On Being an American of Muslim Faith in the US Military

By Syed H. Tanveer, US Navy (E-5)

The recent argument between Khzir and Ghazala Khan, parents of Bronze Star Medal recipient Capt. Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004, and presidential candidate Donald Trump have raised many questions about Americans who practice the Muslim faith serving in the United States military, including whether the military is safe with Muslims in it and whether Muslims should have the opportunity to serve their country when some believe this country is at war with Islam.

“If the United States as a whole could learn from the diverse and evolving culture of the military, we would be a stronger nation.”

I am one of 5,900 service members—a mere 0.02%—who identify themselves as an American of Muslim faith in the US military. Just like every other service member, we have taken an oath to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” But not only have we sworn to represent and defend the United States and its Constitution, we are also bestowed the task of representing our cultures, which in my case is an American of Pakistani descent and of the Islamic faith, and to teach fellow service members who Muslims really are.

I enlisted into the United States Navy to give back to the country that gave me everything: a home, a public education, a childhood that most Pakistani children only dream of, and the tools necessary to have a stable and successful life. American is near and dear to my heart, but my faith stands alongside it.

Being an American of Muslim faith in the US military is neither a task that is too daunting nor a task that is too simple. The atmosphere in the military is diverse but because the objective is always “mission-oriented,” it is very easy for us to fit into our respected commands and to do the jobs we are given adequately and with equal opportunity. No non-Muslim servicemember will come up to a Muslim servicemember and say, “Hey, you must be a terrorist because you sure look like one.” In fact, most people approach me with many questions about what Pakistani Muslim culture is like and what my religion sets out to teach. In return, I always give them the answer that I’ve learned and followed growing up as a Pakistani-American Muslim: Islam is a faith that teaches peace, not harm.

Servicemembers have a mindset that differs from the general population. We are taught to be curious, which creates us a thirst for learning, but still obey the orders of those appointed over us and learn from the people next to us in order to create comradery that assists us during harsh conditions. Most of my peers in the military have learned what type of people Muslims really are through my own actions, such as always helping your peers before yourself, giving back to the community as often as you can, and being calm in any circumstance. Through my actions, my colleagues see what we Muslims are taught to do and why we do it on a daily basis, such as not eating pork because we believe it is unclean or giving 2.5% of your income to the needy.

In fact, spreading Muslim awareness within military commands is a way to reiterate who the enemy target really is. We need to stay away from ideas of who average Americans think the war on terrorism is against. In the military, we know that the target isn’t the Muslim populous; the target is the ideology of terrorism. Having American Muslims in the military is a way to reinforce a positive image of Islam because we can teach the true message of the faith to our peers, and when we fight alongside our comrades, who are from many faiths and many cultures, it is in pursuit of one goal—to subdue those who threaten the national security of the United States and who are opposed to what the US Constitution represents.

Recently, I fasted through the month of Ramadan, a month in which Muslims don’t eat from sunrise to sunset for 29 or 30 days. Most of my military peers didn’t know what Ramadan was about, what it represents, and what happens after the last day of this Islamic holy month. So I answered the questions they had to the best of my abilities and shared the knowledge of the Islamic faith throughout the month itself, which enlightened them enough to want to learn more on their own. Specifically, one of the sincerest actions that anyone has done for me in my time of service is when my supervisor—or LCPO, a Chief Petty Officer at rank E-7—fasted all 30 days during the holy month herself! She had set out the goal to go through Ramadan with me in order to support my goal of fasting. I was astounded, especially because we were going through a very vigorous and stressful inspection, which also included going out to sea, and the Hawaiian heat was at its peak during the month of June. I never would have thought a fellow servicemember—who isn’t Muslim at all—would want to go through the demanding month of Ramadan with me, let alone complete all 30 days of it. It made me so excited to see what servicemembers will go through in order to understand and support their peers.

In those 30 days, my supervisor learned more than the struggles of not eating or drinking anything from sun up to sun down, she learned why Muslims do this and what it represents, and thus she learned the history behind Ramadan, some of the teaching of the Quran, and the “five pillars of Islam.” This personal example shows how being an American of Muslim faith in the military makes me an effective representative of Islam. I and my fellow Muslim servicemembers are able to encourage others to take the knowledge we give them about Islam and make it positively influence their views on the faith, as a way to spread understanding about what Islam is properly trying to teach. This new found knowledge of Islam can aid those who fight our wars in the Middle East because they will better understand and communicate with the local populous.

When military members swear to defend the United States and its Constitution, one of the core values we are defending is “equality.” Equality is one of the core ideas of the American experiment, but throughout American history this concept has been beaten and battered around, always with a new social, religious, or ethnic group claiming its right to this value. First there were the American colonists shaking off English King George III’s reign; then there was the abolition of slavery during the US Civil War, followed by the fight to end the Segregation; and along the way the fight for women’s rights included securing a woman’s right to vote. Now we’re seeing other diverse communities—such as American Muslims—raise issues about equality.

Recently, the fight for Muslim equality has centered around political discussions of Islam, immigration, and patriotism (as in the case of the Khans and Trump) and around trying to change the perspective of those who view all Muslims as radical Islamists. As American Muslims, I and my fellow servicemembers want to help shape the image of Islam in a positive way and to encourage others to look past the image of the radical Islamist. The fight for equality might never end, but hopefully progress will always be ongoing. In my case, being able join the military as a Muslim shows me just how far the battle for equality and equal opportunity for American Muslims has come. If the United States as a whole could learn from the diverse and evolving culture of the military, we would be a stronger nation. Freedom of religion, equality under the law, and equal opportunity is what separates this nation from the rest of the world, and it is what I believe makes us the United States of America.

Syed Tanveer attended the Warrior-Scholar Program Academic Boot Camp at Syracuse University in summer 2016. He is an active duty member of the US Navy (E-5 rank) and has applied for a transfer to become a computer science major at SU in fall 2017.

Lone-Wolf or Low-Tech Terrorism? Emergent Patterns of Global Terrorism in Recent French & European Attacks

By Corri Zoli

(Re-published from Lawfare, Aug. 17, 2016) According to media reports, seven accomplices of Tunisian-borne French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel—the man who drove a 20-ton truck into Bastille Day crowds in Nice—have been charged with aiding in “murder by a group with terror links” and violating weapons laws “in relation to terror groups.” The existence of such accomplices would seem to contradict initial news reports denying any link with terrorist organizations—a lack of connection that French authorities initially maintained, as well.

