Monday, February 27, 2017

Violent Non-state Actors in the Gray Zone A Virtual Think Tank Analysis



Violent Non-state Actors in the Gray Zone

 January 2017  No Comments
Violent Non-state Actors in the Gray Zone A Virtual Think Tank Analysis (ViTTa).
Author | Editor: Canna, S., Peterson, N. & Popp, G. (NSI, Inc).
Using the Virtual Think Tank (ViTTa) expert elicitation methodology, NSI asked six leading gray zone experts whether Violent Non-state Actors (VNSAs) belong in the definition of the gray zone. However, experts were reticent to answer this question; they thought the question missed the point. The focus should not be how to define the major threats that are facing the USG, but rather how to leverage all instruments of national power to respond to them. When pushed to answer the original question, experts largely conceded that VNSAs, by themselves, do not rise to a level of significant threat in the gray zone, but are key tools used by state actors to achieve their ends. They concluded by identifying other challenges and solutions facing the USG in the gray zone.
In January 2016, General Joseph Votel (US Army) requested that the Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment (SMA) office examine how the United States Government (USG) can diagnose, identify, and assess indirect strategies, and develop response options against, associated types of gray zone challenges. More specifically, the request emphasized that if the USG is to respond effectively to the threats and opportunities presented in the increasingly gray security environment, it requires a much more detailed map of the gray zone than it currently possesses. One core question raised by General Votel was whether violent non-state actors (VNSAs), like violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), fit into the definition of the gray zone.
To respond to this question, NSI applied its Virtual Think Tank (ViTTa) expert elicitation methodology to the problem set. As part of this effort, NSI interviewed six leading gray zone experts (see Table 1 and Appendix A) on whether, and under what conditions, VNSAs rise to a level of significant threat in the gray zone.
Their answers surprised us.
We Asked the Wrong Question
We initiated this effort with the objective of defining when and under what conditions VEOs and TCOs fit into the definition of the gray zone. However, experts were reticent to answer this question; they thought the question missed the point. The focus should not be how to define the major threats that are facing the USG, but rather how to leverage all instruments of national power to respond to them.
However, despite challenging the premise of the question, David Maxwell suggested that exercises like this one are useful not so much in determining the “right answer,” but rather to engage in a meaningful discussion that will help the nation better assess the challenges it faces, develop effective courses of action, and formulate plans to achieve key objectives. “Ultimately, the focus should not be on whether or not a conflict should fall into the gray zone. The US tends to try to organize everything into a clear category or create a clear label for everything,” Maxwell stated. The gray zone is ambiguous and complex, and is not suited to clear, crisp definitions.
Similarly, Adam Elkus noted that although the US would like to develop a clear dividing line between conflict and competition including who can engage in gray zone activities, other countries (primarily non-Western ones) do not think about achieving state objectives in this way. That makes it easier for them to exploit US relations without severe repercussions. Despite these reservations, we did ask the experts to respond to the original question.

Friday, February 24, 2017

GSSR Special Issue: What the New Administration Needs to Know About Terrorism and Counterterrorism



GSSR Special Issue: What the New Administration Needs to Know About Terrorism and Counterterrorism


GSSR Special Issue: What the New Administration Needs to Know About Terrorism and Counterterrorism
The Georgetown Security Studies Review is very proud to present a new special issue: “What the New Administration Needs to Know About Terrorism and Counterterrorism”. This issue contains articles and remarks from some of the world’s eminent scholars of terrorism and counterterrorism, who gathered at Georgetown University on 26-27 January, 2017 for a conference jointly hosted by Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies and the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence of the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
The special issue is available for download here.
The GSSR would like to graciously thank all who made contributions to this important special issue!
Please direct all inquiries regarding this issue to the Georgetown Security Studies Review Editor-in-Chief at GSSR@georgetown.edu.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Academics and Practitioners Give Open Advice to President Trump on ‘Eradicating’ Terrorism

The video for all four panels and the two keynotes (Michael Vickers and Richard English) can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHPN6YFZQHs6VLbFJITxg6A

We intend to have the conference proceedings published in a special report of the Georgetown Security Studies Review by around the end of the month and I will of course forward that when it is published.

Conclusion:

There were several clear themes and suggestions for the new administration. Most panels emphasized a need to be aware of the global picture and the presence of multiple terrorist threats. The panelists stressed a need to understand the context of terrorist incidents and the value of striving for proportional responses to such incidents. Moreover, the importance of learning from other countries’ and regions’ experiences, particularly the EU, was a clear trend of the discussions. On a different note, a focus on the increased technological threat both in terms of cyber-attacks and the power of new media for recruitment and propaganda also permeated the conference. According to Professor Arsenault, “The recent conference helped to create new knowledge at the intersection of counterterrorism theory and practice,” a sentiment echoed by Richard English who remarked, “It focused on an utterly contemporary event but with an eye to historical depth and background; and it involved high-grade scholarship, but with an eye to policy seriousness.”


Academics and Practitioners Give Open Advice to President Trump on ‘Eradicating’ Terrorism


Academics and Practitioners Give Open Advice to President Trump on ‘Eradicating’ Terrorism
By: Antonia Ward, Reporter
Photo Credit: Georgetown University Center for Security Studies (CSS)
January 26th-27th witnessed a convergence of academics and practitioners from across the world descend upon Georgetown University to offer policy lessons and advice to the new administration of President Donald Trump on the pressing issue of terrorism and counterterrorism in a seminal conference co-hosted by Georgetown University and the University of St Andrews-Scotland, “What the New Administration Needs to Know About Terrorism and Counterterrorism.” Comprising four panels across two days and two keynote speeches, the conference engendered lively and thorough discussion driven by a number of seasoned experts. Academics from farther afield such as Jytte Klausen and Audrey Kurth Cronin sat alongside prominent scholars from both Georgetown and St. Andrews, two universities that have enjoyed close partnership since Professor Bruce Hoffman co-founded the Handa Centre at St. Andrews (CSTPV) with the late Professor Paul Wilkinson in 1994. Additionally, the conference welcomed pivotal practitioners including Gary Ermutlu of the UN and career US Intelligence Community public servants Paula Doyle and Paul Pillar.
The conference began with a light breakfast followed by a brief introduction by Bruce Hoffman. The first panel, ‘What Next? Global Trends and Threats,’ was moderated by Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast. Hoffman’s assessment focused upon the resilience of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the danger of foreign fighters, and the prospect of al Qaeda absorbing ISIS and the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, thoughts that were similarly echoed by CSTPV Director Tim Wilson. Hanin Ghaddar, editor of the Lebanon’s NOW news website, warned of the threat Iranian-backed Hezbollah poses to the United States and the group’s growing power and consolidation within Iraq and Syria. Sir David Veness, a former UN official and CSTPV professor, warned of the major gap between identifying threats and collective response, highlighting the issues of Russia and Aleppo, Lebanon and Turkey; Veness also discussed the social media threat, extremist recruitment, and the difficulty of combatting lone wolf terrorism.
Following a lunch break, the keynote speech from The Honorable Michael Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, kicked off the afternoon. In his speech, Mr. Vickers identified four failed strategies that the new administration should take valuable lessons from: containment; regional catalysts for regime change; strategic myopia; and placing hope in unreliable international partners. Mr. Vickers focused upon the importance of building strong and lasting alliances, conducting aggressive and sustained counterterrorism campaigns, and utilizing covert action. In response to a question asking if drones create more terrorism than they remove and their fodder for terrorist propaganda, Mr. Vickers firmly advocated for their use citing them as “the most precise instrument in the history of warfare.”
The last panel of the day, ‘What Next? Regional Trends and Threats,’ was chaired by Colonel David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program. Terrorism scholar Daveed Gartenstein-Ross focused on the importance of understanding the organizational structures and histories of Al Qaeda and ISIS for any effective counterterrorism strategy. Dr. Christine Fair, professor at Georgetown University, highlighted the increasing threat emanating from Pakistan and the links between their intelligence agency ISI and ISIS. The last two panelists, Professors Jytte Klausen and Diego Muro of the University of St Andrews-Scotland focused on the threats posed by terrorists within Europe specifically, discussing the complex networks at work in Europe and the supply and demand nature of terrorism recruiting, an understanding of which are crucial to an effective counter-radicalization strategy on the continent.
