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Joint Special Operations University Press Publications

Occasional Paper

Exploitation of Big Data for Special Operations Forces by Tammy Low

In this new occasional paper, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Low examines big data--data characterized by extensive open source datasets that are too large to analyze using traditional analytic methods. Those datasets include data comprised of news media, social media, and other open source information. By using innovative analytic tools and techniques, big datasets can be exploited to improve situational awareness and decision-making which can directly increase SOF mission effectiveness. The author advocates for the exploitation of big data during SOF pre-conflict activities. She offers lessons learned and opportunities discovered by the United Nations Global Pulse program, a program which has used big data analytics since its establishment in 2012. Through that lens, the author describes how big data can assist SOF through greater situational awareness that then leads to increased understanding of sociocultural, political, and economic issues and events.


ISIS 2.0: South and Southeast Asia Opportunities and Vulnerabilities by Namrata Goswami

Behind headlines, social media, and fear-mongering lies an ISIS threat not of ideology, but rather opportunity. ISIS is a maestro at maximizing political instability and discontent, parlaying them into new potential strongholds and followers. In this monograph, Namrata Goswami expertly unmasks this underground version of ISIS, and with it, uncovers vulnerabilities to previously untapped ISIS targets in Bangladesh, Burma, India, and Indonesia.This monograph provides a much needed fact-based perspective to explain the success of ISIS in both spreading its ideology and recruitment base. Drawing upon historical examples and parallels, the author describes a movement that is very strategic in its emphases. Even existing scholars in the region are apt to find new and invaluable insights on where sociological, cultural, and political variables of this region intersect with ISIS opportunity.


  Countering Transregional Terrorism Edited by Peter McCabe

Countering terrorism is very hard. Countering it across global and regional geographic boundaries is even harder. Also, as increasingly powerful technologies become available to terrorists, the consequences of failing to surmount their adaptiveness and agility become much larger. It is vital to recognize that, despite some very impressive progress that the United States and the international community have made in combating terrorism since 9/11, we still struggle as a global community with the creation of durable, permanent solutions, and outcomes against it. This important publication urges consideration of how we might be able to find better pathways, better solutions, and better designs into the future. The future will not wait for us.


The Enemy is Us: How Allied and U.S. Strategy in Yemen Contributes to AQAP’s Survival by Norman Cigar

In this monograph, Dr. Norman Cigar provides Special Operations Forces (SOF) commanders and planners with an overview of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) operational framework and presence in the area. He analyzes the strategic and operational issues that confront policymakers in responding to the threat posed by AQAP within Yemen’s challenging social, political, and physical environment. This monograph presents the far-reaching implications for SOF, from recognizing the nuances of Yemen’s tribal-based human terrain to understanding key relationships, rivalries, and competition between AQAP and other Yemeni players. AQAP will likely continue to represent a threat to U.S. interests and regional stability for the foreseeable future.

Research Topics 2019

Special Operations Research Topics 2018 (Revised Edition for Academic Year 2019)

The JSOU Special Operations Research Topics 2018 publication, newly revised for academic year 2019, highlights a wide range of topics collaboratively developed and prioritized by experts from across the SOF community. As with the previous versions of this publication, this list is tailored to address command priorities. The topics in these pages are intended to guide research projects for professional military education (PME) students, JSOU faculty, fellows and students, and others writing about special operations during this academic year. This research will provide a better understanding of the complex issues and opportunities affecting the strategic and operational planning needs of SOF. This revised edition includes 11 new topics of interest.  


Complexity, Organizational Blinders, and the SOCOM Design Way by David C. Ellis and Charles N. Black

Complexity, Organizational Blinders, and the SOCOM Design Way (SDW) takes on the monumental task of explaining why the complex world is so difficult to comprehend and provides a way for navigating through it. The authors accomplish this utilizing U.S. Special Operations Command design techniques. This monograph is not just for the Special Operator or the Operational Planner. It is useful for anyone who is seeking out a better way to address problems that seem to have no solution. Dr. David Ellis and Mr. Charles Black provide the tools necessary to define the problem and develop an approach. The SDW needs to be seriously considered and put into practice if the community desires to make progress in complex and wicked problems.


