Oct. 1, 2017
Asadism and Legitimacy in Syria
On July 11, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad had lost his “legitimacy,” presaging a U.S. policy favoring regime change in Syria.1 In August 2011, President Barack Obama stated that the “future of Syria must be determined by its people, but [Asad] is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for [Asad] to step aside.” However, nearly 6 years later, Obama has left office, while Asad rules a contiguous stretch of population centers and the majority of Syrians left in Syria. Mainstream analysis explains Asad’s resilience as a result of external factors, namely Russian and Iranian support, lack of alignment of foreign aid to opposition forces, and a subdued U.S. response to Asad and prioritization of fighting the so-called Islamic State. Likewise, analysis on the internal factors focuses the narrow but loyal support the regime enjoys from the ruling Alawite sect.3 The illegitimacy of the regime is assumed.
Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Planning
The Joint Staff Director, Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate (J5), approved a new Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Planning. The publication, signed by the Director, Joint Force Development (J7), will be the fifth iteration of joint doctrine on planning since 1995.
The U.S. Government’s Approach to Food Security: Focus on Campaign Activities
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., stresses the importance of effective cooperation with nonmilitary organizations to promote a common operational framework and allocate critical information and resources. Per his direction, the joint force continues to inquire about and examine the nuances between organizational workforce cultures and methodologies. One area where military and nonmilitary workforce approaches differ is security. This article focuses on an aspect of security known in international circles and endorsed by the United Nations (UN) as human security.1 Threats to human security can be categorized in seven dimensions, one of which is food security.2 Complementing an initial installment on health security also published in Joint Force Quarterly, this article addresses the U.S. Government’s approach to food security with a focus on combatant command campaign activities.
Robotic Swarms in Offensive Maneuver
For many years, military scientists have contemplated the advent of swarming tactics as an evolution within maneuver warfare, and futurists have contemplated the execution of the tactics by cooperative teams of semi-autonomous drones.1 These projections expound on strengths demonstrated by hive-minded organisms such as bees or ants, which work cooperatively to defeat larger invaders through non-hierarchal communications. Other swarm theorists reference the deadly effectiveness of the ephemeral, loose formations of horse archers of the Asian steppe against less flexible foes.2 Whatever the source of inspiration, few authors move beyond the abstract employment of robotic swarms. To fully explore swarm utility in fire and maneuver, swarms should be inserted into the tactical concepts of today—chiefly, the five forms of offensive maneuver recognized under Army doctrine.
Butter Bar to Four Star: Deficiencies in Leader Development
This article carefully unpacks the ideas that rigid cultural norms, faulty officer management practices, and significant flaws in professional military education (PME) generate damaging gaps in the development of commissioned Army officers in the Active component.
The Risk of Delay: The Need for a New Authorization for Use of Military Force
In September 2014, President Barack Obama announced a four-part plan to systematically destroy the so-called Islamic State (IS), a plan that included sustained military operations in Iraq, into Syria, and “wherever [the terrorists] are.” While President Obama welcomed congressional support for the effort in order to show the world that America was united in confronting this new danger, he claimed the executive branch had the authority to unilaterally approve such use of military force against IS. The President’s justification rested on two congressional resolutions passed into law over a dozen years earlier: the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs). Despite specifically authorizing the use of military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the terrorist threat posed in Iraq, respectively, the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have remained the primary basis for our nation’s counterterrorism efforts abroad for over 15 years. Yet during this period, the world has witnessed the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, death of Osama bin Laden, proliferation of new terrorist groups across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa, and the international expansion of IS.
Winners of the 2017 Essay Competition
NDU Press Congratulates the Winners of the 2017 Essay Competitions.
Follow the Money: Targeting Enemy War-Sustaining Activities
We see them every day on the highways and byways of America—18-wheel trailers and tankers hauling the goods and resources that drive the American economy. From this commerce, revenue is developed, and from this revenue, taxes are drawn—taxes that ultimately provide the manpower and equipment for the Nation’s Armed Forces. If the so-called Islamic State (IS) were to attack these vehicles on America’s highways, we would call it terrorism. Take those same tankers, however, fill them with oil drawn from or refined in IS-controlled fields or facilities, target them on a north-bound dirt road in Syria or Iraq, as U.S. and coalition forces have been doing in Operation Inherent Resolve, and what would we call it? We would call it the lawful use of force against a military objective. So, what is the difference?
The Use of Explosives in Cities: A Grim but Lawful Reality of War
Refugees flowing out of the Middle East pose a serious humanitarian crisis for Europe and the world at large. The indiscriminate use of violence by the so-called Islamic State (IS), the unlawful actions of the Syrian regime, and the conduct of some of the warring factions precipitated and continue to fuel this crisis. Consequent to the indiscriminate use of force and explosives in cities, the flow of Syrian refugees has caused some to call for a complete ban on the use of explosive weapons in cities or urban areas. But to what end? Let’s not learn the wrong lessons from this calamity.
Open Sources for the Information Age: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Unclassified Data
After years of major spending on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) collection capabilities, the Intelligence Community (IC) is beginning to make a commensurate investment in technology to improve intelligence analysis. However, absent a change that recognizes the increasing value of open source information, the IC will not realize a return on its investments.