“It is time to do away with the confusing term ‘lone wolf’ and instead recognize the distinct category of ‘low-tech terrorism.'”

This disconnect between public narrative and fact pattern is prevalent in recent incidents, both in France and beyond. In a preceding incident, on June 13 in Magnanville, Larossi Abballa, a French citizen of Moroccan descent previously convicted in 2013 of criminal association to plan terrorist acts, used a knife to kill a police officer and his wife in front of their three-year-old child. While initial reports underscored the perpetrator’s solitary lone wolf status, less than a week later French prosecutors charged two other men—Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji, both convicted in 2013 of “being part of a French jihadist group”—for providing support to Abballa.

Accomplices—often discovered weeks after the media loses interest in a case—are not the only or best indicator of the durable links, ideological and material, that have animated a terrorist act. It is impossible to treat the 14,000+ terrorist attacks worldwide in the past year individual, but focusing on France, two January 2016 incidents involved similar suspects, tactics, and motives. First, a 29-year-old French national of Tunisian descent drove his car into soldiers protecting a mosque in Valence on January 1, and a Tunisian native, Tarek Belgacem, used a fake explosive vest and meat cleaver to attack police in the Goutte d’Or district on January 7, the one-year anniversary of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings. In both cases, news reports found the attackers “acting alone” with “no particular link to any movement.” Aside from the fake suicide vest, a symbolic weapon of contemporary irregular wars, Belgacem held more than 20 aliases from seven different countries, had migrated to the EU through Romania in 2011 by falsely posing as an asylum-seeker from Iraq or Syria, and lived at an asylum center in Recklinghausen, Germany. Both men, as per ISIS-dictated cliché, shouted a version of Allahu Akbar at imminent victims, amassed jihadi content on their electronic devices, and rationalized their acts by vague reference to global grievancesagainst “Muslims” (excepting, of course, those they attacked).

Empirically-minded social scientists and legal scholars share an appreciation for “case facts,” a methodological impulse too often set aside in even expert commentary on recent attacks. In calling for “a better taxonomy of mass violence” after the Orlando shooting, Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes made what should be a simple request: rather than seeking “confirmation” of one’s “particular worldviews” in ascribing motives in these “horrific” events—a “self-validating” exercise that affirms one’s “prior assumptions”—it is time to acknowledge these attacks both defy easy “categorization” and require us to put some effort into “reduc[ing] the story-telling and lesson-drawing impulse from all quarters in the description of these crimes” so as to “develop a more clinical, more Linnaean taxonomy for mass violence.”

In the spirit of that request for social scientific rigor, and with attention to “case facts,” this essay makes three data-driven suggestions to move past the lone-wolf terrorist concept, with implications for how we design better concepts for understanding and preventing contemporary terrorism in the future.

Category Confusion: Terrorism’s Strategic Embrace of Low-Tech Methods

First, it is time to do away with the confusing term “lone wolf” and instead recognize the distinct category of “low-tech terrorism.” This recognition is hovering on the edges of recent innovative analyses of “amateur terrorism” and the “lack of sophistication” of ISIS as a mark of its footprint in Europe. The term “lone wolf,” particularly when used in the public domain, misunderstands the fact that terrorism is at its core an act of strategic communication —a very loud message using the cheapest, often least sophisticated means and methods of attack: knives, homemade bombs, vehicles-as-weapons. This form of “low tech terrorism” combines weak organization with a strong message (i.e., public violence) as the defining feature of this form of political violence. This mismatch of message and organizational strength is one reason why strategic scholars categorize modern terrorism as a form of asymmetric warfare, in which the militarily weak can win wars, exert political influence, and exploit stronger adversaries’ vulnerabilities …

To read the complete article, click here.

Never Forget: Sbarro Pizzeria Massacre, Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2001

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection, Aug. 9, 2016) On this day 15 years ago, a Hamas terror gang based in the West Bank executed a bombing attack on a busy restaurant in the center of Jerusalem.  In the horrific act of savagery 15 people were killed, including 7 children.

“Although perpetrated by a Hamas terror cell, Israeli officials at the time held the Palestinian Authority and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat complicit in the carnage.”

Two U.S. citizens were among those murdered. Four additional Americans were wounded — one severely.

In total, some 130 were injured with varying degrees of severity by the “human bomb” and his team of accomplices.

The mastermind was Ahlam Tamimi, relative of Bassem Tamimi, and a hero to this day in her home village of Nabi Saleh where international activists still protest the security barrier constructed in response to the Sbarro and dozens of other suicide bombings.

I’ll describe the attack, its victims, and the team of terrorists involved in order to underscore the disgraceful fact that for over two decades the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist who has killed Americans in Israel or the disputed territories, even though U.S. law requires it to do so.

Included at the end of the post is a statement exclusive for Legal Insurrection by Frimet and Arnold Roth—the parents of Malka (Malki) Roth, a 15-year-old American girl who was murdered in the Sbarro atrocity.

At 2:00pm on a hot summer day, a Palestinian terrorist entered the Sbarro Pizzeria and detonated a bomb.

Situated at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, probably one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Israel, the bomb blast completely gutted the restaurant.

I ate at this Sbarro a number of times when I lived in and visited Israel. It was a popular kosher eatery, conveniently located, and a good place to bring the kids.

On August 9, 2001 the restaurant was filled with lunch-time diners—many of them children and their mothers. The street was also crowded with pedestrian traffic.

At the time, like most public spaces in Israel the pizzeria wasn’t guarded, something which enabled the human bomber to enter the place unimpeded.

According to media reports, documentation by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and accounts piece together by those who lost loved ones in the horrific attack, the terrorist and his 10 kilogram bomb was transported by taxi to the site by a woman named Ahlam ‘Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi, also known as Ahlam Tamimi, and another Palestinian, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri.

They reportedly concealed the explosives inside a guitar case. The case was also packed with nails, screws, and bolts to ensure maximum damage.

The terrorist al-Masri was killed in the blast. Tamimi escaped but was arrested a few weeks later. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Jerusalem municipality police closed down the PLO’s east Jerusalem headquarters (known as the Orient House) and the IDF took control of Palestinian military and political buildings at Abu Dis, just outside of Jerusalem. The IDF also attacked the PA’s West Bank police headquarters in Ramallah.

Although perpetrated by a Hamas terror cell, Israeli officials at the time held the Palestinian Authority and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat complicit in the carnage. Then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the architect of the Oslo peace accords, reportedly said on the day of the attack:

If the Palestinian Authority had acted with the necessary determination and carried out preventive detentions of Hamas terrorists and their operators, the murders today in Jerusalem would have been prevented”.

Six weeks after the bombing an exhibit at Al Najah University in the West Bank, which included a mock-up of the Sbarro pizzeria complete with bloody plastic body parts and partially-chewed pizza crusts, glorified the attack and the bombers …

To read the complete article, click here.

Soldiers on the Home Front: President Trump & the Military

By William C. Banks & Stephen Dycus

(Re-published from The Hill, Aug. 4, 2016) 

News photos depicting the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, and Nice show heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets. Troops have not yet been deployed in response to terrorism in this country since 9/11, but they might be. Americans should be deeply concerned about this possibility. Here’s why.

“If President Trump were as bellicose and bombastic as candidate Trump, he might direct the defense department to take the lead among federal agencies in responding to continuing terrorist threats, despite his tenuous legal authority for doing so.”

Imagine that soon after the presidential inauguration next January several U.S. cities are hit by ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks. Using conventional weapons and truck bombs, jihadists kill dozens of people and injure many more. Intelligence and police officials say they have thwarted other attacks, and they have detained a number of suspects, but others remain at large. Americans everywhere are on edge.

Now imagine that news bulletins begin to report power blackouts on the West Coast. Terrorists have blown up transformers and power lines, and they have mounted a cyberattack on the electric grid. As the blackout rolls eastward, major elements of the nation’s infrastructure — the Internet, public water supplies, the banking system — also start to fail. Widespread panic quickly ensues.

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Many experts believe it’s not a matter of whether, but when.

If Donald Trump were President in January, how would he respond? Would Trump, as Commander in Chief, order military forces out into the streets of American cities? If he did, what would he authorize those troops to do?

If President Trump were as bellicose and bombastic as candidate Trump, he might direct the Defense Department to take the lead among federal agencies in responding to the attacks, despite questionable legal authority for doing so — or he might even declare martial law. He might order troops to patrol the nation’s streets and neighborhoods, arrest citizens, and use military force to maintain order. The new president might even ignore a judge’s orders that found these actions unlawful.

President Trump might follow through on his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the country. Or he might order the Army to spy on those already here. With support from many angry and frightened Americans, he might use troops to imprison all Muslims or even to torture those in military custody.  (He has said of waterboarding, “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”)

For good measure, the new president might unleash armed drone aircraft over American cities, with orders to kill suspected terrorists and their families.

Finally, in response to the escalating crisis, President Trump might direct military commanders to take over the Internet, radio, and TV, allowing only communications approved by the White House.

If he did any of these things, President Trump would violate a long tradition of avoiding military intrusions into civil society whenever possible.

Americans have always embraced the military at home with caution. We understand the value of a highly disciplined, well-equipped, experienced fighting force to defend against foreign invaders or to help out when civilian authorities are overwhelmed by domestic violence or natural disasters. Sometimes U.S. troops operating on home soil have done what no other government entity could — saving thousands of lives and avoiding huge property losses, as when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans …

To read the complete article, click here.

William C. Banks is INSCT Director and Stephen Dycus is a law professor at Vermont Law School. They are coauthors of the recently published Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military.

Talking About Torture

By Isaac Kfir

Review of Talking About Torture: How Political Discourse Shapes the Debate by Jared Del Rosso (Columbia University Press, 2015).

(Re-published from Human Rights Law Review, 2016) September 11 initiated a distinct narrative: American exceptionalism is under threat, the world is inhabited by fanatics, who without any real justification have decided to launch a war to destroy Western civilization and the American way of life. Key to this narrative is the claim that the Western world, particularly the United States of America (US), is at enormous disadvantage as we live in a society of rules that mean that we fight wars with one hand tied behind our backs. Del Rosso’s book Talking about Torture engages with this narrative. The book is provocative, meticulous in its research and fascinating, underlining how Americans—or at least the political class—came to justify the use of torture, by adopting a menacing narrative of the ticking bomb, existential threats that rationalize the use of extreme, illegal measures in the name of ‘saving the nation’.

“What also appears in Del Rosso’s close study of the various Senate hearings is a willingness by senior military officials, such as General Keith Alexander, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for intelligence, and General Ronald Burgess, the director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to raise questions as to the validity of an International Committee of the Red Cross report on the abuses.”

The first chapter of Talking About Torture lays the framework for the book. It offers a socio-cultural discussion of the meaning of the word ‘torture’ underlining the illiberal associations that the word raises, which is why it ceased to be used. And yet, states continue with the practice, albeit in secret or by denying that they are using it. In Chapters 2 through to 6, Del Rosso presents analysis of congressional discourse on torture, which is done chronologically. In pursuing this, Del Rosso draws attention to the dynamic contextual factors that influenced the debate as to the use of torture.

In Chapter 2, Del Rosso engages in a fascinating deconstruction about the way Congress responded to abuses of detainees at the Metropolitan Detention Facility (MDF) in Brooklyn, New York, contrasting it with the release of the Abu Ghraib photos. The FBI, which was investigating the 9/11 attacks, arrested over 750 detainees on alleged violation of immigration laws. These individuals were placed at the MDF. In this chapter, Del Rosso shows that in the MDF case, members of Congress simply refused to accept the information, as initially it was verbally provided and verbally denied by the accused perpetrators. Notably, a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the alleged violations at the MDF, which were highlighted in an Inspector General Report, saw only seven of the 19 Committee members attending the hearing, with only Senators Hatch and Feingold in attendance to question both of the Committee’s two panels of witnesses. There was also a willingness by the Committee and other officials to portray the abuse, if there was any, as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks and the need to forestall another possible attack.

Sadly, Del Rosso does not really address how Congress responded to two Office of the Inspector General Reports that catalogued the abuses and the way detainees were treated at the MDF. This is mainly because Del Rosso is more interested in the Abu Ghraib case. In that case, the evidence was presented as photographic evidence, which arguably undermined the ability of some to challenge the veracity of the claims. In responding to the evidence, the narrative was shaped in such a way that the abuses were presented in the context of the Iraq War, with Congress calling for action so as not to undermine the war effort of winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis. The chapter highlights the importance of images when it comes to the discourse on torture. In the MDF case, there were no images, whereas the Abu Ghraib scandal began with a CBS News report ‘Exposing the Truth of Abu Ghraib’, which may explain why the Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing as to what had taken place, and the witnesses included Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers (at the MDF hearing there were no high-profile witnesses from the Justice Department or the FBI).

