Dec. 7, 2016

Book Review, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

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Dec. 7, 2016

Book Review, How Armies Respond to Revolutions and Why

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Dec. 7, 2016

An Interview with Stanley McChrystal

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Dec. 7, 2016

PRISM Volume 6, No. 3

As the commander of United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), I welcome you to an issue of PRISM dedicated to special operations. SOCOM is responsible for the critical dual missions of providing the U.S. Geographic Commands with trained and ready special operations forces (SOF), as well as synchronizing their actions—we are uniquely created by law to perform both service-like activities and serve as a functional Geographic Combatant Command. In addition, SOCOM serves as the coordinating authority for the Department of Defense National Military Strategic Plan to Counter Trans-Regional Terrorist Organization (NMSP-CTTO). In light of the complexity of today’s security environment, SOF are spread broadly across the spectrum of conflict. As a SOF enterprise we continually strive to be ready, and I am confident we are postured to address today’s trans-regional challenges by virtue of our global perspective and authorities. Nevertheless, we must push ourselves to transform to meet evolving challenges, which entails leveraging developmental technologies and critically revisiting our structures and processes, while at the same time adjusting our tactics, techniques, and procedures to enhance effectiveness.

Oct. 25, 2016

17 Networks at War: Organizational Innovation and Adaptation in the 21st Century

Recent observations of warfare clearly suggest that conflicts have become more transnational, longer, irregular, and network-centric.1 Put differently, recent conflicts can be best described as protracted internal conflicts with multiple intervening state actors, networked with nonstate actors in a manner much like the multidimensional hybrid operational environment discussed in Army Special Operations (ARSOF) 2022.2 The current conflicts in Iraq and Syria certainly meet this characterization; as do emerging crises in Ukraine, Yemen, and Libya, and longer-standing conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More state and nonstate actors support or sponsor movements in an intrastate conflict, making the termination of fighting very hard. For instance, the rapid resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is largely attributed to the protracted Syrian civil war in which regional powers (including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey) as well as external nonstate actors such as ISIL, al-Nusra, and Hezbollah, to name just a few, sponsored local movements.

Oct. 25, 2016

About the Contributors

ContributorsHilary Matfess is a research associate at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a freelance journalist, and a contributor to the Nigeria Social Violence Project at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She has conducted fieldwork in Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Her current

Oct. 25, 2016

Introduction: World Order or Disorder

The world order built upon the Peace of Westphalia is faltering. State fragility or failure are endemic, with no fewer than one-third of the states in the United Nations earning a “high warning”—or worse—in the Fragile States Index, and an equal number suffering a decline in sustainability over the past decade.1 State weakness invites a range of illicit actors, including international terrorists, globally networked insurgents, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). The presence and operations of these entities keep states weak and incapable of effective governance, and limit the possibility of fruitful partnerships with the United States and its allies. Illicit organizations and their networks fuel corruption, eroding state legitimacy among the governed, and sowing doubt that the state is a genuine guardian of the public interest. These networks can penetrate the state, leading to state capture, and even criminal sovereignty.2 A growing number of weak and corrupt states is creating gaping holes in the global rule-based system of states that we depend on for our security and prosperity. Indeed, the chapters of this book suggest the emergence of a highly adaptive and parasitic alternative ecosystem, based on criminal commerce and extreme violence, with little regard for what we commonly conceive of as the public interest or the public good.

Oct. 25, 2016

15 Communicate, Cooperate, and Collaborate (C3) through Public-Private Partnerships (P3) to Counter the Convergence of Illicit Networks

Today, we face a broad spectrum of security threats, such as global terrorism, transnational organized crime, economic crises, cyber-attacks, extreme natural disasters, and revisionist states that have made national security more challenging than ever before. The complexity of these security threats, particularly from illicit networks, like terrorists, criminals, and proliferators, requires a multidisciplinary approach to comprehend and counter. The convergence of these illicit networks, and the magnitude, velocity, and violence associated with their illicit activities are overwhelming governments and threatening state sovereignty and prosperity. Governments are no longer able to guarantee the security, prosperity, rule of law, and governance their people expect and deserve. Oftentimes, average citizens who “see something and say something” are the first to recognize anomalies and identify threats; they know their sector, workplace, or community best. Therefore, governments need to actively identify and engage partners in the private and civic sectors to better detect, dismantle, and deter the illicit networks that undermine our security and prosperity.

Oct. 25, 2016

16 Adapting to Today’s Battlefield: The Islamic State and Irregular War as the “New Normal"

Clausewitz was, of course, correct: the first responsibility of any commander is to understand the nature of the war he is about to engage in. What is the reality of America’s wars today, and how must we prepare for the future? How does the war with the Islamic State (IS) change our understanding of today’s threats and those of tomorrow?

Oct. 25, 2016

13 Cybercrime: The Evolution of Traditional Crime

While the actual figure may be debated, there is no question that cybercrime is a growth industry. It seems the only debate we have regarding the growth of cybercrime is whether it is an evolution of traditional crime or a revolution. Making this distinction is based on one’s perspective; having worked within this industry for some time now, I would argue that the former conceptualization of cybercrime—as evolutionary—is most accurate. However, when compared with crimes that have been wreaking havoc for centuries (e.g., smuggling, theft), their transition to or dependency on the cyber domain started overnight, and might seem to justify characterizing this transition as revolutionary. Regardless of this distinction, criminals that have adopted a digital arm are netting enormous sums of money. Take, for example, the recent case entitled Operation Carbanak, in which financial institutions were reported to have lost $1 billion through an “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT).2 Though the name “Advanced” infers sophistication, the reality is that these banks were initially infected by nothing more than an employee receiving an email with a link to a malicious site. In fact, what is even more worrying is that this simple approach of infection is behind most of the breaches that we hear about on a daily basis.