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Joint Special Operations University Press Publications

ISIS and Social Media

This is the award winning paper from the 2015 Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson Writing Award sponsored by the Joint Special Operations Command's Center for Counterterrorism Studies.  The author analyzes ISIS's use of social media and offers recommendations to the combatant commander on what can be done to counter the threat. The author discusses social media and demonstrates how social media represents a paradigm shift in communication, complete with significant opportunities and challenges for the operational commanders and their staff. This paper offers a brief history of ISIS as a historical frame of reference and details how ISIS uses social media in its operations. It also discusses the important role social media plays in ISIS's operational and strategic objectives and how that impacts the combatant commander's intelligence collection, lines of effort, and current/future operations. Finally, the author provides tailored suggestions for the combatant commander and staff to consider when prosecuting an information operations campaign against ISIS consistent with U.S. policy and first amendment constitutional concerns.

What Does It Take To Be A "True Muslim"?

This is the award winning paper from the inaugural (2014) LTG Samuel V. Wilson Writing Award sponsored by the Joint Special Operations Command's Center for Counterterrorism Studies.  The author addresses the success of the al-Qa'ida network's narrative and how it has influenced the radicalization of young individuals, thereby generating a greater number of recruits for al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents (AQAA). The author provides an overview of al-Qa'ida's narrative and then presents AQAA's foundational ideology as well as insights from historically influential scholars who have impacted and shaped today's Salafi-Jihadist groups. The author then discusses a mixture of counter-narratives, to be used in various combinations, as custom-designed solutions for specific communities in which stakeholders will implement the counter-narratives. The author also introduces moderate Muslim scholars and activists who support those counter-narratives and, correspondingly, illustrates the differences between mainstream orthodox Sunni Muslims and Salafists. The paper concludes with a model in which many of the proposed counter-narratives and methods have proven fruitful.

Keeping Special Forces Special

Regional proficiency is a critical capability in irregular warfare. In preparation for increased engagement in irregular warfare, the Department of Defense and the Military Services made several significant improvements in developing regional proficiency. An analysis of Special Forces training and development reveals that the Special Forces primary means of developing regional proficiency is through deployment experience. While the Special Forces Groups are regionally aligned, several have consistently deployed outside of their Area of Responsibility to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A survey and a series of interviews were conducted to determine the state of regional proficiency interest in Special Forces. Through survey analysis, several trends were identified. With this information this thesis concludes with a suggested strategy to improve regional proficiency in Special Forces non-commissioned officers.

Initiating the Cognitive Revolution

Initiating the Cognitive Revolution - July 2011

The 4th Military Information Support Group (MISG) is the only active military information support group in the Department of Defense and operates across the full spectrum of military operations.  In 2006, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld designated the 4th MISG as a special operations unit.  In practice and by doctrine, special operations units possess highly specialized skills that they use in the routine execution of high-risk, politically sensitive missions.  Prior to 2006, the 4th MISG primarily supported general-purpose forces and its mission profile was random, broad, and unremarkable.

Next-Generation Strategic Communication

Sociologists and researchers have used the term social networks for over a century to describe complex sets of relationships between members of social systems at all levels. At its core, a social network-whether face-to-face or web-based-is a map of relevant ties among participants in the network. Within this social network map, individuals in a particular network may exhibit varying degrees of interconnectedness-ranging from tightly connected cliques to those with few connections within a single network-but nonetheless, they act as gateways to other networks.

Scoring the Long War

The score for the Long War can look very different depending on which scorecard is used. Emphasis is currently placed on historically-based, quantifiable, state-versus-state measures which attempt to correlate what we are doing with how we are doing. But the current fight against al-Qaeda is not a state-versus-state war and requires a different metrics that more accurately depict who is winning and who is losing.

Keeping COIN Simple

As US armed forces execute the Global War on Terror, varying strategies are required to facilitate victory within those sovereign states that are hesitant to permit a significant number of US personnel on their soil. The Philippines is an excellent example of how the US military can still achieve victory while under severe operational constraints imposed by a host government. US advisors working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines are developing creative and unconventional counter-insurgency (COIN) strategies to win the support of the local population and to sever their links to the indigenous Abu Sayyaf Group. The 'outhouse strategy' discussed herein is indicative of the peculiarities of unconventional warfare