on the drinks and someone, normally the legal advisor in the family, stays sober to drive him home at the earliest opportunity. The operational family is obliged to invite him to the party, but everyone scrupulously avoids conversation and looks forward to his departure.
by Patrick Anders | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:50am | 3 comments
As tensions rise between mainland China and Taiwan once again, it is worth remembering a vic-tim of China’s previous expansionist actions. Tibet, labeled as “the orphan of the Cold War,” has repeatedly been forgotten on the world stage since its annexation in 1950. Similarly forgotten are the United States’ contributions to the Tibetan resistance against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
by Massaab Al-Aloosy | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:44am | 0 comments
Insurgencies are affected by the society and the political system as much as they affect both. For instance, an insurgency based on a sectarian identity cannot realize revolutionary aims because it will have to enforce a parochial ideological view on other factions that do not adhere to the principles espoused by the insurgency. As such, a compromise would be reached to change the formation of the political system rather than completely overhauling it. As the insurgency becomes part of the government it enters a new stage in which it becomes accountable for the population and responsible for the conduct of the government and this is when it defends the status quo rather than work against it.
by Christopher Whyte | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:40am | 0 comments
In the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by an insurrectionist mob, government agencies and private companies across the U.S. were forced to grapple – indeed, are still grappling – with the realities of deep-seated subversion in the nation’s information environment and the potential for further acts of seditious violence. In the weeks and months since, commentators both inside the Beltway and in beyond security communities beyond likened these efforts to challenges inherent in the mission of counterterrorism forces, as well as in actions taken to restructure the politics of nations emerging from conflict.[i] In other words, debate on the paranoia of American politics[ii] rapidly shifted to envisage fringe elements less as countercultural advocates and more the unsophisticated, alternately-capable force often found in America’s small wars.
by Asim Yousafzai | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 3:05am | 0 comments
With much less than anticipated difficulties, the Taliban came roaring back to Kabul, 20 years after they were dethroned by the US forces in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attack. Ironically, the Taliban flag was hoisted on Kabul on the 20th anniversary of the most horrific attacks on the US soil. At the twilight of US presence in Afghanistan, the horrendous attack by ISIS-K killing hundreds of Afghans and 13 US service members at Kabul airport is a grim reminder to the world that the war in Afghanistan is far from over.
by Aaron Byrd | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:59am | 0 comments
In Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) efforts, a conceptual model of advisor-counterpart interactions is needed to enable common understanding and to create a framework for enabling growth in our counterparts. The conceptual model presented in this article frames advisor-counterpart relationships as a balance in terms of who initiates and makes decisions.
by Yvan Yenda Ilunga, by Thomas Matyók | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:56am | 0 comments
Civil society and military actors engaged in humanitarian and peace operations will benefit from an awareness of how religion shapes individuals’ values and ideas regarding the nature of the state. Religious traditions act as foundations upon which secular society rests. Without an understanding of religion, awareness of society remains limited.
by Ridvan Bari Urcosta  | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:51am | 0 comments
Turkey has an advantage in drones in the military-technological revolution.  It is a short period when one country is gaining an advantage in the technology and new type of warfare hence any nation has limited time for smart use of this advantage and superiority for geopolitical gains. Nieghbors  and adversaries eventually catch up,  setting a military and technological equilibrium that would constrain geopolitical adventures of any power.
by Christopher O’Brien | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:32am | 0 comments
The primary defense and security concerns of the 21st-century have been and will continue to be driven by the strategic phenomena of cyberspace and terrorism.[i] However, there are several competing definitions of both cyberspace and terrorism, and there is no universally accepted definition for many cyber-related activities (i.e. cyber-terrorism, cyber-warfare, and cyber-crime). Cyber-terrorism is often loosely defined as the “convergence of terrorism and cyberspace,” which allows for a wide range of interpretation and confusion.[ii] This paper provides a more pragmatic definition of cyber-terrorism by addressing the nuances of previously proposed definitions in order to help the U.S. national security apparatus address current and future threats. Additionally, it will discuss what constitutes a cyber-terror attack and how it differs from other cyber-crimes. Lastly, it will then determine what threat, if any, cyber-terrorism poses to U.S. national security. To do so, I will first provide definitions for both cyberspace and terrorism which are helpful for understanding the distinct phenomenon of cyber-terrorism.
