Sunday, January 31, 2016
I think Anthony Cordesman might have coined the phrase of the era: "Strategic Tokenism" for the use of SOF. http://bit.ly/1PYsPJj
But this article, although written by a former Army Captain with no love lost for special operations, should make one think. This entire article focuses on only one aspect of Special Operations and the smallest part at that. This is all about the forces that conduct surgical strike (the execution of activities in a precise manner that employ special operations in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover or damage designated targets, or influence adversaries and threats.) It does not talk about the vast majority of special operations being conducted around the world that are defined as special warfare (the execution of activities that involve a combination of lethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated force that has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiency in small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenous combat formations ina permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment.)
This article and all the emphasis on surgical strike (despite the words of senior leaders, to include GEN Votel who try to talk about the importance of special warfare and unconventional warfare see the JFQ article: http://bit.ly/1SRbTVV
) really should lead one to think of whether we are correctly organized for special operations. The dominant special operations organization is JSOC and its national mission forces. Is there really a need for 4 star functional combatant command? Why does JSOC need a higher headquarters? What value does USSOCOM add to JSOC operations?
I am coming to think that the Army actually appreciates the special warfare capabilities that reside in Army Special Operations more than the rest of USSOCOM. After all it is the Army that has incorporated special warfare and surgical strike as the doctrinal descriptions of special warfare and surgical strike and not USSOCOM. I think General Votel is the only member of USSOCOM in Tampa to use the words special warfare (again see this JFQ article http://bit.ly/1SRbTVV)
What we do not have is an organization that is organized and optimized to conduct special warfare. Perhaps the Army ought to recall its special operations forces (assuming that Title 10 Section 167 could be repealed) and form a Special Warfare organization that would be organized, trained, equipped, and optimized for special warfare. The forces exist to conduct special warfare but there is no organization to conduct special warfare with the priorities, authorities, and resources similar to the scale of those that exist with our premier surgical strike organization. Of course my words are sacrilege and I will probably be forced to turn in my SOF union card but my extreme rhetoric is really meant to ask are we giving sufficient priority to our special warfare capabilities. Again, I think the Army appreciates them perhaps a bit more than the broader SOF community and certainly more than our policy makers and political leaders who desire the strategic tokenism offered by employment of our surgical strike forces (and I do not mean to disparage those forces at all - we have the best in the world and we need to sustain the highest level of capability within that force). But I am not the first to ask these questions. In 2009 someone named Yasotay asked whether we still need a USSOCOM at this link: http://bit.ly/20fhBWf (Full disclosure - I do believe in USSOCOM but I believe we need to place greater priority on our special warfare forces but not at the expense of our surgical strike forces.)
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
This 85 minute You Tube video is worth watching as two of our nation's pre-eminent scholars on terrorism share their analyses and disagreements on the foreign fighter threat. In addition to the critically important analysis they both provide this is worth watching to illustrate the collegiality between two professionals and scholars who disagree. I wish we could see such discourse among all the analysts on national security issues.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone By Joseph L. Votel, Charles T. Cleveland, Charles T. Connett, and Will Irwin
This is one of the best descriptions of modern unconventional warfare and special warfare.
Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone
News/NewsArticleView/tabid/ 7849/Article/643108/ unconventional-warfare-in-the- gray-zone.aspx
By Joseph L. Votel, Charles T. Cleveland, Charles T. Connett, and Will Irwin | January 01, 2016
In the months immediately following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the autumn of 2001, a small special operations forces (SOF) element and interagency team, supported by carrier- and land-based airstrikes, brought down the illegitimate Taliban government in Afghanistan that had been providing sanctuary for al Qaeda. This strikingly successful unconventional warfare (UW) operation was carried out with a U.S. “boots on the ground” presence of roughly 350 SOF and 110 interagency operatives working alongside an indigenous force of some 15,000 Afghan irregulars.1 The Taliban regime fell within a matter of weeks. Many factors contributed to this extraordinary accomplishment, but its success clearly underscores the potential and viability of this form of warfare.
What followed this remarkably effective operation was more than a decade of challenging and costly large-scale irregular warfare campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. and coalition troops. Now, as Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have come to an end, the defense budget is shrinking, the Armed Forces are drawing down in strength, and support for further large-scale deployment of troops has ebbed. Our nation is entering a period where threats and our response to those threats will take place in a segment of the conflict continuum that some are calling the “Gray Zone,”2 and SOF are the preeminent force of choice in such conditions.
The Gray Zone is characterized by intense political, economic, informational, and military competition more fervent in nature than normal steady-state diplomacy, yet short of conventional war. It is hardly new, however. The Cold War was a 45-year-long Gray Zone struggle in which the West succeeded in checking the spread of communism and ultimately witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. To avoid superpower confrontations that might escalate to all-out nuclear war, the Cold War was largely a proxy war, with the United States and Soviet Union backing various state or nonstate actors in small regional conflicts and executing discrete superpower intervention and counter-intervention around the globe. Even the Korean and Vietnam conflicts were fought under political constraints that made complete U.S. or allied victory virtually impossible for fear of escalation.
After more than a decade of intense large-scale counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigning, the U.S. capability to conduct Gray Zone operations—small-footprint, low-visibility operations often of a covert or clandestine nature—may have atrophied. In the words of one writer, the United States must recognize that “the space between war and peace is not an empty one”3 that we can afford to vacate. Because most of our current adversaries choose to engage us in an asymmetrical manner, this represents an area where “America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate.”4
Nations such as Russia, China, and Iran have demonstrated a finely tuned risk calculus. Russia belligerently works to expand its sphere of influence and control into former Soviet or Warsaw Pact territory to the greatest degree possible without triggering a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Article 5 response. China knows that its assertive actions aimed at expanding its sovereignty in the South China Sea fall short of eliciting a belligerent U.S. or allied response. Iran has displayed an impressive degree of sophistication in its ability to employ an array of proxies against U.S. and Western interests.
While “Gray Zone” refers to a space in the peace-conflict continuum, the methods for engaging our adversaries in that environment have much in common with the political warfare that was predominant during the Cold War years. Political warfare is played out in that space between diplomacy and open warfare, where traditional statecraft is inadequate or ineffective and large-scale conventional military options are not suitable or are deemed inappropriate for a variety of reasons. Political warfare is a population-centric engagement that seeks to influence, to persuade, even to co-opt. One of its staunchest proponents, George Kennan, described it as “the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives,” including overt measures such as white propaganda, political alliances, and economic programs, to “such covert operations as clandestine support of ‘friendly’ foreign elements, ‘black’ psychological warfare, and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.”5
Organized political warfare served as the basis for U.S. foreign policy during the early Cold War years and it was later revived during the Reagan administration. But, as Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations observed, it has become a lost art and one that he and others believe needs to be rediscovered and mastered.6 SOF are optimized for providing the preeminent military contribution to a national political warfare capability because of their inherent proficiency in low-visibility, small-footprint, and politically sensitive operations. SOF provide national decisionmakers “strategic options for protecting and advancing U.S. national interests without committing major combat forces to costly, long-term contingency operations.”7
Human Domain-Centric Core Tasks for SOF
SOF provide several options for operating in the political warfare realm, especially those core tasks that are grouped under the term special warfare. Foreign internal defense (FID) operations are conducted to support a friendly foreign government in its efforts to defeat an internal threat. In terms of strategic application, UW represents the opposite approach, where the U.S. Government supports a resistance movement or insurgency against an occupying power or adversary government.
