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 Michael F. Masters Jr. | Thu, 06/17/2021 - 9:16am | 0 comments
  The USMC's contributions to the future pacific fight are outlined in the recently released tri-service maritime strategy. However, the document only vaguely mentions Naval SOF's unique skill sets and ability to prepare the operating environment for maritime force access without delineating clear lines of effort or aligning resources. To visualize the possibilities of future USMC-SOF I3D, it is helpful to consider a continuum of conventional force and SOF cooperation from deconfliction measures on the low end to opportunities for Integration, Interdependence, and Interoperability on the high-end. 
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 06/16/2021 - 7:42pm | 0 comments
On Friday 11 June 2021, two gunmen attacked beach vendors on a tourist beach in Cancún, killing two vendors and injuring an American tourist. The attackers accessed the beach from the sea via personal watercraft and then left the scene after the assault on the same craft. Similar incidents have taken at Mexican beaches over the past five years.
by Nick Kramer | Wed, 06/16/2021 - 4:23pm | 0 comments
The United States occupied Haiti and ran many of its critical governmental functions between 1915-1934 in one of America’s most protracted conflicts and occupations. During this occupation, multiple internal conflicts arose that required the small garrison of American Marines and the Marine-led Haitian Gendarmerie to execute brief but generally effective counterinsurgency campaigns. An examination of these campaigns will illuminate what lessons can be drawn for contemporary and future use. 
by Daniel Weisz | Tue, 06/15/2021 - 1:53pm | 0 comments
This review essay is a long-form review and commentary on Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán and Luis Jorge Garay-Salamanca, "Super Network of Corruption in Venezuela: Kleptocracy, Human Rights Violation." Tampa: Vortex, 2021. The text provides a detailed social network analysis of the complex corruption situation in Venezuela.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 06/14/2021 - 1:03pm | 0 comments
In honor of the Army's 246th Birthday
by Barnett S. Koven | Mon, 06/07/2021 - 1:38pm | 0 comments
U.S. defense planning is hampered by a binary conception of peace and war. An effective response will require a more nuanced approach. Specifically, it will require the U.S. and its allies and partners to better equip Ukrainian forces for both kinetic and non-kinetic operations. The latter must focus on denying the opposition force, in this case Russia, the ability to remain in the Gray Zone.
by Philip Schrooten, by Jolan Silkens | Sat, 06/05/2021 - 3:11pm | 0 comments
As leaders of the Sahel convened in Chad’s capital N'djamena to discuss flaring jihadist violence, Chadian President Déby announced on 15 February 2021 the deployment of an additional 1,200 soldiers to the border zone between Niger, Mali and Burkino Faso.[i][ii] French President Macron also ruled out a withdrawal of forces despite dwindling domestic support for French operations in the region.[iii] Crisis Group expert Hannah Armstrong says one year after France stepped up its military presence in the region, it is as clear as ever that conventional military engagement has failed to deliver a knockout blow to armed jihadist groups.[iv]
by César Pintado | Sat, 06/05/2021 - 3:03pm | 1 comment
Chinese investments in Africa have multiplied in recent years, especially since the 2013 launch of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). But China has realized that it is a mistake to entrust security and development to trade alone. A new generation of Chinese private security companies sees the BRI as an opportunity for lucrative contracts and international expansion, but its shortcomings are evident on the ground. Currently, the few properly certified Chinese private security companies in Africa appear to be operating semi-autonomously, oriented towards niche markets. And so far not as an extension of the state, but these companies may be the tool Beijing needs to prevent the defense of its citizens and assets from forcing it into military interventions that, for the time being, remain beyond its reach.
by Octavian Manea | Thu, 06/03/2021 - 7:27am | 0 comments
SWJ Q&A with Admiral (Ret.) James Foggo, a distinguished Fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Over the last decade in Naples, Italy, he served in multiple major commands as Commander, Naval Forces Europe/Africa; Commander Allied Joint Force Command, Naples; Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet; Commander, Submarine Group 8; and Commander, Submarines, Allied Naval Forces South. 
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Tue, 06/01/2021 - 4:19pm | 0 comments
Paramedics in Cape Town (Western Cape), South Africa are allegedly victims of extortion gangs that seek ‘protection’ money to allow them to provide emergency medical care.  This incidence of extortion is exacerbated by a recent upswing in violent attacks against Emergency Medical Service (EMS) staff and the influence of Covid-19 lockdowns on public [in]security.  
by Miron Lakomy | Sun, 05/30/2021 - 12:58am | 2 comments
The emergence of the dark web at the beginning of the 21st century is considered to be one of the most significant developments in the history of the digital revolution. What was initially perceived as an experimental and legitimate response to the increased government control over the Internet in time has become a source of a broad spectrum of computer-related crimes. This was mostly caused by the fact that the Onion Router (TOR), Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet or—more recently—ZeroNet provide users with a set of tools enabling anonymous and safe communication. Cybercriminal underground quickly realized that these technologies substantially facilitate the exchange of illicit goods, services, and content. Effectively, the dark web has become an online communication layer known not for the freedom of speech but rather for popular drug markets, firearm vendors, leaked databases, or illegal pornography.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Sat, 05/29/2021 - 11:53am | 0 comments
The Localization Strategy: Local Logic and Energy in Belgium’s Advising Mission to Niger
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 05/28/2021 - 1:07pm | 0 comments
Criminal Factions (Facções criminosas) in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) are extorting telecommunications and utility operators and attacking telecommunications infrastructure to bolster criminal protection rackets. The rackets obstruct free access to telephone, internet, cable, television, natural gas, and electricity. The criminal exploitation extends beyond the favelas throughout the region. Theft, vandalism, and sabotage, as well as threats to infrastructure personnel, impede service provision.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 10:02pm | 1 comment
El nuevo libro "La Guerra Improvisada: Los años de Calderón y sus consecuencias" de Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera y Tony Payan busca explicar el proceso de toma de decisiones de la “guerra contra las drogas” (de aquí en adelante se denominará solo como la guerra) iniciada e implementada por elpresidente Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) en colaboración con EE.UU. El libro explora preguntas claves como ¿por qué inició Calderón la guerra? ¿Quién la diseñó e implementó y cómo? ¿Quién determinó la estrategia? ¿Qué papel desempeñó EE.UU.?  Y ¿por qué se utilizó a las fuerzas armadas? 
by Teun Voeten | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 7:00pm | 0 comments
This field report looks at the drugs trade in the Netherlands. It draws from SWJ-El Centro Fellow Teun Voeten’s journalistic experience and updates the discussion contained in “Chapter 6, The Netherlands as a narco-state, and Antwerp as its principle cocaine hub” in his SWJ-El Centro book "Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty" (2020).
by Nicholas Underwood | Wed, 05/26/2021 - 4:24pm | 0 comments
A review of David Kilcullen's new book on how U.S. adversaries (state and non-state) have adapted to be more effective at competition with the U.S.-led international system
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Tue, 05/25/2021 - 8:59pm | 0 comments
On 6 May 2021, at approximately 0600 hours (6 AM), Rio de Janeiro’s civil police (Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – PCERJ) entered the Jacarezinho favela (slum) to perform a raid—Operação Exceptis(Operation Exception)—against members of the Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command).  As the PCERJ entered the favela, they encountered small arms fire.  A PCERJ officer was killed in the initial exchange and a sustained battle continued through the day.  At least 28 persons were killed, including the police officer and 27 residents. The incident was the deadliest in Rio de Janeiro’s history and provoked widespread globalcriticism.
by Max G. Manwaring | Sat, 05/22/2021 - 2:36pm | 0 comments
The traditional distinctions between crime, terrorism, subversion, and insurgency are blurred.  This new dynamic involves the migration of the monopoly of political power (i.e., the authoritative allocation of the values in a society) from the traditional nation-state to unconventional actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), transnational criminal organizations, Leninist-Maoist insurgents, tribal militias, mafia organizations, private armies, cartel enforcers, third generation gangs (3GEN Gangs), and other modern mercenaries and entrepreneurs. These actors conduct some form or level of war against various state and non-state adversaries and promulgate their own rule of law—within alternatively governed spaces—within the societies they control.  That activity creates an ambiguous bazaar of violence where criminal entrepreneurs fuel the convergence of crime and war.
by Keith Nightingale | Sat, 05/22/2021 - 1:01pm | 0 comments
A tribute to Medal of Honor recipient COL(RET) Ralph Puckett.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm | Thu, 05/20/2021 - 12:16am | 0 comments
Review essay on Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Tony Payan,  "La guerra improvisada: Los años de Calderón y sus consecuencias." The book "La Guerra Improvisada" (in Spanish) sheds light on the decision-making process of the so-called “war on drugs” (from here on referred to as war) launched and implemented in Mexico by President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) in collaboration with the United States. It explores key questions like why launch the war? Who designed and implemented it and how? Who determined the strategy? What was the US role? And why use military forces? Undoubtedly, the role of the military has been one of the most persistent and controversial issues about the war. 
by Christopher D. Booth | Wed, 05/19/2021 - 8:47pm | 0 comments
Considered by many to be an anachronism is this technological age, there are grounds to reconsider their use for future conflict. Pack-animals can carry up to a third of their bodyweight in cargo. Pack-train logistics could not only play a role in supporting U.S. special operations units engaged in irregular warfare, but would be well suited for the U.S. Marine Corps’ expeditionary advanced base operations concept. They provide mobility with a limited logistical tail, as they do not require fuel, lubricants, or spare parts; and in the case of mules require little forage (and often can subsist off of indigenous plants) – ideal for dispersed units who may be cut-off or irregularly supplied in a great-power conflict. Furthermore, they are not susceptible to many of the counters China is expected to employ to blunt U.S. technology. At a minimum, the Marine Corps’ new Marine Littoral Regiment could serve as a test-bed for an experimental unit equipped with pack-animals as the Corps engages in force design. A review of the history of military pack-trains helps highlight their continued relevance.
by James King | Tue, 05/18/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
Samual Colt may have created the gun that won the West but John Browning’s guns have won everything else. From his humble beginnings in Ogden Utah to his death on the Fabrique Nationale factory floor in Belgium and beyond, Nathan Gorenstein tells a story that is long overdue, in the first major biography of the man who has been called the Thomas Edison of guns. Not even Mikhail Kalashnikov and his AK-47 can stake a claim to the level of influence in the conduct of warfare that John Browning’s inventions still have almost 100 years after his death.
by Jelle Hooiveld | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 12:37pm | 0 comments
The author recognizes another forgotten member of the OSS who contributed to the development of U.S.Special Forces.
by Daniel de Wit , by Salil Puri | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 12:31pm | 3 comments
           The Defense Department is confused. Numerous manuals and joint publications testify to the importance of information and influence in the contemporary operating environment, as do countless studies, articles, books, and official testimony. And yet despite this trend, different sectors of the military have adopted widely divergent concepts of the role of information in competition and conflict, leading to a fractured understanding of how the military should view information functions, and even what they should be called. “Information operations” has been the standard term across the military for twenty-five years, though its usage has changed significantly since it was originally employed in the context of the 1990s-era “revolution in military affairs.”
by David S. Clukey | Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:39am | 1 comment
September 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden recently called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan on this date. U.S. forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In this time, the U.S. invested over 240,000 in human capital and over $2 trillion U.S.D. From 2001 – 2010, after the immediate route of the Taliban, the U.S. orchestrated a series of disjointed campaigns and priorities shifted almost as frequently as commanders. This misalignment with a concurrent refocus of U.S. resources to Iraq in 2003, realized a deteriorated situation in Afghanistan. Conditions improved in 2009 under a series of pragmatic U.S. Army Generals who commonly advocated Special Operations Forces driven Village Stability Operations (VSO).
by Ryan N. Mannina | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 8:46pm | 0 comments
This article attempts to determine whether the Chemical Weapons Convention's prohibition of riot control agents as a method of warfare succeeds in limiting human suffering in war. I argue that the prohibition has led the U.S. military to adopt more lethal and destructive means of fighting in dense urban terrain. This results in more collateral damage and non-combatant suffering in urban warfare, instead of less. The article utilizes the case study method to compare the 1968 Battle of Hue and the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, describes the weapons and tactics used in each, and attempts to quantify the cost in terms of non-combatant deaths and collateral damage. It draws extensively from primary sources, including AARs from the units involved, published eyewitness accounts, and official histories. This article will benefit senior military leaders by informing their analysis and recommendations to policymakers regarding the use of RCAs, suggesting topics for further study, and providing recommendations for how the United States might approach modifications to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 8:41pm | 0 comments
This research note documents two recent developments in the proliferation of weaponized consumer drones (aerial improvised explosive devices) in Mexico. The first incident is an alleged attack by the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán on the morning of 4 May 2021. The second is the arrest of two suspected Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) drone weaponeers in Puebla on 22 April 2021. Both incidents follow the widely reported 20 April 2021 drone attack in Aguililla, Michoacán.
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Sun, 05/09/2021 - 7:32pm | 0 comments
El propósito principal de este artículo es explicar porqué algunos países experimentan un deterioro creciente y crónico en su desempeño institucional en la lucha contra la delincuencia organizada transnacional, incluso cuando estos mismos países cuentan con abundantes recursos humanos y recursos materiales dentro de sus Estados para combatir a delitos complejos. Este artículo también se enfoca en presentar casos de países en donde el Estado, a sabiendas o no, patrocina o fomenta a la delincuencia organizada tal como sucede en los casos de China, Mexico y Rusia. Se publicó una versión anterior de este artículo en inglés como “Antimafia Impasse: State-Driven Organized Crime & Organized Crime States.”
by Robert Muggah | Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:19am | 1 comment
Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Robert Muggah assesses the state of police practice in Rio de Janeiro in the aftermath of a civil police raid on a Comando Vermelho (Red Command) stronghold in the Jacarezinho favela in Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Muggah concludes that "A commission of inquiry and disciplinary action are mandatory, and a radical change of police culture is essential."
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:54pm | 0 comments
This article reviews the reasons why some countries experience chronic and growing deterioration in their institutional performance in fighting and preventing transnational organized crime, even when plentiful national human and material antimafia resources are readily available. This piece also focuses on country case studies where the State sponsors or fosters organized crime, such as in China and in Mexico.
by Eddie Banach | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 9:05am | 0 comments
This article seeks to answer what makes security institutions effective in poor security environments, and how these lessons can be applied in Afghanistan against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  This paper explains why only specific institutions such as the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and special Afghan units are noted successes, despite only a fraction of their parent forces’ funding and support, even though the massively better funded, more substantially supported Iraqi and Afghan army and police forces are proven failures.  The central argument is that only a few security institutions have proven to be effective security organizations, due to their mastery of their complex environments, while larger, ineffective security institutions routinely prove inadequate in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and as basic security providers.  This phenomenon seems at odds with logic as well as U.S. policy, yet almost two decades of U.S.-led counter-insurgency campaigns, multiple large-scale Middle Eastern wars, and countless U.S. and allied strategy changes, demonstrate the futility of clinging to the inherently flawed conceptualizations of the contemporary security institution model. 
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 04/28/2021 - 9:17pm | 0 comments
Two police officers in Aguililla, Michoacán were injured in a weaponized drone attack at approximately 0100 hours, (01:00 AM) Tuesday morning, 20 April 2021 on the highway between Aguililla and Apatzingán. The attack involving drones artillados (armed or ’gun’ drones) is the fifth documented incident involving aerial improvised explosive devices utilized by the cartels in Mexico and the first one in which injuries have resulted.
by Daniel Weisz | Sat, 04/24/2021 - 5:01pm | 0 comments
Este ensayo del asociado de SWJ-El Centro, Daniel Weisz, examina la Guerra de Propaganda que se libra entre el Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) y el presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Este "concurso de información" destaca la importancia de las "operaciones de información" para ambas partes en el contexto de las guerras del crimen en México.
by Connor Hirsch | Fri, 04/23/2021 - 7:29am | 1 comment
Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War braced the regime during its nadir and helped reestablish President Bashar al-Assad’s political dominance over much of Syria just two years later. Despite its importance, Russian intervention did not change the character of the counterinsurgency campaign. Rather, the similarities in Russian and Syrian approaches to counterinsurgency preserved Assad’s strategy and optimized Russian intervention, integrating formidable capabilities into an already brutal campaign. Leaders in Moscow and Damascus were aligned in their approaches. Effective patron-client politics facilitated strategic and tactical cooperation and enabled counterinsurgent forces to strike the insurgencies’ center of gravity by targeting Syrian civilians.
by Daniel Weisz | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 11:34pm | 0 comments
This essay by SWJ-El Centro Associate Daniel Weisz examines the Propaganda War being waged among the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and Mexico's President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). This "information contest" highlights the importance of "information operations" to both parties within the context of Mexico's crime wars.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 4:11pm | 0 comments
Michael Noonan provides us with the best contemporary treatment of unconventional warfare (UW) and foreign internal defense (FID) I have read.  I begin this review with this statement at great risk because I know many people will not read further because of the antibodies surrounding UW and FID, but especially UW.  If you do not want to read this review, fine.  But I urge you to read the book because it goes well beyond UW and FID.
by Robert Coombs | Wed, 04/21/2021 - 12:15pm | 0 comments
The US demand signal for psychological warfare and influence-based operations is indicating exponential growth, unseen since the 1950s. A thorough analysis of the influence-based profession indicates a crucial need to develop an overarching set of principles, especially during the era of Great Power Competition (GPC). Many US policy makers are unknowingly replicating the discussions of the 1940s and the 1950s without taking into account the successes and failures of our psychological warfare forefathers. This analysis provides a set of psychological warfare principles based on historical analysis and returns psychological warfare back to the forefront of discussions in the era of GPC. The US must use psychological warfare as the arrow of initial penetration if we are to compete with nations that maintain parity or overmatch in the influence fields.
by Anthony Wertz , by Stuart Gallagher | Sun, 04/18/2021 - 9:22pm | 1 comment
To achieve its theater-strategic goals and counter Russian aggression despite ongoing fiscal constraints, the United States Government (USG) must consciously increase its U.S. interagency and whole-of-government efforts specifically by augmenting U.S. Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) and Department of State (DoS) collaboration in the European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility. Both European Union (EU) and U.S. leadership recognize Russia as the greatest security threat confronting Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  In response, NATO countries and the U.S. have increased defense spending, but capacity gaps will continue to remain in the near future.  These gaps relate to both fiscal austerity and Russia’s recent unconventional approaches to warfare. 
by Robert Bunker | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 7:28pm | 0 comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has both exacerbated and accelerated the ‘hollowing out’ of the American liberal democratic state’s ability to provide public goods to its citizens while at the same time greatly benefiting its richest families and the multinational corporations under their ownership and control. With the pendulum shifting in the recent presidential and congressional elections from one major political party to another, US federal governmental (and the governed’s) economic interests are now in a direct collision course with plutocratic privilege and prerogative. While the state now seeks to revitalize the public infrastructure—for the American people—family dynastic and plutocratic interests seek to increasingly maximize their economic profits and, in the process, further defund and commoditize such public goods.
by Michael L. Burgoyne | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 3:49pm | 0 comments
An excerpt from "Ascensión: A Tale of the Mexican Drug War" by Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Michael L. Burgoyne. This fictional account—or FICINT (Fictional Intelligence)—describes the security situation in Mexico in an accessible manner. Here the situation in Mexico is described through the lens of fiction and intelligence to depict future conflict scenarios grounded in reality.
by Michael Schwille, by Scott Fisher | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 3:40pm | 0 comments
Constellations of low-altitude, low-latency satellites providing broadband internet access to wide swathes of the earth are an impending challenge to the information dominance enjoyed by the world’s authoritarian states. Whether Amazon’s proposed Project Kuiper, Elon Musk’s Starlink (already functional in some areas of North America), or the United Kingdom funded OneWeb, the ability to provide relatively low cost internet access outside of government control is both a challenge for authoritarian states and an opportunity for democracies.
by Sandor Fabian | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 3:31pm | 1 comment
During the last couple decades U.S. Special Forces have become champions of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. However, with the recent changes of the global strategic landscape and the increasingly multipolar world they are required once again to adapt to emerging challenges. While as many practitioners and scholars already argued the U.S. Special Forces must maintain all their hard-earned irregular warfare skills, they must also find new niche capabilities to effectively support the activities of the rest of the U.S. government during the competition. This article argues that one such capability is building urban resistance networks within allied and partner nations pre-conflict and enabling such networks during war.
by Robert Bunker, by Alma Keshavarz | Thu, 04/08/2021 - 8:30pm | 0 comments
On 11 March 2021, the Iranian-aligned Houthi insurgents unveiled a variety of so-termed ‘Made in Yemen’ weaponry. Called the "Martyr Leader Exhibition for Military Industries," Houthi leaders showcased new armaments and other munitions. According to the accompanying Yemen based news outlet Taiz News, this is a part of the broader mission to achieve certain strategic objectives by the Houthis.
by Robert Bunker | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 8:41pm | 0 comments
Review of Ioan Grillo's "Blood Gun Money: How America Arms gangs and Cartels" by Dr. Robert J. Bunker.
