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  • Author: Zachary Abuza
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Since early-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made gradual inroads into Southeast Asia. There are an estimated 500 Southeast Asians, not including family and kin, in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS, as well as al-Nusra, which at first attracted far more Southeast Asians. Since August 2014, there has been a company of Bahasa-speaking Southeast Asians, Katibah Nusantara, within ISIS. The numbers have remained low only because of proactive policies from regional security forces, who are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when they turned a blind eye to returning veterans of the Afghan mujahideen. As an Indonesian counter-terrorism official put it, “We have experience [of those who committed terrorist acts in Indonesia] after going to Afghanistan and the Philippines and we don’t want ISIS alumni to do the same.”1 Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have all detained people for involvement in ISIS or prevented them from traveling abroad. Jihadists from around the region, including the co-founder of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Bakar Ba’asyir,2 as well as Philippine groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have pledged bai’at to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) caliphate. There have been a number of children of JI members to join IS, including the sons of Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, while the sons of senior JI members, Mukhliansyah and Abu Jibril, have joined al-Nusra.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Dr. M. Chris Mason
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were lost before they began, not on the battlefields, where the United States won every tactical engagement, but at the strategic level of war. In each case, the U.S. Government attempted to create a Western-style democracy in countries which were decades at least away from being nations with the sociopolitical capital necessary to sustain democracy and, most importantly, accept it as a legitimate source of governance. The expensive indigenous armies created in the image of the U.S. Army lacked both the motivation to fight for illegitimate governments in Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul and a cause that they believed was worth dying for, while their enemies in the field clearly did not. This book examines the Afghan National Security Forces in historical and political contexts, explains why they will fail at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war, why they cannot and will not succeed in holding the southern half of the country, and what will happen in Afghanistan year-by-year from 2015 to 2019. Finally, it examines what the critical lessons unlearned of these conflicts are for U.S. military leaders, why these fundamental political lessons seem to remain unlearned, and how the strategic mistakes of the past can be avoided in the future.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam
  • Author: Dr. R. Evan Ellis
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In many ways, Russia’s expanded engagement in Latin America as a response to escalating tension over the Ukraine was a repetition of its answer to U.S. involvement in the 2008 conflict in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. In the latter conflict, the U.S. deployed naval forces to the Black Sea in response to Russian support for the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia countered with a series of actions in Latin America, including sending nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela, from where they conducted symbolically-charged flights around the Caribbean. A month later, a four-ship Russian naval flotilla deployed to the area to conduct military exercises with the Venezuelan navy before making port calls in Cuba and Nicaragua. In November 2008, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev traveled to Latin America to participate in the leadership summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, then subsequently hosted both Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Moscow. Three months later, Bolivian President Evo Morales also traveled to Russia, followed in November 2009 by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Very little beyond journalistic accounts have been written to examine contemporary Russian activities in Latin America and the Caribbean. As Russia’s reassertion of its global position and associated tensions with the United States proceed, a broad understanding of Russia in the Americas becomes ever more important, both as a question of U.S. national security and as an important dynamic shaping the global geopolitical environment. This monograph focuses on the character of the ongoing Russian re-engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean and its implications for the U.S.
  • Topic: National Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Navy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Latin America
  • Author: Dr. Leif Rosenberger
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This Letort Paper analyzes the new global oil market. It shows how the price of oil reflects the confluence of four interrelated factors. First, the Paper explores why the supply of oil has been soaring in the world. Second, it explains why the demand for oil has been relatively weak. Third, it discusses the role that Wall Street plays in moving the price of oil. Fourth, it examines the importance of the U.S. dollar in determining the prices of oil. As a result of these factors, oil prices are relatively low. The Paper also explains how these low oil prices produce winners and losers at home and abroad. In addition, it explores where oil prices are likely to go in 2016 without policy intervention. It also recommends ways to make oil prices less volatile.
  • Author: Dr. Norman Cigar
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As America’s de facto co-belligerents who often share the same battlespace in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the presence and activity of Iraq’s Shia warlords and their militias have an impact on U.S. interests and policies at both the strategic and operational levels. The objective of this monograph is to provide a better understanding of the Shia militia phenomenon and to highlight the factors with which U.S. policymakers and U.S. Army planners and commanders will have to deal with respect to operations in Iraq.
