Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

22 July 2018

The Relevance of Clausewitz and Kautilya in Counterinsurgency Operations

Debasis Dash

The concept of asymmetric warfare is neither new nor static and has been used over centuries as a means for an inferior force to counter a superior force. In nearly every century of recorded conflict, there have been events where various forms of asymmetric warfare were adopted by one set of belligerents as a means to enforce their goals on the target populace. Most familiar among them was insurgency, used as a strategy to challenge the government and its institutions.[1] However, the nature and complexity of an insurgency are such that they bind the levels of response by a counter-insurgent force to below conventional warfare and above low-intensity conflict. The period of engagement and intensity of the insurgency further escalates if it has the latent characteristics of a proxy war.[2] If the existence of an insurgency is within the national boundaries, the situation demands a level of military action while remaining within the sphere of law enforcement. The counterinsurgency operations led by coalition forces in Afghanistan and the engagement of Indian armed forces in Kashmir and elsewhere within India provide the context whereby we might better understand various facets of an insurgency and be able to devise a more effective counter-response strategy. This article will use those contexts to analyze the lessons provided by Kautilya and Carl von Clausewitz toward understanding modern-day counterinsurgency operations.

8 July 2018


When we make law, we create categories; when we interpret law, we assign actions, actors, and events to the categories we have created. For law to be effective, we need reasonable clarity and consensus about the contents and value of our categories: the concept of “theft,” for instance, makes sense only if there is some shared understanding of the concepts of “property” and “ownership.” This is equally true of the legal framework governing conflict and coercion. Both international and US law take as a basic premise the notion that it is possible, important, and reasonably straightforward to distinguish between war and peace, emergencies and normality, foreign and domestic, public and private, and so on. We have elaborate rules governing the conduct of “parties” to “armed conflicts”; we subdivide people into “combatants” and “civilians”; we speak of “force,” “self-defense,” “armed attacks,” and actions falling short of armed attacks; we distinguish between areas with “active hostilities” and areas without such hostilities, between “internal,” “international,” and “noninternational” armed conflicts, and between civilians who are “directly participating” in hostilities and those who are not.


Jonathan Bate and Duncan Walker

In April 2003, two US Army sergeants in Baghdad stumbled upon a hidden stash containing $650 million in uncirculated US $100 bills, likely stockpiled by senior Iraqi officials. This lucky find became the genesis for the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program (CERP), which provided billions of dollars to tactical units in Iraq to meet urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs at the local level. Within four years, this accidentally funded program had enabled over eighteen thousand projects in twenty broad categories ranging from condolence payments to hospital repair to entrepreneurial micro-grants. Due to its popularity with ground commanders, Congress reinforced the program by allocating additional funding for Iraq as well as expanding the program to Afghanistan.

6 July 2018

Wars of None: AI, Big Data, and the Future of Insurgency

By Chris Meserole, 

Editor’s Note: The rapid pace of technological innovation is changing the nature of warfare, and futurists are busy spinning out scenarios of a U.S.-China clash in twenty years involving nano-technology and fully autonomous weapons systems. Yet how will new technologies shape insurgency and counterinsurgency, which conjures up images of guerrillas hiding in Vietnam’s jungles? My Brookings colleague Chris Meserole looks at two of the latest books on the subject and assesses how the balance between rebels and government may tilt.

5 July 2018

Reflecting On: Uighur Foreign Fighters – An Underexamined Jihadist Challenge

Dr. Colin P. Clarke, Dr. Paul Rexton Kan

In November 2017, we co-authored “Uighur Foreign Fighters: An Underexamined Jihadist Challenge,” published by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism- The Hague (ICCT). Uighurs, specifically individuals of Turkic decent from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, have become a noticeable part of the constellation of globally active jihadist terror groups. Uighur jihadists first came to the world’s attention when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001. While continuing their cooperation with the Taliban under the banner of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Uighur jihadists have now spread to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. ETIM’s members are part of the Turkestan Islamic Party fighting with the Al-Qaeda umbrella group in Syria, but other Uighurs have joined the Islamic State and still others have joined terrorist groups in Indonesia.

4 July 2018

In Bastar’s Maoist Belt, a Peace Move That’s up for Exploitation


Less than six months before Chhattisgarh goes to the polls, efforts have been initiated by some Left-leaning intellectuals, peace activists, non-governmental organisations and civil society and tribal leaders of Bastar to help open channels of communication between representatives of the state government and the Maoist rebels. Even before any formal and structured process to transform the bloody conflict could get underway, there is already a buzz in Chhattisgarh, especially in the troubled Bastar zone, that the BJP government under Chief Minister Raman Singh will show “interest” in any proposed dialogue till such time that Assembly elections, which are due sometime toward the end of this year, are concluded.

Finding an Alternative Path

30 June 2018

An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS

Owen Freeman

Target The B-2 stealth bomber is the world’s most exotic strategic aircraft, a subsonic flying wing meant to be difficult for air defenses to detect—whether by radar or other means—yet capable of carrying nearly the same payload as the massive B-52. It came into service in the late 1990s primarily for use in a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and clearly as a first-strike weapon rather than a retaliatory one. First-strike weapons have destabilizing, not deterrent, effects. It is probably just as well that the stealth bomber was not quite as stealthy as it was meant to be, and was so expensive—at $2.1 billion each—that only 21 were built before Congress refused to pay for more. Nineteen of them are now stationed close to the geographic center of the contiguous United States, in the desolate farmland of central Missouri, at Whiteman Air Force Base. 

23 June 2018

Why Moderates Support Extreme Groups It's Not About Ideology

By Barbara F. Walter

One of the big surprises since the end of the Cold War has been the growth of radical Islamist groups, especially those that adhere to Salafi jihadism, an ultraconservative reform movement that seeks to establish a transnational caliphate based on sharia law. These organizations reject democracy and believe violence and terrorism are justified in pursuit of their goals. Before 1990, there was only a handful of active Salafi jihadist groups. By 2013, there were 49.

21 June 2018

The Long Shadow of 9/11

By Robert Malley and Jon Finer

When it comes to political orientation, worldview, life experience, and temperament, the past three presidents of the United States could hardly be more different. Yet each ended up devoting much of his tenure to the same goal: countering terrorismUpon entering office, President George W. Bush initially downplayed the terrorist threat, casting aside warnings from the outgoing administration about al Qaeda plots. But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, his presidency came to be defined by what his administration termed “the global war on terrorism,” an undertaking that involved the torture of detainees, the incarceration of suspects in “black sites” and at a prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, and prolonged and costly military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

12 June 2018

How Al-Qaeda Works: The Jihadist Group’s Evolving Organizational Design

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross 

The years following the 9/11 attacks and preceding the Arab Spring marked a period of tumult for al-Qaeda. The jihadist organization lost a number of key commanders after the United States invaded Afghanistan, including several involved in planning operations outside the region. Though al-Qaeda did prepare a credible large-scale plot against commercial aviation in August 2006 and nearly brought down an international flight over Detroit in December 2009,1 the organization went multiple years without a successfully executed terrorist attack in the West. For an organization that had to a certain extent staked its credibility on its ability to sustain an armed struggle against the “far enemy,” this hiatus damaged its reputation. Compounding these problems was al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, which had stubbornly ignored the al-Qaeda leadership’s guidance to tone down what they deemed to be excessively violent methods. After overplaying its hand, which provoked an organized backlash from Iraqi Sunni communities, al-Qaeda in Iraq collapsed. In turn, its collapse was a blow to the al-Qaeda organization as a whole. 

6 June 2018

Are We Truly Witnessing The End Of Violent Islamism? – Analysis

Source Link

Islamists have grossly used Western freedom and they must understand that this is not allowed anymore. The integration of moderate Islam in the European social fabric is an urgent necessity today more than ever before and the same is true of the rest of the Western world, writes Dr. Mohamed Chtatou. The fearful Islamic State has been duly defeated by a Western-Islamic coalition through a combination of aerial pinpoint bombardment and a land offensive undertaken successfully by the Iraqi army beefed up by Kurdish, Iranian and Western forces. As a result, the cities controlled by this infamous State were re-conquered and its militias killed, imprisoned or have merely disappeared in the thin air. However, the question is: is this enough to crush Islamic fundamentalism that aims to adopt a time-old Caliphate system and engage in spreading Islamic religion through a combination of gentle persuasion , jihad in dar al-Kufr (Infidels’ homeland)i and terrorist actions both at home and abroad?

5 June 2018

How Do You Define Terrorism?

Antonia Ward

Terrorism remains a contested term, with no set definition for the concept or broad agreement among academic experts on its usage. Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University has defined terrorism as “violence – or equally important, the threat of violence – used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim”. Similarly, Louise Richardson of Oxford University believes terrorism is “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes.” Under these definitions, if there is no political aim, it is simply a crime and, if there is no violence, it is not terrorism.

25 May 2018

Cryptocurrencies: Potential for Terror Financing?

By Ahmad Helmi Bin Mohamad Hasbi and Remy Mahzam

Given their transaction anonymity and user-friendliness, cryptocurrencies appeal to extremist groups as they offer a viable alternative to the mainstream financial system and fiat money which are perceived as ‘kafir’ (infidel) currencies. The threat of cyber-driven terrorist financing is expected to grow.


Counterterrorism in an Era of More Limited Resources

With the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy lowering the prioritization of terrorism, the U.S. government will need cost-effective options to continue to diminish the terrorist threat. Nonkinetic efforts can be a cost-effective way to reduce terrorist groups’ ability to radicalize, disseminate messages, use the internet, facilitate foreign fighters, fundraise, and exploit poor governance. Undercutting these intertwined terrorist enablers weakens the groups writ large. 

