Small Wars Journal

Journal

Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog.

We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

by Daniel Riggs | Wed, 03/03/2021 - 8:21pm | 0 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 | 0 comments
      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 | 0 comments
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 | 2 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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 1 comment
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 1 comment
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 | 0 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 | 2 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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 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 | 0 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 | 4 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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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.
by Sean McLaughlin | Sun, 01/17/2021 - 10:14pm | 0 comments
After seven years of war, the Ukrainian military is now under severe stress. A ceasefire agreement initiated in July between Ukraine and Russian-backed insurgents has been ineffective. Despite the Ukrainian sides' planned withdrawal from certain areas and maintaining the ceasefire, Russian-backed separatists have repeatedly violated the agreement. Also, the Ukrainian military now openly rules out the possibility of offensive operations to retake the Donbas. This has caused an inevitable drop in morale for front-line soldiers who are now put on permanent defense.  Besides, Ukrainian military leadership has recently been mired in controversy with accusations of corruption and mismanagement. This has led to open declarations in the media by field grade officers that demand the removal of the Commander in Chief of the military.
by Lucas Webber | Sun, 01/17/2021 - 2:34pm | 0 comments
China’s Xinjiang policies have drawn the ire of transnational militant organizations and the topic of Uyghur repression has found rhetorical traction within global jihadist discourse. Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS), and others have explicitly threatened China and prominent jihadist figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have criticized Beijing’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Muslim population. While conflict in the region has not traditionally been a priority concern for most non-Uyghur jihadists, Xinjiang issues have become more international and mainstream in recent years. Militants of disparate geographies and of numerous languages have been devoting noticeably greater attention to Xinjiang in their propaganda content. Growing global media coverage and popular awareness of Chinese policy toward the Uyghurs has put additional pressure on jihadist organizations to publicly address the subject.
by Frank Sobchak | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:41pm | 7 comments
Was the Capitol Riot America’s equivalent of the Reichstag Fire?  Or were the shots fired there more akin to those of Fort Sumter, presaging a second Civil War?  Making a comparison to other singular micro events in history is often problematic due to the many differences in each case.  But exploring the causes behind the revolt, especially the macro events that shaped the environment in which dissent, anger, and frustration have festered, is far easier.  The insurrection that played out across the offices and hallways of the U.S. Capitol was not just a reflection of the anger and seditious behavior of some  Americans, it was a symptom of the fissures wrought by the information revolution which has been tearing the fabric of global society apart for the last few decades. 
by Justin H. Leopold-Cohen  | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:17pm | 0 comments
   There has been considerable analysis on the competition between the United States, Russia, and China, and potential military conflict. These pieces tend to examine respective militaries’ firepower, troop numbers, hybrid capabilities, and other conventional measures, however, strategists ought to consider how these militaries are preparing for the consequences of climate change. The environment can shape matters at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels just as much as more traditional measures. Be it Napoleon choosing to retreat out of Russia rather than endure the harsh winter, World War II’s delayed D-Day Invasion and effects on allied airpower during the Battle of the Bulge, or visual challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan from sand and dust storms, which were even known to cause lung disease to servicemen after prolonged exposure.
by Ali Ozdogan | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:13pm | 0 comments
Several experts of terrorism including Daniel Byman and Hassan Hassan recently reported al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death . The last time he appeared in media was on September 11, when he published a video message about the nineteenth anniversary of the historic attack. If al-Zawahiri’s death is true, it inevitably arises the question about how his death impacts al-Qaeda.
by Paul Bailey | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:04pm | 0 comments
            The U.S. military continues to face terrorist threats from al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but is increasingly reorienting on great power competition (GPC), heralded by the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF), and the wider military, assert success in counter terrorism but also claim the need to better adapt for GPC, particularly against Russia and China. Although USSOF have successfully learned how to hunt down and kill terrorist leaders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden and others, a more comprehensive look at the U.S. fight against irregular-terrorist organizations reveals a bleak global strategic picture.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 11:08am | 0 comments
The National Security and National Defense Strategies prioritize great power competition and conflict.  The United States faces two revisionist powers, China and Russia, and two rogue powers, Iran and North Korea, and the enduring threat of global violent extremism.  These threats are likely to persist for decades to come and it will be up to the U.S. national security apparatus to deter, contain, cope, manage, and where possible, defeat these threats.
by Scott Fisher | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:45am | 0 comments
Traditionally, IO (Information Operations) doctrine would hold that a such a tweet is a measure of performance (MOP): criteria used to assess friendly actions that are tied to measuring task accomplishment (FM 3-13, pg. 8-4) – in other words, something we did, not an effect we created. Other common examples of MOPs include: the number of leaflets or handbills disseminated, number of broadcasts, the number of photos or videos taken or disseminated – all observable and measurable activities, but none that reflect a change in behavior by the target or target audience. Basically, we did something, but we’re not sure if it mattered.
by Alex Teynor | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:40am | 0 comments
Unilateral military actions by a state actor in the era of globalization and numerous international institutions receive harsh criticism and subject to strict moral, ethical, and legal review by the international community. The basis for this is that under the United Nations (UN) Charter, Chapter 1, all member states are, in theory, guaranteed “sovereign equality” and the right to “self-determination." When a member state commits forces against or within the borders of another member state, questions concerning the violation of a state’s sovereignty and the legitimacy to act surface, which will be discussed later in this paper.
by Campbell German | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:34am | 0 comments
The War on Terror ushered in a new era of warfare for the United States and the Marine Corps. Gone are the days of Desert Storm-like conflicts when the United States could simply flex its muscle and use its technological advantages to bring an enemy to its knees. This muscle has now turned into the country’s Achilles heel, exposing it to devastating attacks from insurgents, cyber warriors, and the like. These enemies are not caught on a battlefield, but rather attack from the shadows, costing the country dollars and blood it cannot continue to pay. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the widespread adoption of counterinsurgency (COIN) tactics by both Army and Marine Corps units in order to mitigate this weakness.
by Amos C. Fox | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:22am | 0 comments
The United States Army currently has a problem. The face of modern war, and what that portends, are not adequately expressed in concepts and doctrine. The problem is that the US Army’s concepts and doctrine, as part of that of the larger Joint Force, are rife with ideas that are out of step with trends in contemporary armed conflict and projections about future war. To be sure, concept development is currently focused on large-scale combat operations (LSCO) and multi-domain operations (MDO), or joint all-domain operations (JADO), and while lacking an appreciation for applied dominance. All the while, today’s trend line suggests urban warfare, and its reciprocal siege, coupled with great and regional powers competing indirectly through a variety of proxies, are war’s moderating features.
by Matt Begert | Thu, 12/31/2020 - 7:54pm | 1 comment
Review of Charles "Sid" Heal, "Concepts of Nonlethal Force." 
by Bob Howard | Wed, 12/30/2020 - 10:03pm | 2 comments
The concept of Great Power Competition (GPC) is flawed. The term GPC leads to an apathetic response by those with a responsibility to act and protect western democratic interests such as businessmen, politicians, intelligence, academia, media, national and international government institutions, and the military. China’s government is waging war against the United States (US); not competing.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 12/30/2020 - 6:15pm | 1 comment
In the ongoing conflict in Michoacán between the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and local defense forces coordinating amongst themselves and with local cartels, a recent engagement took place in which an autodefensa (self-defense group) improvised armored fighting vehicle (IAFV) was engaged by small arms fires. The engagement, caught on video from the perspective of the mounted infantry and reporters in the armored truck bed of the IAFV, took place in La Bocanda—a CJNG stronghold—in mid-December 2020.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera | Mon, 12/28/2020 - 7:12pm | 0 comments
This book review of Nilda M. Garcia's "Mexico’s Drug War and Criminal Networks: The Dark Side of Social Media" by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera focuses on the exploitation of cyberspace by Mexican criminal networks through three case studies of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zetas, and the Knights Templar.
by Wojciech John Labuz, by Kari A. Thyne, by Joseph Long, by Christopher Hughes | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 4:26pm | 1 comment
The emerging global environment marked by the competing interests of current and emerging great powers has enmeshed American foreign policy and strategic military preparations in understanding the 21st century’s new “converging, trans-regional compound security dilemmas.” This compound security dilemma combines the Joint Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) decades-long imperatives to counter violent extremist organizations (CVEO) and counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), all within the global framework of "rising competition with China and Russia, under conditions of eroding US relative military advantage." To confront these challenges, SOF must reimagine ethical decision-making as a foundational aspect of leadership and leader development in the context of the future SOF environment.
by Avi Dravid | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 4:07pm | 2 comments
At face value, genocide appears to be a fundamentally irrational act, ripping apart the very fabric of society for little demonstrable gain. Indeed, the term conjures images of mindless killing and pathological bloodlust. Hannah Arendt famously asserted that the Nazi extermination camp could not be understood in utilitarian terms, as it reflected an irrational and paranoid worldview that was divorced from any broader strategic calculus. While there are certainly elements of irrationality in genocide, this article argues that genocide is often viewed as rational by those who perpetrate it, though these rationales seem perverse and inscrutable from the outside.
by Aaron Gookins | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 3:59pm | 0 comments
The Special Air Service’s (SAS) longest serving member, Ken Connor, with the assistance of a career author and historian, David Hebditch, examine military coup successes and failures from around the globe in their work; How to Stage a Military Coup: From Planning to Execution.  As the title suggests, the authors claim to provide a step-by-step guide to planning and executing a military coup but miss the mark.  The authors utilize a historical case study method throughout the work with comical interjections, often ill-timed, to present the analysis of over 20 coups. The end result is a book that is historically grounded, supplies a reasonably supported list of indicators of coup likelihood, and entertainment; but fails to offer a true framework for execution. 
by Matthew A. Lauder | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 3:47pm | 0 comments
The emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and a lack of clear and definitive information and guidance by public health organizations and national and regional governments, coupled with heightened collective anxiety, created the perfect storm for the promulgation of disinformation and other manipulative and deceitful content. The Russian government has been one of the most prolific offenders, seeking to generate disruptive effects in targeted countries. This article examines the mechanics of how the Russian government generates disruptive effects through COVID-19 disinformation, as well as discussing implications for NATO and its partners.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm, by John P. Sullivan, by Nathan P. Jones, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 12/23/2020 - 11:49pm | 0 comments
An assassin (sicario) shot former Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval in the bathroom of the Distrito/5 bar in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco on Friday, 18 December 2020. He succumbed to his injuries. The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) is suspected; however, other actors and political motivations can’t be ruled out in this direct attack.
by Richard McManamon | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:34pm | 1 comment
Since taking office, President Trump has challenged the global order with his “America First” approach. He has questioned the role of the US and its Allies within NATO, exited the Paris Climate Accord, and entered into a trade battle with China. At the same time, the Trump administration has positioned both Russia and China as strategic rivals to the US and the new rise to great power competition. In the last decade, the US has witnessed aggressive actions by both countries in an effort to carve out new spheres of influence.
by Kaman Lykins | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:15pm | 0 comments
War is one of the oldest and most terrible of human endeavors and Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) is war at its conventional zenith. Of course, most would agree that reducing the effects of war to a simple calculus of blood and treasure is crass and callous. Yet these two cursory measurements can shed light upon the sheer devastation war can, and has repeatedly, wrought.
by Jonathan F. Lancelot | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:07pm | 2 comments
On November 10th, 2020, the Secretary-General of the United Nations reported, "massacres by non-state armed groups in several villages in northern Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province including the reported beheading and kidnapping of women and children" (United Nations). The news of these crimes against humanity broadcasted worldwide via the internet. The ability of information on crimes like these to potentially end up in front of hundreds of thousands if not millions of human beings is a glimpse of a future where humanity can quickly react to and mitigate a slaughter.