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 Andrew Gibbons | Thu, 02/24/2022 - 4:14pm | 2 comments
This book, written after the American exit from Afghanistan in August 2021, recounts the US-led campaign in that country from the year 2001 and explains not just why it failed, but why it could not possibly have succeeded.
by Isaac Poritzky | Thu, 02/24/2022 - 3:02pm | 0 comments
In this SWJ Book Review, SWJ-El Centro Intern Issac Poritzky reviews "Understanding Dark Networks: A Strategic Framework for the Use of Social Network Analysis" by Daniel Cunningham, Sean Everton, and Philip Murphy.
by James H. Creechan | Wed, 02/23/2022 - 8:42pm | 1 comment
Book review of "The Wolfpack: the millennial mobsters who brought chaos and the cartels to the Canadian underworld.
by Keith Nightingale | Wed, 02/23/2022 - 1:42pm | 1 comment
For reflection: A view from an operator's perspective of close quarters battle and breaching the door.
by Bryce Johnston | Tue, 02/22/2022 - 3:55pm | 0 comments
Russia’s support for two “breakout regions” in Ukraine has placed the spotlight on secessionist movements. Past experiences show that secessionist movements are ripe for disruption from influence campaigns. The 2017 Catalan Independence movement is a recent example of this. Governments used state media outlets to spread digital propaganda to establish narratives favorable to their policy goals. The Catalan Independence movement is not an isolated case. To combat future uses of digital media, analysts may have to use WWII-era methods to understand the intent of the propagandists. By combining Alexander George’s method of propaganda analysis with open-source sentiment analysis tools, this paper found that Russia’s state media outlet expressed more consistent support for their policy positions than Western state media outlets. Future analysts could apply these same tools to other conflicts to gain more information on the policy preferences of each state.
by Mitch Ruhl | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 10:56pm | 0 comments
As the situation in the Ukraine rapidly deteriorates, little attention has been given to the presence of paramilitary forces that have operated on both sides of the conflict since 2014. These forces, ranging from militias-turned-professional units to volunteer battalions, will play a significant role in provoking an invasion and the aftermath. Utilizing social media, previous media snapshots, and earlier assessments, this essay looks at the most prominent (para)military organizations fighting for the Ukraine and the separatists and assesses the risk they pose to escalation and a post-invasion insurgency. This essay pays particular attention to the risks inherent in the three main pro-Kyiv paramilitary organizations given the larger pool of source material and their outsized role and reflects significant concerns for post-invasion radicalization and recruitment. Separatist elements have far less source information available, resulting in a lesser focus in this essay. Given close ties to the Kremlin, the escalation risk factor of the separatists is of main concern. Given these assessments, NATO must act decisively to mitigate escalation risk factors from Ukrainian forces and combat the expansion of extremism in an insurgency.
by Tyris S. Foster Jr. | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 10:28am | 0 comments
The United States and the People’s Republic of China are competing for influence in the Pacific Ocean, from Panama to Malacca. While the United States has focused heavily on increasing its influence in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asian littorals, it has allowed China to gain a foothold in the Eastern Pacific and South American littorals. This is a result of a whole-of-Pacific approach to competition that China has utilized, while the United States’ approach has been disjointed due to current Combatant Command boundaries. This piece evaluates the extent of Chinese influence in the Eastern Pacific and South American littorals, notes the growing incongruence between U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command priorities, and argues that only a whole-of-Pacific Department of Defense strategy with integrated Combatant Command priorities will allow the United States to truly compete with China.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 8:55am | 0 comments
The extremely-likely-to-be-pending invasion of Ukraine by Russia would likely be the largest invasion in Europe in over half a century (since the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and, before that, the final years of World War II) and the largest European war since WWII (since Ukraine’s army today seems quite willing to fight along with many civilians, but the Czechoslovak People’s Army did not resist at all in 1968).  Yet perhaps the most remarkable thing apart from the scale of all this is the predictable, soporific banality of Putin’s game plan, one visible from many miles and many years away.
