Small Wars 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 Anthony Wertz , by Stuart Gallagher | Sun, 04/18/2021 - 9:22pm | 2 comments
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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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 | 2 comments
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 | 1 comment
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 | 3 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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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 | 2 comments
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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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.
by Christopher Keith Johnson | Sun, 04/04/2021 - 6:44pm | 2 comments
Even in national emergencies, including but not limited to those associated with terrorism, there are limits in which a government must operate to fully observe internationally recognized laws, rules, and regulations of its conduct. These rules apply even as that nation engages in the act of countering violent extremism on its shores or abroad. For those governments professing to adhere to international law, issues involving the avoidance of torture in the handling of detainees have proven to be contentious.  There has been wide disagreement on the very fundamentals of the question--what is torture? How should one measure the physical and mental toll, if any, of certain investigatory techniques employed by security agents on suspects or detainees? In doing so, one could surmise that what is intolerable for one person, could be a moderate vexation to another. 
by Nicole Thomas, by Matthew Jamison, by Kendall Gomber, by Derek Walton | Sun, 04/04/2021 - 6:34pm | 2 comments
On September 27, 2020, intense fighting erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia when the Azeri military went on the offensive. The Azeris’ objective was to recapture the territories lost to Armenia in 1994. But to understand the underlying reasons for the current conflict, one must look back to the root of hostilities and to the role of other powers in the region.
by Clay Fuller | Mon, 03/29/2021 - 3:33pm | 4 comments
           Everyday Americans are on the frontlines of the irregular warfare campaigns in the era of Great Power Competition—and these hardworking Americans may not even know it.  Every community, from coastal cities to Appalachian small towns, is a grey zone attack away from an adversary and losing critical systems for law enforcement, public utilities, or healthcare.  The future is here where one stroke of the keyboard of a foreign adversary like China or other revisionist and rogue powers could send our criminal justice systems into chaos by erasing systems that store evidence or case information.  One key stroke could hold the water supply of a community hostage.  One key stroke could condemn a critically ill patient in a hospital to death.  Not only would this act edge the United States closer to war, it would devastate the American community that it was perpetrated upon.  It is not an exaggeration that our foreign adversaries have a gun to the head of municipal and local governments in the United States—who would have no power or ability to respond.  So who is best positioned to contribute an element of deterrence and address the huge challenges of Great Power Competition?  How do we make them more effective at this monumental task?
by Joshua Sinai | Sun, 03/28/2021 - 5:22pm | 2 comments
Review of Shabtai Shavit's "Head of Mossad: In Pursuit of a Safe and Secure israel" by Dr. Joshua Sinai.
by  Bridget Bachman | Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:44pm | 2 comments
Asymmetric warfare, irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, protracted warfare, conventional warfare, and political warfare are just a few terms used to define conflict.  Now, add hybrid warfare. War is continuously evolving and attempting to define war poses trouble. Opinions and personal preferences do appear in research, which further serves to increase the breadth of reasonable definitions for hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare has many different definitions, but the importance must shift to having an in-depth knowledge of the activities conducted by our adversaries. We limit ourselves by continuously seeking definitions.
by Chris Liggett | Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:38pm | 1 comment
This article highlights Special Operations Civil Affairs’ (SOF CA) unique ability to support the U.S. Military’s governance mission in Northwest Africa and to claim the potential for a Civil Affairs-commanded Task Force and Company Headquarters in the region. While Civil Affairs (CA) units currently serve a supporting role within Northwest Africa’s Special Operations Task Force (SOTF-NWA) and Advanced Operations Base (AOB Sahel)–the Army’s only company-level command in the region–this discussion asserts that the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion should participate in the command rotation with 3rd and 19th Special Forces Groups. With governance as their primary operational focus and with extensive, uninterrupted presence on the continent, the 91st Battalion (in command) would better address the U.S. Military’s mission in Northwest Africa and further integrate Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations soldiers into effective Cross-Functional Teams
by Paul Gillikin | Thu, 03/18/2021 - 9:21am | 2 comments
The 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy mandated a change to the way the US Government focused on threats. No longer was the mantra a Global War on Terrorism, but a Great Power Competition. Violent Extremist Organizations would remain a serious risk, however, peer and near-peer threats such as China, Russia, and an emerging Iran would dominate the security strategies. Both strategy documents touched on a key theme to compete in this type of environment: innovation. For the senior Joint Force (JF) leadership, knowing the organization needs to innovate to stay ahead of peer competitors is one issue, but selecting the right leaders capable of discovering and developing innovations is another.
