17 April 2017


By David Maxwell

David Maxwell: I strongly recommend reading LTG(RET) Charles Cleveland’s Eight Points in his opening statement on pages 27-36. It isone of the best and most clear articulations of what UW and SOF are all about. I have provided short excerpts of each of the 8 points below but read the whole statement as the details are very important.

Stenographic Transcript Before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities



General Cleveland: Thank you. Chairman Ernst, Ranking Member Heinrich, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts, some old- guy thoughts as I would say, on unconventional warfare, population-centric warfare, and the challenges the U.S. faces encountering nontraditional or nonconventional strategies.

I offer the following eight points: First, recognize that these population-centric wars are different from traditional war. Two dangerous myths are that such wars are only a lesser case of traditional war or, to the contrary, these are graduate levels of the same war. Neither is correct and both lead to bad assumptions that we can be successful by just doing better with what we have got or go bigger with what we have got or invest more money more wisely.

Secondly, whatever America’s new strategy works out to be, I sincerely hope, as one who lived my life under the special forces motto of de oppresso liber, that it does not relegate hundreds of millions of people around the world to tyranny. The inevitable instability that would result would force our involvement anyway, given as interconnected as the world is today. So it is better that we proactively gain an understanding, shape and act in concert with like- minded friends, partners, and allies, providing leadership when necessary and inspirational always.

Third, organize around the reality of modern political warfare or, as my lawyer preferred to call it, unconventional diplomacy. Russia, China, Iran are each employing these forms of political warfare and calls for the U.S. to relearn lessons from the Cold War on its own approach to political warfare are worth serious consideration. For example, our acknowledged problems conducting effective information campaigns might improve with a 21st century variation of the U.S. Information Agency.

Fourth, the U.S. has been seeking the holy grail of whole-of-government warfighting for well over 50 years. Presidents have issued several decision directives to get at this, but it remains elusive. There must be an outside forcing function to do better in my mind. Putin’s success directly reflects the Russian hold on all levels of government and the elements of power outside of government and their adept use, resulting in a sophisticated, complex, hybrid war or unconventional warfare campaign. Certainly that is easier for an authoritarian government. But the stovepiped authorization and appropriation of funds creates internal pressures that work against developing cross- department solutions. Add to that the different cultures of the security sector departments and agencies, and it is rare to see any real moves towards creating a truly interagency solution.

Fifth, recognize that our critical weaknesses and gaps in defense are above the tactical level. Our standing campaign-level headquarters, primarily the U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Marine Corps MEFs are rightly organized around conventional warfighting. The one operational-level SOF headquarters is primarily organized around the counterterrorism and direct action mission, as it needs to be.

Six, develop the 12XX funding authority like 1208 for CT, for soft formations now need access to funds to develop indigenous UW capabilities obviously approved by the country team, obviously approved by the geographic combatant commander in an approved campaign on the part of the United States or the foreign internal defense appropriate capabilities to counter a hostile country’s unconventional warfare threats that are not CT-related.

Seven, the most prevalent forms of competition and conflict around the world today are resistance, rebellion, and insurgency. They manifest themselves oftentimes in the use of the tactic of terror and, if successful, they culminate in civil war. Yet despite its prevalence, DOD has no professional military education dedicated to these forms of warfare, the service’s own professional military education responsibility for their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The result is that a deep understanding of these conflicts, these most prevalent forms of war, within the ranks depends primarily on the individual initiative of the leader. There are some electives at the various command and staff in war colleges but the net result is that military leaders get very little formal education on this form of war.

Point number eight and my last point is we are the good guys. You know, our asymmetry again in my view is who we are and from where the U.S. Government and this great nation derives its strength. While Russia, China, and Iran must control their people, the strength of our country is our people and their belief in our form of government, the inalienable rights granted by our Creator, the guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think that provides us and those that are privileged enough to have this as a form of government around the world the resilience that Dr. Carpenter was talking about in our social structure.

A deep understanding and commitment to the development and maintenance of world-class unconventional warfare capability can be a powerful tool in countering the use of surrogates in hybrid warfare by revisionist and revolutionary movements. It has the potential to impose costs on them. It holds them at risk. In addition to providing an offensive capability from which we can learn and stay abreast of the art and science of warfighting, it is in fact I think necessary as we see the evidence of an emerging domain — a new emerging domain of war, the human domain.

No comments: