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 Fatima Jaghoori | Wed, 12/01/2021 - 9:41am | 0 comments
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories from and about the people in Afghanistan, those who have escaped and those who seek freedom. We wish to highlight the suffering, sacrifices, and desire for freedom of our Afghan allies as well as people and organizations who are helping to ensure the safety of those left behind and the integration of those who have made it to safety and freedom.
by Isaac Poritzky | Tue, 11/30/2021 - 4:45pm | 0 comments
In the SWJ Book Review, SWJ-El Centro Intern Issac Poritzky reviews Professor Michael Kenney's examination of radicalization in Great Britain, "The Islamic State in Britain: Radicalization and Resilience in an Activist Network."
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 11/27/2021 - 3:57pm | 0 comments
The drug trafficking faction (facção) in the “Complexo de Israel” (Israel Complex) led by Álvaro Malaquias Santa Rosa, known as Peixão (Big Fish) built a bridge over a canal in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte (North Zone) to elude police surveillance.  The bridge connects the Favela das Cinco Bocas, in Brás de Pina, to Cidade Alta, in Cordovil.
by Alexandra Phelan | Tue, 11/23/2021 - 11:12pm | 1 comment
Five years after the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), it is reported that the Biden administration will remove the organization from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations. SWJ–El Centro Fellow Alexandra Phelan examines the delisting in this commentary.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 11:58pm | 0 comments
The triple border has become a free territory for criminal activities and even worse, for terrorist activities. Despite the multiplication of actions, laws and meetings of the authorities of the highest hierarchies of the countries that make up this area: Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, in addition to the monitoring of different governmental agencies of the United States.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 7:35pm | 1 comment
La Triple Frontera se transformó en un territorio “liberado” para las actividades criminales y, peor aún, para las actividades terroristas. Ello, pese a que se multiplicaron las acciones, leyes y encuentros de las autoridades de las más altas jerarquías de los tres países — Argentina, Brasil y Paraguay — que lo integran y del monitoreo de diferentes agencias gubernamentales de los Estados Unidos.
by Howard Campbell | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 3:11pm | 2 comments
Dr. Howard Campbell, professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) weighs on Season 3 of "Narcos: Mexico." In his commentary, Campbell, author of “Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez” and the recently released "Downtown Juárez: Underworlds of Violence and Abuse" asserts that the Cártel de Juárez should actually be called the Cártel de El Paso y Juárez.
by Daniel Weisz | Fri, 11/12/2021 - 12:04am | 2 comments
Review of Howard Campbell's "Downtown Juárez: Underwords of Violence & Abuse by SWJ−El Centro Associater Daniel Weisz. In this book, Campbell, a noted ethnographer of Mexico's "Drug War Zone," examines he conditions that lead to violence in central Juárez.
by Bem Japhet Audu | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:23am | 2 comments
The proliferation of arms and military bases on the continent of Africa according to some scholars, has been responsible for violence, crime, and terrorism especially in the sub-Saharan region. It has become one of the banes to security and development challenges in Arica since the end of the cold war. The wave of proliferation across Africa has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people each year in countries like Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria. In Nigeria for instance, arms and violence conflict proliferation across the country has ravaged lives and properties, and over 2000 people reported dead in the country.
by Emilio Iasiello | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:19am | 0 comments
Beijing uses five-year plans as guides to support its intelligence collection efforts, particularly cyber espionage campaigns that can be executed against several targets across the globe. Already Chinese operations against renewable energy organizations have provided competitive advantage to Chinese companies who were able to win contracts and help bankrupt at least two foreign competitors.
by Andre R. Mohammed | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:13am | 0 comments
The roots of modern counterinsurgency are often traced to Colonial Wars or Small Wars of the 19th Century. One case which may demonstrate such a relationship is the South Africa Border War (1966-1989) in which variables such as, intelligence and people-centered operations utilized by the South African Defence Force (SADF) demonstrated striking similarities to C.E. Callwell’s reflection on 19th Century Small Wars.
by Cüneyt Gürer, by Mehmet Alper Sozer | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 4:09am | 0 comments
The NATO and Turkey relationship has a history of almost 70 years, and it has not always gone smoothly and in harmony, rather this alliance can be described most of the time problematic at best. That fact does not necessarily mean that each side has not mutually benefited from one another though.