Friday morning began with a panel on ‘Global Counterterrorism and Regional Structures.’ Gary Ermutlu of the UN discussed terrorism as a living system, thus making it predictable; according to Ermutlu, rather than simply targeting leadership, counterterrorism strategies ought to focus on critical training, logistics, weapons and IED programs, and counter-messaging. Mary Habeck of Johns Hopkins University and Audrey Kurth Cronin of American University further discussed Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and ISIS, discussing the nature of the entity itself and tracing its roots back to the Iraqi government under Maliki. Fernando Reinares, professor at Georgetown University, focused on the EU, arguing that second and third generations of Muslim populations were the largest threat, subsequently making terrorism the EU’S number one threat; according to Reinares, effective conglomeration of databases was one of the most effective weapons against this threat.
The keynote speech from Richard English, formerly Director of St Andrew’s Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), focused upon five foundations of success for the new administration in countering terrorism: distinguishing between ‘terrorisms’ and ‘terrorism’; setting realistic goals; coordinated domestic and international responses; maintaining a credible message; and appropriately measuring the size of the threat and response. In particular, English emphasized President Trump’s goal of eradicating terrorism as mentioned in his inaugural speech, and highlighted that completely eradicating a centuries old phenomenon would be virtually impossible.
The final panel of the Conference was concerned with ‘Intelligence Challenges.’ Georgetown professor Elizabeth Arsenault made an impassioned speech regarding morality and firmly argued against the reopening of CIA black sites or using torture in interrogations. She also expressed concern about the relationship between the President and the Intelligence Community, warning of the dangers of politicization and the erosion of public faith. Professor Mark Currie focused upon the importance of learning from historical experiences and identifying to root source of grievances that fuel terrorism, emphasizing coordination and cooperation with partners as potential counterterrorism strategy. Paula Doyle spoke of the importance of resources, stressing that an increased threat from cyber-attacks should also take precedence in an age of digital counterterrorism. Paul Pillar’s discussion centered around honesty with the public about what counterterrorism can do and the inherent tension between security measures and the values of liberal democracy.
There were several clear themes and suggestions for the new administration. Most panels emphasized a need to be aware of the global picture and the presence of multiple terrorist threats. The panelists stressed a need to understand the context of terrorist incidents and the value of striving for proportional responses to such incidents. Moreover, the importance of learning from other countries’ and regions’ experiences, particularly the EU, was a clear trend of the discussions. On a different note, a focus on the increased technological threat both in terms of cyber-attacks and the power of new media for recruitment and propaganda also permeated the conference. According to Professor Arsenault, “The recent conference helped to create new knowledge at the intersection of counterterrorism theory and practice,” a sentiment echoed by Richard English who remarked, “It focused on an utterly contemporary event but with an eye to historical depth and background; and it involved high-grade scholarship, but with an eye to policy seriousness.”

Friday, February 3, 2017

What the New Administration needs to Know About Terrorism & Counterterrorism

I strongly recommend watching this video if you have 2 and 1/2 hours. The remarks by each speaker are very important and very much worth considering and the Q&A is excellent.   Also we will be publishing their remarks in a special edition of the Georgetown Security Studies Review hopefully by the end of the month. http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/

Moderator: Richard English – Queen’s University, Belfast
Speakers
Bruce Hoffman – Georgetown University
Hanin Ghaddar – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Sir David Veness – University of St. Andrews
Tim Wilson – University of St. Andrews

Panels 1 and 2 and the Key Note from Michael VIckers can be accessed here. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHPN6YFZQHs6VLbFJITxg6A

Moderator: David Maxwell – Georgetown University
Speakers:
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross – Georgetown University/ Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Christine Fair – Georgetown University
Jytte Klausen – Brandeis University/ Woodrow Wilson Center
Diego Muro – University of St. Andrews

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