The article examines the development and employment of the al-Shabaab secret service, Amniyat, in its fight against African Union troops and security forces in Somalia. It first elaborates on the historical background of the terrorist group, which may serve as an introduction to understanding the roots of the organization and how its resurgence is tied to the effective management of Amniyat. The governance structure and intelligence activities of the terror group are also scrutinized. The study then analyzes the capacities and capabilities of the al-Shabaab intelligence apparatus, highlighting the elements that have contributed to its efficiency. In light of the growing importance of intelligence and counter-intelligence, the development of a secret service proved to be crucial for the survival of the terrorist group. Over the last decade, not only has al-Shabaab survived but also managed to thrive, presenting a number of obstacles to better-equipped multinational forces and the international community. Even if al-Shabaab were to be defeated, Amniyat could outlast its dissolution and may be “reborn” in various entities or merge into a criminal network.
The emergence of newly independent states in the Caucasus at the end of the Cold War presented challenges to Turkey while enlarging its role. The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the century-old Soviet/Russian threat, simultaneously creating a power vacuum on Turkey’s borders. While Turkey had traditionally avoided involvement in regional politics, it has since been drawn into the volatile new politics of the region. In this environment, Turkey became an important actor in the region due to its strong historical ties, the attraction of its geographic position linking the region to Europe, and its economic, political, and security relationships with Azerbaijan and Georgia. Over the past thirty years, Turkey has become one of the prominent players in a region where its involvement has again increased recently after the Second Karabakh War. Although its re-engagement with Armenia is progressing slowly, and geopolitical changes and economic and political conditions in the region are unlikely to stabilize for some years, it is evident that Turkey will continue to create new networks of interdependency between Ankara and the regional capitals.
By employing historical institutionalism, this article argues that anthropogenic risks (i.e., climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic) serve as a critical juncture for NATO in reorienting its sustainability strategies in response to climate fluctuations and potential insecurity arising from resource depletion. During the Cold War, NATO’s main objective was to deter threats from states, mainly the Soviet Union. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Alliance turned to non-state actors (e.g., Al-Qaida, Somali pirates, and Russian hackers). Then, climate change and COVID-19 emerged as global security risks from natural, environmental phenomena. NATO had incrementally sought to address the threats from climate change, but COVID-19 served as an impetus to acknowledge insecurity caused by neither states nor non-state actors. The pandemic represented the Alliance’s first significant mobilization of military assets on a regional (i.e., European level), for a sustained period, in response to a unique risk. Based on this experience, NATO needs a sustainable strategy to acknowledge anthropogenic risks and to prepare for future climate-related fluctuations and insecurity.
Competing Strategies: The Russian Federation vs. the European Union and the United States through Georgia and Ukraine
This article analyzes the shaping and transformation of the post-Soviet security thinking of Georgia and Ukraine in the context of the post-Soviet Russian foreign policy in the near abroad, often designated as a legitimate sphere of Russian influence, and the competition between Russia and the EU and the US in the region. After the Rose Revolution of Georgia and the Orange Revolution of Ukraine, these two countries’ independent/pro-Western orientation became the main issues securitized by the Russian Federation. Correspondingly, the preservation of territorial integrity became the top security issue for Georgia (since the early 1990s), and it became so for Ukraine after the Crimean occupation (March 2014) and the renewed armed hostilities across the entirety of Ukraine since February 2022. The changes in the internal politics of these countries were transposed into the international competition between Russia and the EU/US, expressed through the clash of “Sovereign Democracy” and “Color Revolution” paradigms for the future of post-Soviet states in the 2010s and transformed into active military measures in Ukraine since 2020s and through the so-called creeping annexation of Georgia since 2010s. Practically, these are the tools of maintaining the Russian influence on the one hand and opposing the Western values and power influence, supported firstly by the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership projects and secondly by granting candidate status to Ukraine in 2022. Russia’s military actions against Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014-2023), a response to the soft power applied by the West, aimed at the creation of buffer zones in the shape of “frozen conflicts,” which could be used as indirect leverage in the hands of the Russian Federation to block the Western aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine.