The two succeeding chapters review and assess how Congress and the US military approached the Abu Ghraib scandal. Interestingly, the chapters underline how the Abu Ghraib scandal led to the realization that abuses were pervasive in Iraq and not limited to one detention facility. Yet the answer to the widespread violations was not to see them as systemic, but rather as accidental or small mainly in reference to arrests, allowing for a dichotomous official line that Abu Ghraib was an anomaly, a product of local conditions (the war), confusion as to what was permissible and, most importantly, the pathological behaviour of a few soldiers (though not of senior commanders or policymakers). This narrative appears in Del Rosso’s account of General John Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, as Abizaid rationalized the activities of the soldiers by saying that the soldiers are fighting for their lives and that war is brutal and bloody. In other words, even though abuses were pervasive, they were still anomalies. What also appears in Del Rosso’s close study of the various Senate hearings is a willingness by senior military officials, such as General Keith Alexander, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for intelligence, and General Ronald Burgess, the director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to raise questions as to the validity of an International Committee of the Red Cross report on the abuses. That is, not to dispute the abuses, but the extent of them …

To read the complete review, click here.

International law expert Isaac Kfir is an INSCT Research and Practice Associate.

Seek Justice for Us: An Interview with David Crane

By David Newstead

(Re-Published from The Philosophy of Shaving, July 11, 2016) David Crane is a law professor at Syracuse University and the former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. As Chief Prosecutor, he indicted then Liberian President Charles Taylor, leading to Taylor’s conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Today, David Crane joins me to discuss impunity in Africa, his investigation into Syrian war crimes, and the need for expanded human rights laws in the United States.

“Impunity has raised its head in a very negative way. When we indicted Charles Taylor back in June of 2003, it was a beginning. I thought a very hopeful beginning against the good old boys club of Africa. We had broken down that barrier and heads of state in Africa would be held accountable.”

David Newstead: Considering that you helped to prosecute Liberian President Charles Taylor and that Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré was recently convicted for human rights abuses, do you feel like particularly in Africa’s case that impunity has ended for heads of state and elected officials?

David Crane: Oh, not at all. Unfortunately, impunity has raised its head in a very negative way. When we indicted Charles Taylor back in June of 2003, it was a beginning. I thought a very hopeful beginning against the good old boys club of Africa. We had broken down that barrier and heads of state in Africa would be held accountable.

But because of some missteps by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the withdrawal of the African Union as a participant largely in the ICC for a lot of reasons. And the recent declaration a year ago by African heads of state saying they will not be held accountable for whatever they do in office, I thought we took about a 30 year step backwards.

The Habré investigation and trial were on-going. So even though it appears that we have some positive steps, in reality I just have to tell you I’m not confident where this is going. And I’m a little bit disappointed in the attitudes politically of African leaders related to dealing with their own people. It’s not a good step forward frankly. Even though the Habré conviction is important, there are other political leaders in Africa that need to be held accountable. And I fear that they will not, particularly with the political climate against international justice at this point.

David Newstead: You’ve also been working on possible war crimes prosecutions related to the Syrian conflict, is that correct?

David Crane: Yes. I’ve been working on this from the very beginning since March 2011. Over five years.

David Newstead: Would that mainly focus on prosecuting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? Or other actors in the conflict as well?

David Crane: The Syrian Accountability Project, which we put together to deal with this back in March of 2011, is looking at all parties neutrally. So, we’re looking at all sides, all players. Which has gone from just the Free Syrian Army versus Assad to about eleven significant players who are just chewing the people of Syria apart. So, we want to make sure this is considered and known as a neutral effort to seek justice for the people of Syria. It’s not about going after just Assad, but everyone. Because everyone is going after the people of Syria.

David Newstead: So, not only Assad, but also ISIS and Al-Nusra Front and other factions?

David Crane: Oh yeah. All of the factions. To include the Free Syrian Army. Everybody.

David Newstead: In 2014, you were involved in the release of some 55,000 photographs of human rights abuses in Syria.

David Crane: Yes, I was the co-author of the Caesar Report detailing those abuses.

David Newstead: Can you say more about the evidence that your group has been collecting since then and what that consists of?

David Crane: That’s a good question. A fair question. Again based on my long term experience in this business particularly taking down one of the few heads of state in history, I’ve basically built a practical legal way of doing that. Using the same techniques that we used in West Africa, we’re doing the same thing in Syria and in the Levant region. And that is developing a conflict map, a crime-based matrix, and associated documents, which we can then build into indictments.

We’re very careful in the data that we use in our crime-based matrix, which shows chronologically time, location, unit involved, and then the alleged crime itself. And then also what we do is we list the violation of the Rome Statute, the violation of international humanitarian law as well as the violation of the Syrian criminal code. So, this could be used by either a local prosecutor, a regional prosecutor, or an international prosecutor, referring to this package that we’ve been putting together over the past five and a half years. So, they could use this to start building their own case against those who they feel have committed either Syrian crimes or international crimes.

The data is carefully vetted. We have contacts throughout the world (to include the Middle East, to include in Syria) providing us real-time, real-world criminal information that we then take and verify. Our rule is that it has to be verified as has happened. We have a rumor of an incident and then we have to verify it by two other sources before we put it on the crime-based matrix. But the fascinating thing is that crime-based matrix is now over 7,000 pages. And it’s on an Excel spreadsheet.

David Newstead: You have a 7,000 page Excel spreadsheet?!

David Crane: Yeah, 25 incidents per page. Now again, this is just verifiable incidents of possible international crimes. You have to understand that when I was doing this just twelve years ago, we had to create our case the old-fashion way. You know, getting out there and finding the evidence. Now, it’s completely reversed. All of the data that’s coming out of Syria and it’s in terabytes almost daily, it’s a tsunami of information. And what ends up happening is that you’re looking for that needle in the haystack as opposed to no haystacks.

And I think this is important for you and your readers to understand that 99.99% of the information coming out of Syria in whatever capacity it is – through social media, internet, direct testimony, whatever – is not useful in court. We can’t turn it into evidence, because of the authenticity of it, the chain of custody, and all of that. So, we have a great database for the history of the events and that’s important. The data can be used for other things.

But as a former international chief prosecutor, I’ve got to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt using rules of evidence before a court. And that data creates leads. But at the end of the day, if they called me right now and said “You’re now the Chief Prosecutor for Syria!” all of this would be useful to me. We’ve converted that into useful information. That’s how the Syrian Accountability Project takes it one step further. We’ve converted this information into criminal information, which then can be converted into evidence by a future prosecutor. So, we’ve kind of strained it a bit if you get my drift. You know, we’re moving it to where a future prosecutor be they local, regional, or international can go into court and prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. So, that’s the data issue …

To read the complete blog article, click here.

The Military at Home

By Kevin Cieply

(Re-Published from Lawfare, July 20, 2016) 

A review of William C. Banks and Stephen Dycus’s Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military (Harvard, 2016). 

Soldiers on the Home Front explores the potential threat the military poses to our civil liberties and rule of law when the military operates in our homeland. The authors expressly recognize and honor our military members for their service in securing and safeguarding our nation throughout its history and today.  With numerous historical examples, the authors readily acknowledge that throughout history the military has typically respected their proper role and stayed out of the country’s civil affairs.  And when the military has stepped in, it has almost always performed its unique role with distinction.  But occasionally the military has intruded when not needed, almost always at the behest of overeager, even reckless, civilian leaders.  When this has occurred it has invariably involved a significant loss of liberty for our society.  The authors quote Antonio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice to capture the contemporary relevance of their book: “what’s past is prologue.”

“The authors efficiently demonstrate our country’s initial attempts to strike a proper balance of power that would enable the executive to effectively use the military, but with constraints.”

The book begins, after a brief introduction, with the Redcoats marching “bayonets fixed—into the City of Boston.” After setting the initial scene of the Boston Massacre, the book quickly turns even further back in time, to our English origins, to lay the foundations of our nation’s most treasured and basic concepts, such as the due process as opposed to martial law, the principal of necessity, the use and limitations of a militia, the necessity and yet wariness of establishing a standing army, the need to subordinate the military to civilian rule, as well as the struggle of power between the legislative and executive branches over control of and proper use of our military. 

The chapter covering our nation’s origins provides an effective primer on how the colonists settled America and the framers crafted our Constitution.  The authors efficiently demonstrate our country’s initial attempts to strike a proper balance of power that would enable the executive to effectively use the military, but with constraints.  The chapter takes the reader through the sequence of events that fueled the rebellion, gave birth to our nation, and framed our Constitution.  It ends by explaining the framers’ intent as to the role of the standing federal army, state militias, and the overall division of authority between the federal and state governments.  From the Magna Carta through the Boston Massacre to the Philadelphia Convention, the chapter is quick and engaging.  By the end, the reader has a refreshed and deepened sense of the core concepts of a representative democracy, security for our country, and individual liberty for our citizens, which form the analytical framework the authors use throughout the book. 

The book is then divided into chapters explaining how our nation, throughout its history, has used the military as peacekeepers, cops, jailors, judges, investigators—even as rulers.    The chapter titles alone, and certainly taken together, stir concern.  Inside each chapter lies historical accounts of the most significant and relevant instances of our military being used to control our civil affairs.  The chapters are packed with examples.  Some examples were clearly appropriate uses of military force, others obviously not.  But it is the concentration of the examples, coupled with an analysis as to how those examples fare under our laws, that makes the book so valuable. 

The most extensive and legitimate use of our military in civil affairs, as demonstrated in Chapter 3, has been as Peacekeepers and Cops, categories that include the provision of disaster relief.  Chapter 3 begins by fixing the general boundaries envisioned by the Framers—that the government would, at times, use the military to keep the peace and police civil society—but using the military in this fashion was to be reserved for extraordinary times, when the rule of law or the government as a whole was threatened.  Yet, whether for political compromise, or intentionally building in flexibility for an unpredictable future, or both, the Framers did not provide comprehensive and unambiguous language about the military’s proper role domestically in the Constitution.  Indeed, the authors describe the Framers language as “blurred” and “cryptic.” 

Chapter 3 explains how the Second Congress attempted to flesh-out some of that cryptic language.  Invoking its explicit power under the Constitution to “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions,” Congress passed the Calling Forth Act of 1792.  It explicitly delegated to the President the power to actually call-up the Militia into federal service in times of Invasion, threat of Invasion, by foreign powers or Indian Tribes, and in times of Insurrection.  The Calling Forth Act, also known as the 1792 Militia Act, was a broad and relatively unrestrained delegation of power to the President to respond to invasions and insurrections.  On a much more limited basis, the Second Congress also delegated to the President the authority to call up the militia to “execute the Laws of the Union.” 

President Washington used this newly gained authority in response to the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.  As required under the Calling Forth Act, Washington obtained certification from the judiciary that there was a rebellious force too powerful for ordinary judicial proceedings to handle and that those forces were obstructing federal laws.  He also, as required, issued an order for the insurgents to disperse and cease their unlawful acts of preventing the federal government from enforcing an excise tax on liquors and stills.  When his order was not heeded, Washington called up over 10,000 militiamen from four states, employing them to crush the movement in Western Pennsylvania. 

The authors point out that the unrest was “hardly” a rebellion or insurrection, and that the Pennsylvania Governor, at the time, described the law-breakers as no more than “rioters.”  They conclude that the Whiskey Rebellion was a “problematic precedent” …

To read the complete review, click here.

Deterring Financially Motivated Cybercrime

By Zachary K. Goldman & Damon McCoy

(Re-published from the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, 8:3) Deterrence is one of the most venerable concepts in the national security lexicon. It refers to the process of manipulating an adversary’s cost/benefit calculations to prevent him from doing something you do not want him to do. The concept is as old as warfare itself, reaching its apotheosis during the Cold War, when it was the central principle governing the security relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

But despite the pedigree of deterrence as a theory and a strategy, the community of scholars and practitioners focused on cybersecurity and cybercrime has struggled to adapt it to the burgeoning world of cyber threats. Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the NSA, has said that the “fundamental concepts of deterrence” in cyberspace are “immature.”[i]

“Because deterrence of financially motivated cybercrime involves manipulating the financial costs and benefits of an attack, it will rely on different tools than the deterrence of attacks against military targets or critical infrastructure.”

Senator John McCain has decried the “failure to develop a meaningful cyber deterrence strategy.”[ii] And some of the most prominent cybersecurity practitioners have noted that “deterrence is an undeveloped theoretical space in cyber war today.”[iii]

The cyber deterrence discussion has foundered thus far in part because of challenges that are unique to cyber space. This includes problems publicly attributing cyberattacks with confidence, the difficulty that inheres in determining whether a technological system has failed because of attack or for other reasons,[iv] and the unwillingness of states to discuss publicly capabilities that they treat as highly classified.