Both of these special warfare tasks rely heavily on SOF ability to build trust and confidence with our indigenous partners—host nation military and paramilitary forces in the case of FID, irregular resistance elements in the case of UW—to generate mass through indigenous forces, thus eliminating the need for a large U.S. force presence (see figure 1). It is this indigenous mass that helps minimize strategic risk during Gray Zone operations: “Special Warfare campaigns stabilize or destabilize a regime by operating ‘through and with’ local state or nonstate partners, rather than through unilateral U.S. action.”8 As described in a recent RAND study, discrete and usually multi-year special warfare campaigns are characterized by six central features:
- Their goal is stabilizing or destabilizing the targeted regime.
- Local partners provide the main effort.
- U.S. forces maintain a small (or no) footprint in the country.
- They are typically of long duration and may require extensive preparatory work better measured in months (or years) than days.
- They require intensive interagency cooperation; Department of Defense (DOD) elements may be subordinate to the Department of State or the Central Intelligence Agency.
- They employ “political warfare” methods to mobilize, neutralize, or integrate individuals or groups from the tactical to strategic levels.9
Many examples exist of successful long-duration, low-visibility U.S. SOF-centric FID operations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. From 1980 through 1991, U.S. support to the government of El Salvador fighting an insurgency in that country included an advisory force that never exceeded 55 personnel. The conflict ended with a favorable negotiated settlement. Similar successes against lower level insurgencies took place in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala. More recently, U.S. SOF have played a central role in effective long-term FID efforts conducted in support of the governments of Colombia and the Philippines.
Less well known and understood by those outside of SOF is the core task of unconventional warfare.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
The latest edition of our student run peer-reviewed security studies review can be downloaded at this link: http://
georgetownsecuritystudiesrevie w.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/ 01/GSSR-Vol.-4-Iss.-1.pdf
The home page for the review is at this link: http://
The home page for the review is at this link: http://
Georgetown Security Studies Review
Volume 4, Number 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why Greater American-Russian Counter-ISIL Cooperation is
Secret Evidence and its Legalities in an Evolving World of
Intelligence and Cybersecurity ..............................
Realism, World War I, and the US-China Relationship .............. 51
The Russian Counterinsurgency Campaign in Chechnya During
the Second War and Chechenizatsia ..............................
Atlanticist Drift: French Security Policy After de Gaulle ............ 93
The Islamic State’s Social Media and Recruitment Strategy:
Papering Over a Flimsy Caliphate ..............................
Friday, January 1, 2016
(Clinton Email on COIN) U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201
A fascinating email from the just released Clinton emails. It mentions Bernard Fall's 1965 essay reprinted in the 1998 Naval War College Review "Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency." I would commend everyone to reading its 11 short pages. It can be accessed from my blog at this link: https://db.tt/iqXW19A1
You might want to read the email below first and then my comments.
The email to Secretary Clinton references Fall and revolutionary warfare in Vietnam so I thought I would send the link to the entire essay and note this excerpt below which may be relevant to the discussions on the Gray Zone and other naming conventions. I think it is also why there are those who advocate the need to be able to conduct counter-guerrilla operations which should be the major military contribution of any campaign that addresses insurgency. But it is the ideological aspect that makes this different from other conflicts and why I am an advocate of the study of revolution, resistance, and insurgency. (http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/ARIS.
Fall mentions that sublimited warfare is meaningless. He must have been referencing the 1962 chart I have posted below which I think is interesting to examine in light of our search to explain AND NAME forms and characteristics of conflict short of war today. As an aside I have also included a chart from the 1962 Special Warfare magazine (which can be downloaded at this link. The article "Use the Right Word" is in the "Introduction" which is hot linked on the page at this link. http://smallwarsjournal.com/
Excerpt from Fall's essay.
