Note: This is a Capstone project prepared for USSOCOM by graduate students in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
The purpose of the research project was to provide a comprehensive review of the emerging threat of hybrid warfare, with a particular focus on the use of hybrid tactics by Russia against those states that were part of the former Soviet Union and contain what Moscow describes as having "near-abroad" Russian populations. The objective of the study was to examine the extent to which hybrid warfare represents the future of interstate conflict and the ramifications of Russian hybrid warfare against these states for NATO, the U.S. government, and particularly USSOCOM. The authors present three historical cases and one fictional, but plausible, scenario, which will be of benefit to wargame events. The authors provide a thorough review of the threat of hybrid warfare and conclude with nine specific recommendations for Special Operations Forces and USSOCOM.
Note: This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 edition of Air & Space Power Journal
This article argues USAF leadership remains too focused on developing the force based on an outdated paradigm of advanced state actors fighting force-on-force on uncluttered battlefields. It postulates that the USAF "next generation" fighter proponents ignore their own, combat-hardened force warnings of the complexity of asymmetric warfare. Years of combat have uncovered a glaring need to conduct a new type of close air support (CAS). This new CAS or "gunship effect" is the direct result of changes in warfare and can be analyzed by examining the AC-130 gunship and its high demand. We investigate enemy tactics to avoid our force strengths and intermingle with noncombatants who are attacking our forces piecemeal. We review the strategic center of gravity, "collateral damage," and how our enemies focus on eroding public support-at home and abroad-by exploiting our inability to identify their actions on a complex battlefield and respond appropriately. In summary, critical analysis unveils the true nature of twenty-first century warfare and the need to develop a balanced force, using proven aircraft and future systems capable of this new CAS, defeating both the enemy's most dangerous and most likely course of action.
The purpose of this paper is to offer a general model, based on learning theory that links the two: Case + Study. It begins with learning objectives and outcomes centered on the identified needs of a community. The science of developing the case study is in linking the storyline to the learning outcomes via discussion points. Those discussion points bring life to the study; depending on the desired cognitive learning level, they can compel a seminar member to think critically about the topic. The art of developing the case study, in challenging seminar members to higher levels of learning, lies in the quality of those linkages in conjunction with appropriate teaching/learning styles.
To illustrate the model’s application this paper uses “A Case Study in Counterinsurgency” as the topic; it frames counterinsurgency tenets as the learning objective; and uses “Discuss the root causes of the insurgency” as a learning outcome. The case used to discuss the model and illustrate this process is the “Anbar Awakening,” the partnering of the Sunni Tribes with the Coalition and Government of Iraq to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2005-2008.
Special Operations in a Chaotic World - a New PRISM Journal Edition Dedicated to Special Operations (PRISM Volume 6, Number 3, 2016)
The Editors at PRISM, a journal published by the Center for Complex Operations located at National Defense University, have just released their latest edition which is focused on special operations. This dedicated issue was developed collaboratively with Joint Special Operations University and highlights the insights and opinions of Special Operations Forces (SOF) senior leaders (active and retired), SOF operators, experts, academics, and practitioners. The issue begins with a prologue from the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, General Thomas, and culminates with an interview with General (Ret.) McChrystal.
Modern military Special Operations arguably started with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II and have maintained strategic utility for almost 70 years. The War on Terror, the Iraq War, and Afghanistan operations reinforced SOF‘s strategic utility in the 21st century, so much so, that in the last decade, the Special Operations Forces (SOF) structure has been limited more by the availability of qualified personnel than either mission requirements or funding. Regardless of the strategic history of modern SOF, research, thinking, and publication largely focus on Special Operations tactics and operational-level planning. Strategic-level thinking about military Special Operations is yet to be adequately developed. In order to bridge this gap, the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) Strategic Studies Department convened a SOF-Power Workshop in August 2011 to examine the role of military Special Operations (SOF-Power) in national security and the relevance and feasibility of a theory of Special Operations to inform and guide the development and use of Special Operations and SOF. Eleven participants from various SOF and relevant academic backgrounds participated: the SOF Chairs from PME institutions, Senior Fellows from the JSOU Strategic Studies Department, and others from non-military institutions with an interest in SOF strategic utility. In a relatively short time this group critically examined the role of military Special Operations in the 21st century and validated SOF-Power‘s continued strategic utility. From this foundation, the work group concluded the need for a unified theory of Special Operations as a foundational document for the pursuit of education and strategic art within the SOF community, and the greater military and political communities. This report documents the work group‘s insights and conclusions and provides recommendations for a way forward in broadening the strategic art in regard to SOF-Power.
It has been some 70 years since the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) quietly came into being as a small, nearly invisible, Washington, D.C.-based organization whose unique capabilities and strategic reach resulted in decisive outcomes within World War II European, Chinese, Southeast Asian and other theaters of operations.
Today the record of the OSS survives as far more than a topic of historical curiosity. As a result of its dramatic successes and failures, the OSS has developed a legacy of mission accomplishment that survives as a practical touchstone for the (SOF) Warriors of the 21 st century.
The devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 will forever resonate in the minds of Americans. The images of billowing smoke emanating from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon caused many to ask “who could do this to us?” To answer that question we must examine the past and look at the policies enacted by our government that caused a cyclic reaction within our enemy. The same is true for other governments that seek to expand their sphere of influence without examining those critical antecedents that affect the indigenous population. These disenfranchised subjects, when facing a foreign invader or apostate government, will often draw on a shared identity, be it cultural, ethnic, religious, or political, to sound the battle cry of resistance.
This paper is organized into four chapters that focus on the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The four chapters examine different facets of the collective environment that have allowed AQIM to succeed and even thrive at times. The first chapter begins with Algeria’s war of independence with the French. It focuses on how the Algerians were able to successfully isolate the French from the population through the use of terrorism. It also lays the foundation for the concept of terrorism within Algeria to further a political agenda.
Counterterrorism (CT) policy is like a game of chess. It often evolves as the result of a terrorist act or campaign. The objective of an effective CT policy is to identify and address the conditions that lead a terrorist group to act. It requires all facets of political, military, intelligence, and law enforcement planning to identify the root causes before a common thread binds these causes into a definable terrorist group. The history of Indonesia is defined by struggle: the struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule, the struggle to establish the Islamic State of Indonesia, the struggle for self determination by the people of Indonesia from an authoritarian regime. These all play significant roles in the psyche of the population.
This paper is simply an academic analysis of the strategic and operational environment in Indonesia prior to the Bali bombings. It is organized into five chapters that focus on the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The overall intent of the first chapter is twofold. First, it aims to academically examine the origins of JI in terms of the antecedent conditions that, collectively, led to its creation and decision to conduct terrorist activities. Second, it hopes to identify the actors that helped to bond the antecedents together.