But part of the problem is also conceptual, derived from the fact that cyberattacks are motivated by an array of factors—cyber espionage is motivated by different interests than attacks on critical infrastructure–and involve a range of actors with varying degrees of linkage to states. Deterrence strategies therefore must be tailored for each set of motivations and each set of actors, a task that has proven to be a significant challenge.

Within the spectrum of motivations for the infliction of cyber harms, this article addresses financially motivated cyberattacks because they constitute a substantial portion of cyberattacks,[v] and represent a significant drag on economic activity.[vi]  Deterring them will require different strategies than those used to deter other forms of cyber threat like attacks on critical infrastructure or cyberattacks in the context of armed conflicts.[vii]

We use the term “financially motivated cyberattacks” in this paper to refer to attacks that use malicious cyber capabilities to generate a profit; like other businesses, this activity is sensitive to costs. Financially motivated cyberattacks often seek data—credit card data, health records, or other personally identifiable information—that can be monetized quickly.

Financially motivated cyber criminals also seek valuable intellectual property, trade secrets, or material non-public information about companies that can provide strategic or competitive advantage.[viii]  Financially motivated cybercrime also includes the sale of counterfeit or fraudulent goods perpetrated through digital intrusions—the kinds of spam messages that clog our email inboxes each day. In targeting digital information, financially motivated cyber criminals are participants in a (black) marketplace for data or goods that is “growing in size and complexity” and which has “emerged as a playground of financially driven, highly organized, and sophisticated groups.”[ix]

Deterring financially motivated cybercrime requires a defender to raise the cost in time or resources of pursuing a particular target. Defenders can also deter attacks by lowering the anticipated benefits that an attacker will receive through a particular act of cyber theft. In the context of the strategies discussed in this paper, cyberattacks can be deterred by making it harder for criminals to monetize the goods they have counterfeited or data they have stolen.

Because deterrence of financially motivated cybercrime involves manipulating the financial costs and benefits of an attack, it will rely on different tools than the deterrence of attacks against military targets or critical infrastructure.[x] Instead of punishing retaliation against the means and instrumentalities of the attack, financial sanctions and other measures taken by the private sector can raise the cost of commercially motivated theft.

This article [presents] a strategy for deterring financially motivated cybercrime that leverages the US government’s financial sanctions program targeting “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,”[xi] as well as private sector efforts to mitigate cybercrime. Public/private collaborations … are an important part of a deterrence strategy designed to deprive cyber thieves of the expected value of criminal behavior. These partnerships have done important work to use intellectual property law and other legal regimes to play “offense against cybercriminals … taking legal action to clean up malware and help ensure customers stay safer online.”[xii] This article also discusses techniques that credit card companies are using to make it more difficult to profit from cybercrime.

While this article focuses on deterring financially motivated cybercrime, it also seeks to establish the larger point that one cannot speak generically about “cyber deterrence.” Rather, different kinds of malicious cyber activity demand different, tailored deterrence strategies. This is because each category of cyber threat has a different motivation, and therefore will be sensitive to a different type of cost. Broadly, one can distinguish between cyber war, cyber activism (“hacktivism”), cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, and financially motivated cyber theft.[xiii]

Financially motivated cyber theft does not generally pose a risk of acute catastrophe—the “Cyber Pearl Harbor” that then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described in 2012.[xiv] Rather, senior government officials are beginning to describe the main cybercrime threat as an “ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyberattacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on US economic competitiveness and national security.”[xv]

While these might prove catastrophic to a particular victim company at a particular moment, the strategy for deterring them similarly lies in a distributed approach to raising the costs of attack, and targeting what cyber thieves care about most: their wallets …

To read the complete article, click here.


[i] Admiral Michael S. Rogers (USN), Director, National Security Agency, and Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Remarks at the New America Foundation Conference on Cybersecurity (Feb. 23, 2015).

[ii] Hearing to Receive Testimony on US Strategic Command, U.S. Transportation Command, and US Cyber Command In Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2016 and the Future Years Defense Program: Hearing Before the S. Armed Services Comm., 114th Cong. (2015) (Statement of Sen. John McCain, Chairman).

[iii] RICHARD A. CLARKE & ROBERT K. KNAKE, CYBER WAR:  THE NEXT THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 189 (2010)Transportation Command, and USS.elease  paper onial Courtroom in Dineen Hall, April 2016.

[iv] MARTIN LIBICKI, CYBERDETERRENCE AND CYBERWAR 45-47 (2009) (hereinafter “LIBICKI, CYBERDETERRENCE AND CYBERWAR”).

[v] VERIZON ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS, 2014 DATA BREACH INVESTIGATIONS REPORT 9 (2014) [hereinafter 2014 VERIZON DATA BREACH REPORT] (noting that approximately 60% of data breaches are financially motivated).

[vi] Estimates about the cost of cybercrime to the economy vary widely and measuring the cost of breaches with any precision is difficult. Ellen Nakashima & Andrea Peterson, Report: Cybercrime and espionage costs $445 billion annually, WASH. POST (June 9, 2014), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/report-cybercrime-and-espionage-costs-445-billion-annually/2014/06/08/8995291c-ecce-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html; Paul Taylor, Cybercrime costs US $100bn a year, report says, FIN. TIMES (July 23, 2013), www.ft.com/cms/s/0/45bf9898-f3bf-11e2-942f-00144feabdc0.html. See Ross Anderson et al., Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime (2012) (paper for the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security), http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~savage/papers/WEIS2012.pdf.

[vii] Indeed, some argue that cyber war has not—and will not—take place. See, e.g., THOMAS RID, CYBER WAR WILL NOT TAKE PLACE (2013).  Rid, a noted theorist of military strategy, argues instead that much of what we consider acts of cyber war are in fact better understood as one or a combination of espionage, sabotage, or subversion.  Rid argues that cyberattacks largely do not amount to acts of war “because the use of force in war is violent, instrumental, and political.”  Id. at 4. Cyberattacks have, however, been used in the context of armed hostilities. See CLARKE AND KNAKE, supra note 3, at 5-8 (describing reported Israeli cyber operations to blind Syria’s air defense systems before striking a nuclear facility there in September 2007).  Russia also accompanied its 2008 attack on Georgia with crippling cyberattacks against the country. Id. at 18-21.

[viii] Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nine People Charged in Largest Known Computer Hacking and Securities Fraud Scheme: More than 150,000 Press Releases Stolen from Three Major Newswire Companies, Used to Generate Approximately $30 Million in Illegal Trading Profits (Aug. 11, 2015), https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2015/nine-people-charged-in-largest-known-computer-hacking-and-securities-fraud-scheme.

[ix] LILLIAN ABLON, MARTIN C. LIBICKI & ANDREA A. GOLAY, MARKETS FOR CYBERCRIME TOOLS AND STOLEN DATA ix (2014) [hereinafter MARKETS FOR CYBERCRIME TOOLS].

[x] LIBICKI, CYBERDETERRENCE AND CYBERWAR, supra note 4, at 91-116 (for a discussion of the importance of retaliation in the deterrence of cyber threats against military or infrastructure targets).

[xi] Exec. Order No. 13694, 31 C.F.R. 578 (Apr. 2Transportation Command, and USS.elease  paper onial Courtroom in Dineen Hall, April 2016.

[xii] Richard Domingues Boscovich, Microsoft Takes on Global Cybercrime Epidemic in Tenth Malware Disruption, THE OFFICIAL MICROSOFT BLOG (June 30, 2014), http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2014/06/30/microsoft-takes-on-global-cybercrime-epidemTransportation Command, and USS.elease  paper onial Courtroom in Dineen Hall, April 2016.

[xiii] Catherine A. Theohary & John W. Rollins, Cong. Research Serv., R43955, Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism:  In Brief, (2015).

[xiv] Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Keynote Address to the Business Executives for National Security: “Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack” (Oct. 11, 2012). We leave aside questions about what might happen if a financially motivated cyberattack produces unintended consequences because of digital interdependencies that are poorly understood by attackers.

[xv] Susan Landau, What We Must Do About Cyber, LAWFARE BLOG (Mar. 10, 2015), http://www.lawfareblog.com/2015/03/what-we-must-do-about-cyber.

Are Hamas Rockets Terrorism? Hollywood Weighs in

By Lauren Mellinger (JD/MAIR ’10)

(Re-Published from Strife, June 30, 2016) On June 20, 2016, NBC Universal (Universal Cable Productions) filed a lawsuit in a California federal court against its insurer, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company. At first glance the case appears to be a typical dispute over a contract—a Hollywood production company is suing its insurer for failure to pay the expenses incurred due to last minute decisions made by the production company in response to the last round of fighting between Hamas and Israel during the summer of 2014. Yet, at the centre of the case lies the question: Whether Hamas’s rocket attacks during that conflict should be classified as a war between sovereign nations, or as the militant acts of a terrorist group.

“The fact that Atlantic can even ask the court to entertain its argument is due to what has amounted over the past decade, if not longer, to an ‘accepted ambiguity’ in international law and policymaking regarding Hamas.”

Summer 2014: A Brief Overview of Operation Protective Edge

On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. Hamas would later claim responsibility for the attack but in the ensuing weeks, Israel cracked down on Hamas operatives in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza responded with a barrage of rocket fire. On July 7, over 85 Hamas rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, for which Hamas claimed responsibility. The next day, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge. Neither Israel nor Hamas wanted the conflict to escalate – becoming the third in a series of rounds in a war of attrition that has existed between the two sides since Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007. The operation lasted seven weeks, ending in a cease-fire on August 26.

Now for the obvious question – Why is the operation suddenly being featured in The Hollywood Reporter?

Enter Hollywood

In the summer of 2015, USA network aired the miniseries Dig, the television show at the centre of this lawsuit. When production began the previous summer, the plan was for the mystery-conspiracy-thriller which is set in Jerusalem to film on location in Israel – the location shoot being integral to the creative process. Indeed at a panel at that summer’s annual Comic-Con, Dig’s creators boasted that “[s]hooting there [in Jerusalem] is paramount to the story in capturing the vividness and emphasizing the characters of the show.”

But when the violence broke out that June, only the pilot episode had been filmed. Following a week-long unplanned hiatus (an expensive undertaking for a production company, especially on an overseas location shoot), Universal opted to relocate filming to New Mexico and Croatia for the duration of production for that season. Due to the unanticipated relocation, Universal incurred $6.9 million in unforeseen costs. When Universal submitted a claim to its insurer, Atlantic, for reimbursement, the company denied the claim.

So far – a typical contractual dispute. But now for the added twist:

According to Universal Cable Productions, of which USA Network is a subsidiary, after the violence broke out, the U.S. State Department attributed the rocket attacks to Hamas. At that point, Universal argues, it submitted a claim to Atlantic, which then denied coverage.

In their complaint, Universal maintains that Atlantic’s rationale for failing to reimburse the production company contravenes the official policy of the U.S. government, which to date has not recognised Hamas as a sovereign government. Indeed according to the documents filed with the court, Universal argues that:

“[t]he United States government has officially designated Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Nevertheless, Atlantic has ignored the United States government position and applicable law. It claims Hamas is a sovereign or quasi-sovereign government over the Gaza Strip (even though Atlantic admits the Gaza Strip is not a recognized sovereign nation), in a self-serving attempt to invoke the war exclusion and avoid its coverage obligations.”

Atlantic maintains that the company denied Universal’s claim on the grounds that, per the terms of the contract, coverage is excluded for war or warlike actions. According to documents filed with the court, Atlantic stated that the company informed Universal in a letter dated July 28, 2014 that at the time “the terrorism coverage should not apply” to the events of July 2014, as Hamas’s actions did not target either the United States or its policies, and that “the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury has not certified the [Hamas/Israel] events as acts of terrorism.”

Barring any issue of justiciability per U.S. law, should the case proceed, the California federal court will be forced to confront an issue that has seemingly confounded policymakers and international jurists since January 2006: How to define Hamas.

The Challenge of Defining Hamas

While it is too early in the proceedings to state with certainty, the likelihood is that Atlantic is not taking a stand on political grounds. Rather, it is more likely that they saw the amount incurred by Universal when production was moved at the eleventh hour, and looked for a loophole that would allow them to avoid payment. The fact that Atlantic can even ask the court to entertain its argument is due to what has amounted over the past decade, if not longer, to an “accepted ambiguity” in international law and policymaking regarding Hamas …

To read the complete blog, click here.