One of the problems one immediately faces is that of terminology. Obviously "sublimited warfare" is meaningless, and "insurgency" or "counterinsurgency" hardly define the problem. But the definition that I think will fit the subject is "revolutionary warfare" (RW).Let me state this definition: RW = G + P, or, "revolutionary warfare equals guerrilla warfare plus political action." This formula for revolutionary warfare is the result of the application of guerrilla methods to the furtherance of an ideology or a political system. This is the real difference between partisan warfare, guerrilla warfare, and everything else. "Guerrilla" simply means "small war," to which the correct Army answer is (and that applies to all Western armies) that everybody knows how to fight small wars; no second lieutenant of the infantry ever learns anything else but how to fight small wars.Political action, however, is the difference. The communists, or shall we say, any sound revolutionary warfare operator (the French underground, the Norwegian underground, or any other European anti-Nazi underground) most of the time used small-war tactics--not to destroy the German Army, of which they were thoroughly incapable, but to establish a competitive system of control over the population. Of course, in order to do this, here and there they had to kill some of the occupying forces and attack some of the military targets. But above all they had to kill their own people who collaborated with the enemy.But the "kill" aspect, the military aspect, definitely always remained the minor aspect. The political, administrative, ideological aspect is the primary aspect. Everybody, of course, by definition, will seek a military solution to the insurgency problem, whereas by its very nature, the insurgency problem is military only in a secondary sense, and political, ideological, and administrative in a primary sense. Once we understand this, we will understand more of what is actually going on in Viet-Nam or in some of the other places affected by RW.
U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201
by SWJ Editors
SWJ Blog Post | December 31, 2015 - 7:14pm
blog/us-department-of-state- case-no-f-2014-20439-doc-no- c05760317-date-1231201
From today’s Department of State FOIA release of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Includes counterinsurgency discussion concerning Afghanistan strategy based on a historical perspective. Redacted portions are excluded.
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/2015
RELEASE IN PART B3
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 6:48 AM
Re: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
Hope it's helpful. Both are available to talk.
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 06:35:10
Subject: Re: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
Thx so much for sending.
Sent: Thu Nov 12 19:25:02 2009
Subject: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
November 12, 2009
Re: Afghanistan strategy
B3 D IA/N RO/N GA
Below are two documents: One is a memo frorr
Who served in the counter-insurgency program in Vietnam with John Paul Vann. He writes about Bernard Fall, the great French journalist and analyst, whom he studied with. His memo is a critique of COIN proposals and his own recommendations.
The other document consists of notes from my conversation with William Murray, former station chief of CIA in Pakistan. He was one of the members of a small CIA team, including Milt Bearden (whom you probably know and who is close to Richard Holbrooke), that directed the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation. Murray also served as station chief elsewhere, including Lebanon. His remarks focus on the lack of a clear mission and message in Afghanistan.
I neither endorse nor disputes and Murray's analyses, but simply present them.
B3 D IA/N RO/N GA
Counterinsurgency — a much failed strategy?
Bernard Fall was one of the most significant theoreticians and practitioner of Counterinsurgency (COIN) in the 20th Century. He was the expert most listened to at the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg when LTG William Yarborough commanded the school there in the Kennedy and Johnson eras.
Fall defined COIN clearly. He said that: Counterinsurgency = political reform + economic development + counter guerrilla operations
This theory of warfare was developed by the colonial powers as a "cure" for the wave on "wars of national liberation" that swept through their overseas possessions after World War Two. Because of these revolts against authority most of the European powers found themselves faced with colonized populations engaged in extended attempts to obtain independence from the metropole. Such rebellions were usually based on ethnic and racial differences with the colonizers and were often led by vanguard Left parties with communist connections. That connection caused an eventual American policy commitment to the COIN struggle. That commitment sometimes occurred as a partner of the colonial power (Vietnam in the late '40s and '50s) and sometimes as a successor to the colonial power after at least partial independence had bee achieved. (Vietnam after the French)
COIN theory was seen by both the former colonial officers who taught it at Bragg and their American disciples of the time as the opposite of the methods of the anti-colonial insurgents who were thought to practice something called "revolutionary warfare." (RW) Revolutionary Warfare + Political subversion (including propaganda) + economic transformation (usually socialist) + guerilla warfare (to include terrorism)
(Continued at the link below)
blog/us-department-of-state- case-no-f-2014-20439-doc-no- c05760317-date-1231201
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