May 1, 2016

A Competing Risks Approach to Security Sector Assistance for Fragile States

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.

March 7, 2016

Time for Transparency in overseas military aid and financing

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.

March 1, 2016

Gender Perspectives and Military Effectiveness: Implementing UNSCR 1325 and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

In January 2013 then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rather unexpectedly lifted the ban on women in combat roles. This came after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan where women had distinguished themselves in many ways—not the least of which included combat. The debate on the implementation of this decision has since raged, raising questions about physical standards and the impact on unit cohesion, among other things. The last few years have also witnessed a necessary discussion about the outrageous frequency of sexual assaults within military organizations. These debates—for good and bad—have placed gender issues in relation to military organizations high on the agenda of public debate.

March 1, 2016

Inclusive Political Settlements New Insights from Yemen’s National Dialogue

Periods of exceptionally high social and political conflict present an opportunity for the fundamental remaking of a society. These conflicts are often resolved outside normal political institutions—whether through expanded police powers due to the declaration of a state of emergency, outright military victory in a civil war, the collapse of the old political order, or through the renegotiation of the political order by peace agreement, a political transition, or both. Since the 1990s, negotiated settlements have become important vehicles to renegotiate the social contract of countries. More recently, negotiation processes that provide for the inclusion of additional actors (e.g., civil society, political hardliners, women’s groups, religious organizations, etc.) aside from the primary political—often armed—parties have become more common. National Dialogues (sometimes called National Conferences) are a highly inclusive negotiation format, involving large segments of civil society, politicians, and experts, and are usually convened in order to negotiate major political reforms or peace in complex and fragmented conflict environments, or to draft a new constitution.

March 1, 2016

Female Citizen Soldiers and Airmen: Key Contributors to Worldwide Peace and Security

We met for the first time in Pristina. Both of us had labored to mitigate conflict in the Balkans, and we had great hopes when the Dayton Agreement was signed in 1995, ending the civil war in Bosnia. But only four years later, the limits of the agreement became clear. General Wesley Clark, a principal figure in the negotiations that ended the violence in Bosnia, led NATO in a bombing campaign against the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic (later charged with war crimes), whose army was behind escalating violence against civilians in Kosovo. We had already seen how Milosevic’s tactics played out in Bosnia.

March 1, 2016

Women as Symbols and Swords in Boko Haram’s Terror

In June 2014, a middle-aged woman riding a motorcycle approached the military barracks in the North Eastern Nigerian city of Gombe. While being searched at the military checkpoint, she detonated the explosives strapped to her body, ending her life and killing a soldier in the process. With this act, a new chapter in the destructive history of Boko Haram began: the group joined the ranks of terrorist groups around the world that have incorporated women into their organizational profiles. Since the first attack, women and young girls (between the ages of 7 and 17) have been coerced into targeting civilians at markets, bus depots, and mosques. The 89 attacks documented between June 2014 and January 2016, mostly of civilian soft targets, are responsible for more than 1,200 deaths and an even greater number of injuries. The adoption of female suicide bombers is not especially surprising as an operational adaptation to increased state surveillance of the group’s activities; it has been a tactic adopted by secular and religious terrorist groups from Sri Lanka to Syria. However, Boko Haram depends on female operatives disproportionately, relative to similar insurgencies; for example, the Tamil Tigers used 46 women over the course of 10 years, whereas Boko Haram has deployed more than 90 women in a little over a year and a half.

March 1, 2016

Inclusive Security: NATO Adapts and Adopts

We met for the first time in Pristina. Both of us had labored to mitigate conflict in the Balkans, and we had great hopes when the Dayton Agreement was signed in 1995, ending the civil war in Bosnia. But only four years later, the limits of the agreement became clear. General Wesley Clark, a principal figure in the negotiations that ended the violence in Bosnia, led NATO in a bombing campaign against the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic (later charged with war crimes), whose army was behind escalating violence against civilians in Kosovo. We had already seen how Milosevic’s tactics played out in Bosnia.

March 1, 2016

Integrating Gender Perspectives within the Department of Defense

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, and the 15th anniversary of the passage of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. The Fourth World Conference on Women marked a critical shift in the conversation on gender equality and resulted in the unanimous adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a comprehensive agenda aimed at achieving the goals of equality, development, and peace for women throughout the world.1 UNSCR 1325, adopted in 2000, recognized the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and underscored the importance of women's equal and full participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping.2 Taken together, the Beijing Conference and the adoption of UNSCR 1325 are the seminal events that led to international consensus on the elevation of women, peace, and security (WPS) principles as priority issues for all states and firmly established the link between equality and rights for women, on the one hand, and the well-being of society overall, on the other.

March 1, 2016

Women Warriors: Why the Robotics Revolution Changes the Combat Equation

So began the testimony of General Barrow before the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 1991 regarding his opinion on women in combat during which he gave his ultimate conclusion: “women can’t do it…and there is no military need to put women into combat.”2 That is about to change. In the wake of women successfully integrating into submarines and graduating from Army Ranger School, an additional—and heretofore underappreciated—factor is poised to alter the women in combat debate: the revolution in robotics and autonomous systems. The technology leap afforded by robotics will shift the debate from whether women are able to meet combat standards to how gender diversity in combat will improve the U.S. military’s fighting capability. Over the next decade, the U.S. military will reap huge benefits from robotic and autonomous systems that will fundamentally change both the tools used on the battlefield and the approach taken to combat. Not only will robotic technology undermine the standard arguments against women in combat, but full gender integration across all combat roles will maximize American employment of autonomous systems and corresponding combat effectiveness.

March 1, 2016

The Secret Driving Force Behind Mongolia’s Successful Democracy

Twenty-five years after Mongolia’s first free and democratic election, the country is commemorating the peaceful revolution that radically changed this country. Throughout these celebrations, we are reflecting on both the result of the changes of the past 25 years and the means by which those changes occurred. Not only are Mongolians marking the occasion, the nation is finally being heralded by the international community as an example of peaceful democratization. In my role as a member of the State Great Hural (parliament) of Mongolia, I am often asked, “How did you manage to do it?” Or, less frequently now, “How did we never notice Mongolia’s democracy before?” Hearing these queries so frequently prompted me to seriously reflect upon the process by which Mongolia transformed from a Soviet satellite state into a robust and thriving democracy.