Hybrid warfare is the most common term used by commentators to describe the complexity and multifaceted character of contemporary warfare. Hybrid warfare refers to coercive methods of strategic competition that take place below the threshold of conventional military conflict and is usually applied to the blend of military and non-military methods of warfare employed by the West’s principal adversaries, Russia and China. The term hybrid warfare has evolved from an essentially military concept to one that potentially embraces all the instruments of state power. Hybrid warfare remains an ill-defined and contested term, and there are many other buzzwords, such as irregular warfare, hybrid threats, and gray zone aggression, that are used to describe the same phenomenon. This article examines the evolution of thinking on hybrid warfare and these related concepts. It highlights the challenges that scholars and practitioners have faced in trying to define and apply these terms in the policy environment in a manner that promotes common understanding and strategic coherence.
Armed forces constitute the foundation for the defense and security of their societies. They protect against external threats and, when required, provide coercive power. As a corporate body, they play a prominent role in the ordering of the nation’s affairs, in the development of national security policy, and in the allocation of national resources. Their role is guided by a single principle: their subordination to democratically elected political leadership. This democratic control ensures they serve the societies they protect.
This article identifies the key elements needed to ensure effective democratic control. It examines the role of the executive in the organization and employment of the armed forces and the legislature in providing oversight and accountability. The tensions in defining competence and responsibility where the political and military worlds and perspectives intersect are alleviated in the process of fusion, collision, or reconciliation at all levels, from policy to operations. Democratic control must reflect societal developments as in the influence of information technology or the impressive “genderization” of defense and security. Two decades of transition in Europe have shown that democratic control is a process in which each country adapts the basic principles to its own circumstances.
On August 15, 2021, the 20-year war against the Taliban, led by the US/NATO alliance and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, ended with a dramatic Taliban takeover of power in Afghanistan. For the second time, they announced an acting government in Kabul. The re-emergence of the Taliban in the political arena of Afghanistan necessitates an analysis of how the Taliban and the countries involved in the Afghanistan conflict view each other. What will be the nature of reciprocal relations between the Taliban and other concerned states? How does the Taliban view the different regions that have engaged in Afghanistan over the past 20 years? Moreover, how do various capitals perceive the Taliban, a question frequently asked by media and think tanks? While global actors have viewed the Taliban with different attitudes, how will they perceive them in the future? This article attempts to answer most of these questions.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought so many uncertainties for society. People are compelled to adapt to the “new normal” in every aspect of their lives. The government of Indonesia introduced new policies to limit the movement of people through the Policy and the Work From Home (WFH) work system. As a result, large-scale social restrictions relied on the Internet, thus posing higher security risks. Even though the use of social media to spread radicalism is no longer considered novel, the pandemic has revamped social media into a more convenient platform for radicals and extremists as more people are engaged on a daily basis. By using qualitative methods, this study aims to analyze how the spread of radicalism through social media has become a tangible threat to Indonesia during the times of pandemic and the government’s response strategy. This study found that the number of social media users in Indonesia peaked at 51.5 % since the start of the pandemic, most of which came from productive age groups. This study concluded that the pandemic had extended recruitment and radicalization through social media by reaching out to more people and spreading diverse narratives and hoaxes. In order to face those threats, Indonesia’s government uses a strategy of combating such narratives, increasing digital literacy, and blocking content and accounts to minimize the echo of radicalization on social media.
Managing defense acquisition in small nations is a considerable challenge that can be overcome by introducing innovative management approaches, strategies, and systems. This article presents a case study on one of the smallest NATO nations, Luxembourg. It demonstrates how applying management concepts from not-for-profit organizations can help small NATO nations to increase their organizational effectiveness. The author employs a framework devised by the Bridgespan Group, consisting of five effectiveness vectors—leadership, decision-making and structure, people, work processes and systems, and culture. This framework facilitates a systematic analysis. The article provides analysis along each of the five vectors with an account of the specific context of the Luxembourg Armed Forces, incorporating pertinent concepts, such as systems thinking, bureaucracy, organizational learning, and organizational culture. This exhaustive analysis unveils four systemic gaps in effectiveness: delayed corrective action, challenges associated with tacit knowledge and second- and third-order learning, the demand for an embedded learning cycle, and the impact of organizational subculture. The article concludes by outlining the necessity for subsequent research aimed at rectifying these identified effectiveness gaps
On February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the international order changed as sharply and abruptly as it did on the morning of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) invoked Article V for the first time in NATO’s history. As a result of Russia’s invasion, NATO’s demand for deterrence capabilities—with the hope that Article V is never again necessary to exercise—is more urgent now than at any time in the 21st century. Because lethality is absolutely necessary but not sufficient, NATO must develop and maintain capabilities that complement lethal force with intermediate force options to complete the deterrence equation across the entire competition continuum.
Intermediate Force Capabilities (IFCs) can deliver immediate value to NATO countries, providing leaders and policymakers with Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW) options that can deter enemy actions, as necessary, below the level of lethal combat operations. IFCs, a term introduced into the U.S. Department of Defense in 2020 to define capabilities that bridge the gap between presence and lethal effects, encompass NLWs as well as other additional capabilities and technologies that have utility below the level of armed conflict.
It has long been understood that competition in the narrative battlefield impacts outcomes on the physical battlefield. The impact of narrative only increases in our era of gray zone narrative warfare conducted via social media. Valid norms constrain democratic militaries from developing forms of narrative competencies that autocratic states have available for use – namely, those involving fictionalization, misattribution, and other forms of deception. To compete in the narrative battlefield, democratic militaries should enhance their capability for disseminating truthful, close-to-real-time, extended stories of military activities with real-world, value-based stakes, crafted using age-old formulas of characterization and plot to appeal to wide as well as targeted audiences.
This article reviews the development and tests of two Intermediate Force Capability (IFC) concept development hybrid wargames. The first wargame plays out a maritime Task Force’s ability to counter hybrid threats in the grey zone. The second wargame examines the ability of a NATO Task Group, deployed to a third country to train local security forces, to counter a hostile militia trained and supported by a neighboring country. IFCs offer a class of response between doing nothing and using lethal force in a situation that would be politically unpalatable. As such, the aim of the wargame series is to evaluate whether IFCs can make a difference to mission success against hybrid threats in the grey zone. This wargame series was particularly important because it used traditional game mechanics in a unique and innovative way to evaluate and assess IFC’s effects on strategic mission success. Specifically, the hybrid wargame series has demonstrated that IFCs have a high probability of filling the gap between doing nothing and using lethal force. IFCs have the potential to improve operational effectiveness by allowing for more restrained use of force to escalate/de-escalate a situation and increasing decision time and space for tactical decision-makers. Both counter-personnel and counter-materiel capabilities (including miniaturization) are needed to act effectively in the current hybrid threat environment.
Assessing the tactical, operational, and strategic impact of non-lethal weapons is challenging, requiring different evaluative approaches from those used for lethal weapons. This article describes how a RAND team used a structure called a “logic model” to characterize what these systems and operations are intended to achieve and how they do so. The team then identified a set of metrics that collectively measured each element of the logic model. Additionally, the RAND team developed a diverse set of vignettes in which non-lethal capabilities were used and then qualitatively evaluated each metric in the context of each vignette using a set of standard criteria: how well the metric measured the corresponding element, how easily and quickly the value of the metric could be measured, and how consistently different individuals would likely assess the value of the metric in a particular situation. Based on this work, the logic model can be used to better characterize and communicate the impact of non-lethal weapons and actions at the tactical and operational levels and link these to strategic goals. Operators, planners, and commanders can also select specific metrics to measure the impact of these weapons and actions in real-world operations and wargames, enabling them to make better decisions on when and how to use them to achieve their goals.
NATO faces a military problem: adversaries are undertaking acts of aggression that deliberately stay below the lethal force threshold or that ensure a lethal response from NATO incurring costs—undesired escalation, risks of collateral damage including civilian casualties, negative narratives, and other adverse strategic or political outcomes—to the Alliance. Intermediate Force Capabilities (IFC)—active means (non-lethal weapons, particularly non-lethal directed energy, cyber, electronic warfare, information operations, and other effectors) beyond presence but below lethal thresholds—help solve this problem. SAS-151 and Allied Command Transformation developed and conducted wargames and IFC Concept Development Workshops that demonstrated the ways in which IFC improve NATO’s ability to deter, counter, and defeat adversaries via: Enhanced Engagement: If fielded and incorporated into tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), IFC can enable lethal engagements by isolating, stopping, or moving targets to positions of advantage, also, reversible (and in many cases unseen) effects allow for earlier employment, including potential autonomous/AI use of IFC where lethal capabilities would require human-inthe-loop; Tempo/Initiative: Instead of adversaries dictating the time and place of engagements, IFC help NATO gain/maintain the initiative by suppressing, imposing delays, and making adversaries reactive (even inactive); Active means across the Competition Continuum: NATO needs to develop, acquire, and effectively employ IFC across the continuum to win engagements, impose costs on the adversary, and win the narrative.