  • Author: James Lacey
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This monograph presents a survey of the crucial link between state (national) power and finance from the ancient era through to the present day. Cicero once said that the true sinew of war was “endless streams of money.” His observation remains as accurate today as it was when Rome first began constructing its Empire. Unfortunately, too many historical works leave this crucial underpinning link out of their narratives. Even those that do discuss economic and financial concerns typically miss the fact that the size of a state’s economy often has little to do with its capacity to wield influence on the global stage. Much more crucial, in this regard, is the possession of an administrative system capable of efficiently mobilizing a state’s resources. It was such an administrative apparatus that allowed Britain to punch far above its weight in the international arena for centuries. As a survey, this work is far from comprehensive, but the author hopes it will provide a stepping stone for a much-needed in-depth examination of the topic.
  • Author: Col. Gregory K. Anderson, Col. Gert-Jan Koji, LTC Karen LT Briggman, LTC. Joseph E. Hillbert, Lt. Col. Christopher T. Lay, Dr. James C. McNaughton, Dr. John R. Deni
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Russian aggression in 2014 caught U.S. policy and strategy off guard, forcing reactive measures and reevaluation of the U.S. approach toward Russia. Moscow employed nonlinear methodologies and operated just beneath traditional thresholds of conflict to take full advantage of U.S. and NATO policy and process limitations. In light of this strategic problem, the U.S. Army War College (US - AWC), conducted a wargame that revealed four key considerations for future policy and strategy.
  • Author: Mr. Nathan P. Freier, Ms. Laura McAleer
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Department of Defense (DoD) will face a dramatic and sustained transition period over the next decade. At no other time in recent memory have American defense strategists faced such a dizzying and complex array of challenges like those which they will be required to direct their attention, energy, and resources toward in the coming years. It is frankly impossible to overstate the scale and complexity of the decisions that they will be required to make. This degree of uncertainty and complexity makes the task of deliberately charting a responsible way ahead that much more difficult and urgent.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Colonel John C. Valledor
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Since the horrific attacks against the U.S. homeland on September 11, 2001 (9/11), the U.S. has been engaged in two very long and costly wars, with the war in Afghanistan formally ending on December 2014. At the heart of the grand strategy supporting these conflicts was the desire to deny failing and failed states from becoming the launch pad for future attacks. The closest the nation came to a grand strategy—known for years by its now familiar alias—“The Global War on Terror”2—served to focus U.S. military efforts and galvanize popular support for a common strategic cause. The use of U.S. military force against certain countries in the greater Middle East has done much to eliminate terror-training camps and prevent al-Qaeda from launching large-scale follow-on attacks against the homeland. Nevertheless, U.S. military engagements overseas have unleashed many unforeseen consequences that have complicated the ability to achieve policy objectives.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Homeland Security
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Roman Muzalevsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1 following the most stringent sanctions against Iran to date have opened new prospects for relaxation of tensions between Tehran and the West and for a U.S.-Iranian détente in the long run. The coming to power of new presidential administrations in both the United States and Iran, the additional sanctions, major geo-economic and geopolitical trends, and U.S.-Iranian economic and security cooperation imperatives all contributed to these dynamics. Some view the talks as a new beginning in U.S.-Iranian ties, which could herald the emergence of a U.S.-Iranian strategic relationship in the next 15 years. This work has developed three such possible strategic relationships: 1) strategic engagement involving a nuclear weapons-capable Iran; 2) comprehensive cooperation following a “Grand Bargain”; and, 3) incremental strategic engagement after a nuclear deal. These relationships deliberately focus on constructive engagement, skipping the status quo and a strike on Iran as two other possible outcomes. If they pull it off by 2030, a U.S.-Iranian détente would advance external integration of the region, aiding the U.S. strategy of fostering global connectivity. It would promote resolution of conflicts and development and reconstruction of countries ravaged by wars and sectarian violence. It would also enable Washington to deploy select military assets to other locales to address other challenges while repurposing remaining forces to face new threats in the Greater Middle East.