INSCT alumna Lauren Mellinger (JD/MAIR ’10) is a doctoral candidate in War Studies at King’s College, London, and a senior editor of Strife’s blog and journal. Her research specializes in Israeli counterterrorism and foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can follow her on Twitter @Lauren_M04.

Future Missions Through the Lens of the US Army Operating Concept

By Octavian Manea

(Re-published from Small Wars Journal | May 29, 2016) A “future missions” discussion with Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, US Army Training and Doctrine Command. McMaster served previously as Commanding General, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning from June 2012 to July 2014. From 2010 to 2012, he commanded Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Shafafiyat (Transparency) in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.

SWJ: We’ve seen recently the major strategic challenges (mainly high-end adversaries) driving the DoD 2017 budget. From the perspective of the US Army Operating Concept what are the most relevant trends we need to keep in mind that are most likely to contribute to shaping and changing the character of armed conflict?

HRM: As we try to understand the problem of future armed conflict, we consider four main areas that exhibit both continuities in the nature of war and changes in the character of warfare. We make grounded projections into the future by first considering potential threats, enemies, and adversaries in future operating environments. We consider threats emerging from nation-states as well as non-state actors and so-called hybrid enemies that are non-state actors that enjoy state support.

These threats include Russia and its aggressive actions such as the invasion of Ukraine and their actions in the Middle East where they’ve allied themselves with a murderous regime and with the Iranians in pursuit of a strategy that is perpetuating the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. Russia is waging limited war for limited objectives and conducting sophisticated campaigns that include the use of unconventional forces operating under the cover of very significant conventional force capability. Russia’s aim is not defensive; its actions since 2007 are part of a broader effort to collapse the post-World War II and post-Cold War security order in Europe. Russia has combined military force with other activities to change the geopolitical landscape on the Eurasian landmass. In Crimea and Ukraine Russia was able to accomplish goals at little to no cost, consolidate gains and portray the response of US and NATO allies and those supporting Ukraine as escalatory. What Russia has done highlights the need to revisit deterrence theory and make it relevant to the geostrategic problem set on the Eurasian landmass.

What we see with China is similar. China is also using conventional and unconventional capabilities to change realities in the South China Sea. China is building islands and positioning military capabilities there in an effort to intimidate the countries in the region and establish a degree of hegemony. China’s actions in the South China Sea lead to questions about its intentions and its commitment to uphold a rules based international system. In both China and Russia what you see is a renewed need for deterrence, especially a focus on deterrence by denial -the ability for nations to convince a potential adversary that he can’t accomplish his objectives. The military has a very important role along with diplomacy, economic policy, and informational efforts because an integrated campaign is necessary to counter those who are employing a sophisticated strategy. Countering propaganda, and disinformation, for example, is important. Russia has been particularly adept at sowing conspiracy theories in Europe and doing its best to undermine the NATO Alliance in particular.

And we should not forget about Iran which has been supporting proxies across the Arab world but especially in the Middle East in a way that I think, along with the rise of ISIS, set the conditions for this disastrous sectarian civil war and humanitarian crisis. They’ve done this by essentially applying the Hezbollah model to the Greater Middle East where they have weak governments in power that are dependent upon Iran for support while Iran grows militias and other illegal armed groups and supports them because they can be turned against those governments if those governments act against Iranian interests.

Potential threats, enemies, and adversaries are important for us to consider but we also need to consider the missions we need to conduct in the future. Army forces are essential to deterring conflict. As part of the Joint Force, they’ve prevented great power conflict for over 70 years now. Forces positioned forward are particularly important to deterrence. When facing countries that wage limited war for limited objectives it is important to ratchet up the cost at the frontier and also to let the enemy know they cannot accomplish their objectives. And the Army has an important role because, as Thomas Schelling wrote in the 1960s- the army gives you a brute force option which is the ability to compel outcomes without the cooperation of the enemy. Our stand-off capabilities will remain very important for our joint force and for multinational forces such as NATO. The role of land forces is becoming even more important, I think, to the deterrence mission.

Another mission that we need to conduct is what we call expeditionary maneuver: the ability to deploy rapidly into unexpected locations and transition quickly into operations and to do so with forces that have the mobility, protection and lethality to overmatch the enemy and operate in sufficient scale and ample duration to accomplish the mission. If you look how these forces will be employed it will be in the context of coping with a hostile nation-state’s capabilities, especially long range ballistic missile capabilities which today are analogous to the V1 and V2 threat to London in World War II. They are also important against groups like Daesh who has established a terrorist proto-state in Syria and Iraq. Army forces are critical in denying enemy safe havens and support bases, in defeating enemy organizations, in establishing control of territory to deny its use to the enemy, in protecting populations and in projecting power outward from land into the maritime, aero-space and cyber-space domains. For example, what we see today is that Russia has established air supremacy over Ukraine from the ground so Army forces have to be able to conduct joint multinational combined arms maneuver. And Army forces have always had the mission to integrate efforts of multiple partners to consolidate gains to translate military success into sustainable political outcomes.

The third thing we consider is technology that can improve our capabilities. We are very interested in demand reduction of logistics so we can maintain freedom of movement in action at the end of extended and contested lines of communications in austere environments. We are very interested in robotic and autonomy enable systems, both air and ground, to help us see and fight across wider areas, to help us make contact with the enemy under favorable conditions, and to help maintain freedom of movement and action along contested routes and in contested areas. We are looking to improve lethality, especially through a range of technologies like directed energy capabilities that can allow our forces to pack a greater punch and be more effective against a broad range of enemy threats. We are also looking at advanced protective systems for both air and ground forces that can protect forces from what we see in Eastern Ukraine such as the long-range ballistic missile threat capability, massed fires and maybe swarm UAS capabilities. And we’re focused on the cyber and electromagnetic capabilities to ensure our ability to communicate freely and restrict the ability of the enemy to communicate freely and also to assure some of our advanced capabilities. Finally, we should also consider the enemy’s technological counter-measures to whatever we develop and we have to be able to counter what we see as emerging threat capabilities.

And finally we look at history and lessons learned. For example, we can learn quite a bit from Russian operations during the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine and from the ongoing fights in Syria and Iraq. Recent Israeli operations in Gaza can give important lessons on dense urban terrain. And French operations in Mali are also instructive.

So to understand what is changing in the character of warfare we look at threats, enemies, adversaries; missions; technology; and the lessons learned …

To read the full blog, click here.

Octavian Manea (MAIR ’13) was a Fulbright Junior Scholar at SU Maxwell School and a 2013 recipient of a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Security Studies through INSCT.