by Michael J. Forsyth | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:10am | 0 comments
In recent decades every time the United States’ political and military leaders discuss the use of force to deal with complex issues in the international security environment the conversation inevitably turns to the need for an exit strategy.[i]  Such discussions of exit strategies have had a deleterious effect on the development of strategy because the exit has become an end unto itself.  Thus, senior leaders have lost sight of the need to win when using force in order to secure political objectives.  The focus on exit strategy ignores the need to conduct messy consolidation operations to secure victory and ultimately translate this into political success.  Once military victory has secured the stated political objectives, then it is appropriate to discuss redeploying committed forces.  This essay offers that the focus on exit strategies is a factor that has led to strategic incompetence and therefore, it is time to discard the use of the term exit strategy as a necessary step to regain strategic competence.  This paper will discuss the origin of the term exit strategy, how it has affected policy and strategy formulation, and offer suggestions for regaining strategic competence.
by Kane Tomlin | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:00am | 1 comment
When attempting to explain the causes of group violence, conflict theories usually focus on the international system of anarchistic self-help, innately violent human nature, the legal framework of warfare, the clash of civilizations, violent mass movements, or a combination of demographic, economic, sociological, and psychological factors. However, none of the major organized conflict models in existing literature explains all inter- or intrastate organized violence.
by James Stejskal | Tue, 10/26/2021 - 12:45pm | 0 comments
The security situation in today’s Northern Ireland is rather placid in comparison with the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. That said, hot-button issues like BREXIT have reignited fears of unrest and violence. The threat to peace remains high. Enter Aaron Edwards’ new book, which takes a detailed look at the importance of intelligence in the United Kingdom’s war against the IRA. Edwards is a senior lecturer with the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, author of UVF: Behind the Mask and co-author of Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire. The author brings a wealth of academic expertise to the subject and with this book he lays bare the treachery, subterfuge, and danger of undercover work in Northern Ireland alongside the contributions it made to the peace process.
by Jonathan D. Rosen | Mon, 10/25/2021 - 7:43pm | 1 comment
This article explores corruption in the context of street gangs in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Combating corruption and impunity as well as reducing the ability of criminal actors to penetrate the state apparatus should be the forefront of the policy agenda of governments in the region. This article focuses primarily on the cases of El Salvador and Honduras to illustrate the failures of tough on crime policies and the intricate, arguably symbiotic, relationship between the state and organized crime.
by César Pintado | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:47am | 0 comments
Combatants have turned to all sorts of substances to enhance their performance or to alleviate their hardships, from the wine and opium used by Greek hoplites to the Dexedrine employed by fighter pilots to stay alert. Sometimes this has been the path to pharmacological innovations, sometimes to the spread of addictions. Although the abuse of these substances remains a problem in all armies, new drugs are emerging to reduce the need for sleep and even open the door to genetic modification.
by Michael Perry | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:41am | 0 comments
The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began as a war to combat transnational terrorism but quickly evolved into something deeper and more profound.  To combat terror emanating from a foreign country the U.S. sought a cooperative Afghan government, and thus the war became an exercise in first toppling an uncooperative regime in the Taliban, and second establishing an effective government with a monopoly on force.  The first step proved easy, while the second led to a revival of counterinsurgent theory and doctrine in the U.S. military, as the deposed Taliban fought to undermine the newly established government.  With President Biden’s announcement all U.S. troops will be withdrawn after 20 years of engagement, it’s natural to take stock of what’s been achieved.  Most now recognize the error in the strategy of deploying large numbers of U.S. and Coalition troops to augment the Afghan defense forces.  Economically, through 2017 the combined efforts of the Afghan War had cost $877 billion, a price tag few would argue is justified by the realized returns.
by David M. Tillman | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:31am | 3 comments
The Study of Terrorism is plagued with ambiguity and contradiction, much of which stems from the inability to agree upon a universal definition. This is particularly apparent when analyzing the various contributing factors surrounding individuals who gravitate towards and ultimately adopt extremist ideologies. To reduce the complexity of analyzing this topic, we will focus exclusively on individuals who have adopted an extremist ideology and are prone to commit violence in support of it. There is a multitude of characteristics that may be associated with these types of individuals, but as Boaz Ganor (2021) alludes to, it is typically an amalgamation of variables that precipitate the manifestation of these ideologies. While some characteristics appear almost symbiotic in nature, others may be viewed as directly contradicting one another. This article argues that there are five major factors that perpetuate extremist ideology and acts of terrorism including sociocultural incompatibility, lack of personal achievement, aptitude toward ignoring contradictory evidence, elevating basic values into sacred ones, and falling well outside the typical socioeconomic distribution curve. It is the amalgamation of these factors that leads individuals to become receptive to extremist ideologies which, as this article will later discuss, all typically follow a consisently  specific archetype. 