by Lucas Webber | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:49am | 0 comments
The global jihadist movement has grown markedly more hostile towards China as a result of the country’s domestic security policy in Xinjiang as well as its foreign policy and growing influence in the Islamic world. Uighur jihadists have traditionally spearheaded anti-China propaganda efforts, however, in recent years China-related issues have gained rhetorical traction throughout broader international militant discourse. Jihadists of disparate geographies and numerous languages have notably increased their focus on Chinese policy in their media content. Yet there are few non-Uighur militants that really stand out as being particularly ardent, outspoken, and persistent critics of China. Such figures play a role in giving anti-China narratives the added momentum to further transcend the Uighur jihadist realm and reach a more global audience.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:42am | 0 comments
The Localization Strategy (LS) is devised to assist Western expeditionary forces to navigate through the jungle of complexity with the application of local logic and energy. The name itself is a stark reminder that yesterday’s logic and success is intimately tied to yesterday’s circumstances. New eyes are needed time and again as connections keep changing the nature of things. Soldiers must learn to unlearn and military planners must learn to reset themselves to zero. The LS’ main purpose is to take as many lessons identified from inadequate Western practices in war over the past twenty years and structure them into one approach. This approach attempts to “add a pinch of spice to existing ideas and literature” and is graphically represented by the Resilience Temple. George Box famously said, ‘all models are wrong, but some are useful’. I hope the Resilience Temple provides a useful sequence of practicable ideas for overcoming the uncertainty and volatility of conflicts in the 21st Century.
by Adam Taylor | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:37am | 1 comment
President Biden’s transition into power caps an important four-year period for the Department of Defense (DoD).  While many will debate the Trump administration’s national defense legacy for years to come, current evidence suggests that its decision to focus on great power competition has proven decidedly consequential. Both the Marine Corps and the Navy have released new future force design proposals intended to better prepare the services to compete in a great power conflict. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has also released his own guidance about how his service must meet the great power moment. Yet, the rush to bureaucratic relevancy in a great power environment shouldn’t lead the services to abandon those capabilities needed to succeed in an irregular conflict.  Specifically, the Corps must ensure its force modernization plans ensure the service can fight and win the irregular conflicts it has historically fought for the nation.  How the service balances its traditional irregular warfighting responsibilities with the need to field a force able to compete against peer adversaries will determine its utility on the future battlefield. 
by Octavian Manea | Mon, 04/05/2021 - 6:06am | 0 comments
Interview with Dr. A. Wess Mitchell, co-chair of the NATO 2030 Reflection Process. He is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. Previously, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2017 to 2019. Prior to joining the State Department, Mitchell cofounded and served as President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
by Mark Grzegorzewski | Sun, 04/04/2021 - 6:53pm | 0 comments
As the excitement around artificial intelligence applications grows, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) remains on the forefront in adopting this emergent technology. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have always been the tip of the spear in fighting our nation’s wars and serve as the preeminent asymmetric force. Thus, it comes as no surprise that USSOCOM would want to incorporate the potentially game changing technology of AI into every new program. However, SOF should be careful not to become too enamored with AI tools. Rather, it should continue the focus on executing its core missions and seeing where AI applications may fit in instead of being captivated by a still brittle technology that may or may not have the impacts needed within SOF’s core missions. For the missions of the future, especially downrange in the future operating environment, highly advanced technology may not always be the weapon of choice. Therefore, we both must prepare the force for the potentialities of AI and stay focused on operating with the human domain without support from AI technologies.
by Marc Losito | Sun, 04/04/2021 - 6:48pm | 0 comments
China—above all else—is the preeminent issue on the U.S. foreign policy agenda.  The competition between a rising China and the ruling U.S. will test the presumption that great power wars were obsolete.  This great power war, however, will not be emblematic of the past.  It has taken shape amidst global governance institutions and utilizes new domains of strategic terrain to compete without conflict, reform institutions and norms, and present an alternative international model—in lieu of the liberal world order—that reflects authoritarian priorities and values.  In an era of democratic absenteeism, the problem is clear: autocracies have learned how to use the strengths of the liberal order to promote undemocratic ends.  What is required is a unified and coordinated democratic response to promote the liberal ideals of a new, technology-driven world order.  While the scope of the issue is both wide and deep, one arena for competition and cooperation stands out from the others—internet governance.  At the center of China’s technological self-reliance ambitions—Made in China 2025[1]—is the Chinese techno-autocracy model of internet governance.