24 May 2018

Why Engage in Proxy War? A State’s Perspective

by Daniel Byman - Lawfare 

A proxy war occurs when a major power instigates or plays a major role in supporting and directing a party to a conflict but does only a small portion of the actual fighting itself. Proxy war stands in contrast not only to a traditional war—when a state shoulders the burden of its own defense (or offense)—but also an alliance, when major and minor powers work together with each making significant contributions according to their means. So the United States working with the Afghan government against what’s left of al-Qaeda and the Taliban is more of a traditional alliance because of the major U.S. role , with thousands of American troops and hundreds of airstrikes, while Iran working with Houthi rebels in Yemen is a proxy war because Iran primarily provides weapons and funding, not its own troops. How much direct military support is too much to count as a proxy war, of course, lies mostly in the eye of the beholder , but in general, think the lower end of the involvement-spectrum. Iran’s support for the Syrian regime , for example, involves relatively few Iranian forces but a lot of foreign Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon as well as helping direct the Syrian regime—so more proxy than alliance.

21 May 2018

The View From Olympus: Israel, Gaza, and 4GW

Source Link

Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, has traditionally been less competent than Hezbollah at Fourth Generation war. Its rocket attacks on Israel, although they have frightened Israelis, have done little physical damage while they have created a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel that hurts the former. Now, however, it is beginning to look as if Hamas has gotten smarter in a way that poses a real 4GW strategic threat to Israel. On successive Fridays, Hamas has sponsored demonstrations at the border fence between Gaza and Israel. On April 27, the demonstrators broke through the fence. Israel responded, as it has before, with live fire that killed several Gazans. Anytime that happens, Israel suffers a defeat at the moral level, which in 4GW is the decisive level. Hamas’s challenge is to push that defeat up from the tactical to the strategic. Conditions may be ripe for it to do so. Israel, Egypt, and Fatah have combined their efforts to degrade the quality of life in Gaza to the point where people there feel they have nothing to lose. When everyday life is hell, risking that life is a modest risk. Hamas may be able to mobilize, not hundreds of demonstrators, but hundreds of thousands.

12 May 2018

Policing Urban Conflict: Urban Siege, Terrorism and Insecurity

By Dr. John P. Sullivan

Cities have been the foci of culture, trade, and political life throughout history. When the social contract breaks or politics fail, they have been the focus of conflict and violence as well. In the vacuum of power, terrorists, rebels, and criminals time and again seek to reset the political, social, and economic equilibrium through violence. This violence has always occurred in cities but as the world becomes more urban, cities become inseparable from global conflict. This central role was recognized by Algerian separatists during the Battle of Algiers and its future importance forecast in Carlos Marighella’s Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla. From the Casbah to urban Brazil, to the streets of Europe and alleys and hotels of Beirut, Aleppo, Jerusalem, Nairobi, and Mumbai, urban terrorism continues to evolve.

27 April 2018

Like Vietnam, it is Time to Cut Our Loses in Afghanistan

Chad M. Pillai

Afghanistan, as another Vietnam, conjures images of defeat as U.S. helicopters take the last American off the embassy roof. While the Vietnam War was a near-term strategic defeat, in retrospect, it may yet prove to have been a geo-strategic win. The same may prove true for Afghanistan after a U.S. withdrawal. Like a bad business investment, there are times when you must accept one’s loses and move on. Vietnam, after the U.S. withdrawal and fall of Saigon, was a poor yet united country after centuries of domination by the Chinese, Japanese, and French. Like its more powerful northern neighbor, China, it too is a communist dictatorship embracing capitalism. Despite its similarities with China, China’s rapidly aggressive political-economic-military influence in the Asia-Pacific region is pushing Vietnam closer to the U.S. to counter-balance China. For the U.S., this potential alignment, as seen by the recent U.S. carrier visit to Vietnam , could provide invaluable access for the U.S. and its regional Partners and Allies to hedge against China’s regional hegemonic aspirations.

24 April 2018

Drones Level the Battlefield for Extremists

By Alexander Harper

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used for reconnaissance purposes predominantly, would soon be regularly weaponised. As recent events in Syria have shown, weaponised commercial drones are now a regular feature in a range of conflicts, notably involving non-state actors. Drone use by non-state actors in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon. Libyan rebels spent more than US$100,000 buying a drone in 2011 to aid their fight against forces loyal to Gaddafi. Hezbollah has been operating Iranian-built drones against Israel for years, but these have been predominantly military-grade models and thus fairly sophisticated.

23 April 2018

ISIS and the Continuing Threat of Islamist Jihad: The Need for the Centrality of PSYOP

By Kimbra L. Fishel

The National Security Strategy of the United States (NSS) calls for direct military action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the disruption of terror plots, the destruction of terrorist safe havens and sources of finance, a shared responsibility with allies in confronting the threat and combating radicalization to counter ISIS ideology. The Trump Administration’s NSS accurately identifies the ISIS end goal as creation of the global Islamic caliphate and notes its totalitarian vision. This strategy further acknowledges the threat posed by ISIS will remain after its territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria.