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 David Acosta | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 3:24pm | 0 comments
The war in Ukraine stands out as the classic David and Goliath story between the larger, more powerful Russia and the smaller, more agile Ukraine. It is a tale of how Ukraine wielding the West’s spigot of truth, a deluge of TikTok videos, a band of Eastern European Elves, and Elon Musk’s satellite constellation, converged information power to challenge Russia’s firehose of falsehoods. Historians will study this conflict for years to come, and the information lessons are critical, especially to the US Army as it develops its emerging information advantage concept.
by Dustin E. Lawrence | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 9:21am | 0 comments
In the cauldron of World War I, fire and steel had reduced the old paradigms formulated by titanic figures in military history. Modern weapon advances had expanded the battlefield, which had become less dense but more lethal. Following the Great War then the subsequent Russian Civil War, Russian officers and thinkers deliberated these new realities in preparation for the next modern war. This cohort greatly expanded the intellectual understanding of warfare. One of these voyenspets to rise through the discourse afterwards was General-Major Alexander Andreevich Svechin, who during a series of lectures at Moscow’s Academy of the General Staff in 1923-1924 first coined the term, “operational art.” Ironically, one of the greatest operational artists by Svechin’s own standards was first stepping into the classroom then, albeit over 4,000 miles southeast of his lecture hall. Fourteen years later Vo Nguyen Giáp received his law degree and began teaching. Over three decades after Svechin’s lectures in Moscow on May 7, 1954, Giáp decisively defeated the French Union Forces at Dien Bien Phu. Through Svechin’s lens, Giáp’s victory provided history a master class on the most exacting approaches to operational art.
by Will McGee  | Sat, 05/07/2022 - 9:59pm | 0 comments
Two years ago, the Marine Corps embarked on a once-in-a-generation redesign intended to prepare it to fight with China. The decision was widely praised at the time. But in the last two months, a star-studded cast of former Marine generals, including every living Commandant of the Marine Corps and Secretary Mattis, have all denounced the plan in major national outlets like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. This article contributes to the debate in two ways: (1) by examining the operating concepts that underlie the Marine Corps’ plan, and (2) by evaluating these operating concepts in light of what we have learned from the Russia-Ukraine war. Operating concepts are the documents that detail, in theory, how the service intends to fight. The article proceeds by tracing the history of the redesign process, describing the operating concepts using published policy documents, and then evaluates them in light of the Russia-Ukraine war and possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The article concludes that these concepts do not adequately prepare the service for the next war.
by John F. Sullivan | Sat, 05/07/2022 - 7:47am | 0 comments
While Sun Tzu remains a cornerstone of every U.S. military officer’s professional military education, and is often viewed as a window into current Chinese strategic thinking, how well do we really understand the text? Have we subjected it to harsh philological, historical, and philosophical debates similar to the ones surrounding Clausewitz? This article will argue that we should remain skeptical over our modern interpretations of the work. This article highlights how even a phrase thought to be a bedrock concept of Sun Tzu, “Know the Enemy, Know Yourself,” is not quite what it seems when placed within its proper historical and textual roots. My hope is that we elevate the study of this enigmatic text from mere hagiography into a more historically grounded realm of debate.
by Benjamin Van Horrick | Thu, 05/05/2022 - 11:13pm | 1 comment
In 1967 a college professor was killed on a Marine patrol in South Vietnam. Why was Professor Bernard Fall in Vietnam with a combat unit? Nathaniel Moir’s superb new intellectual biography of Fall, Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare (2022), documents the extraordinary scholarship of Bernard Fall, an academic whose field research shaped America’s understanding of Vietnam, while attempting to inform America’s military intervention. The intellectual biography of Fall’s provides today’s military professionals and academics a template for how each group can benefit from one another while influencing how America wages irregular warfare in the future. 
by George Kotlik | Thu, 05/05/2022 - 11:06pm | 0 comments
This paper proposes to settle the remote Alaskan backcountry. This work concerns topics covering the logistics of that region’s settlement and the political philosophical underpinnings that call for such an action. As such, this paper begins with a discussion of the settlement site followed by coverage of the settlement itself, including discussions on the political, military, and economic considerations of the settlement’s founding, in addition to other particularities not mentioned here, unique to the settlement in question. Finally, this essay will conclude with a discussion of this plan’s shortcomings in addition to providing explanations wherever possible to address any concerns, objections, or criticisms to the proposed plan. All at once, this work offers the author’s own assertion of what a utopian society looks like. Consequently, my claims are not intended to serve as fact. No, rather, they offer readers a springboard for future thought into the realm of political philosophy.
by Jeremiah Shenefield | Wed, 05/04/2022 - 3:44pm | 0 comments
The recently published Department of Defense documents, the department shifted to the Chinese pacing threat after years of focusing on Counter-Terrorism. Each military service is developing requirements, advocating for increased budgets, and clamoring for relevant missions in a hypothetical conflict with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) even as the land war in Ukraine grinds on. Fears of a volley of ballistic missiles raining down on Taiwan, naval bases in Okinawa, and facilities in Guam appear to be keeping U.S. policy makers up at night, among many other potential kinetic capabilities the PLA’s Navy (PLAN) has rapidly developed over the years. Prior to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, China’s own rhetoric points to a potential invasion of Taiwan by force, though the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leadership would likely rather assert dominance through less kinetic means, especially consider the economic and military backlash the world has displayed towards Russia. 
by Patrick Hanlon | Tue, 05/03/2022 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
Since Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February, it has become quite fashionable for commentators, despite their lack of warfighting experience, to criticize the Russian military for its apparent ineptitude.  I’ll admit too that I fell into this camp that felt the war in Ukraine demonstrated how overrated the Russian military was.  While that is true in some regards, it’s an incomplete picture in my opinion. 
by Chuck de Caro | Fri, 04/29/2022 - 2:54pm | 0 comments
While the Ukrainian Army and Air Force are drawing most of Vladimir Putin’s attention, this might be an auspicious time for the Ukrainian Navy to strike again against the Russian Navy, via surprise attacks against the Russian surface ship base at Sevastopol  and the Russian submarine base at Novorossiysk, 165 and 468 miles, respectively, from the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
by Cecilia Polizzi | Fri, 04/29/2022 - 1:40pm | 0 comments
The development of terrorism has been progressively characterized by the involvement of children. In the continuous and dynamic evolution of terrorist organizations, child exploitation has come to represent a fast-evolving operational, strategic and tactical component of Salafi-jihadism and emerged as one core overarching pattern in the rise of extremism, globally. In 4th Generation Warfare, the escalating nature of this phenomenon and its widening scope bring into consideration questions as to whether the exploitation of children in terrorist ranks is a mere aberration or an indication of the evolution of warfare and its changing requirements. As part of the ongoing effort to understand the causes, motivations and factors driving the accelerating nature and protracted dimension of child exploitation in terrorism, the ambition of this article is twofold: To investigate the causal complexities between the recruitment and use of children as part of Salafi-jihadist´s groups strategy of war and the tenets of 4th Generation Warfare; To provide new theoretical insights into the phenomenology of child exploitation in terrorism.
by Derik R. Zitelman | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 8:38pm | 0 comments
Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the Middle East and South Asia, particularly in Pakistan, will likely experience stepped-up attacks by Islamic terrorists and ethnonational separatist groups. Overseas Chinese workers and assets are becoming high-value targets for jihadist militants, as China’s domestic persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang continues. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project along the BRI’s western front, is particularly susceptible to terror attacks.
by Tarik Solmaz | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has undermined the prevailing premises in the West about the character of contemporary warfare. Over the past decade, the Western world, generally speaking, had seemed to be convinced that actions that fall below the threshold of the outright act of war will be the most dominant form of conflict in the 21st century. As such, Western states and institutions had primarily focused on countering measures short of conventional war. The focus on ‘sub-threshold threats’ emerged primarily in reaction to Russia’s ‘unconventional’ operation against Ukraine in 2014.