This article updates a previous publication, “Beyond Bean Bags and Rubber Bullets: Intermediate Force Capabilities Across the Competition Continuum,” highlighting the relevance of non-lethal weapons as intermediate force capabilities to the U.S. 2022 National Defense Strategy and NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept. Intermediate force capabilities can strengthen deterrence, providing active or defensive measures to counter aggression below the level of armed conflict, enable military operations among civilian populations in urban environments, and support establishing post-conflict safe and secure environments for transition to host nation governance.
Military operations in the grey zone (defined here as the space between peace and war where states are currently involved in a competition continuum) present a unique challenge for military planners. Potential adversaries—well aware of NATO’s conventional lethal capabilities—have been using the space below the lethal threshold of conflict with impunity to further their objectives. To re-establish effective deterrence, it is imperative that NATO develops the ability to deny its adversaries the ability to act freely in this zone below conventional conflict. That requires imposing a cost on hostile actors acting below the lethal threshold of open conflict, across multiple domains, from the tactical through the operational to the strategic level. Intermediate Force Capabilities (IFC) are the kind of tools that provide effective means of response below the lethal threshold both tactically and operationally and can effectively shape the environment across domains up to the strategic level.
This article examines the need for liberal democracies to respond to the growth of economic bullying, coercion, gunboat diplomacy, and geoeconomic pressure undertaken by Russia and China. The political call for an economic NATO-type international organization is growing louder following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resultant constraints imposed on food and energy supply, and China’s bullying of the tiny NATO and EU state, Lithuania. This article chronicles examples of Russian and Chinese economic sanctions and the impact of China’s geoeconomic diplomacy before identifying and explaining actual and potential western policy responses, especially the establishment of an Economic NATO.
During the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR) after World War II, deterrence emerged as the primary U.S. security strategy. Historically, the USA focused on deterring conventional and nuclear threats. While this helped prevent a direct military conflict between the two superpowers, it did not end their political rivalry, simply pushing it into areas that decreased the risk of open military conflict. During the Cold War, both the USA and USSR used irregular tactics to try and achieve their strategic objectives in the grey zone, the area below the threshold for “use of force” or “armed attack” as described in the United Nations Charter. Technology limited the effectiveness of irregular tactics, not considered significant national security threats. Today, a globalized, interconnected, and ubiquitous information environment provides numerous opportunities for adversaries to achieve strategic objectives without crossing the strategic threshold that would have historically provoked a military response.
An increase in irregular attacks shows that while deterrence has continued to prevent large-scale military conflict between the major powers, it has failed to prevent aggression in the grey zone. From the Baltics to the Caucuses, Russia has repeatedly demonstrated how irregular tactics can achieve strategic objectives without fear of an unacceptable counteraction. Trends in national power, interdependence, and technology suggest Russia and other adversaries will continue to increase their ability to exploit the grey zone vulnerabilities. A deterrence policy focused solely on conventional and nuclear forces is no longer sufficient. To deter irregular tactics, the United States must develop a 21st-century deterrence strategy. This need will only grow as Russia tries to offset its military failures in Ukraine. With Russian conventional forces weakened, Russia will increasingly rely on irregular tactics to attack its adversaries. This paper examines the declining relevance of traditional conventional and nuclear-focused deterrence strategies and argues that deterrence should be modified to remain relevant against 21st-century threats.
NATO is faced with adversaries undertaking acts of aggression that deliberately stay below the lethal force threshold or aim to trigger a lethal response from NATO and incur costs to the Alliance such as undesired escalation, risks of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, or negative narratives. Examples of these activities range from dangerous aerial and maritime approaches, fomenting unrest and using refugees as a weapon, and even use of force short of lethal to intimidate opponents. Currently, the NATO responses are often limited to two extremes of mere presence or applying lethal force, thus ceding the initiative to the adversary. This issue contains a set of articles exploring intermediate force capabilities (e.g., non-lethal weapons, cyber, information operations, electromagnetic warfare, and strategic capabilities such as stability policing and use of special operation forces) and how they can address current NATO dilemma when operating below the threshold of lethal force.
In the early hours of February 24, 2022, the armed forces of the Russian Federation and armed formations of the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics attacked Ukraine from the north, east, and south. In parallel, Russia conducted massive cyberattacks and propaganda campaigns. To the surprise of many analysts, Ukraine demonstrated exceptional cohesion, resilience, and will to fight. The raging war is already influencing the international security environment and the thinking on societal preparedness, military capabilities and operations, and will continue to do so in the coming decades. This editorial article presents the early lessons learned from the war, with a focus on Russia’s propaganda narratives and information warfare and ways to counter them, the role of professional military education, and combat medical support.