Center for Complex Operations

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Russia’s Contradictory Relationship with the West August 3, 2016 — On August 20, 1961, an American armored battle group of the 18th Infantry Regiment stationed in West Germany crossed the heavily militarized border at Helmstedt and rolled its way approximately 100 miles along the autobahn across Soviet-controlled East Germany into West Berlin. Too small to be an offensive threat, but formidable enough to be serious, Operation Long Thrust skirted the fine line between resolute deterrence and go-to-war provocation, and allowed the United States to avoid becoming militarily embroiled with strident adversaries in East Germany and the Soviet Union. MORE

The Disintegration of European Security: Lessons from the Refugee Crisis July 18, 2016 — Even before the current crisis, migration management had always been among the most complex, politicized, and least integrated policies in Europe. Together with common foreign and defense policies—another item on the European agenda that is becoming increasingly enmeshed with the refugee crisis—migration is the epitome of a highly sensitive issue that is threaded carefully at the domestic level by each European Union (EU) member state before it gets negotiated in the EU, almost always resulting in watered-down compromises. The rather straightforward reason for this is that the assorted range of consequences that are associated, rightly or wrongly, with migration policy in the European public debate—from the dissolution of the welfare state to the rise of Islamic terrorism—are items that can decree victory or defeat in any European election. Because of this politicization, the ballooning migrant and refugee crisis has gradually moved the signposts and changed the standards of what is acceptable to say or do in Europe today to address it. Policies and words that were taboo only a few years ago (for example, border control) are now a constituent part of the lexicon and policy repertoire. MORE

Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism in Europe Current Developments and Issues for the Future July 18, 2016 — Europe has experienced a revival of militant right-wing extremist groups, networks, and incidents in recent years, with a surge of anti-immigration and Islamophobic violence, as well as anti-government attacks and assaults on political opponents, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals. Although not as significant as in Europe, the United States has also seen an upsurge in political violence considered to be “right-wing extremist” in nature (for example, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, racist, or anti-government sovereign citizen). For the international audience, only a few of these incidents gained broad media attention; right-wing extremist attacks are seen mostly as isolated events when compared with other attacks, such as those by Islamist extremist terrorists. In Germany, a right-wing terrorist group calling itself the National Socialist Underground was discovered in 2011. Despite having assassinated at least 10 people and committed 2 bombings over the course of almost 14 years, it had gone undetected. That same year, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting in Utøya, Norway. In the United States, white supremacist Michael Page shot and killed six people and wounded four others in an attack against a Wisconsin Sikh temple in August 2012. Only one day after Charles Kurzman had argued in the New York Times that right-wing terrorism might be the most severe security threat in the United States, Dylann Roof killed nine people in his shooting rampage at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015.1 Similar events have been recorded in many Western European countries, as well as in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, the public debate has not ascribed the same level of importance to the threat from the extreme right as it has regularly with Islamist extremism. MORE

EU Energy Policy Sustained by Fragile Solidarity, Indispensable for Eurasian Security July 18, 2016 — The European Union (EU) is dependent on imports for over half of its energy consumption.1 At face value, that implies European energy security is an external challenge that demands the prudent, systematic, and dynamic balancing of energy needs across energy sources and suppliers. That prognosis, however, is deceptively simple and incomplete. Under closer scrutiny, the problem proves to be as much one of internal EU market design and governance as it is an external balancing act. MORE

Foreword May 24, 2016 — Successful outcomes in armed conflict require confronting illicit networks. A failure to do so effectively frustrated efforts to consolidate gains in Afghanistan and Iraq, and after more than a decade of war and development, the international community and the governments of those countries, continue to contend with the violence and instability that are the result. In Afghanistan, corruption and organized crime networks perpetuate state weakness and undermine the state’s ability to cope with the regenerative capacity of the Taliban. The failure to counter militias and Iranian proxies that infiltrated the government and security forces in Iraq led to a return of large scale communal violence and set conditions (along with the Syrian Civil War) for the rise of a terrorist proto-state and a humanitarian catastrophe that has adversely impacted the entire Middle East. These and other cases illustrate how governments and international actors struggle to establish security and rule of law, and reveal incomplete plans and fragmented efforts that fail to address the causes of violence and state weakness. MORE

A Competing Risks Approach to Security Sector Assistance for Fragile States May 1, 2016 — Helping other countries' militaries and intelligence services is a vital part of whatever we're calling the war on terrorism these days. These programs, however, are often seen as one of two extremes: a panacea or an afterthought. Steve Watts of RAND calls for treating these programs with the analytic seriousness they deserve. He notes the range of potential problems and recommends using risk assessments to think about security sector assistance in a more sophisticated way. MORE

Time for Transparency in overseas military aid and financing March 7, 2016 — The U.S. can't be everywhere at once: We need a way to build partners overseas who can tackle military problems on their own. Therefore, since 9/11, Congress has increased the authorities and programs under which the Department of Defense (DOD) can engage other militaries. It's time to start tracking that money and evaluating what's working, and what's not. MORE

Security and Prosperity in Africa Go Hand in Hand February 3, 2016 — Washington's strategy must go beyond mere weapons training. MORE

Defense Institution Building: An Asssessment January 1, 2016 — This report presents an analysis of a range of DIB activities, recommends a set of goals and objectives for achieving them, identifies partner nation and DIB activity selection criteria, develops a strategy for coordinating DIB activities, and recommends procedures for achieving accountability and assessment. MORE

Enhancing Security Cooperation Effectiveness: A Model for Capability Package Planning January 1, 2016 — Enabling collective action through partner capacity-building plays as a leitmotif throughout President Barack Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which asserts that “in addition to acting decisively to defeat direct threats, we will focus on building the capacity of others to prevent the causes and consequences of conflict to include countering extreme and dangerous ideologies. MORE

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