Sunday, June 18, 2017
Of course it would not be a new Korean War but a continuation of the current one that was temporarily suspended by the 1953 Armistice. But we do not always get to choose the titles of our articles.
Monday, June 12, 2017
It is with great sadness that I pass this on. I am sure there will be complete obituaries telling his amazing story in coming days.
He of course retired just as I was entering the Army so I never served with him. However, one of my bosses gave me a xeroxed copy of his 20 Characteristics of Special Operations, Special Operations Planning Suggestions, and Six Requirements of Special Operations in the 1980's and I have been carrying them around with me every since. They can be read here on my blog: http://maxoki161.blogspot.com/2014/03/20-characteristics-of-special.html
Retired US Army Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson dead at 93
RICE, Va. — Retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Wilson, who had a long military and intelligence career and was president of Hampden-Sydney College from 1992 to 2000, has died, the college announced. He was 93.
Wilson, who was known as “General Sam,” died Saturday at his home in Rice, Virginia.
Wilson served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and was known for coining the term “counter-insurgency” as well as for helping to create Delta Force, the U.S. Army’s special forces group.
Long before that, he joined the Army as a 16-year-old private in 1940. He taught guerrilla and counter-guerrilla tactics at the Infantry School at Fort Benning in Georgia in 1942 and 1943. He became a first lieutenant at the age of 19 and was chief reconnaissance officer for a unit known as Merrill’s Marauders, which operated behind enemy lines in Burma during World War II.
At the end of the war, he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, which was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Southeast Asia. He later worked as a CIA officer in West Berlin and a defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during the Cold War.
Wilson retired from the Army in 1977 and became a political science professor at Hampden-Sydney while continuing to consult with officials in Washington.
Hampden-Sydney President Larry Stimpert says Wilson steered the college through a difficult period when enrollment growth slowed and the college considered whether to allow women. The governing board ultimately decided to keep college all-male, and under Wilson’s leadership, enrollment growth resumed and the endowment nearly doubled. Hampden-Sydney remains one of the nation’s few remaining private colleges for men.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Good to see that Congress remains concerned with unconventional warfare. I asked this question two years ago: Congress Has Embraced Unconventional Warfare: Will the US Military and The Rest of the US Government?http://
smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/ congress-has-embraced- unconventional-warfare-will- the-us-military-and-the-rest- of-the-us-go
I am still waiting for an answer.
You can read Johns Hopkins APL's study on Russia's Little Green Men referenced in the article at this link: http://www.jhuapl.edu/
Countering 'little green men': Pentagon special ops studies Russia ‘gray zone’ conflict
The Pentagon is studying gray zone conflict – otherwise known as hybrid warfare – beginning with a focus on Russia and later moving on to study Iran and China, the acting assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told members of Congress.
On the heels of a Johns Hopkins University study on the nature of Russian unconventional warfare, U.S. Special Operations – through the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office within ASD SO/LIC – is looking at “developing predictive analytic technologies that will help us identify when countries are utilizing unconventional warfare techniques at levels essentially below our normal observation thresholds,” Theresa Whelan said during a May 2 House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing.
The study will help identify early evidence of unconventional warfare, she added, noting that once her office completes the research on Russian unconventional warfare, it will move on to developing a strategy for Iran and China.
Russian aggression has been characterized by the insertion of “little green men,” special forces that try to discreetly rile up ethnic Russians against the West in countries along its border. Russia’s surprise annexation of Crimea in 2014 has sparked fear in surrounding countries that something similar could take place within their own borders.
And Russia’s behavior in Ukraine and along the Baltic States continue to cause heartburn and worry among the U.S. and its European and NATO allies.
Recently, the top U.S. military commander in Europe said the U.S. has not done enough to reinforce its own and NATO’s nascent efforts to fight Russia’s prolific propaganda against European allies – considered to be classic “gray zone” activity.
By definition, special operations forces in the region would likely be among the first to notice such activity.
The fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act required the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with other U.S. government departments and agencies to develop a strategy to counter unconventional warfare threats posed by adversarial state and non-state actors. Unconventional warfare “means activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, or guerrilla force in a denied area,” according to the legislation.
The strategy was due to Congress no later than 180 days following enactment.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, asked during the hearing, for an update, noting delivery of the unconventional warfare strategy to Congress was roughly two years late.
The Pentagon has “had to shift resources to focus on this and develop capabilities and knowledge bases that had, to a certain extent, atrophied over the years,” Whelan said. “But also, the nature of UW has fundamentally changed because of 21st century technologies and techniques. We really in many ways have been starting from scratch.”
In order to complete the strategy, Whelan added, the Pentagon is working with interagency partners – acknowledgement
that UW poses multiple threats to the U.S. government “because of the ways that our adversaries are using it.”
Studies already conducted by the Pentagon, as well as Georgetown University on UW has shown adversaries, “particularly the more sophisticated ones,” are focusing on “seams between our organizational entities and trying to exploit those seams and decision-making cycles in order to gain advantage on us in the space that essentially is below conventional war,” Whelan said.
She added the Pentagon does expect to have an interim “answer with our thoughts” delivered to Congress before the end of June.
The study focused on Russian UW, will feed into the greater strategy. Looking through a Russian lens also makes sense from a special operations perspective because countering the Russian threat is its number two priority. There are roughly 1,400 special operations forces deployed to protect against Russian aggression.
Gen. Raymond Thomas, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, echoed Whelan during the same hearing, stating, “We’re working closely with the department for the overall strategy, but I think as importantly and more practically, we’re focused on the resources and authorities that would underpin that strategy. So we actually are having some pretty substantive discussions specifically as it applies towards countering Russian aggression.”
Monday, May 15, 2017
Of course Security Force Assistance (SFA) in its present form was not invented until 2008 when the wheel of FID was reinvented.
The one lesson that we should learn is that SFA or FID does not work unless there is a strategy that it supports (a strategy with balance and coherency among ends, ways, and means) and this must include the political objectives to be achieved. We think that if we simply train security forces that they will somehow magically succeed for us. We pay lip service to "through, with, and by" and treat it as a silver bullet because we have no idea how hard it really is to accomplish political
objectives indirectly when by definition you are not in complete control and dependent on indigenous forces that are not the equivalent of US forces despite us trying to create them in our image through SFA.
Below this article I have pasted my Eight Points of Special Warfare, LTG Cleveland's comments about indigenous forces and my description of Frank Hoffman's principle of understanding.
Regarding the discussion of Korea in the article: We should remember that our FID/SFA security assistance efforts prior to 1950 likely contributed to the failure of the ROK Army on June 25, 1950. Based on poor assessment and erroneous assumptions we refused to allow the ROK military to develop a combat capable force capable of both combined arms defense and maneuver. We allowed only a constabulary force to be established to defend against north Korea subversion. We allowed this force to restrict the ROK from being able to attack the north to achieve unification. And of course the Soviets and the Chinese placed no such restrictions on the north and when 100,000 combat hardened soldiers returned from the Chinese Civil War they were provided with Soviet T-34 tanks and the rest is history. We of course learned our lesson and help the ROK to develop a military that is optimized for combined operations (ROK and US) with interoperability and not necessarily completely independent
The Trump administration wants to send more military advisers to Afghanistan. Good luck with that.
Marines salute during a handover ceremony at Camp Leatherneck in Lashkar Gah, in the Afghan province of Helmand. They returned there April 29, as embattled Afghan security forces struggled to beat back the resurgent Taliban.Photo by: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images
Senior Trump administration officials have proposed sending 3,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Their mission? Advise and assist Afghan security forces.
The Obama administration’s plan was much the same. So is the U.S. strategy for Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania and many other locations around the world. In all these places, U.S. strategy relies on Security Force Assistance (SFA): using a small U.S. force to advise, train, equip and assist local allies to do the difficult ground fighting that Americans would rather avoid.
There’s a reason Security Force Assistance is so common. But it rarely works.