by David M. Tillman | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:25am | 2 comments
The history and evolution of terrorism is one of great complexity, spanning centuries rather than decades. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “[t]     errorism remains a contested term, with no set definitions for the concept or broad agreement among academic experts on its usage” (Ward, 2018). However, many believe that recognizing terrorism is akin to Justice Potter Stewart’s concurring opinion regarding the recognition of obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) - “I’ll know it when I see it.” Although there is      a multitude of definitions, many experts[1]  agree that terrorism has two distinguishing elements – violence and a political dimension or motive (Burgess, 2015). This much can be discerned by the definitions of Bruce Hoffman and Louise Richardson of Georgetown University and Oxford University, respectively (Ward, 2018). However, by analyzing this phenomenon through the prism of the military’s Strategic Framework, we can reduce the elements of terrorism down to the ends, ways, and means (Eikmeier, 2007).
by David S. Clukey | Tue, 10/19/2021 - 8:09pm | 0 comments
September 11, 2021 marked 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and shortly before this solemn commemoration, on August 30, the United States (US) withdrew the last of its military forces from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA).  Prior to the withdrawal, US forces had been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In these two decades, the US spent over $2 trillion USD and invested over 2,300 in human capital to offer Afghanistan a chance for prosperity. Unfortunately, the way the US withdrew from Afghanistan appeared as curious as it did haphazard. On a global stage, the US orchestrated a series of diplomatic, tactical, and strategic missteps that were all preventable. Although cringeworthy and tragic, these recent missteps offer opportunity for reflection and lessons to learn from; as did the way the US approached the war in Afghanistan.
by Michael D. Shaler | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 6:47pm | 1 comment
The United States Army has long regarded itself as a LEARNING ORGANIZATION, so, as the President noted, we should ask ourselves: “What have we learned --- both positive and negative --- from our 20 years involvement in the Afghanistan War?”
by Robert S. Burrell | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 8:51pm | 6 comments
The recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and resulting takeover of governance by the Taliban has caused significant doubt in America’s ability to conduct long-lasting and effective counterinsurgency operations. However, a historical analysis into America’s small wars (or dirty wars) over the past two centuries offers an indispensable perspective. The United States has been at war for about 226 of its 245 years, the vast majority of these conflicts have been prosecuted short of traditional war, and many came as a result of great power competition. During this same period, the United States has developed its own unique methods of addressing insurgency. This essay illuminates the evolution and adoption of America’s double-edged reward and punishment approach to addressing insurgency, from the Plains Indian Wars through the Vietnam War, the lessons of which are essential to consider before embarking upon tomorrow’s conflict.
by Gabriel Lloyd | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:50am | 0 comments
Modern Russian intelligence operations, cyber intrusions and influence operations have found both potency in the proliferation of social media technologies and a receptive target in the existing political and social divisions in the United States. Media reports, including dramatic documentaries and breathless biopics on the ten Russian “illegals” arrested in 2010, create perceptions of either a newly developed Russian playbook or a full-scale return to the Cold War era of spy-vs-spy. Neither perspective is entirely accurate.
by Peter Layton | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:43am | 2 comments
China’s gray zone activities grind remorseless on but in so doing are creating an opposing pushback. As is customary, the paradoxical nature of war applies in that those impacted by a damaging strategy will over time devise optimized countermoves.
by Alexander Smith | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:36am | 1 comment
“Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.”[1] British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, recognized the value of airpower as early as 1933 during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and his words hold to this day. The United States spent sixteen of the last twenty years and precious resources attempting to rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF) into a viable, self-sustaining military aviation component capable of supporting the democratically-elected Afghan government. The withdrawal of U.S. and Coalition forces in August of 2021, and the embarrassingly swift takeover by the Taliban, have left the AAF in shambles. Many pilots fled with their aircraft to neighboring countries, where their fate remains uncertain, while the rest are now in Taliban hands.
by Andrew Milburn | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 8:32pm | 0 comments
Watching the chaotic scenes in Kabul airport this last August, it is difficult to make sense of the manner in which Washington pulled the plug on a two-decade Coalition effort leaving our allies non-plussed and our partners to the mercy of a vengeful enemy. Less than three weeks later, these images came again to mind during the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and two of his four-star generals before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nothing in that testimony, however, brought a sense of closure. Instead, repeated attempts at justification, and ultimately – a collective refusal to take responsibility – only rubbed salt in the wound.