by Ian Kippen | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:55am | 0 comments
Rules of engagement (ROE) are the embarrassing uncle at a family party. He is engaged in polite conversation but spends most of the time in the corner being denied top-ups on the drinks and someone, normally the legal advisor in the family, stays sober to drive him home at the earliest opportunity. The operational family is obliged to invite him to the party, but everyone scrupulously avoids conversation and looks forward to his departure.
by Patrick Anders | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:50am | 3 comments
As tensions rise between mainland China and Taiwan once again, it is worth remembering a vic-tim of China’s previous expansionist actions. Tibet, labeled as “the orphan of the Cold War,” has repeatedly been forgotten on the world stage since its annexation in 1950. Similarly forgotten are the United States’ contributions to the Tibetan resistance against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
by Massaab Al-Aloosy | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:44am | 0 comments
Insurgencies are affected by the society and the political system as much as they affect both. For instance, an insurgency based on a sectarian identity cannot realize revolutionary aims because it will have to enforce a parochial ideological view on other factions that do not adhere to the principles espoused by the insurgency. As such, a compromise would be reached to change the formation of the political system rather than completely overhauling it. As the insurgency becomes part of the government it enters a new stage in which it becomes accountable for the population and responsible for the conduct of the government and this is when it defends the status quo rather than work against it.
by Christopher Whyte | Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:40am | 0 comments
In the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by an insurrectionist mob, government agencies and private companies across the U.S. were forced to grapple – indeed, are still grappling – with the realities of deep-seated subversion in the nation’s information environment and the potential for further acts of seditious violence. In the weeks and months since, commentators both inside the Beltway and in beyond security communities beyond likened these efforts to challenges inherent in the mission of counterterrorism forces, as well as in actions taken to restructure the politics of nations emerging from conflict.[i] In other words, debate on the paranoia of American politics[ii] rapidly shifted to envisage fringe elements less as countercultural advocates and more the unsophisticated, alternately-capable force often found in America’s small wars.
by Asim Yousafzai | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 3:05am | 0 comments
With much less than anticipated difficulties, the Taliban came roaring back to Kabul, 20 years after they were dethroned by the US forces in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attack. Ironically, the Taliban flag was hoisted on Kabul on the 20th anniversary of the most horrific attacks on the US soil. At the twilight of US presence in Afghanistan, the horrendous attack by ISIS-K killing hundreds of Afghans and 13 US service members at Kabul airport is a grim reminder to the world that the war in Afghanistan is far from over.
by Aaron Byrd | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:59am | 0 comments
In Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) efforts, a conceptual model of advisor-counterpart interactions is needed to enable common understanding and to create a framework for enabling growth in our counterparts. The conceptual model presented in this article frames advisor-counterpart relationships as a balance in terms of who initiates and makes decisions.
by Yvan Yenda Ilunga, by Thomas Matyók | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:56am | 0 comments
Civil society and military actors engaged in humanitarian and peace operations will benefit from an awareness of how religion shapes individuals’ values and ideas regarding the nature of the state. Religious traditions act as foundations upon which secular society rests. Without an understanding of religion, awareness of society remains limited.
by Ridvan Bari Urcosta  | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:51am | 0 comments
Turkey has an advantage in drones in the military-technological revolution.  It is a short period when one country is gaining an advantage in the technology and new type of warfare hence any nation has limited time for smart use of this advantage and superiority for geopolitical gains. Nieghbors  and adversaries eventually catch up,  setting a military and technological equilibrium that would constrain geopolitical adventures of any power.
by Christopher O’Brien | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:32am | 0 comments
The primary defense and security concerns of the 21st-century have been and will continue to be driven by the strategic phenomena of cyberspace and terrorism.[i] However, there are several competing definitions of both cyberspace and terrorism, and there is no universally accepted definition for many cyber-related activities (i.e. cyber-terrorism, cyber-warfare, and cyber-crime). Cyber-terrorism is often loosely defined as the “convergence of terrorism and cyberspace,” which allows for a wide range of interpretation and confusion.[ii] This paper provides a more pragmatic definition of cyber-terrorism by addressing the nuances of previously proposed definitions in order to help the U.S. national security apparatus address current and future threats. Additionally, it will discuss what constitutes a cyber-terror attack and how it differs from other cyber-crimes. Lastly, it will then determine what threat, if any, cyber-terrorism poses to U.S. national security. To do so, I will first provide definitions for both cyberspace and terrorism which are helpful for understanding the distinct phenomenon of cyber-terrorism.
by Michael J. Forsyth | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:10am | 0 comments
In recent decades every time the United States’ political and military leaders discuss the use of force to deal with complex issues in the international security environment the conversation inevitably turns to the need for an exit strategy.[i]  Such discussions of exit strategies have had a deleterious effect on the development of strategy because the exit has become an end unto itself.  Thus, senior leaders have lost sight of the need to win when using force in order to secure political objectives.  The focus on exit strategy ignores the need to conduct messy consolidation operations to secure victory and ultimately translate this into political success.  Once military victory has secured the stated political objectives, then it is appropriate to discuss redeploying committed forces.  This essay offers that the focus on exit strategies is a factor that has led to strategic incompetence and therefore, it is time to discard the use of the term exit strategy as a necessary step to regain strategic competence.  This paper will discuss the origin of the term exit strategy, how it has affected policy and strategy formulation, and offer suggestions for regaining strategic competence.
by Kane Tomlin | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 2:00am | 1 comment
When attempting to explain the causes of group violence, conflict theories usually focus on the international system of anarchistic self-help, innately violent human nature, the legal framework of warfare, the clash of civilizations, violent mass movements, or a combination of demographic, economic, sociological, and psychological factors. However, none of the major organized conflict models in existing literature explains all inter- or intrastate organized violence.
by James Stejskal | Tue, 10/26/2021 - 12:45pm | 0 comments
The security situation in today’s Northern Ireland is rather placid in comparison with the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. That said, hot-button issues like BREXIT have reignited fears of unrest and violence. The threat to peace remains high. Enter Aaron Edwards’ new book, which takes a detailed look at the importance of intelligence in the United Kingdom’s war against the IRA. Edwards is a senior lecturer with the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, author of UVF: Behind the Mask and co-author of Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire. The author brings a wealth of academic expertise to the subject and with this book he lays bare the treachery, subterfuge, and danger of undercover work in Northern Ireland alongside the contributions it made to the peace process.
by Jonathan D. Rosen | Mon, 10/25/2021 - 7:43pm | 1 comment
This article explores corruption in the context of street gangs in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Combating corruption and impunity as well as reducing the ability of criminal actors to penetrate the state apparatus should be the forefront of the policy agenda of governments in the region. This article focuses primarily on the cases of El Salvador and Honduras to illustrate the failures of tough on crime policies and the intricate, arguably symbiotic, relationship between the state and organized crime.
by César Pintado | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:47am | 0 comments
Combatants have turned to all sorts of substances to enhance their performance or to alleviate their hardships, from the wine and opium used by Greek hoplites to the Dexedrine employed by fighter pilots to stay alert. Sometimes this has been the path to pharmacological innovations, sometimes to the spread of addictions. Although the abuse of these substances remains a problem in all armies, new drugs are emerging to reduce the need for sleep and even open the door to genetic modification.
by Michael Perry | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:41am | 0 comments
The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began as a war to combat transnational terrorism but quickly evolved into something deeper and more profound.  To combat terror emanating from a foreign country the U.S. sought a cooperative Afghan government, and thus the war became an exercise in first toppling an uncooperative regime in the Taliban, and second establishing an effective government with a monopoly on force.  The first step proved easy, while the second led to a revival of counterinsurgent theory and doctrine in the U.S. military, as the deposed Taliban fought to undermine the newly established government.  With President Biden’s announcement all U.S. troops will be withdrawn after 20 years of engagement, it’s natural to take stock of what’s been achieved.  Most now recognize the error in the strategy of deploying large numbers of U.S. and Coalition troops to augment the Afghan defense forces.  Economically, through 2017 the combined efforts of the Afghan War had cost $877 billion, a price tag few would argue is justified by the realized returns.
by David M. Tillman | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:31am | 3 comments
The Study of Terrorism is plagued with ambiguity and contradiction, much of which stems from the inability to agree upon a universal definition. This is particularly apparent when analyzing the various contributing factors surrounding individuals who gravitate towards and ultimately adopt extremist ideologies. To reduce the complexity of analyzing this topic, we will focus exclusively on individuals who have adopted an extremist ideology and are prone to commit violence in support of it. There is a multitude of characteristics that may be associated with these types of individuals, but as Boaz Ganor (2021) alludes to, it is typically an amalgamation of variables that precipitate the manifestation of these ideologies. While some characteristics appear almost symbiotic in nature, others may be viewed as directly contradicting one another. This article argues that there are five major factors that perpetuate extremist ideology and acts of terrorism including sociocultural incompatibility, lack of personal achievement, aptitude toward ignoring contradictory evidence, elevating basic values into sacred ones, and falling well outside the typical socioeconomic distribution curve. It is the amalgamation of these factors that leads individuals to become receptive to extremist ideologies which, as this article will later discuss, all typically follow a consisently  specific archetype. 
by David M. Tillman | Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:25am | 2 comments
The history and evolution of terrorism is one of great complexity, spanning centuries rather than decades. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “[t]     errorism remains a contested term, with no set definitions for the concept or broad agreement among academic experts on its usage” (Ward, 2018). However, many believe that recognizing terrorism is akin to Justice Potter Stewart’s concurring opinion regarding the recognition of obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) - “I’ll know it when I see it.” Although there is      a multitude of definitions, many experts[1]  agree that terrorism has two distinguishing elements – violence and a political dimension or motive (Burgess, 2015). This much can be discerned by the definitions of Bruce Hoffman and Louise Richardson of Georgetown University and Oxford University, respectively (Ward, 2018). However, by analyzing this phenomenon through the prism of the military’s Strategic Framework, we can reduce the elements of terrorism down to the ends, ways, and means (Eikmeier, 2007).
by David S. Clukey | Tue, 10/19/2021 - 8:09pm | 0 comments
September 11, 2021 marked 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and shortly before this solemn commemoration, on August 30, the United States (US) withdrew the last of its military forces from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA).  Prior to the withdrawal, US forces had been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In these two decades, the US spent over $2 trillion USD and invested over 2,300 in human capital to offer Afghanistan a chance for prosperity. Unfortunately, the way the US withdrew from Afghanistan appeared as curious as it did haphazard. On a global stage, the US orchestrated a series of diplomatic, tactical, and strategic missteps that were all preventable. Although cringeworthy and tragic, these recent missteps offer opportunity for reflection and lessons to learn from; as did the way the US approached the war in Afghanistan.
by Michael D. Shaler | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 6:47pm | 1 comment
The United States Army has long regarded itself as a LEARNING ORGANIZATION, so, as the President noted, we should ask ourselves: “What have we learned --- both positive and negative --- from our 20 years involvement in the Afghanistan War?”
by Robert S. Burrell | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 8:51pm | 6 comments
The recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and resulting takeover of governance by the Taliban has caused significant doubt in America’s ability to conduct long-lasting and effective counterinsurgency operations. However, a historical analysis into America’s small wars (or dirty wars) over the past two centuries offers an indispensable perspective. The United States has been at war for about 226 of its 245 years, the vast majority of these conflicts have been prosecuted short of traditional war, and many came as a result of great power competition. During this same period, the United States has developed its own unique methods of addressing insurgency. This essay illuminates the evolution and adoption of America’s double-edged reward and punishment approach to addressing insurgency, from the Plains Indian Wars through the Vietnam War, the lessons of which are essential to consider before embarking upon tomorrow’s conflict.
by Gabriel Lloyd | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:50am | 0 comments
Modern Russian intelligence operations, cyber intrusions and influence operations have found both potency in the proliferation of social media technologies and a receptive target in the existing political and social divisions in the United States. Media reports, including dramatic documentaries and breathless biopics on the ten Russian “illegals” arrested in 2010, create perceptions of either a newly developed Russian playbook or a full-scale return to the Cold War era of spy-vs-spy. Neither perspective is entirely accurate.
by Peter Layton | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:43am | 2 comments
China’s gray zone activities grind remorseless on but in so doing are creating an opposing pushback. As is customary, the paradoxical nature of war applies in that those impacted by a damaging strategy will over time devise optimized countermoves.
by Alexander Smith | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:36am | 2 comments
“Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.”[1] British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, recognized the value of airpower as early as 1933 during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and his words hold to this day. The United States spent sixteen of the last twenty years and precious resources attempting to rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF) into a viable, self-sustaining military aviation component capable of supporting the democratically-elected Afghan government. The withdrawal of U.S. and Coalition forces in August of 2021, and the embarrassingly swift takeover by the Taliban, have left the AAF in shambles. Many pilots fled with their aircraft to neighboring countries, where their fate remains uncertain, while the rest are now in Taliban hands.
by Andrew Milburn | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 8:32pm | 0 comments
Watching the chaotic scenes in Kabul airport this last August, it is difficult to make sense of the manner in which Washington pulled the plug on a two-decade Coalition effort leaving our allies non-plussed and our partners to the mercy of a vengeful enemy. Less than three weeks later, these images came again to mind during the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and two of his four-star generals before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nothing in that testimony, however, brought a sense of closure. Instead, repeated attempts at justification, and ultimately – a collective refusal to take responsibility – only rubbed salt in the wound.
by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 10/01/2021 - 6:19pm | 2 comments
Book Review of James H. Lebovic,"Planning to Fail: The US Wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This text looks at the US wars in Vietnam (1965–1973), Iraq (2003–2011), and Afghanistan (2001-present [2021]) reviewing the conditions from withdrawal. In all three case, the decision-makers accepted terms of departure that their predecessors would have rejected at the start of tase respective conflicts.
by David M. Tillman | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:56am | 0 comments
Mission command dates back to the mid-19th century, when the Chief of Prussian general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, first conceptualized the decentralized operational framework known as Auftragstaktik. German doctrine adopted Auftragstaktik in 1888, which later served as the foundation for the infamous German Blitzkrieg of WWII. Today, Auftragstaktik provides the foundation for mission command, which U.S. doctrine defines as having seven key principles: competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance. These principles are compounding, with each one enhancing the efficacy of the next. This article analyzes MG Ariel Sharon’s effective employment of mission command during the Yom Kippur War, specifically through the principles of competence, mutual trust, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.
by Anthony Ippoliti | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:41am | 0 comments
Geopolitics determines the type of cell phone you carry, the car you drive, and the computer you use. The all-consuming power of nation-state actor rivalries in the international arena shapes the structural paradigm that drives trade and politics. This is the invisible hand of the global economy. And so it goes with China, microprocessors, and American national security.
by Justin Baumann | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:32am | 0 comments
In discussing the Army’s role in protecting interests against adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDO-PACOM) theater of operations, it may seem counterintuitive that an article discusses Navy and Air Force platforms, but the Army cannot operate against adversaries while conducting Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs) or Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCOs) if it is not properly supplied.[ii] In the INDO-PACOM, this means the Army relies predominantly on current Navy and Air Force resupply platforms for sustaining operations and power projection across the vast Pacific Ocean.[iii]
by Bruce Hoffman, by Jacob Ware | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 7:49pm | 0 comments
Terrorism and national security scholars Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware weigh in on the consequences of the Biden Administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan
by Kate Kingsbury | Sun, 09/26/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
On 6 May 2021, three heavily armed men stormed into the Santa Muerte temple known as Santa Muerte Internacional Tultitlán (SMI Tultitlán), firing off shots into the air. The men, who had previously attacked the home of Enriqueta Vargas, the former leader of the temple, looted the shrine for items of worth and beat up staff members. This paper looks at the background of SMI Tultitlán and the new religious movement (NRM) surrounding Santa Muerte with a discussion of the roles of Jonathan Legaria Vargas "Comandante Pantera" and Enriqueta Vargas "La Madrina" culminating in a discussion of the future of SMI Tultitlán.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Fri, 09/24/2021 - 1:59am | 1 comment
Article 5 of NATO’s foundational 1949 North Atlantic Treaty demands that if an “armed attack” is carried out against even just one member state, all other member states “shall” consider that attack (and any armed attack) on a member state “an attack against them all” and “will assist,” up to and “including the use of armed force.”  This bedrock is the centerpiece for over seven decades of the Pax Americana: the U.S.-led global system of military power, alliances, collective defense, and ability to project combined strength anywhere on the planet.  For it to continue in these roles, NATO must adapt to current and future threats by adding cyberwarfare—including information warfare—to Article 5.
by Frank Sobchak | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 6:27am | 2 comments
Since the disastrous fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, there have been a continuous series of reports that announce far-reaching observations and conclusions from the conflict. Two popular narratives are that cowardly Afghan forces collapsed with barely a shot fired and that the U.S. military is incapable of building an effective foreign partner force. On its face, each judgement would seem to have some threads of truth given the considerable debacle that played out over August 2021. But the reality is much more complex and requires nuance, something that is challenging in the current American political environment.
by Alex Richards | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:21am | 0 comments
In 1989, a team of American analysts presented an argument that the next generation of war would have blurred lines between war and politics, and civilians and combatants. This has become increasingly true as corporations now have major stakes in global conflict and are able to influence outcomes of global politics and war. The Russo-Georgian War further blurred those lines when the Georgian government transferred Internet capabilities that were under attack to TSHost servers in the United States. Private cybersecurity firms and non-state sponsored hackers can influence diplomacy on a global scale due to the deep penetration of the internet into the military, critical infrastructure, and everyday society. This penetration has increased the effectiveness of information warfare and cyber espionage.
by Richard McManamon | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:15am | 0 comments
With the election of a new U.S. president comes a new foreign policy strategy. While the U.S. continues to manage the recent evacuation of forces and allies from Afghanistan, monitors the volatile situation between Israel and Hamas, and carefully listens to North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, it must not lose focus on Russia and China. At a time when both countries continue to expand their presence in eastern Europe, it becomes evident that the U.S. must have a focused strategy within the Balkans. The recent build-up of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border in April 2021 reinforces the idea that Russia will continue to destabilize the region while China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has found its way into eastern Europe, specifically to the Balkan countries. China’s dangerous lending practices and infrastructure projects can put Balkan countries at increased risk and provide China a backdoor into Europe. The U.S. benefits from a strong E.U. and NATO as well as sustainable stability throughout Europe. Targeted support for European allies is a strong incentive for U.S. involvement in the region as the U.S. can benefit from increased stability and stronger trading partners. This was highlighted by President Biden’s recent signing of an Executive Order on June 8, 2021, that provided additional sanction authority, efforts to combat corruption, and promote accountability within the Balkans and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Lastly, the Balkans present a unique challenge for western allies as this region simultaneously displays global competition from both Russia and China, which will require a comprehensive approach to counter their expansion effectively. 
by Ernest John C. Jadloc | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:06am | 0 comments
In 1952, U.S. officials approved the establishment of an international anticommunist movement for rural reconstruction in the Philippines. Central to this project was the issue of land reform. After a perceived success of development programs and subsequent surrender of the Hukbalahap insurgents, the U.S. abandoned its commitment to land reform.[1] However, land reform and its security implications have not been forgotten and are at work today.
by Chris Bronk | Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:56pm | 1 comment
Review of Amy Myers Jaffe, "Energy's Digital Future: Harnessing Innovation for American Resilience and National Security." This monograph looks at future energy security issues in a 'post-oil' world punctuated by technological change and great power conflicts marshaling hybrid warfare strategies including cyberattacks.
by Vanda Felbab-Brown | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:51pm | 1 comment
Perhaps nowhere in the world has a country and the international community faced an illicit drug economy as deeply entrenched as in Afghanistan. After toppling the Ashraf Ghani government in August of this year, the Taliban has announced its intention to rid Afghanistan of drugs. They tried to ban opium production in 2000 with limited success, This analysis by SWJ-El Centro Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown provides a retrospective view of the Taliban's opium control initiatives from the 1990s to the present. She concludes that maintaining these suppression efforts would be wickedly difficult and could internally destabilize the Taliban.
by Sandor Fabian | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 10:15pm | 1 comment
In her recent articles in Foreign Affairs and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at Modern War Institute Rachel Tecott paints a quite bleak picture about US Security Force Assistance efforts. In both of these articles the author arrives to strong conclusions by suggesting that the US approach to building foreign militaries does not deliver the expected results and even argues that recent events “exposed the rot” within these efforts.     While there are several compelling and thought-provoking points in these articles their arguments and conclusions seem to be significantly weakened by the authors` narrow definition of US security force assistance efforts` scope and objectives, and the cherry-picking of scholarly literature and cases that scream obvious confirmation bias. A more comprehensive investigation of the issue at hand reveals that the topic is much more complex than presented in these two articles and while undeniably there are several bad cases in the history of US security force assistance efforts they also have yield some great results as well.