by Alexandra Phelan | Thu, 03/18/2021 - 2:05am | 1 comment
The formal demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) after the 2016 peace agreement with the Colombian government has resulted in a multiplicity of armed actors vying over former FARC territory and resources throughout the country. Conflicts over a monopoly of illicit economies (such as the production and trafficking of coca products including cocaine, the control of illegal mines, extortion rackets etc.) has continued to fuel violence, particularly worsening on the Colombian/Venezuelan border. In recent years, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, the ELN) has continued to expand its presence throughout Colombia, particularly capitalising on territorial vacuums since 2017 where FARC is no longer present, and in some other regions where the organisation has reportedly built alliances with other armed groups. Furthermore, the ELN has seized the opportunity to continue to territorially expand into Venezuela.
by Paulina Rios Maya  | Thu, 03/18/2021 - 12:06am | 2 comments
Although a plethora of literature has already debated what should be categorised as a hybrid threat, most of the research is still based on contesting the definition rather than an analysis of specific case studies. With this in mind, this paper posits that the rapid development of tactics used by Mexican narco-cartels has allowed these organisations to build a solid structure of influence. A structure that has amplified their efforts to coerce the state while increasing their capacity to dislocate social life and erode state institutions. Thus, by evaluating the Sinaloa Cartel’s strategic and operational methods, it demonstrates how these organisations deserve a place in the hybrid threat category.
by Robert Bunker | Wed, 03/10/2021 - 9:54pm | 2 comments
Review of Miron Lakomy's comparative analysis of Islamic State (IS) propaganda:  "Islamic State's Online propaganda: A Comparative Analysis."
by Daniel Riggs | Wed, 03/03/2021 - 8:21pm | 6 comments
With the return to Great Power Conflict and the Department of Defense’s renewed focus on Unconventional Warfare (UW), the next few years should welcome a conversation on legacy UW doctrine and find what to keep and what to discard. Just as importantly, DOD needs to find new means to engage in UW that are beyond the classic model of a Special Force Team infiltrating the Third World to assist a resistance. The following will argue that Agorism should be considered as one new UW strategy as it is more able to operate within a complex and open system. This essay provides a brief history of the movement, strategies of Agorism, and potential drawbacks.
by Clint Mallory | Wed, 03/03/2021 - 8:13pm | 1 comment
      The overwhelming conventional military superiority of the US has succeeded in deterring the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from directly using its military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to achieve its strategic objectives to return to great power status by expanding political and economic influence, taking back “lost territories,” eroding and ultimately displacing the US as the leader of the international system, and creating a world safe for PRC authoritarian interests.  However, this same qualitative over-match has revealed new and more complex problems as it has driven the PRC and other revisionist powers such as Russia, to pursue more asymmetric, or Gray Zone, methods to change the status quo in their favor. And they are succeeding. Despite this, some still believe that doubling-down on more of these same conventional “deterrence” capabilities and activities is all that is needed to deter the PRC from pursuing their interests and preserving ours. We are taking the wrong actions, albeit for the right reasons.
by Robert Muggah, by Steven Dudley | Tue, 03/02/2021 - 3:59pm | 1 comment
Latin America and the Caribbean are suffering from the twin epidemics of COVID-19 and organized crime and violence. On the one hand, a third of all the world’s COVID-19 related fatalities occurred in the region's sprawling unequal cities, especially its most vulnerable neighborhoods. On the other, the region clocks over a third of all global homicides despite registering less than a tenth of the global population. Some 43 of the 50 most violent cities on the planet (with populations over 250,000 people) are located there.
by Dan Pace | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 9:45pm | 4 comments
In the wake of the recent analysis on SOF misconduct, a bumper sticker has emerged that claims SOF doesn’t have an ethics problem, it has a leadership problem.  While this is partially true – the strain on the force created by rapid, frequent deployment has stretched SOF leadership’s ability to build and maintain discipline – the slogan doesn’t tell the whole story.  SOF does have an ethics problem, and it stems from a dissonance the community breeds into its operators.  SOF operators are selected for a willingness and aptitude to conduct traditionally immoral acts, trained to be proficient at the conduct of those acts, but then expected to refrain from those acts outside of approved operational circumstances.
by Daniel Weisz | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 3:53pm | 1 comment
Review of Gema Kloppe-Santamaría, "In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico" by Daniel Weisz.
by James King | Tue, 02/23/2021 - 3:23pm | 1 comment
Book Review: Ms. Donati follows several different Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alphas (ODAs) from 2015, when President Obama announced the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, throughout the presidency of Donald Trump.  Unlike most books of this type Donati does not focus solely on the tactical fight.  She instead shifts focus from members of an individual team, to their families at home, to the generals overseeing operations, to the policy makers in Washington DC directing strategy. This interconnected narrative attempts to give the reader an understanding of how decisions made in the Pentagon and the White House touch an individual family through the actions required of their loved ones in the fight. 
by Ian McConnell | Mon, 02/22/2021 - 5:11pm | 3 comments
Small Wars Journal is always seeking original material to communicate to a broad community of interest. Supporting crucial conversations and adding to the body of knowledge is our aim, it’s especially rewarding when we get readers who not only want to contribute to discussion but sharpen each other and the community. The following paper is in response to a Small Wars Journal article published in September, 2019 "Passing the Paramilitary Torch". In this paper, the author provides an opposing view to the original article’s stance that paramilitary operations would be better executed by USSOCOM as opposed to the CIA. But this author doesn’t stop there, he goes on to present what he asserts is the real issue as to why either the CIA or USSOCOM paramilitary or clandestine missions, respectively, don’t produce the desired outcome: whether or not the original policy aims were correct or attainable. This is especially timely as a new administration has begun and intense policy reviews are under way.
by Lucas Webber | Sun, 02/21/2021 - 6:30pm | 1 comment
China’s domestic security policy and its growing international influence are fuelling jihadist animosity throughout Asia and beyond. Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang is the most commonly cited China-related grievance within global jihadist discourse and has gained traction in recent years, but there are additional narratives emerging about China’s foreign policy and its increasing presence in the Islamic world. Beijing is becoming markedly more assertive in pursuing its geopolitical ambitions and in securing its growing international interests.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 02/20/2021 - 9:38pm | 1 comment
Honduran police investigators dismantled a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) operations center on Friday, 19 February 2021. MS-13 members were arrested in the compound, which also included a narcolaboratorio (drug laboratory). The camp was located in a mountainous region on the highway from Tegulcigalpa to Olancho, Honduras. Drugs and small arms were seized during the raid—Operación DeI Impacto (Operation Impact).
by Anna Simons | Tue, 02/16/2021 - 8:44pm | 2 comments
Are today’s career officers more cynical than officers of previous eras, and how much more corrosive is their cynicism?  It turns out these are impossible questions to answer.  They are also irrelevant.  No cynic cares whether things were equally or even more screwed up in the past.  Cynics live in the present.  What matters to them is what is problematic now – and today’s post-command and command-select career officers are cynical.
by Carter F. Smith | Mon, 02/15/2021 - 11:44pm | 3 comments
Review of D. Darell Dones, "Terrorist Recruitment of U.S. Gangs: Global Criminal Alliances and Biological Weapons" by Carter F. Smith.
by Inho Lee | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 5:29pm | 3 comments
We live in a veritable age of misinformation and false news often totally obscuring the true picture of reality.  Nothing shows this more starkly than the coverage South Korea is getting in the press abroad in the recent few years.  Korea was played up as a model country to emulate in its success in coping with the coronavirus pandemic and that success is often assumed to reflect a robust state of democracy, which brings together the Moon Jae-in government and its people. In certain quarters president Moon Jae-in is adulated not only as a democratic leader but also as a staunch champion of peace with North Korea. The Newsweek recently featured an article on progressive women’s organizations in the United States petitioning the Congress to have the American government declare peace with North Korea, seemingly seconding similar efforts being made by president Moon’s governing circle.  Korea’s image as a prosperous soft power seems to stand at a new high.