Why is SFA so widely used? The United States faces threats to interests that are real but often limited. U.S. officials feel the need to do something, but they are unwilling to send tens of thousands of American troops. SFA’s low cost and small footprint makes it look like a cheap solution that seems appropriate to the stakes.
But results are often disappointing. The massive train-and-equip program in Iraq after 2003 yielded an army that dissolved facing Islamic State forces in the June 2014 offensive in Mosul. SFA operations in Afghanistan and
Pakistan fared little better.
That’s no accident. As we show in our recently published paper in the Journal of Strategic Studies, the low-cost SFA strategy rarely succeeds. Only when the host nation’s interests align very closely with Washington’s — and when the U.S. presence is both substantial and conditional — can SFA really substitute for a larger U.S. troop deployment.
Why Security Force Assistance often goes to waste
The United States rarely conducts SFA missions in Switzerland or Canada — because allies like these don’t need it. Rather, SFA usually goes to weak states with corrupt, unrepresentative regimes whose military shortcomings gave rise to the need for assistance in the first place.
This weakness also leads to a mismatch between U.S. interests and those of SFA recipients. Americans are looking for a local partner to fight an external threat, such as the Islamic State. But local leaders are typically more concerned with threats to their own rule from other elites within their state, especially the risk of a coup d’etat from dissatisfied officers or militia leaders.
SFA partners thus have a strong incentive to use U.S. aid to bolster their own internal security, rather than for whatever military operations that the United States wants.
Host regimes therefore often look the other way when their officers sell U.S. supplies on the black market, pocket the U.S.-provided salaries of “ghost soldiers,” use U.S.-provided equipment to settle scores with rival groups or extort protection payments from local civilians. This kind of corruption buys the loyalty of heavily armed elites who might otherwise be rivals, and it protects the regime’s internal political position. But it saps military readiness and undermines combat motivation: Why should Afghan or Iraqi soldiers risk their lives in combat for corrupt, cronyist officers who care only about lining their own pockets? The result is a military designed for internal politics, not for effectiveness against the external enemies that Americans care about.
Security Force Assistance can work, but only if the stars align and the conditions are right
In our paper, we looked at three historical examples where the United States sent significant security force assistance: Iraq from 2003-2014, El Salvador from 1979-1992, and South Korea from 1949-1953. These examples show just how hard it is to pull off SFA successfully.
In Iraq, the United States invested more than $25 billion on the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), deployed thousands of trainers and advisers, and by 2007 fielded more than 100,000 other U.S. troops to provide security until the ISF could take over. Yet the resulting Iraqi military collapsed in June 2014 when challenged by numerically inferior Islamic State fighters in Mosul. How could all this assistance produce so little real military power?
Here’s the problem: The U.S. and Iraqi governments had two very different visions for the ISF. The United States wanted trained military technocrats who could defeat the insurgency. The Iraqi regimes of Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki, however, saw that kind of ISF as a danger to their power, not an asset. The regime preferred a corrupt military it could control to a professionalized one it could not. All that U.S. effort thus created a military that was well-suited to Jaafari’s or Maliki’s internal political requirements, but a very poor tool for defeating ISIS.
The Salvadoran civil war, by contrast, is often seen as an SFA success story. Between 1979 and 1982, $5 billion in U.S. aid and fewer than 200 American advisers helped the Salvadoran government survive the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front insurgency. And U.S. SFA certainly was helpful. Without it, the government could well have fallen.
Yet a closer look reveals that the results of the U.S. investment in SFA were only modest. The Salvadoran regime shared the U.S. goal of preventing its overthrow, but the regime also wanted to preserve its internal position. Hence the regime permitted just enough military improvement to keep the FMLN from toppling the government, but never enough for the army to get proficient enough to deliver a knockout blow. As a result, the war lapsed into a long, bloody deadlock that ended only when the Cold War came to a close. The net result was a real — but limited — payoff for SFA.
The one major SFA success we examine — Korea — is the exception that proves just how hard it is to do effectively. When North Korea invaded the South in June 1950, a weak, corrupt South Korean army collapsed. For South Korean President Syngman Rhee, the threat of outside conquest by North Korea now posed a more immediate threat than internal violence. His personal interests now aligned with that of the Americans in an urgent need to defeat a strong external enemy.
The United States rapidly expanded its aid, but it also monitored its use and threatened to withdraw assistance from Korean units that didn’t professionalize to U.S. standards. Since Rhee was more threatened by North Korean conquest than by a coup from within, he accepted these conditions and permitted politically risky military reforms that Iraqi and Salvadoran elites resisted. The result was major improvement in South Korean military proficiency by 1953. But the Korean case shows just how much the stars must align for SFA to work.
Sending more usually isn’t the answer
U.S. officials and politicians often see SFA as engineering rather than politics: Just send enough military aid and an ally’s forces will improve. When SFA falls short, as it often does, this implies the aid wasn’t enough — and so critics call for more.
But this view misses the key fact that SFA often directly affects local politics. SFA is unlikely to work unless the U.S. invests enough to gain leverage over its local host, and puts conditions on that aid to help ensure that the partner’s military really does improve.
On balance, then, SFA does not really offer a free lunch. Where limited U.S. interests mean that the U.S. will not deploy large numbers of its own troops, SFA will not yield major results from minor investments. For the foreseeable future, small footprints mean small payoffs for the United States.
Stephen Biddle is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and adjunct senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Julia Macdonald is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House and an assistant professor at the University of Denver.
Ryan Baker is a PhD candidate at George Washington University.
Eight Points of Special Warfare:
If there is an indigenous contribution to the solution of a complex political-military problem apply the Eight Points of Special Warfare (which apply to both UW and FID).
1. Must determine the acceptable, durable, political arrangement that can achieved. Without this clearly articulated and understood there is no way to achieve unity of effort or to judge mission success. I think Congress must demand this from the Administration.
2. Eliot Cohen & John Gooch: Military Misfortune: All military failures are a result of a failure learn, failure to adapt, and failure to anticipate. Look at Mali and Yemen. Did we anticipate the Turegs and the Houthis? I would submit that SOF on the ground reported on the growing threats to Mali and Yemen yet our myopic focus on CT blinded us at the strategic level.
3. Larry Cable (the discredited COIN theorist who wrote Conflict of Myths) The three P’s: Presence, Patience, Persistence. You have to be present to make a difference. You have to be patient because it takes a long time to influence indigenous forces and develop indigenous capabilities. It takes persistence because mistakes will be made, every operation will include discovery learning and we will have to learn and adapt.
4. Assessment - must conduct continuous assessment to gain understanding - tactical, operational, and strategic. Assessments are key to developing strategy and campaign plans and anticipating potential conflict. Assessments allow you to challenge assumptions and determine is a rebalance of ends, ways, and means is required.
5. Assure US and indigenous interests are sufficiently aligned. If indigenous and US interests are not sufficiently aligned the mission will fail. If the US has stronger interest than the indigenous forces we can create an “assistance paradox” - if the indigenous forces believe the US mission is "no fail” then the US forces will not allow them to fail and therefore they do not need to try too hard. They may very well benefit from long term US aid and support.
6. Employ the right forces for the right mission. US SOF, conventional, civilian agency, indigenous forces. Always based on assessment and thorough understanding of the problem and available resources and capabilities. Cannot over rely on one force to do everything.
7. Learn how to operate without being in charge. If we usurp the mission indigenous forces will never be successful on their own. You cannot pay lip service to advising and assisting. This is why operations in Colombia and the Philippines achieve some level of success. This is not “leading from behind.” This is the appropriate understanding of the relationship between USSF/SOF and indigenous forces in a sovereign nation or with indigenous forces seeking self determination of government.
