Thursday, May 9, 2019

The 70 Year Consensus

Congressman Mac Thornberry's conversation at the Foundation for defense of Democracies Center for Military and Political Power Conference. This 30 minute video is very much worth the time to watch.

He asked the key question that we should reflect upon deeply:

Monday, May 6, 2019

“North Korea: What are the Prospects for Regime Change from Within?” Political Defiance is Necessary in North Korea

My remarks presented at this event are below.

“North Korea: What are the Prospects for
Regime Change from Within?”
North Korea Freedom Week Defector Delegation
Special opening remarks by David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
WHEN:  Friday, May 3, 2019, 12:00 noon - 2 pm
WHERE: 2168 Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill
Is there any hope that the Kim family’s 70 year plus reign of terror can be peacefully brought to an end by the very people who have escaped?  North Korean defectors visiting Washington, D.C. for the 16th annual North Korea Freedom Week will answer that question and discuss their work aimed at bringing peaceful unification to Korea and the end of the Kim Jong Un regime.  The presenters are all targeted by Kim Jong un for assassination: Kim Seong Min of Free North Korea Radio, Park Sang Hak of Fighters for Free North Korea, Kim Heung-Kwang of North Korean Intellectuals Solidarity, Hu Kwang il of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea and Choi Jeung Hun of the North Korea People’s Liberation Front.
RSVP REQUIRED FOR ADMITTANCE (acceptances only): For more information, contact Suzanne here

Political Defiance is Necessary in North Korea
by David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Thank you Suzanne for the kind introduction.
It is truly an honor to be here with these brave Koreans from the north who have escaped from the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State we know as north Korea.  Anyone who has survived the north and escaped has my deepest respect and admiration.

As a retired Special Forces soldier, I still believe in our motto – “de oppresso liber” – to free the oppressed.  And more accurately what Green Berets try to do is to help the oppressed free themselves. I hope the day will soon come when 25 million Koreans in the north can throw off the yoke of oppression that is around their necks as a result of the actions of the mafia-like crime family cult we know as the Kim family regime.

It is my belief that the only way we will see an end to the nuclear and missile programs and the crimes against humanity being committed in the north is through the solution of the “Korea question” which was outlined in paragraph 60 of the 1953 Armistice.  The military commanders called on the political leaders of all concerned parties to come together within 90 days of the signing to solve the Korea question which is the unnatural division of the peninsula.  We have been waiting for nearly 66 years for this to happen.

As I study the security situation in Korea there are five fundamental questions that are on the forefront of my mind and should be considered as we try to understand the situation and chart a way ahead that will serve, protect, and advance US and ROK/US alliance interests and the interests of the 25 million Koreans suffering in the north.  The first two are policy questions and the next three are intelligence questions that we must seek to understand and answer.

1.  What do we want to achieve in Korea?

2.  What is the acceptable durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US and ROK/US Alliance interests on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia?

3.  Do we believe that Kim Jong-un will ever abandon the seven decades old strategy of subversion, coercion-extortion (blackmail diplomacy), and use of force to achieve unification dominated by the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State in order to ensure the survival of the mafia like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime?

4.  In support of that strategy do we believe that Kim Jong-un will abandon the objective to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the peninsula?  Will KJU give up his divide and conquer strategy - divide the alliance and conquer the ROK?

I think the answer to both questions 3 and 4 is no.  He will never give up his political warfare strategy that he is executing every day against the ROK, the US, and the international community.

5.  The most important fifth and final question is: Who does Kim fear more: The US or the Korean people in the north? I think we all know the answer to this question due to the very nature of regime and its institutionalized system of oppression and tyrannical dictatorial rule.  But it is the answer to this question that provides the way forward to solve the Korea question.  While the solution may come as a result of war or regime collapse the best way is for it to come from within – from within the 25 million Koreans living in the north.

The answers to these questions should guide us to the strategy to solve the "Korea question" and lead to the only acceptable durable political arrangement: A secure, stable, economically vibrant, non-nuclear Korean peninsula unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.  In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).

As we consider the threats from the north, to include its nuclear and conventional forces and its global illicit activities from counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and slave labor to cyber attacks, the most important and overlooked one is the north’s use of subversion to undermine the legitimacy of the ROK.  The regime has committed tremendous effort to trying to subvert the South and at the same time has developed the most sophisticated system to prevent internal subversion in the north.  It fears subversive activities against the regime most of all.  And the most subversive activity comes in the form of information and influence activities.

What is subversion?
  • The undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution.
    • As in: "the ruthless subversion of democracy" versus “the effective subversion of a dictatorship.”

At the very root of the problem Koreans are in an Ideological War – which really is about the choice of values the Korean people in the north and South want to live by:

·      Shared ROK/US Values:
o   Freedom and individual liberty, liberal democracy, free market economy, and human rights
·      Kim family regime (KFR) “values”
o   Juche/Kimilsungism, Socialist Workers Paradise, Songun, Songbun, Byungjin, and denial of human rights to sustain the KFR in power

The choice between these values belongs to all Koreans.

I am a great fan of Gene Sharp and Robert Helvey.  Gene Sharp wrote the seminal work “From Dictatorship to Democracy.” One of the most important concepts is Political Defiance which was coined by Robert Helvey.  “Political defiance” is used principally to describe action by populations to regain from dictatorships control over governmental institutions by relentlessly attacking their sources of power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do so.  This is one of the most important lines of effort to solving the Korea question.

There are four paths to a United Republic of Korea.

1. The first path is Peaceful – this is most unlikely but counterintuitively the one the ROK can and must prepare for with the help of the US and international community.  It is the morally right focus and should be the foundation for all overt policy development and planning and in fact has been the alliance vision for the past three ROK and two US Presidents.  I would argue that everything planned for peaceful unification – economic integration, political integration, cultural integration, and even military integration will be necessary in any of the other three paths.  Unification, whether peaceful or otherwise, must result in a United Republic of Korea with no traces left of the Kim family regime.

2. The second path is War – It is the fastest way to unification as it will result in the defeat of the nKPA and destruction of the Kim family regime infrastructure.  But it is too costly in blood and treasure; therefore, we must work to deter war.

3.  The third path is regime collapse – while this might seem like a good path it is also fraught with danger, complexity, uncertainty, and most likely some level of conflict up to and including war.

4. The fourth path is the outlier but may be the best answer and that is regime removal and replacement with a political power who will seek peaceful unification to create a United Republic of Korea.  The most important tool in developing the political defiance that can lead to this outcome is information and influence activities.

An aggressive information and influence activities campaign must be sustained over time.  In the US we describe it this way:  Information and Influence Activities comprise “the integration of designated information related capabilities in order to synchronize themes, messages, and actions with operations to inform United States and global audiences, influence foreign audiences, and affect adversary and enemy decision making.

In the context of north Korea we need to influence three broad target audiences:  the regime elite and its decision making but also more critically to undermine regime legitimacy.  Next is the second tier leadership – those leaders outside the regime who possess power – namely military power such as the division, corps, and army commanders. We must remove their will to both attack the South and suppress the Korean people in the north.  The third are the Korean people themselves who must be supported as they develop and execute political defiance against the regime and who must be prepared for the establishment of a United Republic of Korea.  In short, we must attack the legitimacy of the regime, remove the will to oppress the Korean people by the second tier leadership, and prepare the Korean people for political defiance and unification.

Of course, Clausewitz said “in war everything is simple but even the simplest thing is hard.”  We should keep in mind this is an ideological war that is fought with information and influence.  It is easy for me to say and describe this, but it is complex, uncertain, and hard in execution.  Fortunately, we have experts in this process who can lead us in the hard work.  These heroes, who have escaped from the oppression in the north, know what it takes to influence their fellow Koreans.  We should listen to their wisdom but more importantly we must support their efforts.  I pledge to do so and I urge all of you to do the same.

Thank you.
David Maxwell is a retired U.S, Army Special Forces Colonel and a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He also contributes to FDD’s Center for Military and Political Power. Follow him on Twitter at @davidmaxwell161. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CMPP. FDD is a Washington-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An American Way of Political Warfare A Proposal

An American Way of Political Warfare

A Proposal

American combat experiences since 2001 have revealed stunning military capabilities and repeated tactical successes. Yet the United States has failed to achieve acceptable and durable political arrangements that serve and protect its interests, suggesting that there are fundamental flaws in its approach to modern warfare. This approach has emphasized conventional models and tools, making little accommodation for a changing adversary and its evolution toward nonconventional means, and the United States has proven unprepared for what the National Security Strategy has recognized as "fundamentally political contests" combining political, economic, cyber, and military means.
The authors propose the establishment of an American political warfare capability to orchestrate all relevant elements of U.S. national power in response to these nonconventional threats, both in war and in peace. This capability must be jointly funded and supported by both the Department of Defense and the Department of State, because of the requirement to operate in contests with and without armed conflict, with vital roles for the Intelligence Community and the United States Agency for International Development. Given political warfare's deliberate whole-of-government nature, the establishment of this capability would require support from both the President and Congress.
Critical to the success of this capability is the establishment, alongside the requirement for the capability itself, of a national political warfare center for studying, understanding, and developing whole-of-government concepts of action (policy, strategy, and campaigns) for responding to nonconventional threats. This center would provide the United States a needed venue to study and prepare for warfare in this space between peace and war.

SOF Support to Political Warfare White Paper

Approved for public release, distribution is unlimited


SOF Support to Political Warfare
White Paper

10 March 2015

This white paper presents the concept of SOF Support to Political Warfare to leaders and
policymakers as a dynamic means of achieving national security goals and objectives.
Embracing the whole-of-government framework with significant targeted military contributions,
Political Warfare enables America’s leaders to undertake proactive strategic initiatives to shape
environments, preempt conflicts, and significantly degrade adversaries’ hybrid and asymmetric

Applied at the regional or global level, Political Warfare emerges from a persistent and
purposeful synergy of diplomatic, economic, informational, and military efforts in unified
campaigns where military contributions support the attainment of broader strategic end states.
Taking advantage of skills, methods, and approaches resident in Special Operations Forces
(SOF), Political Warfare's military aspects integrate counter-unconventional warfare (C-UW)
and unconventional warfare (UW), foreign internal defense (FID), Security Sector Assistance
(SSA), and Information and Influence Activities (IIA), closely calibrated with and in support of
those of other government departments.

Political Warfare is a strategy suited to achieve U.S. national objectives through reduced
visibility in the international geo-political environment, without committing large military forces.
Likewise, Political Warfare can function as a critical, integrating element of U.S. national power
against non-state adversaries such as the current Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Most often, the Department of Defense role in Political Warfare will be one of supporting other
U.S. Government agencies that are more likely to lead strategy and planning development.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

North Korea - All the dictator's men 42 minute documentary film)

A 42 minute video well worth watching on north Korea. It covers a number of important issues.  From Department 39 and its support to the Royal Court economy and the nuclear and missile programs to life in Pyongyang among the elite (and the scientists).  It covers cyber, overseas labor (example of Mongolia but also mentioned Kuwait and Poland), chemical weapons, the nuclear facility in Syria built with north Korean assistance, interview with Hugh Griffiths of the UN Panel of Experts.  

When discussing the regime's global illicit activities the question was asked if they are conducted in the US.  The respondent said not really  except for cyber.  The quote of the day is "We do everything we can to relieve the US of its money."

Korea watchers will recognize our good friend who used to work at Department 39 taking care of Kim Jong-il's money.  Since he was not named in the film I will not name jim but all Korea watchers will recognize him and he provides excellent insights (in English) on Department 39 and the Royal Court economy.


North Korea - All the dictator's men

North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un has not reined in its nuclear program, despite a number of UN resolutions. How did he manage that and who are the men who have helped Kim Jong Un keep his dreams of reaching nuclear power status alive?
North Korea has not reined in its nuclear program, despite a number of UN resolutions that have tried to force it to do so. So how has the isolated country kept the program going despite sanctions? Every year Pyongyang sends millions of North Korean workers abroad, selling their services to over 40 countries around the world. And their salaries flow directly into Kim’s treasury. The only ones who know exactly how the system works are the men who have helped the North Korean government carry through the program for years. A film team spent years researching these men and their secrets - from bankers and diplomats to the laborers and specialists who worked abroad and whose wages flowed into the regime's coffers. Come and meet all the dictator’s men.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea by Robert Collins

Let me say that anyone who will work in north Korea with the Korean people outside of Pyongyang must read this report.  If you are going to be inspecting nuclear sites or conducting remains recovery operations or conducting operations after conflict or after regime collapse you should read this report and take it with you when you deploy (but only if the Kim family regime is no longer in power - do not take it to north Korea under any circumstances while Kim Jong-un and the regime remain in power).   Every Special Operations soldier - SF, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations - should commit this to memory.  Every NGO and aid worker should commit this memory.  Anyone planning operations in the human domain in  north Korea should commit this to memory.  And anyone who wishes to help the Republic of Korea achieve unification ( A United Republic of Korea (UROK)) should read this report as it will provide insight and assistance on how to overcome the indoctrination and reintegrate the Korean people living in the north back into the real world.  I hope that the ROK Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Unification and the Korean Institute of National Unification will translate this into Korea so Korean soldiers and Korean NGOs can benefit from the tremendous research that went into writing this report. 

Below the summary are some excerpts of my remarks I provided at the National Press Club when Robert Collins' report was presented by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.  I will try to revise my remarks and write a review of the report.  But until then please know that I strongly recommend this report.

Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea is a comprehensive study of how North Korea’s Kim regime denies human rights for each and every citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In doing so, this report examines human rights denial policies and practices. Local institutions are responsible for this denial at the schools, housing units, workplaces, and beyond. To justify this political approach towards shaping North Korean society, the North’s Party-state specifically focuses on loyalty to North Korea’s Supreme Leader and the KWP by incorporating regime-centered ideology into every fabric of socio-political life through these local institutions.  

Along with his previous seminal works Marked for Life (Songbun) and Pyongyang Republic, this trilogy forms the basis for understanding the human domain in the north and for the necessary area studies that must be conducted by everyone engaged in NGO work in the north, those who might have to conduct military operations, the intelligence community that is charged with making sense of what is happening inside the north and negotiators who not only must consider the nuclear threats but also the human rights abuses as part of a holistic negotiations strategy.  I especially recommend this to journalists who need to understand what life is like and how human rights are denied in north Korea so that they can accurately write about the conditions and horrors that are commonly experienced by so many Koreans living in the north every single day of their lives.

The penultimate point I would like to make is that this report lays out all the human rights violations of the regime.  They are so numerous.  But one crime really stands out to me that is perhaps the most egregious of all.  The basic family unit and structure is what is most under attack by the Party-state.  The fact that the Korean people in the north, children and parents alike, cannot enjoy the wonders, the love, and the protection of family surely has to be a crime against humanity.  It saddens me that these words are in one of the most popular children’s songs:

Our Father is Marshal Kim Il-sung
Our home is the bosom of the party
We are one big family
We have nothing to envy in the whole wide world.

Finally, A key question for all of us is when the Korean people in the north are freed how will a United Republic of Korea undo the indoctrination of the Korean people that has occurred over the past 70 years.  This report will contribute to the search for the ways to do that.

Yes, I am thinking beyond the Kim family regime.  My pessimistic assessment is that there will be no end to the nuclear program nor the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity by what we know as the mafia-like crime family cult called the Kim family regime until there is a unified Korea.  The Republic of Korea needs to prepare for the future of a United Republic of Korea and one of the most critical aspects of that preparation is understanding the plight of the 25 million Koreans living in the north.  This report makes a critical contribution to that understanding.  I commend it to every person who thinks about the Korea question.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

David Maxwell

It pained me to read the latest issue of the USASOC Historian Office's publication Veritas and it pains me even more to have to write these words.  You might not be familiar with Veritas because it is not published on line, only in an expensive high gloss print publication.  The specific article in the recent edition is “The OSS Influence on Special Forces.”  The article can be downloaded HERE

The author's thesis is that since only 14 members of the OSS actually served in Special Forces their contribution was not as great as has been described over the years.  The author uses fashionable modern academic analysis focusing solely on data and numbers to reach this outrageous in this conclusion: “The result was concrete evidence of disinformation and exaggeration perpetuated by the active force and veteran associations.”  The only “concrete evidence” the author cites is the number 14.  (As an aside there were at least 15 members of the OSS who served in Special Forces from 1952 to 1954. His list fails to include Robert McDowell who served with the OSS in Yugoslavia.)

The author is trying to prove his thesis by relying on numbers.  However, he undermines his argument with this statement:
Therefore, the five former OSS instructors in the SF Department, constituting approximately one-third of the instructor cadre from 1952-1954, are the ones who provided the most influence from their OSS experiences on the developing forceBecause the five interacted with or impacted every soldier trained in the SF program at the school, they gave students undergoing instruction an exaggerated impression about the overall presence of former OSS veterans in SF.
What the author fails to recognize and appreciate is that the OSS was an organization known for two things: punching well above its weight, i.e., making outsize contributions from its small numbers; and for conducting effective influence operations. At its peak there were some 13,000 members with 7500 serving overseas which was less than one Army division while the Army fielded over 90 divisions in WWII. Its Morale Operations branch focused on “persuasion, penetration, and intimidation” to destabilize governments and mobilize indigenous resistance at the strategic and tactical level.

Rather than assess the numbers of OSS members in SF the author would do a great service by reminding readers that today’s SF assessment and selection, organization (especially the ODA), training, doctrine, and most important the foundational mission of SF, unconventional warfare, are directly related to and descended from the OSS.  For those interested I recommend perusing the USASOC web site OSS Primer and Manuals accessed HERE.  USASOC’s own website says: “Special Forces traces its roots as the Army’s premier proponent of unconventional warfare from the Operational Groups and the Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services.” I personally traced the development of SF doctrine and the unconventional warfare mission from the OSS to the present (then 1995) HERE.

Continued at Small Wars Journal here:

The 70 Year Consensus

Congressman Mac Thornberry's conversation at the Foundation for defense of Democracies Center for Military and Political Power Confer...