• Counterinsurgency,  Development,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Counterinsurgency Today: A Review of Eric T. Olson’s “Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot”

    By Efe Sevin The long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to increased inquiry into the concepts and practices of counterinsurgency (COIN). Eric T. Olson, in his work, focuses on the importance of reconstruction attempts in COIN operations and discusses the role of military. The author served in the U.S. Army for over three decades and retired as a Major General. Currently, Mr. Olson is an independent defense contractor and works with Army brigades and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) who are preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the title suggests, his monograph considers such reconstruction attempts to have uttermost importance in successful military operations.

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  Terrorism

    Cartel Info Ops: Power and Counter-power in Mexico’s Drug War

    By John P. Sullivan Mexico’s cartels are increasingly using refined information operations (info ops) to wage their war against each other and the Mexican state, as noted in a recent post “Mexican narcos step up their information war” here at MountainRunner. These info ops include the calculated use of instrumental and symbolic violence to shape the conflict environment.  The result: attacks on media outlets, and kidnappings and assassinations of journalists by narco-cartels to obscure operations and silence critics.  Editors and journalists turn to self-censorship to protect themselves; others have become virtual mouthpieces for the gangs and cartels, only publishing materials the cartels approve.  Cartels are now beginning to issue press…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Communicating Their Own Story: Progress in the Afghan National Security Force

    By Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armory of the modern commander.” – T.E. Lawrence Lawrence’s words continue to ring true. In conflicts from the First World War to Korea; from Vietnam to the Gulf War, the nation that wins the information battle tends to win the larger war. Today, America and her partners are engaged in a fight that is every bit as important as its earlier wars: ensuring that Afghanistan is secure, independent, and free of the forces that launched attacks on the people of the world on September 11, 2001. It is a contest that requires painful sacrifices…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Events,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    Event: 9th Annual Information Operations – Europe

    The UK-based Defence IQ has announced the date and venue for the 9th annual Information Operations Europe conference. The event will take place June 29-30, 2010, at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London. The agenda is available. Topics include: Media in Modern Warfare, by Major General Gordon Messenger, Director of Strategic Communications, UK MoD UK’s Influence Capability, by Air Commodore Robert Judson, Head of Targeting and Information Operations, UK MoD Where Counterinsurgency meets Culture, by Eric Sutphin, Chief Target Audience Analyst, Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force, ISAF HQ, NATO Audience Engagement in Afghanistan, by Maryann Maguire, Director of Communications (DCSU), Afghan Specialist Joint Implementation Team, UK MoD Countering Violent Extremism,…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle

    Required Reading: 100 Years of COIN: What new have we Learned?

    From David Betz at Kings College: …2006 may represent something of a watershed; it’s probably too soon to tell but my hunch is that the stuff which John Mackinlay and David Kilcullen are writing about global insurgency is significant. Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla has garnered a ton of deserved praise. And having seen several chapters of Mackinlay’s book The Insurgent Archipelago which is about to be published, I think he pushes the envelope further still. He reckons that there has been a sea change from Maoist to ‘Post-Maoist’ insurgency: Maoist insurgent objectives were national whereas Post-Maoist objectives are global; the population involved in Maoist insurgency was manageable (albeit with difficulty) whereas…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs

    Merging Public Affairs, PSYOP, IO

    Briefly and without comment, Press, "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ-sources 29 Nov 2008 06:56:49 GMT Source: Reuters By Jon Hemming KABUL, Nov 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with "Psy Ops", which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance’s policy, three officials said. The move has worried Washington’s European NATO allies — Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan — and the officials said it could undermine the credibility of information released to the public. Seven years into the war against the Taliban, insurgent…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  State Building

    Al-Qaeda is not the only threat

    John Sullivan, the co-founder of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning group and lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, focusing on emerging threats, reminds us that Al-Qaeda is not the only threat. As such, public diplomacy and strategic communication planning that focuses only on Al-Qaeda is too limiting. From Danger Room: While the public and media are occupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential conflict with Iran, the downward spiral in Pakistan, and a global economic meltdown, a new, rapidly-evolving danger — narco-cartels and gangs — has been developing in Mexico and Latin America. And it has the potential to trump global terrorism as a threat to…

  • Africa,  Counterinsurgency,  Interagency,  Media,  Public Diplomacy


    “The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating.” – A Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future: Fixing the Crisis in Diplomatic Readiness from the American Academy of Diplomacy. (see also this post) “The trends across the board are not going in the right direction. And I would anticipate next year would be a tougher year.” – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, The New York Times. “The announcement last week that the United States will relocate its London embassy from Grosvenor Square, in the heart of the British capital, to an out-of-the-way spot south of the River Thames may be good news for property developers, but should concern…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle

    Others discuss the “Phallo-Fascism of a Vainglorious Anthropologist”

    Briefly, if you read Sharon Weinberger’s Do Pentagon Studs Make You Want to Bite Your Fist? last week, you may be interested in the following: From Max Forte at Open Anthropology is the post “Me so horny, me love you long time”: The Phallo-Fascism of a Vainglorious Anthropologist in the Academilitary (2.7) This post could have been titled, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”  … McFate has apparently learned enough from her gender and sexuality courses in anthropology — and let me stop to thank Yale University once again for unleashing this little darling onto the world — to know how to turn them inside…