by R.K. Lembke | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 4:34pm | 1 comment
Peace is possible in Afghanistan, but it has to be by the terms of the average, rural, Muslim, Afghan tribesman. They represent the majority of the Afghan population. Taliban, U.S., and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) empathy and accommodation of the average Afghan is the only door to peace. Thanks to the U.S. and international involvement in Afghanistan, for right or wrong, Afghanistan has become the poster child of what happens when western-inspired Progressive, Post- Modernist, Critical Theory meets Islamic Tribalism – and it's not working out very well for the average Afghan. Thanks to the Taliban, Afghanistan has also become the poster child of when the execution of 7th Century Islamic jurisprudence meets the modern world – also not working out very well for the average Afghan. Unfortunately, it appears the desires of the average rural farmer population doesn't matter to anyone at the peace table.
by Patrick “Vern” Barense, by Bernard “Chip” Iatauro, by Christopher Hinen, by Adam DeKraker | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 4:24pm | 1 comment
This case study is part of a larger body of work researched and produced by the students of the Military Information Support Operations (MISO) Program Design and Assessment Course (MPDAC) at Ft. Bragg, NC.  This body of work examines conflict scenarios with emphasis on determining the Psychological Operations (PSYOP) efforts and activities employed by the various competitive actors in the area of operations.  Each case study follows a basic format of presenting the relevant stakeholders, their goals, and the PSYOP or other influence activities they used to achieve their goals.  Each case study examines the PSYOP efforts under the framework of U.S. doctrine concluding with a brief statement of comparison between the historical vignette and current doctrine to offer opinion where current U.S. doctrine has either strengths or weaknesses.  The comparison, though based primarily on opinion, is opinion offered by U.S. PSYOP NCOs and Officers with first-hand experience under contemporary doctrine.
by Marius Kristiansen, by Njaal Hoem | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 4:11pm | 1 comment
Cyber warfare is often described as an integral part of future wars. But cyber has proven to have a profound impact on our operational reality today. Some states have adapted to this reality already, while others struggle. As this article shows, Russia has implemented cyber as an integral part of its strategic framework, and demonstrated its effectiveness in the attainment of political objectives on several occasions. We argue that Russia has risen from the technological backwaters of the 90’s to become a great cyber-power – challenging state and military capabilities the West has taken for granted. The West, it seems, is on the defensive.
by Ola Ogunlola, by Matthew N. Hite | Tue, 02/09/2021 - 7:18pm | 1 comment
The role as Foreign Affairs Officers (FAOs) in humanitarian and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts in a Joint Interagency and Inter-governmental Multi-national (JIIM) environment is assessed in this report on U.S. DoD assistance to Guatemala during Hurricanes Eta and Iota during the COVID-19 pandemic.
by John Anderson, by Marc Losito , by Sean Batir | Mon, 02/08/2021 - 2:40pm | 4 comments
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing warfare and the herculean advancements of private industry are now impacting the warfighter on the ground. The operationalization of AI will only continue to advance throughout the Joint Force, but a lack of domain expertise incurs risk in the commander’s decision-making cycle. In order to properly integrate AI across the force, commanders require a framework for understanding the risks and challenges of AI integration—use case, data, compute, algorithm development, test/evaluation, and deployment.
by Phil W. Reynolds | Sat, 02/06/2021 - 2:06pm | 1 comment
Can the U.S. Department of Defense do two things at once: Operate in the gray zone and excel in great power competition?
by Madison Sargeant | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 9:55pm | 1 comment
The rise of digital diplomacy has provided state actors new venues to promote their national interests. Twitter specifically has emerged as a “megaphone and substantive communications medium” for heads of state, governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and scholars. The Russian Federation has exploited the growing importance of social media platforms to diplomacy in order to seek legitimization and normalization of its 2014 annexation of Crimea, which is recognized almost universally as Ukrainian territory. Despite a robust digital campaign, the percentage of Ukrainians that believe Crimea is Russian territory has actually decreased since 2014. Furthermore, Russia’s social media activity has not strengthened its claim to Crimea, but it does provide insight into how the state uses emerging technologies below the threshold of war to meet strategic objectives.
by Justin Baumann | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 9:45pm | 3 comments
This article introduces the reader to some of the discussions and theories surrounding hybrid war theory and how it can be used to shape generational doctrine. It uses these concepts to help build a Grand Strategy framework for the accomplishment of National Objectives for both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of State (DoS). It advocates these ideas to be incorporated into joint US military doctrine to help fight and win potential hybrid conflicts in the future.