Advancing SOF Cultural Engagement: The Malinowski Model for a Qualitative Approach by Robert R. Greene Sands and Darby Arakelian

In Advancing SOF Cultural Engagement: The Malinowski Model for a Qualitative Approach, Robert Greene Sands and Darby Arakelian propose a special operations relevant model for engaging populations, illuminating their worldviews and values, appreciating their interests, and translating significant social, cultural, and political information into operational analysis. Their objectives are to introduce the core concepts, the base vocabulary, and the foundational skills in anthropology and sociology necessary for improving the human aspects core competency. While Greene Sands and Arakelian do not expect SOF to become anthropologists, they assert that Malinowski’s population-centric research methods are desperately needed to make sense of contemporary human aspects of military operations.


Growing SOLO: Expanding the Spectrum of SOF Advisory Capabilities by Troy White

The SOF advisory role is a long-term commitment to help enable and aid other nations improve their military forces and security. SOF advisors have traditionally operated at the tactical level to increase partner capabilities ‘by, with and through’ to generate sufficient rule of law, address local needs, and advance rapport building. Mr. White advocates for a SOF role in advising foreign militaries at the high operational/strategic and ministerial levels. He provides real world examples through four vignettes of SOF advisors in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, and the Philippines. This monograph is a handy resource for commanders and planners needing to establish a rapport with allies and friends at the highest operational/strategic and ministerial levels.

Occasional Paper

Structural Violence and Relative Deprivation: Precursors to Collective Political Violence in Sierra Leone by Earl Conteh-Morgan

In this new occasional paper, Dr. Conteh-Morgan examines how the combination of structural violence and relative deprivation are associated with, and were predictors of, civil strife in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. He focuses his analysis on one key question: In what ways did structural violence deepen insecurities and intensify relative deprivation in Sierra Leone and contribute to civil war? The author provides an in-depth explanation of the concept of structural violence and how it underscores the realities of human misery associated with inequality and disability. He then describes how the negative effects of structural violence of state institutions in many developing countries can lead to feelings of relative deprivation in individuals and groups in society. Dr. Conteh-Morgan then argues that Sierra Leone was plagued by structural violence and it was this condition that then contributed to a sense of relative deprivation among the population which in turn sparked the civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. This study provides the SOF practitioner with an in-depth analysis of how internal and external structural problems intensified political grievances, increased deprivations and widespread misery, and eventually led to the implosion of Sierra Leone into full scale civil war.

Resistance Views Seminar Essays

Resistance Views: Tartu Resistance Seminar Essays on Unconventional Warfare and Small State Resistance, Edited by Kevin D. Stringer and Glennis F. Napier

This volume is based upon the discourse, dialogue, and outcomes of the 2nd Senior Unconventional Warfare (UW) and Resistance Seminar, hosted by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU); Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL); U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (USSOCEUR); Estonian Special Operations Forces; and the Centre for Applied Studies, Estonian National Defence College. From 4–6 November 2014, a multinational and interagency group of academics and practitioners gathered at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia to discuss and debate the study and practice of UW and resistance. This book’s aim is to spark intensive discussion on both UW and counter-UW approaches, doctrine, and capabilities.

Chapters include:

USSOCEUR Commander Foreword

Introduction Seminar Opening Remarks

Chapter 1. Asymmetry in Russian New Generation Warfare

Chapter 2. Societal Resilience: A Basis for Whole-of-Society Approach to National Security

Chapter 3. Small State UW Doctrine: Feasibility and Application for National Defense

Chapter 4. NATO Special Operations Contribution to a Comprehensive Approach

Chapter 5. Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Unconventional Warfare

Chapter 6. Nonviolent Civil Resistance Movements: Theory and Practice

Chapter 7. Winning the Peace by Living the Way We Fight

Chapter 8. Conclusion