by Patrick B. Roberson, by Stuart Gallagher, by Kyle Martin , by Wes Dyson | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 1:05pm | 0 comments
If you have been in the Army for any length of time, you have heard one of the many adages touting the importance of people in the organization. Two that immediately come to mind are “Mission first, people always!” and “People first!” Similarly, in the special operations community there are a series of guiding principles entitled the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Truths - the first of which states “Humans are more important than hardware.” In Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF), we could take this a step further, “humans are most important.” As with any organization, it is one thing to acknowledge the importance of people, but the true measure of importance is evidenced through action. Both Army special operations and the Army writ large are on a quest to better focus on people and improve how talent management is conducted throughout the force.  
by Daniel Riggs | Tue, 04/26/2022 - 10:24pm | 0 comments
Cybersecurity is critical, and the military needs to orient towards cyberspace over the next few years. However, the current narrative overstates the role of misinformation and disinformation about national security, human action, and cybersecurity. Target audiences' prevailing and ongoing external and internal conditions affect attitudes and behavior far more significantly than enemy propaganda. The following will first define the Cyber Domain to understand its impact on influence, explain its connection to other domains, how external and internal conditions outside of the Cyber Domain influence human action, and proposals for future efforts. 
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Tue, 04/26/2022 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Crimea is likely far more vulnerable than many assume.  Given Russia’s sloppy, absurdly ineffective approach to this entire war, Crimea may actually be ripe for the taking.  Why this is the case, and how Ukrainian forces can undo Putin’s entire Crimean project of the last eight years and deal his regime a catastrophic blow, is detailed below
by Bill Edwards | Mon, 04/25/2022 - 9:55pm | 0 comments
   If you are paying close attention to the war in Ukraine you would have noticed a significant change in how war is prosecuted in the modern age specifically regarding commercial and military drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and robotics.  Additionally, Ukraine is winning the information war starting at the top of their government in the form of President Zelenskyy’s constant and upfront reporting daily.  Why is this important?  What this specific conflict is showing us from a military and possibly more important from a private sector perspective is the demonstration of what strategists and historians would classify as a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
by  Greg Metzgar | Mon, 04/25/2022 - 11:56am | 0 comments
The past two decades of persistent conflict have brought about an unprecedented need for Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Conventional Force (CF) personnel at all levels to learn quickly and constantly enhance their ability to conduct operational design and planning functions not only at the component level but increasingly at the operational level. This “punching above your weight” is due to continued manning requirements that dictate a sustained need to fulfill operational demands, along with a diminishing pool of personnel resources. As the Joint Force enters the mid-point of the 21st century, the demands placed upon the joint force will continue, and professionals at all levels will require a renewed focus on being prepared to address the multidomain threats posed by a host of strategic challenges.  
by Tom Johansmeyer | Sat, 04/23/2022 - 1:46pm | 0 comments
Supply chain vulnerability and natural resource supply have remained pressing topics through waves of global crises over the past three years. The pandemic demonstrated how fragile supply chains can be, and climate change threatens the stability – and even viability – of the equatorial region. The conflict in Ukraine helps demonstrate the potential for volatility in natural resource exports from the Arctic region as a result of the sanctions currently imposed on Russia. The economic security implications of access to resources are profound, particularly extractives, given the broad dependence on them worldwide, from energy to rare earth metals. Extractives industries, in particular, face both near-term and long-term threats resulting from natural and geopolitical conditions, making it crucial for the world to find alternative sources for them, with the political and economic stability of potential exporters crucial to worldwide markets.
by Jonathan D. Rosen | Fri, 04/22/2022 - 6:05pm | 0 comments
Commentary by SWJ−El Centro Fellow Jonathan D. Rosen on the arrest and extradition of Juan Orlando Hernández, the former president of Honduras. The indictment and arrest reveals the intricate state-organized crime nexus in that Northern Central American Country.
