Outline of Courseware and Teaching Aids


The Courseware is organized into seven modules. Each module consists of an orientation to the subject, usually in the form of facilitator’s guides and/or lecture notes, together with edit-capable power point slides. Components include: 


The primary texts are the three edited volumes on the topic of illicit networks assembled and published by NDU/CCO between 2013 and 2016. 

1. Impunity: Confronting Illicit Power in War and Transition, Edited by Michelle A. Hughes and Michael Miklaucic. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office 2016. http://cco.ndu.edu/Publications/Books/Impunity.aspx

Impunity forms the basis for the model syllabus because it was specifically written as a textbook for policy makers, planners, and implementers who must address the problem of countering illicit power structures during conflict, stabilization, and political transition. It consolidates lessons from five decades and more than 36 case studies including Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Haiti, Russia, Ukraine, Liberia, Timor Leste, and following money and weapons around the world. It introduces readers to a range of tools, processes, and methods for dealing with illicit power, from an operational perspective. 

2. Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization, Edited by Michael Miklaucic and Jacqueline Brewer. Washington, DC: The National Defense University Press, 2013. http://cco.ndu.edu/Portals/96/Documents/books/convergence/convergence.pdf.

Convergence is an edited volume that delves deeply into the emerging global threat from illicit networks with an impressive cadre of authors who illuminate the important aspects of transnational crime and other illicit networks. The book describes the clear and present danger and the magnitude of the challenge of converging and connecting illicit networks; the ways and means used by transnational criminal networks and how illicit networks operate and interact; how the proliferation, convergence, and horizontal diversification of illicit networks challenge state sovereignty; and how different national and international organizations are fighting back. Convergence is designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the problem that will allow us to then develop a more comprehensive, more effective, and more enduring solution. 

3. Beyond Convergence: World Without Order, Edited by Michael Miklaucic and Hilary Matfess. Washington, DC: The Center for Complex Operations, 2016, http://cco.ndu.edu/BCWWO/.

Beyond Convergence is a follow-on collection of essays to Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization. Since then, events around the world have evolved, confirming the threat posed against world order. A range of new actors and emerging dynamics have rapidly evolved with in the global operating environment. Beyond Convergence begins mapping these new actors and dynamics, providing evidence of collaboration, collusion, and coordination among diverse networked nonstate adversaries. Illicit networks, including terrorists, insurgents, and transnational criminal organizations, pose an existential threat to many states, and cumulatively to the rule of law-based global system of states. 

Case Studies 

The case study is a central element of the courseware, and is based upon the materials in the book, Impunity. Selected case studies have been summarized in Facilitator’s Guides that include a summary, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading for the instructor, the students, or both. 

Assigned Readings. 

Each module includes suggested chapter materials from Convergence, Impunity, and Beyond Convergence that will enhance students’ understanding and prepare them to fully participate in facilitated discussions. 

“Beyond the Book” Webcasts/Podcasts

Webcasts and podcasts were produced specifically to enable instructors and facilitators to go beyond the books, adding insights, updates, and analysis that for various reasons, the authors and editors were unable to include in the books at the time they were written. “Beyond the Book” productions are generally short (7-15 minutes). They have also been edited to enable facilitators to choose short 1-3-minute sound bites that make key points while letting the learning audience hear directly from the experts themselves. A complete listing of the webcasts and podcasts includes: 

1. Webcast: “Convergence, Beyond Convergence, and the Challenge of Impunity” featuring Michael Miklaucic  

In this short webcast, author, editor, and political scientist Michael Miklaucic, aided by contributors to Impunity and Beyond Convergence, defines the problem posed by illicit actors and their impact on the future of our national security and the risks to state sovereignty and international order. 

2. Podcast: “Impunity: Countering Illicit Power in War and Transition – A Conversation with the Authors”  

This two-part podcast is an edited version of the book launch for Impunity, hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in 2017. It features eight of the contributing authors, who discuss a range of issues including how criminal patronage networks arise, the destabilizing effects of unchecked, transnational organized crime and corruption, and the opportunities and challenges for policing in a civil-military environment. This podcast has been specially edited for use as a “listen ahead” assignment. 

3. Webcast: “Convergence in Criminalized States” featuring Douglas Farah  

Using Latin America as a regional case study, veteran journalist Douglas Farah presents his analysis, based on more than three decades of investigation, into the convergence of insurgency, extremism, corruption, and transnational organized crime. His detailed narrative provides a comprehensive overview of the phenomena described in Convergence, Impunity, and Beyond Convergence., This 30-minute webcast is an excellent scene-setter for deeper study into the totality of the issues explored in all three publications. 

4. Webcast: “‘Sacred Documents’ and the Enemies of Peace: Why Agreements Matter” featuring Michelle Hughes 

This short webcast by rule of law and security sector reform expert Michelle Hughes, provides an overview of the importance of peace agreements and settlements to efforts to contain illicit power in the aftermath of conflict and political transition. Contributing authors highlight key issues, while Hughes provides a roadmap for analysis and comparison using case studies from Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Colombia, as well as contextual consideration of the conflicts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. 

5. Webcast: “The Odessa Network: Understanding Enablers” featuring David E. A. Johnson 

In this short webcast, David Johnson, the Executive Director of C4ADS, a Washington, DC-based think tank that specializes in network analysis, discusses the lessons that C4ADS learned during its process of unraveling the Odessa Network, a Russian-controlled arms trafficking enterprise. He explains C4ADS’s open source methodology, and further outlines how the C4ADS team has subsequently applied its techniques to other illicit activities including wildlife trafficking and the proliferation of hate speech. 

6. Webcast: “Traffickers and Truckers” featuring Gretchen Peters  

Investigative reporter and best-selling author Gretchen Peters shares her insights into the means and methods used by illicit power structures, and in particular, the activities that exemplify illicit economic activity. She further describes the processes she uses to understand the operational environment, and offers suggestions on how to address the information-gathering challenge. 

7. Webcast: “Radicalization, Social Media, and Gender” featuring Maeghin Alarid 

In a fascinating narrative, researcher Maeghin Alarid explores the phenomenon of online recruitment and radicalization, from the perspective of the Islamic State’s use of social media to recruit women and sustain its extremist vision of a new Caliphate. Alarid’s cutting edge research adds additional perspective to ongoing discussions and debate. 

8. Podcast: “The Challenge of Countering Impunity in International Missions” featuring Mark Kroeker and David Beer 

Former Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker, and retired RCMP Superintendent David Beer have a combined total of more than eight decades as law enforcement leaders both within their home countries and internationally, directing United Nations missions abroad. In this podcast, they discuss lessons and insights from international missions, focusing primarily on the coordination challenge for military, police, and host nation officials. 

9. Webcast: “The Problem of Police” featuring Michelle Hughes  

Together with international policing experts Mark Kroeker and David Beer, security sector reform expert Michelle Hughes discusses the unique challenge of effective policing development. Using several real-world examples, Hughes, Kroeker, and Beer provide guiding principles for program design and a roadmap for creating policing accountability within the rule of law. 

10. Webcast: “Defining ‘Success’” featuring Thomas Marks 

In this thought-provoking interview, National Defense University Professor Tom Marks analyzes insurgencies in Sri Lanka and Colombia to illustrate the difficulty in determining what “success” looks like when confronting the problem of impunity and illicit power. He further discusses the adaptation that enabled those nations’ militaries to turn defeat into victory, and the cost of that adaptation to international reputation and support. 

Tabletop or Small Group Exercise

A tabletop exercise is a proven method of engaging participants and adaptive, creative thinking and teamwork. Module 7 provides options for facilitating a scenario-based tabletop or small group exercise. The purpose of this module is to encourage additional critical thinking, initiative, and teamwork while at the same time reinforcing the overall learning objectives. 

Facilitator’s Guides, Lecture Notes, and Thematic Papers

These products are intended to highlight niche issues or recurring themes contained the modules within the model curriculum. The following is a complete list of all these products available as part of the “Countering Illicit Power” courseware: 

Facilitator’s Guides: 

  • “Illicit Power Structures: An Introduction” 
  • “It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief: Understanding the Operational Environment” 
  • “Criminal Patronage Networks and the Struggle to Rebuild the Afghan State” 
  • "Traffickers and Truckers: Illicit Afghan and Pakistani Power Structures with a Shadowy but Influential Role” 
  • “Sierra Leone: The Revolutionary United Front” 
  • “Capacity Building, Institutional Development, and Accountability” 
  • “Iraq: Muqtada al-Sadr and the Jaish al-Mahdi” 
  • “Liberia’s Legacy of Illicit Power: Collapse, Conflict and the Continuing Transformation of a Regime” 
  • “Make It Matter: Institutional Development That Works” 

Lecture Notes: 

  • “Security Sector Reconstruction in Post-Conflict: The Lessons from Timor-Leste” 
  • “Weapons Trafficking and the Odessa Network: How One Small Think Tank was Able to Unpack One Very Big Problem, and the Lessons It Teaches Us” 
  • “Leviathan Redux: Toward a Community of Effective States” 

 e-Guide to Countering Illicit Power in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations

This online pamphlet consists, in outline form, of planning considerations for HADR operations. It is a useful training aid for tabletop exercises and facilitated discussion of special considerations relating to illicit power that are often overlooked.