8. Campaigning - we have to develop the campaign plan to determine the resources and authorities - and then execute the campaign - we have to get good at campaigning and it has to be more than a military campaign. While disrupting terrorist attacks and attacking terrorist networks, finances and auxiliaries are important they are not a strategy. They can be part of a strategy and campaign but they are not sufficient. We have to campaign beyond counter-terrorism with a campaign focused on attacking the enemy’s strategy. This requires deep understanding to include especially understanding the enemy’s political objectives. Once we understand the enemy ways and means can be employed to counter the enemy’s strategy and his political objectives. Campaigning is important because it will orchestrate all the activities to achieve the strategic objectives or the acceptable, durable political arrangement we seek. Campaigns identify the resources necessary (forces, bases, funding). Campaigns identify the authorities necessary. Although many in the military and government desire blanket authorities that is not the right way to operate. However, establishing programs and funding lines such as 1206, 1207, 1208, and 1209 are not effective either. Authorities need to be specifically applied to each campaign. And with an approved campaign plan Congress can more effectively provide oversight rather than managing funding programs. Focusing on effective campaigning can discipline the application of the military instrument of power. Of course it would useful for other elements of national power to be able to “campaign” as well. (As an aside, we perhaps need to take another look at the 1997 PDD 56 which was for the management of complex contingency operations in the interagency – a disciplined process to orchestrate US government agencies and harmonize the instruments of power.)
· A Principle of Special Warfare: "Go early, go small, go local, go long” LTG(R) Charles T. Cleveland remarks at NDU November 30, 2015
· Understanding indigenous forces: ”Potential allies always start as at least unproven. It is hard work that starts with assessments and making the best of who you have, seeking to improve your position (and your partners’) over time.” LTG (R) Charles T. Cleveland, email January 18, 2016 (Note: This can apply to resistance in nK)
· Frank Hoffman's Principle of Understanding. I am a supporter of Dr. Frank Hoffman’s idea that we need a new principle of war called understanding. Although that seems like a no-brainer – as far back as Sun Tzu we have be told that we must know our enemies and know ourselves to be victorious. We all know we need to understand war and warfare, the conditions that give rise to conflict, and the politics that lead to and endconflict. Yet even though the need for understanding is so obvious that we think we do not need to even mention it, it is surprising how so many of our failures can be traced to our lack of understanding. SOF, through its various assessment capabilities and engagement with indigenous populations can make a key contribution to understanding.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Will we ever understand unconventional warfare? I am reminded of this excellent analogy I heard at lunch yesterday with one of my good friends and SF brothers:
"UW is to Warfare as Acupuncture is to Medicine” COL (RET) Jack Jensen, US Army SF, 3 May 2017
Georgetown appreciates the shout out. And Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab has done great work on Russia's Little Green Men (and assessing revolutionary and insurgent strategies). Note the heavy emphasis on cyber and UW. COL Pat Duggan (US Army SF) is one of the leading (or perhaps only) thinkers in the SOF community on cyber and particularly cyber in the human domain which is especially relevant and important to influence political resistance and conducting political warfare which is a major component of unconventional warfare. Read Pat's latest work here: http://smallwarsjournal.
com/jrnl/art/tactical-cema-in- cognitive-spaces or his award winning article Strategic Development of Special Warfare in Cyberspace in Joint Force Quarterly here: http://ndupress.ndu.edu/JFQ/ Joint-Force-Quarterly-79/ Article/621123/strategic- development-of-special- warfare-in-cyberspace/
I would quibble with the idea that the nature of unconventional warfare has changed as it is and always has been about political resistance at the very heart. Sure there are new characteristics and capabilities but in the end this is a very human endeavor and all the technology in the world is not going to change its nature.
