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 a serious and well-researched investigation into crucial factors of contemporary warfare. Readers will learn lessons on the distinctions between the Law of Armed Conflict and criminal law, particularly on important issues like lethal force, escalation of force tactics, and security detention. Professor Paterson makes a strong argument that the stated policy of respect and promotion of human rights (HR)—that has long been a guiding principle of the U.S. military—does not translate into specific and mandatory directives at the tactical and operational levels. Indeed, he asserts that at those levels there is no formal attention to HR, only ad hoc efforts by operational units that don’t receive guiding policy. This monograph will be essential reading for policymakers and those whose task is the development of granular precepts to guide implementation and execution of policy on the ground.
Dr. Koven, in this occasional paper, posits that kinetic counterterrorism (CT) actions undertaken by the state to kill, capture, or otherwise disrupt terrorist groups are ineffective in isolation. While kinetic actions may succeed in disrupting a specific plot or other activities in the immediate term, they have little long-term effect on the ability of terrorist groups to operate. This study, backed by data from Colombian CT efforts over several years, demonstrates that government CT activities leading to the capture, killing, or demobilization of terrorists are correlated with an increase in terrorist attacks following a government’s actions. Moreover, this study reasons that government actions also serve to diffuse terrorist attacks into surrounding municipalities. Although kinetic CT actions may appear effective insofar as terrorist violence in the immediate vicinity of the CT actions decreases, if terrorism is displaced to other areas, this is not truly indicative of success. Dr. Koven's research suggests that successful CT approaches will require carefully sequenced kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.
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.
Patrick Paterson’s monograph, Training Surrogate Forces in International Humanitarian Law: Lessons from Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, and Iraq, leverages the author’s vast experience in Latin American history to examine how U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF) train surrogate forces. He argues that it is necessary to employ United States Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) indirect approach to grow and build partnership capacity through foreign internal defense (FID) and to find a balance with international humanitarian law (IHL). Paterson also examines the legal issues and restrictions on training and equipping foreign forces and the impact of these exchanges with our partners. His research methodology includes extensive interviews and incorporates a historical case study approach, examining FID efforts in Peru, Colombia, and El Salvador for lessons learned, and then compares and contrasts USSOF train and equip efforts in Iraq.
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.
Persistent Engagement in Colombia by Dr. Mark Moyar, Brigadier General (retired) Hector Pagan, and Lieutenant Colonel, (retired) Wil R. Griego
This monograph analyzes United States Special Operations Forces’ (USSOF) assistance to Colombia in the context of decades of counterinsurgency and counternarcotics operations. While the case of Colombia is often cited as an exemplar of global Special Operations Forces (SOF) foreign engagement, the details of the engagement, and the reasons for its success, have not previously been addressed in a scholarly publication. This study represents the first comprehensive analysis of the persistent SOF engagement in Colombia. It draws upon the collective wisdom of numerous U.S. and Colombian government personnel, and the authors’ own decades of experience in Colombia and other countries where the United States has undertaken prolonged partnership.
Retired Brazilian Army Major General Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro, in his monograph highlights the importance of knowing our partners. General Pinheiro begins by presenting a Brazilian point of view of the post-9/11 world. He then presents a history and over view of Brazilian SOF units from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Modern day Brazilian Army SOF pioneers attended U.S. Army schools and founded Brazil’s Special Operations Course in 1958, which later expanded to include Commando Actions, Special Forces, and Jungle Operations qualifications courses. In 2002 the Brazilian Special Operations Brigade was created by presidential decree. As U.S. Special Operations Command looks to thicken the global SOF network, General Pinhiero’s monograph is a must read for the American SOF operator in order to better know our partners.
Dr. Graham Turbiville's account of U.S. military engagement with Mexico provides a broad account of the interaction among the military elements of both countries from 1846 to the present day. He describes the evolution of the Mexican military toward a more capable and modern force. Especially informative for the special operations reader is the advent of numerous special operations units within the military and some civil elements. As noted, this has fostered reciprocal opportunities for SOF training and education.
Major General (Ret.) Alvaro Pinheiro-whose career in the Brazilian Army has seen service as a paratrooper, jumpmaster, pathfinder, commando, and Special Forces Operational Detachment commander-in this monograph addresses the challenges posed by urban guerrillas. Recognizing that urban guerrillas are far from limited to a few individual countries, he uses the experiences of Brazil in combating this complex criminal-terrorist phenomenon to illustrate the ways in which this threat can be understood and confronted within legal and Constitutional frameworks. In this assessment, General Alvaro includes their origin, operational environment, tactics, impact on society, and the role of the armed forces in countering these criminal-terrorist elements. The monograph includes both the theory and practice of the urban criminal-terrorist, and draws upon the writings and activities of the notorious urban terrorist Carlos Marighella's (author of the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla) as well as his own experience and that of other military and law enforcement specialists who have dealt directly with this destabilizing threat.
Narcoterrorism in Latin America: A Brazilian Perspective builds a case for giving greater attention to the narcoterrorism threat. General Alvaro suggests that security conditions in Colombia and the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, deserve the immediate attention of security officials of the Hemisphere's more capable countries. In this paper, General Alvaro provides a review of Colombia's security situation-the history and current situation-and details his thoughts about the United States' support of the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez.