1 Revised September 21, st Century Conflict: From Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) to a Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs (RCMA) Anthony H. Cordesman The U.S. and its allies need to take a close look at the evolution of conflict during the first decade of the 21 st Century, and consider what has been the real RMA or revolution in military affairs. One only has to look at a given day s headlines to see how urgent this topic is, how much national security threats are changing, and how important cooperation can be in enhancing security and stability. The need to reexamine both the nature of conflict and how we cooperation is being driven by a wide range of factors. They do include the shifts in military technology and tactics that Marshall Nikolai Ogarkov and other Soviet strategists focused on in the 1970s and 1980s, that Andrew Marshall and the Office of Net Assessment made a key focus for reshaping U.S. forces, and that China has focused upon in its military development. The U.S and its allies have seen the practical value of such changes ever since the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in At the same time, the need to redefine security is being driven by a very different kind of revolution where the civil dimension is as important as the military one. It is a revolution where the political and economic dimension has a steadily growing role, and that is being shaped by asymmetric warfare and by both state and non-state actors. This new revolution in military affairs has a global dimension. It is exemplified by the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and the growing uncertainty as to the security and stability of Europe, by China s combined use of military and economic pressure in the Pacific and the rising tensions in Asia, and by the brutal ongoing civil-military conflicts in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Each region is experiencing new threats and the need for new forms of security. All three of these challenges are forcing us to think and act in ways that go far beyond the beyond the RMA s emphasis on conventional warfare. We now have to deal with a Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs that means responding changes in 21 st century conflict that include: o The new role of national and transnational non-state actors,
2 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs o The systematic exploitation of divisions and tensions within the population of given states and regions, o A shift to new kinds of civil-military warfare, and o Meeting the need for more flexible and adaptive security partnerships. The need for such changes has become all clear from the pattern of threats and conflicts in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, and five of these conflicts have directly involved the U.S. and its allies. Each has involved combinations of violent religious extremism, ethnic and sectarian violence, mixed terrorism and insurgency, and given new roles being non-state actors and asymmetric warfare new roles, and done so under condition where the lack of political unity, effective governance, and economic development in the host country has been as much or more -- of a threat to any lasting threat as the actual enemy. These growing linkages between civil problems and civil conflicts are forcing us to rethink how we deal with internal security, link civil-military operations, and try to shape the outcome of conflicts to produce some form of lasting security and stability. We not only are being forced to develop new approaches to asymmetric conflict, and new forms of strategic partnership, we are being forced and to think, educate, train and act our national security professionals in new ways. The Conventional Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) These changes do not mean that the technical and tactical revolution in military affairs -- or RMA -- does not still have critical importance. Advances in precision strike, longrange warfare, sensors, situational awareness, jointness, intelligence, communications and every aspect of command and control have also changed the face of 21 st century conflict. At the same time, it almost nostalgic to remember that in 1991, a broad coalition of US, European, and Arab forces fought a war to liberate Kuwait that involved regular military forces, was fought by conventional forces in direct air-land engagements, and ended in a lasting ceasefire between state actors. It seems equally nostalgic to remember that many analysts saw the trends in warfare and force development that emerged out of that conflict as the revolution in military affairs. In retrospect, this revolution placed a traditional emphasis on joint warfare and engagements between attacking conventional forces. It focused on the use of precision guided weapons and suppression of enemy air defense, or SEAD, followed by deep strike and an air-land battle, rapid maneuver, high tempo 24-hour conflict, radical advances in intelligence and targeting, and a near-real time decision cycle based on equal advances in secure communications and digital aids. Stealth became a reality that showed how a single advance in technology could alter the battle, but missiles and missile defense also altered the nature of war. The Iran-Iraq War had already exposed the risk that weapons of mass destruction could be a reality in modern war, but during the conflict, it became clear that Iraq was also seeking to develop nuclear weapons and biological weapons making proliferation an all too real element of the revolution in military affairs.
3 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs A little over a decade later, that revolution in military affairs still seemed to dominate 21 st Century Conflict. In 2003, another US-led coalition invaded Iraq to deal with the perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction. This coalition again relied on suppression of enemy air defenses and rapid, high tempo sustained maneuver and the airland battle. It built on the lessons of previous wars to make far more use of precision strike in both line of sight and stand off operations, and used a greatly improved mix of digital battle management and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. In terms of grand strategy, it is important to note that this was moment in time, the US and Europe seemed to have emerged as the dominant mix of global military forces, and the US seemed to be the world s only superpower. The Soviet Union had collapsed and at the time, Russia seemed poised to become a future partner. China had not emerged as a major power capable of achieving parity with the US. More broadly, it was also a moment where the Internet and social networking seemed to have created growing level of global unity reform, and when the steady expansion of world trade seemed to be creating a level of globalism that would unite and benefit the world. In retrospect, strategists, politicians, and military analysts should have done a far better job of remembering just how may forces continued to divided the world, how rapidly history evolves, and how rarely one decade s expectations turn into the next decade s realities. The Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs Even as the U.S. and its allies won a massive victory in a conventional fight against Saddam, forces were emerging that were changing the nature of conflict and the way the U.S. and its security partners had to shape their force and deal with what became a revolution in civil-military affairs or RCMA. While the quick defeat of Saddam Hussein s forces in 2003 initially seemed to validate the lessons of 1991 and the existing version of revolution in military affairs, the time window lasted less than a year. By mid to late 2004, it was already clear that the defeat of Saddam Hussein had opened up Iraq to sectarian and ethnic civil war, religious extremism, and a mix level of insurgency that the previous efforts to define the revolution in military affairs could not cope with. Similar forces were changing the situation in Afghanistan. The late 1990s had already seen the steady rise of violent religious extremism and new and more intense forms of international terrorism. These forces acquired a massive new visibility in September 2001 when Al Qaida attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Initially, this seemed to be a threat where limited amounts of outside military force could help local Afghan forces defeat and suppress Al Qaida and the Taliban, and the U.S. and its allies were slow to react to both the reemergence of the Taliban and the fact that the Afghan government not only could not cope with the threat, it could not provide political unity, effective governance, or develop the economy. By , however, the fall of the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan in 2001 and early 2002 proved to be all too temporary and local. The Taliban and its affiliates began
4 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs to present a new, far more challenging combination of terrorism, asymmetric warfare, insurgency, and religious ideological extremism. At the same time, similar challenges had emerged in Iraq, along with growing sectarian and ethnic tensions and violence. From late 2003 onwards, the U.S. and its allies came to face a steadily escalating mix of sectarian and ethnic tensions and threats that Iraq s post- Saddam politics governance, and economy could not cope with. By 2005, the U.S. and its allies faced a major set of civil-military challenges in what became two long wars one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and both of which were caught up in broader regional civil-military challenges particularly from Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan remains an uncertain ally to this day, and has its own deep civil-military challenges, divisions, and violence. Iran has continued to shift much of its force structure to focus on irregular warfare, and the support of non-state actors in other countries. The Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006 showed how its sponsorship of a non-state actor and creating a non-state force with rockets, missiles, and all the tools necessary for irregular warfare could change the regional balance. In retrospect, the U.S. and all of the western states should have paid far more attention to the warnings of the Arab Development Reports from 2003 onwards that these forces had reached potentially explosive levels in much of the Middle East and North Africa. In 2011, political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa threatened to spread throughout the Islamic world, and created new civil conflicts in states like Libya, Syria, and Iraq. What some optimistically called the Arab Spring also helped to lay the groundwork for the transformation of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) into what became the Islamic State or Daesh and revive the civil war in Iraq while helping to unleash an expansion of religious extremism into Africa, Central Asia, and other parts of the world. And asymmetric warfare became a major threat in other regions. The Russo-Georgian crisis of 2008 proved to be the prelude to a far more serious Russian invasion of the Ukraine in late February It showed that little green men could implement a different kind of asymmetric warfare and revolution in military affairs. It again made European security a critical issue in the West, and it is still unclear how serious the new tensions between Russia and the US and Europe will become. The rise of China and the threat of North Korea gave Asia and the Pacific new strategic priority, while both China developed new approaches to irregular or asymmetric warfare ones that now included creating artificial islands out of coral reefs. Russia changed under Putin, and its invasion of Georgia in August 2008 showed that its was far less passive than it had been in the Serbian conflict, was equally capable of exploiting civil divisions in neighboring states, and that it was able to use what came to be called hybrid warfare in civil-military operations. The Great Recession of 2007 to 2008 showed that globalism was scarcely a rising tide that brought on a new level of economic progress and development. Its lingering effects are still a source of tension and problems, and it became all too clear that many nations face critical political, demographic, and economic problems that can trigger lasting civil conflicts as well as critical constraints on their national security spending.
5 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs Dealing with the New Forces Driving 21 st Century Conflict It is important to stress that none of these changes mean that a conference focusing on 21 st Century conflict and opportunities for cooperation in security can ignore the advances in the conventional aspect of security and warfare that emerged in 1991 and Military planning, cooperation, and education can scarcely ignore the extent to which further advances are taking place in technology and tactics, development like the continuing risk of missile warfare and proliferation, and the fact that all of these changes call for advances in both military professionalism and military education. And yes, there are other emerging threats. These include new forms of economic warfare, cyberwarfare, use of territorial claims, barriers to international trade and movement, threats to critical infrastructure, and the strategic use of roads, pipelines, rail systems, and the control of the flow of water. Military force can scarcely ignore the fact that geoeconomics is becoming as important as geopolitics in some regions of the world. At the same time, it is clear that military professionalism and military education must also adapt to the challenges of what amounts to a second form of revolution in military affairs. National security must increasingly be tied to meeting the challenges of ideological and religious warfare, to dealing with non-state actors, and to meeting threats that are both civil and military. These changes too call for advances in military professionalism and military education. New Forms of Ideological Warfare and Struggles for National Unity One key area of this revolution in civil-military affairs is the need to fight new kinds of ideological battles using new kinds of weapons. Ideological warfare at the secular level has been largely replaced by warfare at the religious level, religious extremism and by ethnic, racial, tribal, and sectarian tensions. These new forms of ideological warfare are a critical threat to internal security in much of the Islamic world, as well as in Asian countries, and other parts of the world. Violent non-state actors are committing widespread acts of terrorism, launching violent new forms of insurgency, dividing nations and religions, and producing retaliation in kind. The world and particularly the Middle East and Central Asia is caught up in an ideological war for the future of Islam where violent Sunni extremist movements offer an immediate threat in terms of terrorism and insurgency, but where religious extremism threatens to create far broader divide between Sunni, Shi ite, and other sects, and which cannot be separated from ethnic, tribal, and regional tensions and conflicts. This extremism has created non-state actors that are now the most serious threat that many countries face. At the simplest level, nations must respond with stronger and bettertrained counterterrorism and counter insurgency forces. They also, however, must create military forces, paramilitary forces, police, and intelligence services that have a new form of jointness and professionalism.
6 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs These new forms of ideological warfare are a critical threat to internal security in much of the Islamic world, as well as in Asian countries and other parts of the world. Violent non-state actors are committing widespread acts of terrorism, launching violent new forms of insurgency, dividing nations and religions, and producing retaliation in kind. Religious extremists are fighting their ideological battle using all of the tools of the Internet, as well as other forms of media, modern communication, social networking, and civil society. They are exploiting charity as well as international financing systems. They have turned extortion, kidnapping, drugs, and the smuggling of petroleum and archeological artifacts into both new methods of funding raising and further weapons of ideological intimidation. Dealing with the Causes Rather than Just the Symptoms An effective response requires action on a civil-military level to deal with the reasons given portions of the population response to ideological extremism. Terrorism, insurgency, and the rise of violent non-state actors are symptoms of these causes and the ideological extremism that seeks to exploit them, and not the disease. The use of force alone can at best suppress such challenges, not cure them. The transformation of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula into ISIL, the rebirth of the Taliban, and the flow of foreign volunteers and money to violent extremists in many parts of the world have all shown the is a critical need for cooperation in countering the threat posed by ideological warfare and religious extremism. No tactical victory really matters that loses the population, and this ideological war is being fought in ways that both exploit the broader fault lines in a given state s civil society and on a generational level. A large share of those who have become extremists and now fight this conflict on the Web and in the field are younger men and women alienated from the power structure in their countries and their traditional religious leadership. The reasons why these young men and women become extremists are not driven by any one factor, and the need to understand their motives better and how much they vary by movement and country has become a critical aspect of developing a more effective response. It is clear, however, that demographic pressures that have made a fivefold increase in the population since 1950, dislocation and hyperurbanization, grossly unequal incomes and corruption, a youth bulge and unemployment, rapid social changes, immigration and alienation, and a host of other structural pressures ensure that extremism will be able to capture a significant portion of the population wherever a nation fails to counter it in ideological terms. It also ensures that degrading or repressing a given movement will almost inevitably see the rise of some successor. Military and internal security forces must still play a direct and critical role in degrading and destroying such movements. Moreover, this is an international battle where no country s use of force can have lasting effectiveness without broad cooperative efforts. But, there is no military solution or use of international security forces, no mix of tactics and military technology that can produce a lasting victory in this ideological battle without civil efforts to address its causes.
7 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs Strategic communications must change in response, and work with every possible civil element to cope with the extraordinary challenge of dealing with religion, the problems and expectations of a nation s youth, and countering other internal divisions. There is a critical need for countries that have advanced intelligence capabilities to assess extremist uses of the Internet, media, social networking and other recruiting, revenue raising, and communications tools to assist nations with less capability to identify and track what is happening. National security forces must develop new approaches to education and all forms of media and communication that can counter extremist propaganda. This means finding -- and institutionalizing -- new ways to exploit modern communications, media, the Internet, and social networking that can preserve national security while imposing the smallest possible burdens on civil society. The mix of civil and security efforts and methods necessary to win this new kind of battle of strategic communications need to be refined, shared, and made available to every security partner. Counterterrorism, countering recruiting, and funding raising, need to be a cooperative effort, and the West needs to learn from the Islamic world how to best reach its growing Muslim population with respect and reassurance, rather than repression. At the same time, winning the ideological battle must be a key element in shaping security and counterinsurgency operations, in limiting civilian casualties and collateral damage, in protecting the population, and providing for civil recovery after operations take place. The military and security forces involved in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency need expert help to explain to their populations and the outside world why force is being used in given ways, to counter extremist propaganda, warn when given types of military and internal security action are counterproductive, and deal with detainees and prisoners. Both the nations that are subject to such threats and their security partners need to cooperate in identifying and sharing successful methods and lessons. Similar cooperation is needed to ensure that joint military operations and outside training and assist efforts minimize the risk of divisions between the forces of largely Islamic and allies and forces and advisors from non-islamic states. Cases like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen have shown that these aspects of cooperation are critical, and the new forms of civil-military cooperation are needed if Western or non-islamic forces with different cultures and values are to work successfully with local police, militias, and other non-state actors not only to build trust between outside and national forces, but to minimize the tension between different ethnic groups and sects. Tactical victories are important as a critical first step in making a broader and more lasting form of victory possible, but there is no real win where local forces cannot counter the extremist message, identify key tools of extremist activity and influence, and lay the ideological ground work to hold and build. Moreover, no amount of outside or partner military force can save a host country government or military force from itself and from its people.
8 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs The Need for a Civil-Military Approach to National Security For all these, military and internal security forces must have civil partners, and take a whole of government approach, to deal with the cause of both religious extremism and the broader upheavals that have taken place in the world since These are all struggles where any effort to produce lasting security and stability must have a major civil and political dimension. They are struggles where governments must support their national security forces by seeking to heal the divisions within their society, and deal with the reasons their populations take sides and extremism can find recruits and funding. Repression alone cannot win such conflicts, and security forces must be tied to the rule of law, new approaches to detention and prison sentences, and efforts to win back volunteers and supporters of extremism. Every major insurgency, civil conflict, or case where terrorism has taken a major foothold is a warning that governments and security efforts must not concentrate on religious or extremists as if they were the only source of such threats. And let me again stress a key theme of this conference. These are all areas where sharing successful methods, identifying failures, and cooperation are critical. It is also a key aspect of military education. Nations and their national security forces must examine the impact of internal demographic pressures, urbanization and population movements, limited economic development, poor distribution of income and government services, unemployment, corruption, and other structural threats to internal security that divided states and push them into civil conflicts. National security forces must objectively assess such factors, and ties their tactics to civil-military efforts that honestly assess them. There have already been all too many cases where conflicts, ideology, and the actions of violent non-state actors steadily divide nations along sectarian, ethnic, tribal, and regional lines. If these divisions go too far, even the best internal security efforts cannot prevent political upheavals that can destroy the structure of governance and political norms and prevent the emergence of new national leaders and forces for national unity. In short, the need for a broader civil-military approach to national security really does require as much of a revolution in military affairs or more properly a revolution in civilmilitary affairs as the changes in the more conventional forms of warfare. It requires new forms of international cooperation in finding the best civil and military approaches to the problem. It requires new forms of planning that integrate civil-military efforts, use the best methods to actual implement them, and assess the effectiveness of the rest and the ways in which resources are spent. It requires new forms of formal training as well as the development of suitable case studies to uses in national security education. It means expanding the role of intelligence far beyond simply identifying terrorist and insurgent threats, and it means military forces must do far more than achieve tactical success and find civilian partners that can actually implement win, hold, and build to counter extremist and insurgent influence and create civil-military efforts that can earn the lasting support of the local population.
9 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs It also requires a new approach to cooperation, analysis, training and education, intelligence, net assessment, planning and operations that focuses as much or more -- on the civil dimension, ideology, asymmetric warfare, and non-state actors as on conventional warfare and military technology, The Challenge of Non-State Actors and State Support of Non- State Actors One key area is to recognize that non-state actors have become as much of a threat as outside states as well as a weapon or tool that hostile states and international movements can exploit. The Algerian civil war that took place between 1991 and 1998 provided an early warning of how serious threat non-state actors can be in the 21 st century. They have since become a major threat in much of North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. It is all too clear that non-state actors are becoming steadily better organized and more effective than in the past, and that studying their tactics, organization, funding, and efforts to win political and ideological influence are critical. Once they become a serious threat as well-organized movements of experience fighters, they can be extremely difficult to defeat, require specialized intelligence and targeting networks to target, and require specially trained Special Forces, and new weapons and reconnaissance systems like unmanned aerial vehicles, (UAVs) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to attack. At the same time, they have learned to use human shields, exploit international law and human rights, combine terror and extortion with jobs and incentives, attack governance and the rule of law as well as national security forces, and even become protostates like ISIL or Daesh. Once again, this is a civil-military conflict, and Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that even long series of tactical victories can be strategically meaningless without victories at the civil, political, and economic levels. Moreover, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other states have shown that the threat posed by state support of non-state actors has also risen and has evolved far beyond small movements of terrorists, preventing limited flows of volunteers, or controlling transfers of money. Both military forces and all the other elements of national security forces including civil efforts that shape popular support for governments and counter ideological extremism -- need to develop training and expertise in dealing with the full range of threats from non-state actors. National security forces and intelligence service need to steadily improve their education, readiness, and cooperation in dealing with the rise of non-state actors as major security threats, and especially in preventing them from making the transitions from terrorism to insurgency and from insurgency to protostate. They must be equally ready to prevent outside states from supporting violent non-state actors as proxies, being used in spoiler roles, used to gain leverage in dealing with other states or to fight non-state actors with other non state actors. And, security partners need to be ready to cooperate in dealing with a wide range of movements from religious
10 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs extremists to the creation of such actors by hostile states using specialized elements like the Iranian Al Quds force. Failed State Wars and Facing the Limits to Military Intervention The most dramatic examples of these new forms of conflict occur in the Middle East and Central Asia, which have has seen the emergence of new forms of conflict in what can only be called failed state wars. The levels of prolonged civil and ideological conflict interacted with failures in every other aspect of the state to the point successful national security efforts have become a civil-military exercise in armed nation building. Hostile non-state actors, extremist movements, and insurgent operate in an environment where the host-country government is as much or more of a threat that the hostile force or forces. It faces a security threat because it has failed to provide political stability, effective governance, and economic security. It is a failed state to point where the host country not only a difficult to impossible security partner, but the U.S. and its allies must find ways to make the host country deal with its political divisions, improve its governance and reduce corruption, and be seen as moving towards economic security and development. It most cases, the end result confronts the U.S. and its allies with four sets of threats and ones that have a very different set of priorities from past conflicts. In order of priority, they have recently included the following threats and behavior patterns: Host Country Government and Security Forces: Authoritarianism, failure to cope with internal divisions, poor governance and corruption, failed economy development and equity, population pressure and youth bulge, repression and violence by internal security forces, traditional and corrupt military. The Overt Threat : Active enemy forces and fighters. Often the result of a progression from moderate and peaceful movements that come under acute political pressure and shift to extreme and violent movements that feed on the civil-military divisions and failures of the host country governments. The U.S. and allied Threat to the U.S. and its allies: The patterns are all too clear: Relearn counterinsurgency yet again. Conduct separate military (tactical) and civil (project-oriented development) efforts. Focus on the military threat and downplay host country problems and weaknesses. Fail to create a meaningful overall civil-military plan and provide a net assessment. Rapid or annual rotations with limited expertise. Initial denial of the seriousness of the threat, then flood resources without adequate plans, controls, and measure of effectiveness. Rush to generate Host country forces only after threat is critical, then leave too quickly. Take note of lessons, but then ignore them. Poor coordination and integration of effort; allied limits to engagement, national caveats, demands; Other hostile and neutral nations: Competing local and regional national interests, tolerate or encourage flow of volunteers, arms transfers, competing advisory missions, provision of de facto sanctuary, and low-level hostile action. These challenges are not ones that any outside military force can meet on its own. They go far beyond the narrow limits of stability operations that are part of military operations. They require new forms of civil-military partnerships, and prolonged international
11 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs cooperation in establishing and maintaining both security and some form of stability in national politics, governance, the economy and civil society. They also require changes in U.S. and allied plans and operations based on net assessments of all of the civil and military forces that shape today s civil conflicts, fuel ideological extremism and support for violent non-state actors, and give states like Iran and Russia leverage in using non-state actors and asymmetric warfare to further divide and exploit such conflicts. They require changes in U.S. and allied military training and education to show officers and planners at every level how to measure and counter such divisions and look beyond tactical victories to create lasting civil-military stability and security. And, they require similar education and training of key civil elements in the U.S. and allied civil efforts in the ghost country that deal with education, media, and civil society to act as partners in civil-military operations. This requires new curriculums at every level of higher education and training and particularly at the staff college and national defense university level. The record so far is mixed at best. Afghanistan is in an unstable transition to relying on its own security forces, and have to deal more limited forms of aid and outside military spending. It already has seen a rising threat to more than 10 of its provinces, and unacceptably high casualties to its security forces. Studies by the World Bank and IMF warn of major budget and economic problems. At the same time, studies of past aid efforts reflect major failures in civil-military coordination, planning and execution, and effective international cooperation. Afghanistan may still succeed, but it faces years of further conflict and uncertainty and 32 million people are clearly at risk. The current war in Iraq against ISIS is the fourth war the U.S. had led in that country since 1991, and Iraq s civil problems may have altered, but they are at least as great today as under Saddam Hussein. It now faces crises in politics. Governments, and economics that are as serious as the threat posed by ISIS. An apparent victory in the fighting in Iraq between 2006 and 2009 was followed by rising civil conflict in , and ISIS s takeover of much of the Sunni and Western portions of Iraq in 2014 and More than a decade of aid could not produce effective governance, development, military forces and the rule of law, or national unity between Arab and Kurd or Sunni and Shi ite. The security forces virtually disintegrated when they were attacked by ISIL, and assessments of the effectiveness civil aid program have far too often been a record of waste, corruption, and failure. Today, Iraq is a nation of some 37 million people that is partially occupied, divided along sectarian and ethnic lines, has seen more than 3 million of its citizens made into internally displaced person without a home or livelihood, is seemingly a year or more away from a major military effort to restore its unity, and presents a potential challenge in terms of some form of post-conflict political and economic power-sharing federalism that must be resolved at both the civil and security levels. Syria faces even more direct and brutal threats. Some 250,000 civilians have been killed, and there is no meaningful estimate of the wounded. The UN estimates that a nation of
12 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs some 19 to 22 million had 7.6 million internally displaced persons at the end of March 2015 and 3.9 million refugees in other countries. It was increasingly divided along sectarian lines and into the rule of repressive Assad regime and mix of movements like ISIL and the al Nusra Front an affiliate of al Qa ida. The UN estimated that a total of 12.2 million civilians well over 50% of the population -- were at risk along with some 5.5 million children. Libya has steadily deteriorated into civil conflict, tribal divisions, regional divisions, and violent religious extremist movements. Oil wealth has to some extent eased the problems its 6.3 million people face, but Libya cannot avoid the growing cumulative human impact of ongoing violence, and failed governance, development, and social order. The crisis in Yemen is still developing, and like previous three countries, mixes religious extremism with growing sectarian tension and conflict. Like Afghanistan, Yemen is extremely poor and far more vulnerable to the disruptions of war than wealthier states. It has a population of some 26 million, failed governance, a failed economy, and ongoing civil conflict. Taken together, the failed state threat now affects the destiny of some 120 million people even if one ignores all of the massive impact that their problems have on the nations around them. One way or another, some form of international cooperation at both the civil and national security levels must be found to deal with each case, as well as the risk that the spread of violent extremism will create new cases. At the same time, each cases poses problems on a scale that no institution is yet ready to address, and where the outside military role in terms of helping to build national security and stability is still uncertain and undefined. Strategic Partnerships All of these developments reinforce the need to build more meaningful strategic partnerships, and highlight the need for new approaches to structuring such partnerships. They show the need to go beyond formal security cooperation and create civil-military partnerships that are flexible and less formal, and are tailored to the specific problems and conditions that threaten given partners. They show the need to have both a military dimension which must often respond quickly and effectively to asymmetric wars dominated by an ideological and civil dimension and a civil dimension that can go from tactical victories and win to civil security, healing deep civil divisions, and giving real meaning to hold and build. The military dimension in cooperation cannot be ignored. One key step is to find more effective ways to transfer arms and technology and deal with the resulting impacts on logistics and sustainment. This requires focusing on the need to take full account of the key shifts in military technology and the related tactics in dealing with irregular warfare and civil conflicts. It means educating and organizing to ensure the proper degree of interoperability, logistics, and sustainability. It means tying future purchases to tests and evaluations that truly validate a given buy, ensuring that there is a valid plan for maintenance and sustainment as a key part of every arms sale, and ensuring suitable national and joint training and exercise plans. These are