The Pentagon is two years late in supplying Congress with a study on new strategies for countering unconventional warfare threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, chairwoman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats, pressed a senior Pentagon official on the subject during a hearing Tuesday. The study was required in 2015 legislation.“This strategy, which is now almost two years late, ultimately can help provide a way to ensure that our ends, ways and means are aligned to help counter these unconventional threats,” said Ms. Stefanik, New York Republican.Unconventional warfare is the use of nonkinetic warfare capabilities ranging from cyber and electronic attacks to “influence operations” using political, media and legal means.In response, Theresa Whelan, assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said unconventional warfare is an emerging threat and the Pentagon is studying the issue. Ms. Whelan noted that the military’s counterterrorism mission has been the main focus of low-intensity conflict.“We have, as a consequence, had to shift resources to focus on this and develop capabilities and knowledge bases that had, to certain extent, atrophied over the years,” she said.“But also, because the nature of UW has fundamentally changed because of 21st-century technologies and techniques, we really in many ways have been starting from scratch. And that has been one of the challenges that we’ve faced as we dug into this over the last 18 to 24 months.”Russia used hybrid warfare to take over Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and its cyber-enabled influence operation targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election. China has been using similar information operations in its bid to gradually take control of the South China Sea.Examples of Iranian information operations have included cyberattacks on U.S. banks and a waterway control system in upstate New York.North Korea has used extensive cyberattacks to achieve objectives — including the cyberattack on Sony Picture Entertainment and cyberattacks on banks in Asia that netted the regime in Pyongyang tens of million of dollars.The Pentagon is working with other U.S. government agencies to deal with what Ms. Whalen called “multiple threats” from foreign information operations.Georgetown University has conducted a study for the Pentagon that found that America’s adversaries are “focusing on the seams between our organizational entities and trying to exploit those seams and decision-making cycles in order to gain advantage on us in the space that essentially is below conventional war — the space that we now refer to as the gray zone or hybrid warfare,” Ms. Whalen said.Two research projects are underway on the topic of unconventional warfare, one at Johns Hopkins University on Russian hybrid warfare, and a Pentagon research effort to develop predictive analytic technologies.The technologies “will help us identify when countries are utilizing unconventional warfare techniques at levels essentially below our normal observation thresholds,” Ms. Whalen said.After the Russia unconventional warfare strategy is completed, the Pentagon will look at Chinese and Iranian unconventional warfare threats, she added. “This continues to be an evolving threat.”
Chinese supercomputers threaten U.S. security
China is eclipsing the United States in developing high-speed supercomputers used to build advanced weapons, and the loss of American leadership in the field poses a threat to U.S. national security.
That’s the conclusion of a recent joint National Security Agency-Energy Department study, based on an assessment of China’s new supercomputer called the TaihuLight.
“National security requires the best computing available, and loss of leadership in [high-performance computing] will severely compromise our national security,” the report warns.
Supercomputers play a “vital role” in the design, development and analysis of almost all modern weapons systems, including nuclear weapons, cyberwarfare capabilities, ships, aircraft, communications security, missile defense, precision-strike capabilities and hypersonic weapons, the report said.
China is rapidly developing hypersonic strike missiles that can deliver conventional and nuclear payloads by maneuvering past advanced missile defenses.
“Loss of leadership in [high-performance computing] could significantly reduce the U.S. nuclear deterrence and the sophistication of our future weapons systems,” the report says.
“Conversely, if China fields a weapons system with new capabilities based on superior [high-performance computing], and the U.S. cannot accurately estimate its true capabilities, there is a serious possibility of over- or underestimating the threat.”
A copy of the 18-page report, “U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing (HPC): A Report from the NSA-DOE Technical Meeting on High Performance Computing,” dated Dec. 1, has been obtained by Inside the Ring.
Chinese supremacy in computer capabilities also could produce distortions in allocating defense funds for U.S. research and development, and strategic policymaking and result in “incorrect responses to world events,” the report said.
Currently, the United States has a cost-effective supercomputer capability. But loss of U.S. leadership in the field would result in acquisition of supercomputers in ways similar to Pentagon acquisition of aircraft carriers — at vastly increased costs.
For industrial applications, if the United States were to become reliant on Chinese supercomputers, it “could threaten the loss of intellectual property and competitive edge.”
“Personal email and private information, social networks and the emerging Internet of Things are all subject to even greater privacy risks if offshore entities have superior HPC analytics or control the data/information markets,” the report said.
The report called for a surge in U.S. government investment and action in supercomputing, including the priorities outlined in the 2016 National Strategic Computing Initiative Plan.
Energy Department national laboratories and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity are working on cutting-edge supercomputers.
