by Mark Grzegorzewski
In this Quick Look, Mark Grzegorzewski provides a brief overview of artificial intelligence (AI)—a specific field within computer science that explores how automated computing functions can resemble those of humans. In addition to an AI history timeline, the author touches on AI subfields, AI strengths and pitfalls, and ways SOF have employed AI technologies.
This monograph is the first in a planned series of three volumes that will provide Special Operations Forces (SOF) with an in-depth study of resistance movements. Mr. Will Irwin provides a wealth of case studies focused on the United States Government’s support to resistance movements. For each of his case studies the author summarizes in a clear, concise manner the duration of U.S. support, the political environments or conditions, the type of operation, the purpose or objective of U.S. support, and the ultimate outcome: success, partial success, failure, or an inconclusive outcome. Unfolding world events are indicative of the need for SOF to maintain and enhance traditional unconventional warfare (UW) skills, but those skills must be assessed in the context of modern resistance movement dynamics. This work will serve as a benchmark reference on resistance movements for the benefit of the special operations community and its civilian leadership.
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 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.
Colonel Warner “Rocky” Farr has made an important contribution to the body of SOF knowledge with this well-researched monograph. He advances the understanding of the many challenges and accomplishments related to guerrilla warfare medicine—care provided by predominantly indigenous medical personnel under austere conditions with limited evacuation capability—by providing a survey of the historical record in UW literature. Colonel Farr relates manyhistorical experiences in the field, assesses their effectiveness, and lays a foundation for further in-depth study of the subject. The Joint Special Operations University is pleased to offer this monograph as a means of providing those scholars and operators, as well as policymakers and military leaders, a greater understanding of the complex and complicated field of guerrilla warfare medicine.
In this new JSOU Press occasional paper Dr. Paul Lieber and Dr. Yael Lieber explore alternative approaches for Special Operations Forces (SOF) to engage with radicalized groups through comprehensive engagement in the narrative space to defeat the effects of ISIS in the psychological and sociological aspects of the human domain. Rethinking this problem from a joint social psychology—notably realistic conflict theory (RCT)—and social network analysis approach can yield unprecedented insights on the inner workings of radicalized groups and their penchant for political violence. The authors explore conflict theory through the lens of the Robbers' Cave experiment conducted by Muzafer Sherif. The authors posit that in general, radicalization, and hopefully de-radicalization, may be said to follow a similar process whereby groups that are culturally, religiously, and/or racially diverse perceive each other as in competition for scarce resources such as employment, housing, education, and benefits--in-groups and out-groups. This paper continues with an analysis of the roles that are essential to promulgating and sustaining message influence within an in-group social network—group communication norms. Within these pages are tremendous insights, relevant to the SOF community, on ways to rethink counter-radicalization efforts.
In this monograph, the authors offer compelling research that reminds government and military officials of the moral, legal, and ethical dimensions of protecting cultural antiquities from looting and illegal trafficking. Internationally, states generally agree on the importance of protecting antiquities, art, and cultural property not only for their historical and artistic importance, but also because such property holds economic, political, and social value for nations and their peoples. Protection is in the common interest because items or sites are linked to the common heritage of mankind. The authors make the point that a principle of international law asserts that cultural or natural elements of humanity’s common heritage should be protected from exploitation and held in trust for future generations. The conflicts in Afghanistan, and especially in Iraq and Syria, coupled with the rise of the Islamic State (IS), have brought renewed attention to the plight of cultural heritage in the Middle East and throughout the world.
In this paper the author, a retired special forces colonel, discusses political violence, radicalization, terrorism, and insurgency--some of the greatest security challenges the United States and its allies face today. Despite the fact that the United States Government (USG) has developed an exceptional counterterrorism (CT) capability to find and neutralize terrorists, the threat continues to exist. In fact, the problems only seem to be getting worse, with more and more attacks happening in the United States and Western Europe, and groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda recruiting thousands across the globe. The author discusses several reasons the United States isn’t more successful in its CT efforts. First, most policymakers fail to truly appreciate the nature of the problem. Second, in many cases the contemporary USG CT approach is flawed. Finally, the USG must continue to rethink Special Operations Forces employment to maximize their effectiveness against irregular threats.
In this compelling new monograph by Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Russ Howard and U.S. Marine Corps Major John Duvall, Jr., the authors leverage their vast experiences and knowledge of the region to explore the Obama Administration’s Asia Pivot strategy, announced in 2011, and its impact on Special Operations. The authors begin by defining this vast region. They then look at the U.S. strategic goals, evaluate the threats, and provide an analysis of the progress of where America is today along with the importance and impact on special operations. This monograph is the culmination of two years of analysis of the “pivot to Asia” by the authors. It provides a starting point for all SOF to gain a better understanding of this vast region and the future role SOF could play to counter the threats to our national interests.
In this paper Mr. Irwin explores gray zone unconventional warfare (UW) options in the context of the recent Syria train and equip mission. To better posture itself for engagement in gray zone political warfare, the U.S. Government, and especially Special Operations Forces, must work to reestablish, revitalize, and master important but seemingly lost components of our UW capability, as well as engage in concept development marked by uncommonly creative and innovative thinking. Mr. Irwin argues that early U.S. UW engagement, effective influence and coercion actions, and a more disciplined approach to nonviolent civil resistance in Syria could have resulted in more favorable outcomes in line with U.S. interests.
In this monograph, Dr. Jarret Brachman delves into al-Qaeda’s crumbling global movement and its internal struggles, including its attempts to remain relevant in the shadow of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Brachman cites various internal writings of al-Qaeda’s past and present leaders, thinkers, and supporters. It becomes clear that this once dominant terrorist organization has changed in the post-bin Laden era, is becoming fractured, and is taking a backseat to ISIL. Brachman analyzes letters, blog posts, and social media comments from various ranks within al-Qaeda that show the discontent, frustration, and confusion the once prominent terrorist organization has faced in recent years. Although struggling, al-Qaeda remains a serious threat and maintains a global footprint. But as ISIL gains more publicity, al-Qaeda has more trouble competing for followers, funding, and attention. This monograph explores al-Qaeda’s recent efforts to make sense of itself.
SOF Role in Combating Transnational Organized Crime, edited by William Mendel and Dr. Peter McCabe
In April 2015, military and civilian personnel from Canada, Mexico, and the United States came together at Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a symposium hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command-North and facilitated by Joint Special Operations University and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. Their task was to examine the role of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in combating transnational organized crime (TOC). The panelists and plenary participants set to work considering a wide range of issues attending to the TOC threat. After the Symposium concluded, panelists and speakers synthesized the results of their research and panel discussions in articles for publication—those articles are found in the chapters of this report of proceedings. The implication for SOF is they must continue to train to meet the strategic challenges ahead. This will require forward-deployed units that are engaged with their counterparts in host countries because TOC is both a threat to, and a result of, weak, emerging democratic governments that benefit from engagement. Readiness to conduct all SOF core activities will remain a priority.
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.
Dr. Roby Barrett, in his latest JSOU monograph, provides an overview of the conflicts in early Islam that are still the sources of many conflicts today. Viewing the Islamic world as one entity, or one made up of major sects (Sunni and Shia), is misleading. Islam is a complex religion with a vast history of internal conflict that speaks to contemporary issues today, including discussions on terrorism and radicalism. Dr. Barrett discusses the shifting U.S. role relative to Islam and provides an overview of contemporary Islam, including radicalism and the issue of a fractured community. Islam's internal conflict highlights the reason why Pan-Islamic movements never gain much traction and why radical Islam remains disjointed. Dr. Barrett posits that the West must focus less on Islam as an ideology and more on those local issues that drive the threat. The insights provided by Dr. Barrett in this monograph challenge the reader to rethink how one approaches the challenges in the Middle East.
Mr. Haddick discusses why USSOF and partner nation SOF in the Asia-Pacific region should prepare for expanded regional roles and responsibilities. China's re-emergence as a global power and its pursuit of its security interests has exposed increasing friction between it and its neighbors and the United States. Haddick asserts that a competitive and sustainable response to the looming security challenge in the Asia-Pacific region willinclude not only naval and aerospace components, but also diplomatic, information, political, and economic tools. In addition, U.S. and coalition partners must prepare for the likelihood that the security competition in the region will eventually manifest itself in various forms of irregular and unconventional conflict. U.S. and partner SOF will have critical roles to play in a truly competitive response to the growing security competition in he Asia-Pacific region. The goal of an effective competitive strategy will be to sustain an open-ended peacetime competition with China that successfully perpetuates the current rules-based status quo.
In this monograph, Brigadier General (retired) Russ Howard presents a substitute for traditional International Relations Theory by asserting that strategic culture analysis of states and non-state actors or groups is a better predictor of behavior. Specifically, General Howard posits that studying and understanding the strategic cultures of threatening states and non-state actors might be a more useful mechanism for analyzing potential adversaries’ proclivity to using force to further their strategic security objectives. The author delves into the strategic cultures of The United States, China, Iran, North Korea, and al-Qaeda before analyzing commonalities among them. This foundation allows General Howard to then develop and provide actionable policy guidelines to contextualize an end state which strategic cultural analysis can provide. This strategic culture analysis can be beneficial to all echelons, from the SOF operator in a village who must understand and work within the strategic culture of the operational environment, to the policymakers who must decide National Strategy.
In this monograph, Dr. Alexander sets the stage with a brief historical account of how maritime piracy has evolved over the centuries to its current state: a vast enterprise whose increasing profitability has attracted a confluence of nefarious actors including warlords and international criminal organizations. Dr. Alexander speculates on the potential for intersection between pirates and ideological terrorist movements such as al-Qaeda and Associated Movements. Such a future would significantly elevate the stakes in a U.S. whole-of-government counter-piracy response. What role should the U.S. military, and Special Operations Forces (SOF) in particular, play in addressing the global issue of maritime piracy? Dr. Alexander points out many of the thorny legal considerations that contextually color any efforts to address counter-piracy and notes that the best solution to criminal acts occurring hundreds of miles at sea may in fact lie with efforts, including the use of SOF, to improve the security apparatus on shore.
Mr. Prakash Singh’s monograph on the Maoist Movement in India benefits from his unique perspective as a distinguished police officer in some of the country’s most turbulent regions. He provides a detailed history of insurgency in India, including the history of uprisings starting from the Telengana insurrection of the mid-to-late 1940s to the Communist move¬ment, sponsored by Mao Zedong’s China. Mr. Singh traces the transition of the peasant-led Naxalite movement, with its roots in a single village in West Bengal, to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) Movement, which has spread to some 20 of India’s 28 states. India’s prime minister has declared more than once that the Maoist challenge is the biggest threat to the internal security of the country. How India accommodates its tribal minorities and reaches an accommodation with insurgents is a critical element for long-term regional stability.
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.
Prakash Singh’s monograph on the threat that insurgencies in northeast India present to the national government provides an excellent insight into a significant security challenge to the Indian state. The troubles in the eight northeastern states highlighted in Mr. Singh’s work are frequently overlooked in the West when people look at India’s security concerns, which often focus on other more widely known security challenges, both internal and external.