by Martin Comack | Fri, 04/22/2022 - 8:48am | 0 comments
    Considerations of early counterinsurgency efforts by the American military usually   focus upon the many interventions of the U.S. Marines in Central America and the Caribbean through the 1920s.  Somewhat less attention has been given to the U.S. Army’s mission of suppression of the insurgency that followed acquisition of the Philippine Islands after the Spanish American War.
by Chuck de Caro | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 8:19pm | 0 comments
When Winston Churchill thought that Nazi Germany would invade the UK, he selected Major Colin Gubbins to form the secret “Auxiliary Units.”   The Auxiliary Units mission:  Wait for Britain to be over run, and then rise from their underground bunkers and deliver absolute havoc among the German occupiers...forever. ... In Ukraine, what may be coming is a stupendous Russian juggernaut bent on taking the enormous Yuzivska natural gas fields, the gigantic ArcelorMittal steel complex, the water resources of the lower Dnieper River, and all the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. Under those circumstances, Ukraine’s military would be slowly ground down to combat ineffectiveness under the sheer weight of Russian numbers. What would remain would be the balance of 40 million Ukrainian civilians bent on evening the score. But how?  NATO has only limited numbers of Special Forces troops to train guerrillas, and any of them captured on Ukrainian soil could cause an escalation that might engulf NATO.
by Tarik Solmaz | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 9:54am | 0 comments
The existing literature tends to characterize proxy warfare as a form of warfare exclusively employed by states, in particular, global powers and regional actors. Today, however, proxy warfare is conducted not only by states but also by politically motivated non-state armed actors. Therefore, current understandings of proxy warfare do not provide a sufficient framework to explain this non-traditional form of proxy warfare. This article examines and analyzes non-state-led proxy warfare. Thinking about non-state-led proxy warfare matters because it reveals that non-state actor can attain their political objectives without carrying out terrorist or guerilla-style attacks. This may necessitate reviewing current strategies used to negate non-state threats, which are quite counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency-centric. The main purpose of this article is to explore some patterns regarding non-state-led proxy warfare, and so, to find out whether, and if so, how it differs from state-led proxy warfare. For these purposes, this paper uses two case studies: al-Qaeda’s sponsorship of the Caucasus Emirate and Hezbollah’s support of Yemeni Houthis. This article argues that although there are significant differences between the capabilities, organizational structures, and organizational cultures of state and non-state actors, and thus, how they use these to carry out proxy warfare, non-state-led proxy warfare is, in substance, not that different from state-led proxy warfare.
by Adam Wendoloski | Wed, 04/20/2022 - 5:45pm | 0 comments
U.S. thinking recognizes the role of proxy forces in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). The MDO concept discusses the need to both employ, and counter proxy forces without specifically addressing the use of militias or how to employ them. In Syria and Ukraine, Russia heavily leverages pro-government militias to achieve its policy goals. The United States also leverages militias. The Sons of Iraq and Syrian Democratic Forces were used with great effect at the tactical and operational levels. However, the discussion on the role of militias in a near-peer competition conflict is lacking. The bulk of U.S. doctrine focuses on  militias in a COIN role, however militia's have the capability for broader application in Multi-Domain Operations.
by Astor Lu | Tue, 04/19/2022 - 8:39pm | 0 comments
   When Russian troops rolled into Ukraine in late February, economic sanctions quickly emerged as the U.S.’ retaliatory weapon of choice. On the surface, they appear to be a Goldilocks-esque option for President Biden and his administration — more punch than rhetoric and diplomacy, yet short of military intervention. The heart of the American response to the invasion is coercion: how can the U.S. and its allies compel Vladimir Putin to cease military operations in Ukraine? The answer may appear in the war-torn skies of eighty years ago. While the two may initially appear unrelated, the history of strategic bombing offers much-needed guidance on sanctions. Fundamentally, both have been misused. Rather than making sanctions the centerpiece of a coercive strategy, leaders should incorporate them as valuable but supporting components in a larger plan.
by Matt Golsteyn | Tue, 04/19/2022 - 10:44am | 0 comments
Among the many reasons the Ukrainian conflict captured our collective attention, the fact that it features the first head-to-head matchup between militaries of the post-modern era is one of them. The display of new military technologies on a scale not seen since the Gulf War is another. So far, the evolution of the conflict bears bad omens for the post-modern orthodoxy in the Pentagon.
by Sarah Morrison | Mon, 04/18/2022 - 6:06pm | 0 comments
Russia has a long history of using propaganda and disinformation campaigns as a tool of information warfare. The following paper will examine this history before reviewing Russia's 2014 annexure of Crimea. In support of this research, Twitter data on the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency during the annexure of Crimea will be examined. The paper will demonstrate that Russia produced a repetitive message supported by trusted sources through Twitter. However, Russia's information operations still displayed characteristics of Russian active measure campaigns dating back centuries.
by Chuck de Caro | Sun, 04/17/2022 - 12:01pm | 0 comments
The United States must decide, now, to deny Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the world’s greatest (presently living) usurper of democracy, his personal war aims. Those aims are being manifested in his smothering of Ukraine by the indiscriminate slaughter of the Ukrainian people and by his lust for possession of Ukraine’s enormous gas fields, the equally gigantic ArcelorMittal steel complex, all her Black Sea ports, and the Dnieper River water supply to Crimea.  All in the name of Putin’s Greater Russia.
by Tomos Holmes Davies | Sat, 04/16/2022 - 3:12pm | 0 comments
This paper revisits military cultural intelligence, a capability used by the British and Americans in their COIN operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, to secure the support or neutrality of the population. Military cultural intelligence involved gathering cultural information to communicate and engage more effectively with the local people, with the aim of securing their support or neutrality. Drawing on the first-hand accounts of a small group of former high-ranking military personnel (six from the UK and one from the US) this paper examines three problems with the application of military cultural intelligence in the two conflicts. However, instead of using these problems to argue for its abandonment, it discusses how these might be remedied. Crucially, it argues that cultural intelligence should not be cast aside or forgotten, and its importance has not diminished. As we enter a new era of heightened geopolitical tension, NATO and its allies are likely to face a range of threats, not only that of conventional war, but also irregular war and insurgency. It is therefore paramount to discuss this significant capability, to be prepared for future challenges.
by Nilda M. Garcia | Fri, 04/15/2022 - 4:13pm | 0 comments
Review of James E. Creechan's "Drug Wars and Covert Netherworlds: The Transformation of Mexico’s Narco Cartels" by Nilda M. Garcia
by Chijindu Okpalaoka | Fri, 04/15/2022 - 11:31am | 0 comments
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world's longest-running conflicts, having lasted 54 years since Israel's control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Numerous attempts to end the dispute have been attempted as part of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. This research was anchored on the ethnonational conflict theory with heavy dependence on secondary data in analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian war and the effectiveness of the Israeli defense forces. This research discovered that Israel suffered some civilian casualties, though the Israeli defense forces were very effective in the Israeli-Palestinian war.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Wed, 04/13/2022 - 4:41pm | 0 comments
Ukraine is about to get (or maybe now just started receiving) Western anti-ship missiles and may even have its own advanced anti-ship missiles almost ready for deployment.  A small number of such missiles could wipe out all of Russia’s big surface warships near Ukraine in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov or push Russian ships out of range and too far away to be able to meaningfully support Russia’s war effort.  This missile technology in the hands of Ukraine’s competent and adaptive fighters will be a game-changer much like Javelin and other anti-tank missiles have been for Ukraine against Russian armor thus far in Putin’s failing war.
by Lark S. Escobar | Sun, 04/10/2022 - 12:00am | 0 comments
  Gender performativity in Indian Kashmir reflects specific notions of masculinity according to behavioral expectations and ideals established through the prevailing patriarchal hegemony, which leads to violent extremism and radicalization of Kashmiri men. Patriarchy is the institutionalization that empowers certain men over everyone else in society, bestowing privilege upon that particular population through the systemic marginalization of women, ethnic minorities, or other protected-class identifiers. In other words, patriarchal hegemony propagates gender roles that maintain control over the feminine members of society. Because patriarchy is socially constructed on the basis of gender biases, various behaviors, roles, and social symbols may be construed as feminine or weak.  The gendering of types of labor, exclusive power-holding within the government, domestic violence, other violence, policing sexuality, and the objectification of women in the public sphere (the male gaze) are all products of hegemonic masculinity in Indian Kashmir. These indicators reflect the performance of masculinity as it is currently valued in the patriarchal context. 
by Jeremy Kofsky, by Julian Tsukano | Sat, 04/09/2022 - 1:13pm | 0 comments
General Vandergrift could not have been more succinct to the U.S. Senate on May 6, 1946, when giving his now famous Bended Knee speech.  He must have dutifully recalled the very horrors, difficulties, and triumphs that became Operation Watchtower at Guadalcanal.  This essay will seek to lay the argument that in the next war in the Pacific, the ability of the Marine Corps alongside the US Navy, to control critical sea lanes via small craft will be critical to victory much like the Patrol Boat was to the many amphibious operations in World War II.  
by Don Bolduc | Sat, 04/09/2022 - 12:59pm | 0 comments
The current military leadership training serves the military well, but only brings the leadership so far and falls short in dealing with the leadership challenges involving trauma with their service members or the way trauma adversely affects leadership.  In fact, the current doctrine might work fine in peacetime, or if there was/is a never-ending supply of “fresh legs” but that is not the case.  This all-voluntary force has been sent back to War repeatedly and those who did not go to War were serving in an operational climate supporting warfighters, which is stressful and taxing in and of itself.
by Dale Pankhurst | Fri, 04/08/2022 - 11:06am | 0 comments
During periods of conflict and civil war, states often use pro-government militias (PGMs) as mechanisms within their counterinsurgent strategy when combatting rebel forces. Justification for using PGMs are grounded in several factors: these pro-government non-state actors can act as force multipliers for fledging states, bolstering state security forces under pressure from an insurgent threat. They often exhibit high levels of localised knowledge which proves beneficial in combatting rebel insurgencies, and they offer a low-cost counterinsurgency force. In some cases, weak states will delegate power and authority to PGMs to conduct violence on behalf of the state.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Fri, 04/08/2022 - 12:11am | 0 comments
On 30 March 2022, a woman with a baby was arrested by at the Novo Rio Bus Station for transporting a .50 caliber anti-materiel rifle in her luggage. Her husband is a fugitive and one of the leaders of the Comando Vermelho Norte (Red Command North) in Belém, Pará, Brazil. The arrest was carried out by civilian police officers of the Delegacia de Repressão a Entorpecentes (DRE – Drug Enforcement Division). The transportation of illicit items such as weapons, narcotics, and cash by females with young children accompanying them is a common gang and cartel trafficking method meant to throw off authorities.
by Mahmut Cengiz, by Layla M. Hashemi, by Vladimir Semizhonov | Thu, 04/07/2022 - 11:26pm | 0 comments
This article analyzes how Turkey, Iran, and Russia use alternative ways to seek regional and global influence. They have created shadowy organizations in the forms of official armed forces and private military companies and exploit them to pursue their interests. With a focus on SADAT in Turkey, the IRGC in Iran, and the Wagner Group in Russia, the article showcases the foundations of these organizations and their involvement in domestic, regional, and global affairs. These shadowy organizations have been practical tools to target and repress the opposition who are seen as threatening to the existence of regimes at home as well as to expand the influence of these states outside of their borders. Finally, the article sheds light on future risks posed by these organizations and underlines why the world needs to turn its attention to shadowy organizations whose exploitations provide plausible deniability for the local and international violence, conflict, or illicit activity caused by Turkey, Iran, and Russia.
by Peter Wilcox | Wed, 04/06/2022 - 9:11pm | 0 comments
As the crisis between Russia and Ukraine unfolded, it became clear that Russia’s propaganda model was at play, but interestingly the model seems to have had little success garnering significant support over the very claims used to justify Russia’s wanton and unfounded attack, which had the explicit aim for an outright invasion. Given the resounding unified international condemnation—to say nothing of Russia’s mass protest demonstrators, numbering in the thousands--and with no major super-global power supporting Russia at the moment, it appears its false-flag narrative has floundered. This essay reflects on some of the Kremlin’s current blunders to date in setting conditions in the information environment for a successful false-flag narrative that should have preceded its false-flag operation. These blunders should caution U.S. defense planners that those who ignore the impact of a hyperconnected global information environment on modern conflict do so at great peri
by Sean T. Madden, by James S. Gibbs, by Andrew L. Falkenstine | Wed, 04/06/2022 - 10:04am | 0 comments
Current U.S. foreign relations policies do not properly address the significant threat that the evolving Sino-Russian relationship poses to U.S. national security. Current foreign relation decisions regarding China and Russia are made without regard of one impacting the other. Alternatively, senior leaders should consider how any strategy, decision, or agreement we make with one country affects that country’s relationship with the other. There are four plausible outcomes of the continued Sino-Russian relationship described in this article: Partnership, Adversaries, Alliance, and War. The U.S. has the ability to influence the Sino-Russian relationship; however, to do so will require influencing both nations in a unified strategy.
by Alexander Kupatadze | Wed, 04/06/2022 - 9:54am | 0 comments
Russia is now the most sanctioned economy in the world. These unprecedented sanctions open new frontiers of illegal activity. The likely outcome is the expansion of illicit supply chains for delivering regulated/prohibited goods (e.g., luxury goods, machinery and technology) and foreign currency cash to Russia. The fungibility of the gold reserves that Russia owns and hopes to use as an economic lifeline, also depends on shadow and illicit gold markets.  As the commercial entities in neighbouring countries and Russia’s trade partners shy away from direct complicity in sanctions-busting fearing secondary sanctions from the West, Russian intelligence agencies, private companies and illicit proxies of Russian state e.g., Russian organised crime networks are the best candidates for picking up the slack. Depending on the longevity of sanctions the Russian economy may become widely dependent on illicit supply chains and associated criminal networks.
by Richard M. Ingleby | Tue, 04/05/2022 - 11:58am | 0 comments
For three-quarters of a century the West has consistently looked at the USSR and subsequent Russian Federation as its premier adversary, even using it as its primary example of a “near peer” in more recent decades. Trillions have been spent to prepare for conflict against them, along with massive amounts of energy and focus. So much so that on multiple occasions we have even taken our eye off of actual ongoing conflicts to focus on preparation for the Russian foe.
by Robert Alan Murphy | Mon, 04/04/2022 - 7:39pm | 0 comments
           Russia has exposed itself as a martial charlatan; possessed of a third-rate military whose only claim to military vigor lies in its nuclear inventory. In 2022, as in 2016, The Matryoshka is empty. Putin’s ill-conceived invasion of Ukraine has not only bared the depths of Russia’s incompetence, it has shaken America’s normally ambivalent European allies back into acquiescence with NATO’s defense spending guidelines. The US is presented with the opportunity to disencumber itself from forward deployed forces and shift European security back to Europeans, while simultaneously reallocating resources to more valid security concerns. Russia is depleted, Europe is invigorated, and America can refocus.
by Patrick Walsh | Mon, 04/04/2022 - 7:16pm | 0 comments
What can the transition of power from Great Britain to the United States of America in the 19th and 20th centuries tell us about the modern-day competition between China and the United States? That is the question Kori Schake attempts to answer in her 2017 book Safe Passage: The Transition From British to American Hegemony. Dr. Schake states that the transition of global hegemony from the United Kingdom to the United States was the only peaceful transition of power in world history. Safe Passage uses key historical moments to study and explain the tense, but ultimately peaceful events that highlight the engagements between these two nations.
by Bill Gormley | Sun, 04/03/2022 - 10:11pm | 0 comments
Afghanistan did not have to become a failure nor America’s longest war. It was a conflict which was a great opportunity to show American mastery of hard and soft power. From my admittedly limited perspective, America’s failure to achieve its aims was avoidable if realistic expectations were articulated, appropriate resources were applied when needed, and basic military doctrines and processes were followed, while not discouraging creativity and initiative. Too many leaders dismissed many of the lessons of counter insurgency warfare learned in the last century.
by Scott Butler | Sun, 04/03/2022 - 9:58pm | 0 comments
Having initially been established to support, enable, and grow the investment that was the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the overall Afghan security apparatus, Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) are now increasing their presence worldwide, deploying regionally aligned units in small Advising Teams, in order to compete with other adversaries, and to support US partners[1]. This new six-month deployment model, designed to provide persistent coverage with Foreign Security Force (FSF) partners at the tactical and operational level, is a significant step in the right direction of re-focusing security assistance at the “competition” phase. Furthermore, it addresses the critical need of providing FSF partners with not only the means to accomplish their missions, but also to operational and tactical understanding of the employment of those capabilities[2]. Unfortunately, while the organizational structure is in place, the US Army has still shown an unwillingness to fully commit to security force assistance in the competition and crisis phase, with a model that will create the continuity, consistency, longevity and commitment needed to win at the point of contact.
by Jim Crotty | Sun, 04/03/2022 - 9:48pm | 0 comments
Much of my professional career has been spent analyzing drug trafficking trends and U.S. counterdrug efforts.  Never has the situation seemed so bleak.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 105,700 Americans died from drug overdoses in the past year, a five percent increase from the year before, and the highest number on record.  Of these, nearly 90 percent were attributed to synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, which dominate the U.S. drug market and are now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45 – more than car accidents, firearms, and Covid-19.
by Mark A. Grey | Sun, 04/03/2022 - 9:42pm | 0 comments
The outpouring of support for refugees flooding across the Ukraine border into neighboring nations stands in sharp contrast to European efforts to curtail much smaller migrations from other parts of Europe, Africa and elsewhere. The images of Europeans at train stations holding cardboard signs inviting refugees into their homes and leaving diapers and baby strollers at border crossings confirm this wave of refugees as authentic, worthy of compassion. Yet, it was just a few months ago when EU and NATO nations actively sought to prevent far smaller numbers of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere crossing into Poland and Lithuania from Belarus. Closing down that border recognized Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko’s cynical use of human beings as a weapon to “destabilize its democratic neighbors” as part of what the President of the European Commission called a “hybrid attack.” Again, refugees have become a “tool of war.”
by Chuck de Caro | Sun, 04/03/2022 - 8:25pm | 0 comments
Given the US and NATO reluctance to establish a No-Fly Zone or to overtly provide surplus Polish Migs-29 to the Ukrainians, the United States might want to reconsider the entire concept of a “No Fly Zone,” an air exclusion zone over a defined area through which hostile aircraft will be intercepted and destroyed. 
by Daniel Weisz | Fri, 04/01/2022 - 7:31pm | 0 comments
Information warfare is a critical component of Mexican cartels’ battle against the state and one another. Some cartels, such as the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), engage in propaganda campaigns portraying their military might focusing upon their armored vehicles and high-caliber weapons. Other times this may express itself as censorship and control over the media, e.g., story suppression and the killing of reporters. An interesting case that showcases how information operations (IO) are a critical component of the Mexican drug war comes from the internal struggle to control the Sinaloa Cartel that intensified when “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited.
by Todd Moulton | Fri, 04/01/2022 - 7:01am | 0 comments
United States (US) military history indicates the U.S. will more likely perform actions against irregular forces vice large-scale combat operations, denoting the necessity for the services to maintain fundamental knowledge of counterinsurgency tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Although the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) shifted the military’s focus to strategic competition, the armed forces should not forget the lessons the services learned from its counterinsurgency missions during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).