by Scott C. White | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 9:36pm | 3 comments
The citizens of the United States have been the subject of a persistent information warfare campaign for over 100 years. Originally orchestrated covertly by the Soviet Union, this war for the minds of our citizens has gradually degraded domestic unity, trust in government and its institutions, and weakened our democracy. Although the Soviet Union lost their struggle with the West, as evidenced by their 1991 dissolution, the campaigns that they waged in the information domain continue to achieve their original goals today. Fast-forwarding to the 2016 US presidential election, the Russian Federation built upon the work of their Soviet predecessors and transitioned this campaign of ideological subversion into the cyber domain. No longer covert in its execution due to obvious ties between the Internet Research Agency and the Russian government, the spread of disinformation and misinformation sought to increase already present divides within society, degrade trust in government and its institutions, and weaken our democracy through polarization and gridlock. Mitigating these effects is essential to our national security, and can be accomplished through a whole of society strategy enacted through the government, journalists, internet providers and social media outlets, educators, and individual members of society.
by Nathaniel K. Lambert | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 9:01pm | 5 comments
The recent focus for the U.S. Marine Corps has been Force Design 2030 and its intent to build a force that can support combatant commanders in deterring and responding to great power competition. The idea of a potential Russian or Chinese fait accompli has gained particular attention - and while it presents one of the most dangerous courses of action to U.S. strategic interests - it is not the most likely. Almost three-quarters of American overseas operations from 1798-2018 were unconventional; and few national security experts are betting on a future without insurgencies. The problem statement for the future force of the Marine Corps should therefore be: “Given current and projected fiscal constraints, how does the USMC man, train, and equip a force that is prepared for both the most dangerous and the most likely threats?” To achieve a more mature, agile, and capable total force, prepared for Irregular Warfare as well as strategic competition, the Marine Corps should establish an Irregular Warfare School that seeks to institutionalize the experience gained during the last two decades, capture emerging lessons from the current operating environment, and teach these concepts to Marine Corps small-unit leaders and tactical planners.
by Gareth Rice | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 8:54pm | 1 comment
Through a counterinsurgency focus, this paper will provide a multi-lens analysis of the Afghan drug trade and its relationship to the Taliban. The purpose of this research is to assist policymakers in better understanding how illicit trades can alter the character of an insurgency and ultimately generate power for the group that controls the illicit trade. This research will further demonstrate how economic incentives provide the motivation for entry into illicit drug trades while cultural paradigms underwrite the relationship between nefarious actors. Most importantly, this paper will demonstrate that the true power of insurgent-related drug trades comes from the political capital that it provides. The importance of these findings goes to the heart of counterinsurgency theory and the role of the state in protecting its citizens.
by Paul Rexton Kan | Tue, 02/02/2021 - 6:24pm | 1 comment
Drug cartels and gangs are embracing both familiar and new tactics to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in challenges to states. These challenges include" disruption, penetration, and adaptation. Additional research and data is needed to gauge the impact of this criminal exploitation and its influence on states.
by Daniel Weisz | Mon, 02/01/2021 - 9:14pm | 1 comment
Review of Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Tony Payan, "Las Cinco Vidas de Genaro García Luna" in English/Reseña de Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera y Tony Payan, "Las Cinco Vidas de Genaro García Luna" en inglés.
by Daniel Weisz | Mon, 02/01/2021 - 9:04pm | 1 comment
Reseña de Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera y Tony Payan, "Las Cinco Vidas de Genaro García Luna" en español/Review of Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Tony Payan, "Las Cinco Vidas de Genaro García Luna" in Spanish.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Mon, 01/25/2021 - 3:36pm | 1 comment
The 31-page Ranfla Indictment filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York on 16 December 2020 and unsealed on 14 January 2021 is a product of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV). The indictment follows the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) kingpin strategy of targeting the upper echelon of Mara Salvatrucha’s (MS-13) leadership—the Ranfla Nacional in El Salvador—with the intent of demolishing its command and control (C2) structure. The extradition of the eleven imprisoned Ranfla members from El Salvador to the United States (three are still at large) to stand charges represents a component of the indictment presently being explored. Of strategic concern is the Ranfla’s ability to direct MS-13 clica (clique) activities within the United States.