by JD Fuller | Sat, 02/19/2022 - 8:49am | 0 comments
Putin's demand that NATO scale back its deployments in Eastern Europe has led to even more troops being sent to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, whilst NATO itself has been injected with a new life and purpose not seen in a generation. Far from sowing disunity, Putin’s actions have focused minds in Western capitals more than any annual NATO conference could have achieved, leading to new conversations about the future direction of the alliance.
by B. Z. Khasru | Fri, 02/18/2022 - 12:56pm | 0 comments
Both China and America are courting Bangladesh because being next to the Bay of Bengal it can provide easy access to the Indian Ocean, which funnels much of the world trade. By controlling this sea lane, America can choke off China's economy. Bangladesh can give China an alternative land route via Burma.
by Joseph Osborne | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 4:43pm | 2 comments
The reality of 2003 Afghanistan was an environment full of insurgents, conducting insurgent type activities against a coalition that was, in large part, desperately trying to avoid saying the words insurgency or counterinsurgency. For me, this story really begins with opportunity, timing, and luck. In reality, it begins with classic Counterinsurgency (COIN) theorists like Galula and Trinquier and the intervening influence of scholars like Gordon McCormick and John Arquilla. The timely convergence of a like-minded counterinsurgency practitioners was also fortuitous. Most importantly, and despite later implicit claims of finally getting it right, this story shows that Operation WARRIOR SWEEP, and the actions in and around Zormat in 2003, represented the first real counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Afghanistan.
by Jennifer Walters | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 8:52am | 0 comments
When examining the conventional balance of power between NATO and Russian forces, the numbers alone are not sufficient. To better understand this balance power, it is necessary to inspect not just the sheer number of conventional forces (ground troops, tanks, and aircraft), but where these forces are located, the damage they can inflict, and the capability to reconstitute quickly in the opening salvo of a conflict. Despite a precipitous drop in total conventional force since the end of the Cold War, with these factors in mind, the balance of power tips to Russia.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 02/16/2022 - 3:05pm | 0 comments
On Monday, 31 January 2022 at approximately 1030 hours (10:30 am) a Mexican Army (SEDENA) convoy travelling on a dirt road in a remote area near Apatzingán drove over a landmine. The vehicle was reportedly a ‘SandCat’ light armored vehicle (LAV). At least one, and up to four or more soldiers were said to be injured. The area where the incident occurred is reportedly in territory contested by the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and the Cárteles Unidos (CU).
by David Jia-Lung Tsai | Tue, 02/15/2022 - 7:56pm | 0 comments
Nuclear talks between the United States and Iran resumed in Vienna on 10 February 2022. A Senior U.S. State Department official warned that if a deal is not struck within the next few weeks it will be “no longer possible to return to the JCPOA,” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. To salvage the JCPOA’s nonproliferation requirements, Washington needs to find common ground with Tehran. Preventing a potential oil spill off the coast of war-torn Yemen, where both sides have vested interests in, can be a cooperation point as negotiations move forward.
by Keith Nightingale | Tue, 02/15/2022 - 11:44am | 11 comments
As we all have, I have been watching the impressive Russian ground forces arrayed to invade Ukraine from three sides. Some comments after consultation with a good friend in the Marines: Upon due consideration, it might have been unthoughtfully wise to not place our military in harm’s way simply because it would have its clock handed to it. Our military, particularly the Army, is tailored for the 20-year war in the Sandboxes-not a Peer conflict.
by Jeremy Kofsky | Mon, 02/14/2022 - 8:56pm | 0 comments
          The Marine Corps has made great strides since the 2019 release of Commandants’ Planning Guidance caused sea change within the Marine Corps regarding where the force was headed as an organization and how to best man, train, and equip the force. When partnered with Force Design 2030 and the Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (TM-EABO), these documents provide a definitive way forward for the Marine Corps for the next decade. The core concepts of EABO revolve around the ability to seize key terrain, which in turn denies the enemy maritime freedom of maneuver to create decision and maneuver advantage for the Joint Force. The EABO Handbook provides several examples and planning factors to support this end but fails to address a critical vulnerability planning assumption, namely, once supplies can somehow make it into a theater of action, how do you prevent the enemy from interdicting those supply chains at the tactical level?
by Sean Parrott | Mon, 02/14/2022 - 6:14am | 0 comments
Infantry units have always required indirect fire in support of maneuver. Javelins and slings gave way to bows and arrows, and so on throughout history. While modern artillery and mortar systems offer relatively imprecise fire support to the modern warrior, surgical fires in support of maneuver have long been the domain of aviation. Yet the degraded, denied environments the United States plans to compete in require fire support assets that can provide precision, long-range fires to smaller maneuver units within the enemy weapons engagement zone (WEZ). In a future fight against an enemy with peer capabilities, it cannot be assumed that close air support will be feasible in all stages of ground combat operations.
by Charity Jacobs, by Kathleen M. Carley | Fri, 02/11/2022 - 9:21pm | 1 comment
China’s gray zone operations against Taiwan are a growing coercion mechanism towards reunification by eroding Taiwan’s will to resist. Following China’s consolidation of power and control over Hong Kong and the Xinjiang autonomous region, Taiwan’s prosperous existence is becoming an increasingly prioritized threat to China’s image and global standing. China’s modern influence operations based on the Three Warfares doctrine have evolved over the last thirty years with doctrinal reflections on other nations’ wars to include a predominant focus on US modernization. These lessons learned are critical to understanding how the Communist Party of China (CPC) wields Three Warfares in a ‘peacetime wartime’ context in which there is no delineating line between peace and war. This paper discusses the historical chronology of Chinese doctrine, the founding philosophy of Chinese influence operations Three Warfares, CPC influence action arms and capabilities for overt and covert efforts, and how China mobilizes its government and citizen capabilities to execute gray zone operations using Three Warfares against Taiwan.
by George T. Díaz | Tue, 02/08/2022 - 11:04pm | 0 comments
This essay contextualizes “Operation Lone Star” and the detention of migrants in Texas state prisons within the longer history of Texas border policing which parallel and sometimes exceed federal policing efforts. In particular, this essay examines the Texas state government’s border policing efforts and considers the way state forces have attempted to police the US-Mexico border and place those it apprehends in state prisons. Furthermore, it argues that surges in state border policing stem from 1) the perception of federal inaction and 2) the perceived benefits that state representatives gain among their constituents for such efforts.
by Joshua Underwood | Mon, 02/07/2022 - 9:27pm | 0 comments
This research develops a novel concept about how external actors utilize a new form of power. Joseph Nye’s Hard and Soft power provides valuable concepts as to how countries use various tools to achieve their objectives. However, Nye’s hard power concept doesn’t illustrate Russia’s recent aggression in Georgia (2008) and Eastern Ukraine (2014). In both conflicts, Russia deployed their military force through covert operations to support and maintain control of separatist regions. Russia utilized a new form of power that allowed them to have complete deniability while achieving their political agenda before any international repercussions. Therefore, in this paper, I will argue that Russia used soft, sticky, and instead of using hard power, Russia used what I call “phantom power” in the 2008 Georgia and 2014 Eastern Ukraine Conflicts.
by Mareks Runts | Mon, 02/07/2022 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
The Forest Brothers refers to the organized armed resistance fight in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.[The movement arose in 1944 at the end of World war II and lasted until 1956. This article will explore the relevance of the Latvian Forest Brothers to the modern Latvian National Armed Forces and attempt to draw lessons from the historical experience of the 20th century movement.
by Paloma Mendoza-Cortés | Sat, 02/05/2022 - 4:34pm | 0 comments
Review of "Los servicios de inteligencia en México, ayer y hoy [The Mexican Intelligence Services, Yesterday and Today]" in English. This review examines the history and development of the Mexican intelligence services to provide a baseline for understanding contemporary intelligence challenges in Mexico.
by Paloma Mendoza-Cortés | Sat, 02/05/2022 - 4:28pm | 0 comments
Review of "Los servicios de inteligencia en México, ayer y hoy [The Mexican Intelligence Services, Yesterday and Today]" in Spanish. Esta revisión examina la historia y el desarrollo de los servicios de inteligencia mexicanos con el fin de proporcionar una base para entender los desafíos contemporáneos de la inteligencia en México.
by Meg Tucker | Fri, 02/04/2022 - 7:10am | 3 comments
It is time for U.S. Army special operations forces to redirect effort and resources away from airborne operations toward more urgent training needs in the 2021 battlespace. As an innovative organization, Army SOF is well-suited to lead in modernization, economizing assets and honing the most relevant capabilities. What better time than now to reexamine how SOF applies its resources, especially as the Department of Defense pivots to focus on Cold War 2.0?
by Theo Bajon | Thu, 02/03/2022 - 5:10pm | 0 comments
Understanding how modern conflict exists, evolves, and is rooted in reality through all of the related elements that interrelate with each other provides a way of understanding modern conflict as a complex event that requires some reflection on its inherent conceptualization.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Wed, 02/02/2022 - 4:45pm | 0 comments
SWJ-El Centro Fellow Pablo A. Baisotti revisa “Democracy and Security in Latin America: State Capacity and Governance under Stress [Democracia y seguridad en América Latina: La capacidad del Estado y la gobernanza bajo presión]” en español. El texto analiza la capacidad del Estado democrático en América Latina para proveer efectivamente la seguridad pública y la defensa nacional, temas históricamente fundamentales en la región. El libro consiste en una colección de trabajos académicos y aborda la naturaleza y el alcance de la gobernabilidad del Estado en América Latina y la estrecha relación entre seguridad y democracia (especialmente en tiempos de pandemia). Presenta y profundiza en los retos de la gobernanza y de algunas instituciones estatales clave como la policía, los tribunales, las fuerzas armadas y el sistema penitenciario. Para ello, los autores de esta obra analizan las distintas cuestiones desde un enfoque interdisciplinar (histórico, político, económico, militar, entre otros).
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Wed, 02/02/2022 - 4:01pm | 2 comments
SWJ-El Centro Fellow Pablo A. Baisotti reviews “Democracy and Security in Latin America: State Capacity and Governance under Stress.” The text analyzes the capacity of the democratic state in Latin America to effectively provide public security and national defense, historically fundamental issues in the region. The book consists of a collection of academic papers and addresses the nature and scope of state governance in Latin America and the close relationship between security and democracy (especially in times of pandemic). It presents and elaborates on the challenges to governance and some key state institutions such as the police, the courts, the armed forces, and the penitentiary system. To this end, the authors of this work analyzed the various issues from an interdisciplinary approach (historical, political, economic, military, among others).
by Aaron R. Byrd, by M. Qasem Amiry | Wed, 02/02/2022 - 12:15pm | 0 comments
A conceptual framework for organizational capability assessment is presented. The framework has 14 elements: organizational lead, organizational support, advising lead, doctrine, organization, training, materiel, information technology, leadership, personnel, facilities, processes / policies / procedures, and intra- and inter-organizational integration. An example of using this framework to steer a workshop on developing a generator repair capability is given. The elements of the framework are useful to guide critical thinking about organizational capability, whether it is an existing capability, or a new capability is being developed.
by John P. Sullivan, by Nathan P. Jones, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 01/31/2022 - 3:24pm | 0 comments
A Federal Grand Jury in Los Angeles named six defendants in a weapon smuggling organization in a 23-count indictment alleging that the cell conspired to violate federal export laws to provide weapons and ammunition to Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) operatives in Mexico. The indictment charged six individuals and asserts that they are members of a group known as the Santillan gun trafficking organization. This note also includes a social network analysis (SNA) of the cell and an analysis of the ammunition seized.
by Octavian Manea | Mon, 01/31/2022 - 11:36am | 0 comments
Interview conducted by Octavian Manea with Lt. Gen. (Ret) Frederick Benjamin Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, DC. He was Commanding General, United States Army Europe from 2014 to 2017. He co-authored together with John. R. Allen and Julian Lindley-French - The Future of War and The Defense of Europe, published by Oxford University Press last year.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 01/31/2022 - 11:27am | 0 comments
A new SWJ partnership with the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS) at Brussels School of Governance (VUB)
by Patrick Walsh | Mon, 01/31/2022 - 11:24am | 1 comment
Five pages into the book, Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in a Post-Cold War World, you realize this is not merely one more storied victory lap by a man who had 50 years in government to collect them. With some hyperbole, one could say Robert Gates is issuing a “call to arms” that America needs to change the way it uses power. But that analogy does not fit, because in this book, Gates convincingly argues that the United States needs to use many other instruments of its power more effectively, and its military power less often. When a Secretary of Defense who worked for two Presidents writes a book calling for the increased use of diplomatic, economic and information power, all military officers and anyone who works in our national security enterprise should read it.
by Jim Crotty | Sun, 01/30/2022 - 3:03pm | 0 comments
The explosion of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine is the most significant change to the drug trade in the last twenty years.  Unlike plant-based drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, which require control of large swaths of territory and a favorable climate, synthetic drugs have comparatively low barriers to entry.  They are relatively cheap and easy to make, easy to conceal, and more potent than traditional drugs.  From a trafficker’s perspective, they are the perfect drug.  They are also incredibly lethal.    
by Itai Shapira | Sun, 01/30/2022 - 11:51am | 0 comments
Preventive campaigns have been part of Israel’s strategy and national security doctrine for decades. In the past, they were applied for countering threats considered as existential, such as military nuclear programs or a change in the balance of powers. This can be framed as “strategic prevention”. Prevention has also been applied for decades in counterterrorism campaigns, mainly through assassination of terrorist leaders. However, in recent years, Israel has applied a preventive approach to counter emerging conventional challenges – through the “campaign between the wars” (CBW), sometimes described as a tool for the strategic competition with Iran. This can be coined “operational prevention”.
by G. Murphy Donovan | Sat, 01/29/2022 - 8:36am | 5 comments
After 75 years, the Cold War seems to be a permanent fixture of American foreign policy. Russia is still the nexus of allied angst. Never mind that Slavic communism has morphed into Russian capitalism. Moscow still enjoys pride of place for eight decades now in the American and NATO threat matrix. Never mind that Red China and the Muslim jihad, in the same period, are eating Uncle Sam’s strategic lunch. National policy towards both Beijing and Mecca now amount to abject, if not fawning, appeasement. Hong Kong and Kabul have now gone the way of Yugoslavia. Taiwan and Pakistan are probably next. American foreign policy today seems to mandate that the Russian threat be exaggerated while the Chinese and Islamist menace is minimized or worse still, ignored.
by Brandon K. Brooks, by Russell K. Brooks | Fri, 01/28/2022 - 9:43am | 3 comments
Now that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete, the predictable finger-pointing has begun.  President Biden’s political opponents have accused the administration of abandoning its Afghan allies and leaving Americans behind in enemy territory. Meanwhile, several former government officials have claimed the administration engaged in an unnecessary pre-emptive withdrawal that has damaged American credibility.
by Dylan Nigh | Fri, 01/28/2022 - 9:34am | 4 comments
As the United States military enters a new period of change following its withdraw from Afghanistan, numerous works have been published that attempt to grapple with the path that led to our involvement in so-called “forever wars”, with one such work being Moyn’s Humane. While many of these take the obvious route of inducing schadenfreude through a lightning round review of the policy foibles of the last 20 years, Humane instead takes a broader approach, reviewing how events and developments over the last century and a half led to the current geopolitical situation.
by Griffin Klevering | Wed, 01/26/2022 - 10:06pm | 0 comments
War has changed: what used to be a confined to a physical battlefield has evolved into a hidden neural war fought from every corner of the Earth. For the first 200,000 years of humanity’s existence, war was fought on the physical battlefield.. With sticks, then swords, then guns, people fought against one another directly. They took and saved lives personally on their own merit. This is now rapidly changing. With the invention of computers and the internet, cyber and informational warfare are rapidly becoming prevalent. From a grand distance, people can cause damage to other countries safely and effectively through the internet. Be they viruses, false information campaigns, or worse, cyberwarfare, it is an important tool of any nation state.
by Guido Torres | Mon, 01/24/2022 - 7:22am | 0 comments
While America was consumed with the Global War on Terror for the past 20 years, Russia’s Cold War tactics directed at the West intensified, but with modern age tools. Post-Cold War, the world witnessed a unipolar system with the United States at its helm. As a result, Russia has refined old subversive techniques, sabotage, and active measures to undermine and weaken America. Russia’s 2007 cyber-attacks on Estonia, 2008 war in Georgia, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, support to the Syrian regime's civil war in 2015, and the U.S. Presidential election meddling of 2016 are examples of the evolution of Russian nonlinear warfare. With the U.S. constantly involved in Russia's near-abroad, Russia appears to favor strategies that cloak blame and stay below the threshold of armed conflict. Recently, Latin America has experienced a paradigm shift, and civil unrest rise while its governments increasingly turn to leftist-leaning leaders to govern their states. Reviewing historical case studies to illustrate the nonlinear strategy Russia has waged in Europe, subsequently developing a theoretical framework to create a case study on Colombia. The results of the Colombia case study may serve as a model for identifying Russian nonlinear warfare throughout other Latin American countries.
by Hyun Jun Chang | Sun, 01/23/2022 - 10:01pm | 0 comments
In most of our training, we fight an opposing force (OPFOR), a role player who is often scripted and told to act a certain way in order to (IOT) enable the training unit (TU) to achieve a training objective. Our missions are usually terrain focused – to seize key terrain – with an enemy that is either on the objective or inbound. But terrain doesn’t move or think. Is there a better way to train? Yes. Free-play force-on-force (FoF) exercise, where each side is precisely the enemy described above. It is the superior way to train, and how we should train every time. It trains a unit to “outthink, outmaneuver, and outfight the enemy,” instead of “pursuing perfection in method rather than obtaining decisive results.”
by Benjamin J. Elliott | Sun, 01/23/2022 - 9:44pm | 0 comments
The world is a dynamic environment, yet Carl von Clausewitz’s principles remain current and operational, because both his definition of war and the application of his theory define contemporary terrorist organizations. In order to draw a fulsome comparison, one must use both Clausewitz’s social and structural trinities. With both levels of analysis in play, terrorist groups form and operate in a similar triadic manner to achieve their aims. Therefore, Clausewitz’s proposed theories of warfare are relevant today for terrorism warning analysis. The forces of violence, chance, and reason illuminate a terrorist organization in its gestation and may provide policy options before the outbreak of violence.
by Brian S. Petit | Fri, 01/21/2022 - 7:41pm | 0 comments
Ukraine is bracing for a Russian invasion. Undermatched, undersized, and militarily less capable, Ukraine will lose a conventional, combined arms fight, should it come. Facing this prospect, Ukraine is investing in and publicizing its hedging strategy: citizen resistance.
by Damian Koropeckyj | Fri, 01/21/2022 - 7:31pm | 0 comments
The construction of monuments by Russia, its proxies, and Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine reveals a new avenue for Information Operations and, in turn, a blind spot in both programs monitoring Russian IO and those monitoring cultural heritage in conflict such as USAR’s Monument Officers (38G/6V). This tactic extends to territories outside of Ukraine where Russia is conducting gray zone operations.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 01/21/2022 - 1:06pm | 1 comment
Police in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) began a major operation—Operação Cidade Integrada (Operation Integrated City)—on Wednesday 19 January 2022 to retake control of RJ’s Jacarezinho favela.  Approximately 1,200 police (Polícia Militar or Military Police) took part in the co-ordinated action. The operation is reminiscent of the UPP (Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora or Pacifying Police Units) approach initially implemented ahead of the 2016 Olympics. This new initiative apparently seeks to expand that approach by integrating comprehensive social programs to restore state authority and governance. The action seeks to displace criminal governance by the Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) and milícia (militia) groups.
by Paul Schneider | Thu, 01/20/2022 - 9:06pm | 6 comments
Currently over 50% of our best and brightest Special Forces Captains are leaving the Army and the shadow of huge morale issues continues to haunt the Special Forces Regiment.  Many factors are considered as to why: including intense deployment schedules, no deployment potential, stress on families, limited command opportunities once promoted, and the promise of a more lucrative civilian career.  Each of those reasons have traditionally had merit, but a glaring deficiency underpinning this is a flawed system that manifests itself in how we select and promote Special Forces (SF) officers.
by Philip Wasielewski | Thu, 01/20/2022 - 8:11pm | 1 comment
Modern Russian statecraft does not diverge from how Moscow has traditionally pursued its foreign policy goals. The use of extraterritorial assassinations, the 2007 Bronze Night incident in Estonia, and the 2014 invasion of Ukraine provide ample evidence that Russian use of coercive statecraft is part of a long-standing grand strategy to protect itself by dividing the West.
by Daniel J. O’Connor | Thu, 01/20/2022 - 4:52pm | 0 comments
       The topic of mission command has become a common topic in American military thought recently.  Due to the generally increasing velocity of modern combat and the constant need to evolve methods, it is a fitting time to reexamine historical examples in an effort to better plan future doctrine.  During the early days of the Eastern Front in World War II, the Nazi Army made a bold push for Moscow aiming for the complete destruction of the Soviet military.  The Soviets, through a series of serious blows and defeats nearly witnessed a complete collapse before the Nazi aggression.  While the Red Army eventually was able to go on the offensive and the war was won by the Allies, this view of the period as an unequivocal Soviet victory is problematic.  Arguably the Soviets survived due to, among other things, actions outside their control.  Even more perplexingly, they survived, in large part, due to their ability to sacrifice huge tracts of territory and quantities of manpower to buy time.  However, this does not diminish the fact that the Soviet Union had to “make extraordinary, inordinate efforts to stop the victorious advance of the Wehrmacht.”
by Alan Kelly | Wed, 01/19/2022 - 8:29pm | 1 comment
Why are bad guys so good at spreading disinformation and good guys so bad at stopping it? Through the lens of a patented and tested framework, the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies, the author illustrates how policies and practices of response do more to accelerate than slow the deceptive and mistaken messages hostile actors sow. This essay is recommended reading for practitioners of strategic communications, public diplomacy, information operations, psyops and related fields of influence management.
by Tom Johansmeyer | Wed, 01/19/2022 - 8:22pm | 0 comments
When there’s a natural disaster, according to conventional wisdom, civil unrest is likely to follow. That line of thinking is as seductive as it is intuitive. However, there isn’t much data to support it. The occasional half-hearted inquiry forced by the lack of empirical evidence generally leaves you as unsatisfied as your first self-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. The notion that natural disaster increases the risk of civil unrest taps into the dark sense that people will revert to survival instincts when the norm is threatened. When it comes to non-terror political violence following natural catastrophes, though, the historical experience just isn’t there. The occasional instance of it is an anomaly at best – and a debatable one at that – with almost no foundation of 70 years of catastrophe data.
by R. Evan Ellis | Fri, 01/14/2022 - 4:38am | 0 comments
The predictable triumph by Maduro loyalists in Venezuela’s rigged November 2021 elections was a symbolic nail in the coffin for the attempt by the de jure government of Juan Guaido to restore the more liberal type of democracy previously prevailing in the country. Venezuela now seems to ever more resemble Cuba, with an authoritarian government in control for the long haul. Yet while Venezuela is unlikely to return to democratic governance anytime soon, parallels to Cuba conceal the complex dynamic between regime figures, external state actors, and criminal and terrorist groups that is shaping the country’s future.