The study was based on a two-day conference in September of some 60 experts, including 40 from U.S. government agencies, 10 from the technology industry and 10 from academia and other organizations.
PENTAGON LATE WITH HYBRID WARFARE STUDY
The Pentagon is two years late in supplying Congress with a study on new strategies for countering unconventional warfare threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, chairwoman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats, pressed a senior Pentagon official on the subject during a hearing Tuesday. The study was required in 2015 legislation.
“This strategy, which is now almost two years late, ultimately can help provide a way to ensure that our ends, ways and means are aligned to help counter these unconventional threats,” said Ms. Stefanik, New York Republican.
Unconventional warfare is the use of nonkinetic warfare capabilities ranging from cyber and electronic attacks to “influence operations” using political, media and legal means.
In response, Theresa Whelan, assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said unconventional warfare is an emerging threat and the Pentagon is studying the issue. Ms. Whelan noted that the military’s counterterrorism mission has been the main focus of low-intensity conflict.
“We have, as a consequence, had to shift resources to focus on this and develop capabilities and knowledge bases that had, to certain extent, atrophied over the years,” she said.
“But also, because the nature of UW has fundamentally changed because of 21st-century technologies and techniques, we really in many ways have been starting from scratch. And that has been one of the challenges that we’ve faced as we dug into this over the last 18 to 24 months.”
Russia used hybrid warfare to take over Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and its cyber-enabled influence operation targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election. China has been using similar information operations in its bid to gradually take control of the South China Sea.
Examples of Iranian information operations have included cyberattacks on U.S. banks and a waterway control system in upstate New York.
North Korea has used extensive cyberattacks to achieve objectives — including the cyberattack on Sony Picture Entertainment and cyberattacks on banks in Asia that netted the regime in Pyongyang tens of million of dollars.
The Pentagon is working with other U.S. government agencies to deal with what Ms. Whalen called “multiple threats” from foreign information operations.
Georgetown University has conducted a study for the Pentagon that found that America’s adversaries are “focusing on the seams between our organizational entities and trying to exploit those seams and decision-making cycles in order to gain advantage on us in the space that essentially is below conventional war — the space that we now refer to as the gray zone or hybrid warfare,” Ms. Whalen said.
Two research projects are underway on the topic of unconventional warfare, one at Johns Hopkins University on Russian hybrid warfare, and a Pentagon research effort to develop predictive analytic technologies.
The technologies “will help us identify when countries are utilizing unconventional warfare techniques at levels essentially below our normal observation thresholds,” Ms. Whalen said.
After the Russia unconventional warfare strategy is completed, the Pentagon will look at Chinese and Iranian unconventional warfare threats, she added. “This continues to be an evolving threat.”
REPORT CALLS FOR DEFEATING JIHADIS ONLINE
The global Islamic terrorist movement could not function without the internet and defeating terrorism online is possible, according to a report by the Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI).
“Jihadi organizations used the web to recruit supporters and fighters, provide practical instruction and manuals for terror operations including car bomb and ramming attacks, make arch-terrorists into heroic models for emulation, and raise funds for their activity,” the report says. “The internet provided them with an ideal vehicle for spreading their ideas, even to young children.”
Recently, social media companies have begun to lose advertising revenue as a result of hateful content on their sites. Companies including Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, General Motors, Wal-Mart, AT&T and HSBC have pulled ads to protest terrorist videos, the report said.
Governments also are pressuring media to remove hateful speech, and families have begun to sue internet companies for carrying content that incited and radicalized terrorists who killed relatives.
The MEMRI report said the measures are good first steps but that more needs to be done. The internet should be purged of jihadi propaganda and incitement content through financial investments, and new technologies could identify and remove jihadi material.
“Purging the internet of jihadi content can deal with terrorism at its source, and can have an immediate impact on recruitment, indoctrination and training of terrorists,” the report said. “This will significantly reduce the threat which will, in turn, enable Western democracies to reduce the degree of infringement upon our liberties, freedoms and daily life.”
• Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.
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