Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism Director of Research Corri Zoli spoke to Syracuse-area channels 3/5 on March 9, 2018, about the overtures between the United States and North Korea on the subject of nuclear weapons. Zoli called them “interesting developments” that we should approach with a “healthy dose of skepticism” given North Korea’s broken promises in the past …
An interview with Robert O. Work, 31st US Deputy Secretary of Defense
By Octavian Manea (MAIR ’13)
(Re-published from Small Wars Journal | January 2018) Usually when we are talking about the Cold War, the first thing that we think in terms of a strategic framework is containment. But what has been the role the offset strategies played in the broader Cold War competition? In 1997, William Perry made an interesting observation that I think is worth reflecting on: “these strategies, containment, deterrence and offset strategy were the components of a broad holding strategy during the Cold War. I call it a holding strategy because it did not change the geopolitical conditions which led to the Cold War, but it did deter another World War and it did stem Soviet expansion in the world until the internal contradictions in the Soviet system finally caused the Soviet Union to collapse. The holding strategy worked.”
As Bill Perry suggests, technological offset strategies played an important role during the Cold War. The thinking about offset strategies can actually be traced to World War II. When the United States entered the war, planners concluded that the US would need over 200 infantry divisions and about 280 air combat groups to ultimately defeat the Axis powers. However, US leadership knew that if they built so many infantry divisions, the manpower they would need to work the arsenal of democracy wouldn’t be there. They therefore made a conscious decision to hold the number of infantry divisions to no more than 90 while keeping the 280 air combat groups. The thinking was that a “heavy fisted air arm” would help make up for the lack of infantry parity with the Axis powers.
The “90-division gamble” turned out to be a winner, but it was a close-run thing. In 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, the US Army literally ran out of infantry, forcing leaders to rush untrained troops to the front. Despite this, the idea that technology could help offset an enemy’s strength took hold in American strategic thinking. As a result, throughout the Cold War, the US never tried to match the Soviet Union tank for tank, plane for plane, or soldier for soldier. It instead sought ways to “offset” the potential adversary’s advantages through technological superiority and technologically-enabled organizational constructs and operational concepts.
President Eisenhower was well aware of the 90-division gamble. When he became president, he asked how many infantry divisions it would take to deter a Warsaw Pact invasion of Europe. Coincidentally, he was told about 90 divisions. Eisenhower knew that having a “peacetime” standing army of that size was neither politically nor fiscally sustainable. To counter Soviet conventional superiority, he therefore opted for what is now thought of as the First Offset Strategy (1OS), which armed a much smaller US ground force with battlefield atomic weapons, and an explicit threat to use them on invading Warsaw Pact forces.
The 1OS strategy worked. We know this because the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies adopted a new campaign design to forestall NATO’s use of nuclear weapons early in a campaign. They planned to conduct conventional attacks in powerful successive echelons to achieve a penetration of the NATO front lines. Once a breach was achieved, an Operational Maneuver Group (OMG) would drive deep into NATO’s rear. The Soviets believed that once an OMG was operating behind NATO’s front lines, NATO leadership would be dissuaded or incapable of resorting to nuclear weapons. We’ll never know if NATO would have ever approved atomic attacks in response to a Warsaw Pact invasion. But we do know the 1OS provided a credible deterrent and had a major impact on Soviet thinking.
Fast-forward twenty years. While we were in Vietnam, the Soviet Union spent a huge amount of money in conventional equipment and technology. By the mid-1970s, there was a pervasive sense that the Soviet Union had achieved conventional superiority. This occurred around the same time the Soviets achieved strategic nuclear parity. Under these circumstances, underwriting NATO conventional deterrence with the threat of battlefield nuclear weapons simply wasn’t credible anymore. In this new context, the US sought to reassert conventional dominance in order to improve strategic stability.
The plan to reassert conventional dominance had many parts, including a move to an All-Volunteer Force, an emphasis on the operational level of war, a thorough force-wide modernization—think of the Army’s “Big Five”—and a renaissance in realistic, force-on-force training. All of these initiatives were, in turn, backed by Bill Perry’s Second Offset Strategy, which sought to arm new operational level battle networks with guided munitions and sub-munitions.
Battle networks were nothing new. The first modern battle network was the British home air defense network assembled at the start of World War II. Like all battle networks that followed, it had four interconnected grids. It had a sensor grid with radars, aircraft spotters and in the later stages of the campaign, electronic intelligence capabilities, all designed to sense the battlespace. It had an enormous command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) grid consisting of hardened underground command posts connected by radio and telephone that worked to make sense of what the enemy was doing, facilitate command decisions, and transmit orders to friendly forces. It had an effects grid consisting of Spitfire and Hurricane fighter squadrons, antiaircraft weapons, barrage balloons and electronic warfare capabilities designed to achieve the specific combat outcomes directed by the C3I grid. And it had a sustainment and regeneration grid that allowed the British to continue fighting and restore combat losses.
This battle network allowed the outnumbered British Air Forces to keep the larger German Luftwaffe from knocking Britain out of the war. Radar was the key sensor grid advance, which helped take surprise out of the Luftwaffe attacks. It informed the C3I grid when the bomber streams were coming and where they were headed. The C3I grid was able to exploit this information to mass the RAF’s relatively short-ranged fighters against German attacks, where they fought at line of sight ranges using unguided machine gun and cannon fire. The sustainment and regeneration grid kept producing fighters, and pilots who were shot down over their home territory had a much better chance of getting back into the fight. All this—along with heavy doses of bravery and skill—allowed the British to make up for their losses, continue the fight, and win the Battle of Britain.
The 2OS battle network had all the same characteristics of the British home air defense network, but it focused on the land battle. It relied on new airborne sensors that could see well beyond the NATO front lines to identify massing ground forces with the same ease air radar could identify massing air forces. By so doing, the sensor grid could discern the Warsaw Pact’s first, second and third echelon forces as they were forming up, and track them along their lines of approach. New C3I nodes and processes would quickly convert incoming sensor data to targeting information and transmit it directly to ground-based missile and air attack units armed with guided anti-armor munitions and submunitions. These guided weapons promised to be as accurate at their maximum effective ranges as they were at line-of-sight ranges. All this should allow the American battle network to “look deep and shoot deep,” and mount devastating attacks and advancing Soviet forces long before they reached NATO front lines. This new operational battle network would be demonstrated in an advanced concept technology demonstration called Assault Breaker, announced in 1976 when William Perry assigned DARPA to assemble its grids and test them using production prototype sensors and effectors.
Assault Breaker, and the 2OS it portended, really caught the Soviets’ attention. In 1979 the Soviets conducted a big war game in which they explored what might happen if NATO actually deployed the operational capability to hit successive attacking echelons with long-range guided munitions. The game suggested that if the battle network performed as the Americans expected, NATO would be able to break up a Warsaw Pact attack before a breakthrough could occur, and keep OMGs from getting into NATO’s rear without resorting to nuclear weapons.
When we successfully demonstrated the Assault Breaker concept in 1982-1983, the Soviets concluded the game results were accurate. Shortly thereafter, in 1984, Marshall Ogarkov, the head of the Soviet General Staff, declared that conventional guided munitions, precisely targeted through theater battle networks, could achieve battlefield effects roughly equal to those of tactical nuclear weapons. These new conventional “reconnaissance strike complexes” thus represented what Soviet military theorists called a “military-technical revolution.” Their appearance completely upended the Soviet’s campaign design, and convinced the General Staff that a conventional invasion would not likely succeed. In other words, the 2OS convinced the Soviets of NATO conventional superiority, and helped in no small way to end the Cold War without a shot being fired.
If you look back in time in 1984, it is interesting to note that the Soviets actually understood the implication of the 2OS long before most American strategists did. It wasn’t until Desert Storm that American strategists understood that the 2OS had caused a fundamental shift in conventional warfare.
So it was that the First and Second Offset Strategies contributed the broader US “holding strategy” during the Cold War. The 1OS and 2OS were both designed to reduce the chance we would fight a conventional conflict before the Soviet system collapsed.
One of the key points that James Lacey makes in a recent book, after surveying a set of strategic rivalries/great power competitions from the classical world to the Cold War, is that “power shifts (real or perceived) double the chance of war. In this regard, shifts toward parity are most likely to start wars.” To what extent is this structural variable identifiable in the operational environment that during the Cold War produced offset strategies twice? In other words what is the structural reality that triggers and makes the search for an offset strategy an imperative?
The United States adopted the 1OS when it enjoyed nuclear superiority. It was a key part of the “New Look” and “New, New Look” Strategies adopted by the Eisenhower Administration, which relied upon the threat of massive retaliation at the strategic level and early use of tactical nuclear weapons during conventional confrontations. Once the Soviet Union achieved strategic and tactical nuclear parity, however, the threat of tactical nuclear weapons was no longer credible. US strategists believed this made the likelihood of conventional war in Europe greater, which spurred the 2OS.
Similar thinking animates the Third Offset Strategy. Both Russia and China were alarmed by the ease in which the US defeated Iraq in the First Gulf War, and both made it their business to seek rough parity in battle network-guided munitions warfare. Both have now achieved that goal, if only in their “near abroads,” where they have assembled very powerful “anti-access, area-denial” (A2/AD) networks designed to deter, disrupt and defeat US power projection operations near their home territories. If they choose to do so, these same A2/AD networks provide an umbrella under which they can project power to coerce their neighbors or threaten US allies. As Lacey suggests, this shift towards conventional parity makes the likelihood of military confrontation between state powers higher.
With this in mind, the 3OS seeks to reestablish US conventional overmatch, thereby strengthening both conventional deterrence and strategic stability. With regard to the latter, as a status quo power, the 3OS fits within a framework of comprehensive strategic stability, which consists of three supporting legs: strategic deterrence, conventional deterrence, and the day-to-day competition below the threshold of armed conflict. All work together to provide comprehensive strategic stability. Our concept of strategic deterrence rests upon the assumption of strategic parity and “mutually assured destruction.” In contrast we do not consider conventional parity to be a good thing. We much prefer having clear conventional overmatch, which is generally thought to be the best way to deter would be aggressors from resorting to conventional warfare below the nuclear threshold. To James Lacey’s point, then, the 3OS is a response to a new condition of parity in battle network-guided munitions warfare, which undermines both conventional deterrence and comprehensive strategic stability.
As for whether the 3OS is “a holding strategy,” the contemporary challenges posed by Russia and Chinas are two different kettles of fish than the challenge posed by the Soviet Union. Russia is a resurgent great power, possessing a large nuclear arsenal and formidable conventional forces. But it no longer seeks to forcibly expand either its dominion or communism, and it demographics and economy both look really bad over the long term. On the Chinese side, their economy could surpass that of the US, and they are intent on becoming a global military peer. So I guess I would say the 3OS might be thought of as a holding strategy for the Russians, and a hedging strategy for the Chinese.
I tend to look at both powers less as adversaries and more as competitors, as geopolitical rivals. They see themselves and act like great powers, and they want to be treated as such—more as equals with the US rather than as weaker minor powers. Consequently, I would say we are engaged in a very intense strategic rivalry with both, although because the Russians have used “active measures” against US democratic processes and are actively working to undermine and fracture NATO, they can certainly be viewed in more adversarial terms.
Let’s describe the broader strategic context in which the 3OS is developing. What is the operational problem 3OS is trying to address?
Offsets inevitably cause adversaries and competitors to react. The Soviets clearly reacted to the 1OS, seeking both strategic parity and conventional dominance. Once they achieved their goals, the US was forced to purse the 2OS, which in turn spurred a Chinese and Russian reaction to perceived US conventional dominance.
Russian and Chinese adopted 2OS thinking and technologies to erect A2/AD (anti-access/area-denial) networks to confront our own battle networks. They do so to deter, forestall and disrupt any US power projection operation near their own territory. But, as we discussed earlier, the networks also provide both with an umbrella under which they could coerce neighboring states or threaten US allies.
The appearance of conventional A2/AD battle networks capable of directing guided munitions salvos as deep and as dense as our own threatens our ability to project power. This is a serious operational problem, and a direct challenge to a global superpower that relies on its ability to project power into distant theaters to underwrite both its alliances and conventional deterrence. If Lacey is correct that conventional parity often incentivizes aggressive and coercive behavior on the part of rising powers, this condition raises the likelihood of military confrontation. The whole idea of the 3OS is to restore our conventional overmatch, so deterrence is strengthened, and the chance of confrontation lowered …
Octavian Manea was a Fulbright Junior Scholar at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University) where he received an MA in International Relations (2013) and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Security Studies from INSCT.
By Ryan White
(Re-published from Crossroads: Cybersecurity Law & Policy | Feb. 28, 2018) A few weeks ago, an article from Nextgov, a website dedicated to “how technology and innovation are transforming the way government agencies serve citizens and perform vital functions,” described recent efforts by DHS to address cyber security risks as they relate to supply chains. The article quotes Jeanette Manfra, the head of DHS’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, who explained that “[t]he program’s major goals are to identify the greatest supply chain cyber threats, figure out if there are technical ways to mitigate those threats and, if not, figure out other solutions.” But other than barring companies with weak supply chain security from government contracts, no other solutions were mentioned. Below I look at what a cyber security supply chain policy might encompass.
One of the more prominent supply chain incidents in recent memory involved Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who, in an effort to expand its business, offered a Russian defense agency an inside look at a program called ArcSight.[i] The problem, however, was that ArcSight is a program that is heavily relied on by the Pentagon.[ii] The program is a “cybersecurity nerve center” that sends alerts when it detects a potential attack on a network.[iii] The program is also used frequently by private sector companies.[iv] By providing the program code to Russia, HP not only created a vulnerability for the United States but exposed that vulnerability to the most notorious cyber threat to the U.S. in recent years.
Another example of the cyber supply chain problem occurred several years ago with the United States Air Force. The Air Force had contracted with a vendor in an Asian country to produce hardware for one of the Air Force’s systems.[v] When the hardware arrived in the U.S. and was reviewed by the Air Force, however, they found that the chips contained an extra transistor. While the chip performed its intended function, the Air Force could not decipher what else the piece would do with the extra transistor. As a result, that batch of hardware was disposed of and never installed.
These two examples highlight the breadth and depth of the challenges regarding supply chains and cyber security. Supply chain security implicates hardware and software, public sector and private, and in these two instances, Asia and Russia. The Air Force was fortunate enough to find the altered specifications in its hardware, and reports so far suggest no harm has come from Russia’s ArcSight review.
Every point in every supply chain presents a weakness for that product’s cybersecurity. Every individual human that comes into contact with every component piece of hardware or software is a potential threat. The threats to the supply chain include:[vi]
- Installation of hardware or software containing malicious logic
- Installation of counterfeit hardware or software
- Failure or disruption in the production or distribution of critical products
- Reliance on a malicious or unqualified service provider for the performance of technical services
- Installation of hardware or software that contains unintentional vulnerabilities
All of these create potential weaknesses that can be exploited at a later point in time. Vulnerabilities could be exploited to steal sensitive information. Anything that program does could send a copy of that data to a third party. A vulnerability created by a nefarious actor somewhere in the supply chain could be a switch that lies dormant until activated when it would disable the system. Depending on what system that might be, there could be devastating consequences.
Two major concepts underlie the cyber supply chain security issues in the United States: (1) the United States technology sector is dependent on hardware components manufactured all over the world; and (2) the United States government is heavily dependent on commercial off-the-shelf cyber programs.
The United States, both its government and its private citizens, has become increasingly dependent on an intricate global economy. This is particularly true when it comes to technology, as the cost of manufacturing in the U.S. has led to increases in outsourcing. For example, the production of one iPhone involves component parts made in the U.S., South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany that are all ultimately assembled in China.[vii] The diagram below shows a similar analysis for a standard laptop, whose component parts may come from as many as twenty different countries …
[i] “Special Report: HP Enterprise let Russia scrutinize cyberdefense system used by Pentagon,” Reuters (Oct. 2, 2017), http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-russia-hpe-specialreport/special-report-hp-enterprise-let-russia-scrutinize-cyberdefense-system-used-by-pentagon-idUSKCN1C716M.
[v] The facts of the Air Force narrative are from a series of conversations with Professor William C. Snyder, who had substantial knowledge of that situation’s details.
[vii] Cyber Supply Chain Security: A Crucial Step Toward U.S. Security, Prosperity, and Freedom in Cyberspace, Heritage Report, (Mar. 6, 2014) http://www.heritage.org/defense/report/cyber-supply-chain-security-crucial-step-toward-us-security-prosperity-and-freedom.
Ryan White is a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
By Louis Kriesberg
(Re-published from The Hill | Feb. 15, 2018) The increasingly dominant role of the president, relative to Congress, has been troubling for many years. The dire consequences are evident with Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s policies relating to Iran, North Korea, and many other countries harm American interests and threaten to be disastrous. In particular, I believe Trump’s current strategy to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is misguided.
Last December, President Trump began to force the Palestinian Authority to accept the “peace” terms dictated by the current Israeli government. This strategy is likely to have many unfortunate consequences for the Israelis as well for the Palestinians. But it will also have many bad effects for America and could unleash news dangers.
The strategy began ambiguously, when Trump announced his intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Initially, he slightly moderated the significance of the decision by declaring that final Israeli borders should be determined by Israeli and Palestinian negotiations. But soon thereafter, he said he had taken Jerusalem off the negotiation table.
Furthermore, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made clear that the embassy move would be swift. He also reduced by about half the usual U.S. contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the major program supporting Palestinian refugees. He announced he was considering closing the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. Clearly, Trump is trying to impose a one-sided settlement on the Palestinians.
As in other Trump foreign policy decisions, this approach does not follow a comprehensive consideration of U.S. objectives, widely-sourced information about developments in the region, and review of alternative strategies. Instead, it seems Trump is pandering to some people among his base, particularly in this instance, some Christian Evangelicals and some supporters of right-wing Israeli policies. Moreover, as in other instances, he seems to insist upon acting contrary to whatever former President Obama did.
These are poor grounds on which to base foreign policy choices. Bad consequences for America are already evident and more will appear as this unilateral policy is pursued. The actions destroyed U.S. mediation efforts that were underway. He took an action that was decried by nearly all governments in the world, as demonstrated by the overwhelming votes against it in the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly.
This harms American standing and influence in the world. Furthermore, the policy increases the chances that fanatics in many parts of the world will undertake terror attacks against Americans. Indeed, organizations that wish to limit or counter U.S. influence and presence in the Middle East would be more able to recruit, mobilize and support such fanatics.
An imposed one-sided solution will have other grave consequences for America. There has been considerable security and other realms of cooperation between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which the U.S. government has aided. President Trump’s moves to impose a settlement will undermine such cooperation …
(The Forward | Jan. 9, 2018) This weekend Israel published a list of 20 mainly European and US-based pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) organizations whose senior members will be automatically barred from entering the country. The list is a follow up to Israel’s decision last March to amend its 1952 Entry Into Israel Law so that foreign nationals who support a boycott would be prevented from abusing tourist visas.
Despite the outcry from liberal circles, the amended law, and now the list of BDS organizations to be barred from Israel, are long overdue correctives to an absurd situation in which Israel welcomes those who work to undermine the country 24/7, and who actively incite hatred and discrimination against the state.
In recent years, key BDS activists entered Israel for the sole motive of engaging in a wide range of anti-Israel political activities such as harassing and obstructing IDF and security personnel at West Bank protests and collecting footage to be used to delegitimize the Jewish State once they got back home. For years these high-profile activists were basically taking advantage of Israel’s democratic institutions like freedom of the press in order to work against it. It makes sense if you think about it. People calling for a boycott of Israel aren’t there to enjoy the country but to find evidence of its alleged wrongdoing. In other words, prior to the ban, you had people visiting Israel whose only goal in so doing was to demonize the only country in the Middle East that actually grants all its citizens the kinds of civil liberties and human rights that others in the region can only dream about.
The new targeting of active BDS proponents entering Israel is a means of rectifying the harm that this was causing.
Nevertheless, the amended entry law has already drawn considerable outrage from US-based anti-Israel activists, first when five “famous and significant” radical BDS-promoters were barred from flying from the U.S to Israel this summer. Now that Israel has specified exactly which radical anti-Israel groups will be affected by the ban, the fury is reaching apoplectic proportions.
Media outlets and social media sites are being inundated with statements, op-eds and press releases opposing the ban, some even claiming that the move shows the effectiveness of BDS, and will rebound to the benefit of the banned groups by leading to increased interest and membership.
Much of this response is silly. Overwhelming evidence suggests that BDS is actually contracting, not growing. Two dozen U.S. states have now passed anti-BDS laws, recognizing that its platform is merely a continuation of the discriminatory Arab League boycott of Israel. According to a recent study of a number of American campuses, the vast majority of students reject academic boycotts of Israel, and not a single university has implemented a divestment policy.
Indeed, now ranked among the top 25 richest countries on the planet, Israel continues to forge new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties with countries and companies across the globe, despite the persistent calls for boycott and sanctions …
By Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17)
(Re-published from Euractiv | Nov. 30, 2017) As Ukraine celebrated its “Ukrainian Literacy and Language Day” on Nov. 9, 2017, controversy surrounding Ukraine’s education law remains.
Passed in September, the legislation stated secondary education in public schools would be taught in Ukrainian. This sparked outrage from the ethnic Russian community in eastern Ukraine, who represent nearly one-fifth of the Ukrainian populace, and the minority groups in Transcarpathia, such as the Hungarians and Romanians, who account for 0.6% of Ukraine’s population.
Ukraine’s education law also received backlash from the international community, most notably from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
PACE criticized the legislation, stating it did not create an appropriate balance between the Ukrainian and minority languages. The Assembly then offered a series of recommendations on how to amend the law, and a second review will be conducted at the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on 24 November. The Ukrainian law on education has also been sent to the Venice Commission for further assessments.
Hungarian and Romanian officials voiced their concerns as well, arguing the law would not allow minority groups to practice their languages in Ukraine. In retaliation, Hungary threatened to block any future Ukrainian advancements toward EU membership while Romanian President Klaus Iohannis cancelled his trip to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Education and Science Minister Liliya Hrynevych has disputed these claims, stating Ukraine’s education law was not created to persecute minority groups. Rather, the law was designed to bring the Ukrainian education system closer to EU standards.
Given this controversy, why does Ukraine continue to pursue this policy? Perhaps this can be explained by its tragic history. For generations, those who ruled Ukraine tried to impose their languages upon the Ukrainian people. For example, both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union forced their subjects to learn and speak Russian, and those who did not comply were persecuted. Despite their efforts, the Ukrainian language survived.
To this day, the Ukrainian language holds a high standard in Ukraine. According to a recent survey conducted by the Gorshenin Institute, in cooperation with the Friedric Ebert Foundation, 92% of citizens in Ukraine identify themselves as ethnic Ukrainians, indicating that a common language plays a large role in Ukrainian society. This, however, does not mean minority groups cannot practice their own languages …
To read the full article, click here.
Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17; CAS in Security Studies) is a Ukrainian-American who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He has been previously published by The Ukrainian Weekly, EUobserver, and Forbes.
SU expert discusses North Korea’s latest missile test
(CNYCentral | Nov. 28, 2017) Watch CBS 5’s Michael Benny’s discussion on Tuesday’s North Korea missile test with Corri Zoli, the INSCT Director of Research/Research Assistant Professor/Research Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
By Kamil Szubart
On Nov. 8-9, 2017, NATO defense ministers met in Brussels to discuss the current security threats to NATO member states. Politicians agreed to reshape the NATO command structure and to boost the size of Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan. Both decisions are forward steps in adapting the Alliance to the new strategic challenges in Europe and Afghanistan. In Europe—ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Donbas (in 2014)—we have observed the rise of Russian assertiveness and hostile activities against NATO alongside its eastern flank, while in Afghanistan, there has been an increase in Taliban and Islamic State (IS) activities.
At the meeting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also briefed his Canadian and European counterparts on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and he expressed his concerns over potential Russian violation of the agreement. Other topics touched at the meeting related to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs and progress on the fight against IS in northern Iraq and Syria.
The Growth of NATO’s Assets
Re-shaping the command structure—which develops operationally the strategic level outcomes of the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit—creates two new NATO operational commands. Both new headquarters will be able to improve the current logistic assets of NATO to deploy its troops across the Atlantic and within Europe.
The Atlantic Command (AC) will be responsible for maintaining maritime trails between the United States and Europe, whereas a Logistics Command (LC) will respond more quickly to threats in Europe. There is still an open discussion about the locations of both commands. However, maritime nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, and the US could host the AC headquarters. The LC will be probably located somewhere in central Europe—likely Germany or Poland—allowing for swift movement of NATO forces across borders in the event of a conflict with Russia.
However, it should be noted that the final decisions related to location, size, and costs will be approved at the next NATO defense ministers meeting on Feb. 18, 2018. The fact is that the new commands will increase the number of NATO headquarters to nine, from the current seven, namely, two strategic commands (Allied Command Operations (ACO) in Mons, Belgium, and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, VA); two operational commands (Joint Force Command (JFC) in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Joint Force Command (JFC) in Naples, Italy); and three tactical commands (Headquarters Allied Air Command (HQ AIRCOM) in Ramstein, Germany; Headquarters Allied Land Command (HQ LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey; and Allied Martine Command (HQ MARCOM) in Northwood, UK).
The creation of new commands reverses the policy of cutbacks that have been in effect since the 1990s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, NATO dropped the concept of developing its forward military presence, a strategy based on maintaining considerable NATO forces located in the proximity of potential conflict. Instead, NATO began a strategy based on quick deployment to the battlefield. That strategy subsequently led to a reduction in the number of NATO permanent commands in Europe from about 60 during the Cold War to the current seven headquarters.
The Most Pressing Cybersecurity Challenges to NATO
At the Brussels meeting, NATO defense ministers also agreed to create the Operational Cybersecurity Center (OCC) to protect NATO troops deployed in the framework of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (NATO EFP) to the Baltic States and Poland.
This decision implements the outcomes of the 2016 Summit, where political leaders of NATO member states decided to recognize cyberspace as the next battlefield alongside land, sea, and air. The OCC will help NATO to protect elements of command-and-control system of four Battalion Battle Groups (BBGs) deployed to NATO’s eastern flank. The exact location of the OCC—like the locations of AC and the LC—remains unknown. However, it will be probably located at the ACO in Mons, where the NATO Computer Incident Response Team (NCIRC) has been hosted. The decision to place the OCC in Belgium will allow NATO to bring together its cybersecurity assets to one location nearby the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
President Trump’s Impact on NATO & European Allies
NATO Defense Ministers also approved the decision to increase NATO’s footprint in Afghanistan. As a result, the size of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM, for which NATO cooperates with 39 partner nations) will increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops. Moreover, NATO confirmed its willingness to continue to fund the Afghan Security Forces (ASF) until at least 2020.
It seems that US President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on European allies regarding insufficient military expenditures—only four European NATO members contribute 2% or more of their GDP, namely, the UK, Estonia, Poland, and Greece—and unwillingness to engage in Afghanistan has brought the first effects. The decision to increase NATO troops in Afghanistan also meets the main outlines of the new Afghan strategy announced by Trump on Aug. 21, 2017, which increased the number of US troops in the country. However, it necessary to mention that NATO troops will be only conducting training support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and will remain excluded from combat operations conducted by the US forces.
Summary: Back to Its Roots
The decision to create two new headquarters in Europe indicates that the Alliance has adapted itself to the changing security environment. After years of out-of-area missions—conducted since 2014, in response to Sept. 11, 2001—NATO has gone back to its roots and the strategy of collective defense according to Art. 51 of the UN Charter and Art. 5 of the Washington Treaty (1949). Furthermore, the changes to the NATO command structure meet political decisions from the two previous NATO Summits in Newport (2014) and Warsaw (2016). The change enhances NATO’s collective defense and the Alliance’s ability to respond to modern threats in cyberspace.
However, although NATO decided to deploy four battle groups to the Baltic States and Poland—approximately 1,000 to 1,200 troops each and about 4,500 troops combined—and increase its military presence in Romania and Bulgaria, NATO’s potential to deter Russia remains insufficient. NATO needs to be ready to deploy multinational rapid response forces to Central and Eastern Europe, such as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF, also known as “NATO’s spearhead” consisting of 15,000 troops) and the major part (40,000 troops) of the NATO Response Force (NRF). A potential conflict in Central and Eastern Europe requires receiving reinforcement troops from Western Europe and the US as soon as possible. The Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 drove NATO to reshape its defense strategy and rebuild its command structure.
Maintaining the ability to a swiftly deploy US and NATO troops across the Atlantic and within Europe is crucial to improving NATO’s capacity to deter Russia effectively. It also meets calls for “military Schengen zone” (analogically to EU Schengen zone) to get troops moving among European countries. At the meeting in Brussels, the Alliance has made substantial progress in reducing legal obstacles to cross-border operations, tardy bureaucratic requirements, and infrastructure problems, such as roads and bridges that are unable to accommodate large military vehicles and storage tank platforms. The idea is nothing new and has covered most of Europe since 1996. However, it has not been fully implemented within all EU and NATO countries over the last 20 years. In recent months, a dozen political and military leaders—such as Gen. Ben Hodges, US Army Europe Commander, or Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch Defense Minister—as well as security experts on both sides of the Atlantic, have highlighted the need of this improvement.
Moreover, NATO cannot stop its new adaptation process. Its battle groups currently suffer from equipment shortages that have an impact on their operational capabilities. The NATO frontier forces require more armored vehicles and tanks, artillery, medium-range air defense systems (i.e., moving US Patriot systems from Germany to the Baltic States or Poland), as well as a clarification of the rules of engagement.
NATO also needs to permanently increase its collective and national capacities, improving the readiness of armed forces and increasing military expenditures. For comparison, Russia is currently assumed to be able to mobilize at least 100,000 troops within few weeks and could seize the Baltic States within 36 to 60 hours. The recent Zapad 2017 military exercises indicated that Russian troops could conduct this sort of operation. It is also necessary to increase NATO’s presence alongside its eastern flank. The presence of four battle groups is insufficient to counter a potential Russian attack on the Baltic States. Allies might appreciate the deployment of the US Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to Eastern Europe to strengthen NATO’s ability to deter Russia (currently the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, KS, is deployed in Poland).
The creation of two new operational commands also brings some concerns. The first one is fear of adequate funding. Despite the increasing defense budgets of European members of NATO—Poland, for instance, will increase its military spending from 2% to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, while Germany’s military budget in 2017 increased by 8% in comparison with the previous year—it may be challenging for NATO to find sufficient funds to financially cover two new commands and the OCC.
Additionally, the increase in NATO’s support for Afghanistan operations is a signal that President Trump’s demands could affect NATO and America’s allies in Europe. Europeans will remain against involving their troops in combat operations carried out by the US against the Taliban and IS as there is a tremendous fear among European leaders of a military death toll, and this attitude will surely cause more allegations by Trump against the commitment of his European partners.
All of the above concerns no doubt will be touched on the next NATO defense ministers meeting in February 2018, which will be one of the last meetings before the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels (on July 11-12, 2018).
INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart was a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.
On Nov. 15 and 16, 2017, Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, represented Syracuse University at two United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) workshops, at New York University and UN headquarters.
“Few people know that the UN has taken a leading role in counter terrorism efforts around the world,” says Zoli. “Two weeks after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the UN unanimously established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) by Security Council Resolution No. 1373 (2001), comprising all 15 Security Council members. To help advise member states around the world in measures to advance their legal and institutional capacity to counter terrorist groups, attacks, and criminal activities, the Security Council in 2004 established CTED to assist in the research needed to help the CTC monitor and implement counterterrorism measures, from criminalizing the financing of terrorism to information sharing about safe havens or groups supporting terrorists.”
At both events, Zoli provided insights on data-driven approaches to understanding terrorism, radicalization, and countering violent extremism (CVE). She also shared information with colleagues and delegates on the systems, critical infrastructures, and organizational structures that terrorist organizations often use to effect their goals of political violence and creating fear among local populations.
At the UN headquarters event, Zoli was included as an expert on questions from concerned delegates from across the globe interested in understanding “best practices” to combat terrorism. Queries posed included how to lawfully deal with foreign fighters returning home and what measures should be taken for counter-radicalization, including for women and children who were also drawn to the Levant by groups such as ISIS and Al Nusra.
Zoli’s presence at this conference continues INSCT’s close collaboration with UN CTED. For the past few years law and graduate students in INSCT’s Law 822 Research Center have presented research to the directorate on how UN member states are complying with UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which calls on members to prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping of individuals who travel to a State … for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in terrorist acts.”
In May 2016, INSCT was invited by UN CTED to join The Prevention Project, directed by former US Department of State counterterrorism official Eric Rosand through the Global Center on Cooperative Security. The project aims to support member states’ efforts to deal holistically and constructively with citizens who travel to fight with extremist and terrorist organizations.
Emerging Trends in Terrorism and Counterterrorism
New York University Center for Global Affairs | Nov. 15, 2017
Session I: Returning & Relocating Foreign Terrorist Fighters
While the flow of FTFs to Iraq and Syria has slowed, returnees and the relocation of fighters from the conflict zones to other regions present a considerable threat to international security. The flow of returnees risks spreading the threat posed by individuals loyal to ISIL to new regions. In addition to calling for terrorist attacks on an international scale, terrorist organizations—including ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab—have compensated for their territorial losses by expanding their presence to new areas. This session will focus on discussing challenges related to returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).
Session II: Countering Violent Extremism
Some Member States are concerned that the numbers of FTFs returning to their countries of origin, potentially intending to perpetrate attacks, in combination with those being radicalized to violence within those countries, present a growing challenge to national security. The purpose of this session is to share and discuss good practices in countering violent extremism (CVE), including the role of the media, civil and religious society, the business community and educational institutions to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding, and in promoting tolerance and coexistence, and in fostering an environment which is not conducive to incitement of terrorism.
Session III: Protection of Soft Targets
Over recent years, the proportion of terrorist plots resulting in fatalities has increased, in part due to the activities of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), as well as due to the evolution in terrorists’ modus operandi, including: (i) their use of basic (legal and easily accessible) tools that reduce opportunities for detection and disruption; (ii) their emphasis on (often poorly protected) civilian targets; and (iii) their use of information and communications technologies (ICT), including encrypted messaging services, for terrorist purposes, including to remotely guide single-perpetrator terrorist attacks. The purpose of this session is to analyze and discuss challenges and good practices related to preventing terrorist acts against civilians.
Session IV: The Future of the Global Research Network
The purpose of this session is to assist CTED in its preparation of: (i) A list of specific trends, developments and issues that require further research and analysis; and (ii) An internal work plan for future engagement with members of the Network, with a view to developing further evidence-based research that can support the work of the Committee and CTED.
CTED Second Open Meeting of the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and Global Research Network Partners
UN Headquarters, New York City | Nov. 16, 2017
- Session I: Summary of NYU technical consultations
- Session II: Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014)
- Session III: National practices in CVE that can be conducive to terrorism
- Session IV: The protection of civilian (“soft”) targets
- Emman El-Badawy, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
- Cheryl Frank, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria
- Pavel Mareev, Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Center (CIS ATC)
- Magnus Ranstorp, Swedish National Defence CollegeDavid Scharia, Chief of Branch, Counter-Terrorism Executive Director (CTED)
- Ali Soufan, The Soufan Group
(Re-published from The Jurist | Nov. 6, 2017) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should not ignore or walk away from the alleged use of any prohibited weapon, such as chemicals, as it signals it is permissible to violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and erodes international norms related to such weapons. Further, it signals that countries with deep ties to P5 (U.K., U.S., France, Russia, China) are outside the scope of UNSC authority, therefore creating a bigger issue of eroding the international authority of the UNSC and jeopardizing the foundation of international law.
On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Russia vetoed the resolution extending the mandate of the investigators probing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. [JURIST report] [Meeting Record] Following the chemical attack in 2015, Russia and America created the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to investigate the presence/use of chemical weapons in Syria, which found 27 active production facilities. In its most recent report late last month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had verified the destruction of 25 of the 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by Syria and continued to prepare an inspection to confirm the current condition of the last two. The vote on the resolution was in advance of the JIM investigative report (presented Thursday October 26). The report sought to identify the party responsible for a deadly April 4 attack in the rebel-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib that killed and sickened scores of civilians allegedly using sarin gas. Shortly after that attack, the United States launched an airstrike on a Syrian air base and accused the al-Assad regime of carrying out the gas attack.
This action by Russia is primarily concerned with the sovereignty of Syria and stresses the maxim that you cannot enter a sovereign territory without concrete evidence of wrong doing. Further Russia believes they face possible retaliation by Syria and/or rebel groups present in Syria. Finally, Russia is concerned that there has been a blurring of lines between the conflict against Syria and the conflict against ISIS. Additionally Russia is supporting the regime and has economic ties to Syria. They do not want the US to gain any influence in Syria.
The media and various member states are concerned that the UNSC is impotent in assisting in Syria due to the P5 structure. The UNSC and the UN system are shouldering the blame for little progress in Syria. The broader discussion criticizes the entire UN system as being outdated and ineffective.
The UN is not impotent, as it has facilitated international cooperation on the conflict, resulting in ceasefires, the initial formation of JIM, condemnation of acts, and investigation of potential war crimes. Further, the UN is serving its purpose as a neutral forum for these discussions. Syria has not simply become a battlefield upon which America and Russia are fighting, nor are we seeing a return to interstate war. Therefore, the UN is working as a forum for these issues. Further negotiations need to be based on interests and relationships as nationalistic and realist strategies fail within the cooperative international organizational model …
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