13 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs all key areas for cooperation in both train and assist missions and creating new military education programs, as well as cooperation in transfers and creating effective operational responses. At a technical level, it means planning joint secure communications and data exchange systems, and arrangement for integrating key aspects of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems adapting in the process to the growing need for near real time coordination, the rising tempo of operations, and the special real time demands of new force capabilities like theater missile defense. This is particularly true when the partnerships go beyond bilateral limits and involve regional security arrangements like the Gulf Cooperation Council. As past NATO force planning exercises have demonstrated, truly effective and interoperable security cooperation requires long term planning a careful attention to resources, and focusing on common mission priorities At the same time there is a need to evolve new approaches to such partnerships that focus on the growing diversity in the forms of asymmetric and irregular warfare, and on forms of conflict that increasingly combine ideological, military, political, and economic means. Land, sea, air and missile warfare can be linked to political intimidation and warfare, economic sanctions, terrorism, and insurgency. Conflicts can on a multiple levels while rapidly altering the level of deterrence and the structure of alliances. The second key step is to go beyond military operations and to work together in finding ways to help partner countries create the best possible mix of civil and military capabilities to deal with local threats on their own, while also creating the best mix of capabilities to support allied reinforcement and power projection capabilities when needed. Partners need to work together to develop and implement mission-oriented force plans, programming, and budgeting that take full account of ideological threats, efforts to exploit ethnic and sectarian tensions and divisions, and the political and economic problems that help shape the broader battlefield in today s different kinds of wars and military interventions. They require plans that can implement hold and the restoration of civil order and the rule of law, heal internal divisions with aid and the rapid recovery of conflict areas, restore confidence in governments and rebuild trust. They require an understanding and civil-military effort that reflect the fact that stability operations will often be the most important aspect of the conflict. Rethinking Train and Assist Missions The U.S. and its allies need to cooperate in addressing an area of military education, training, and cooperation that recent combat has shown needs special attention. Both military and civil leaders need to be educated at every level to rethink train and assist missions. Partnerships or cooperation in creating new or additional forces need to take account of the civil-military lessons of train and assist missions in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They need to focus on combat effectiveness, and not just on generating forces.
14 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs Force generation is a key part of military cooperation and education. New and replacement units need to be created by recruiting and training personnel, providing suitable equipment and facilities, and forming the unit. No amount of training and force generation in the rear, however, really prepares new units or their leaders for combat. This can create critical problems when outside or allied forces are withdrawn, and new units are sent into combat as the problems new local forces encountered in the fighting in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have shown. Future cooperative efforts need to act upon these lessons and similar lessons in other past train and assist efforts. Generating or rebuilding forces in the rear is not enough, and is an almost certain recipe for failure. New or weak forces need forward deployed teams of advisors to help them actually fight, to win, and then to immediately act to hold and build along civil-military lines. Far too many of today s train and assist missions are a recipe for failure at the tactical or win level. No one can create effective combat leaders and forces from the rear. New and weak units need to have a small, but experienced teams of combat leaders embedded with them. New combat leaders and units need months of on-the-ground help in getting the essentials of combat operations right. Modern forward air control is critical, and the use of drones can make it effective far beyond the line of sight, but so is human intelligence, and the constant assessment of tactics, defensive positions, and patrol activity. Moreover, insurgents cannot be allowed to have a massive intelligence advantage on the ground, to learn the weakest links in the government forces and their defense, attack them, roll-up the weaker units, expose the flanks and position of the better units, and then force them into what at best is partially organized retreat. Forward deployed train and assist teams usually Special Forces or Rangers are necessary to spot good combat leaders and warn against weak, ineffective, or corrupt ones. They are needed to provide intelligence backwards that static or inexperienced Iraqi leaders and units cannot. They are needed to be a voice for active patrolling. At the same time, they needed to be a second voice when resupply, reinforcement, regrouping, and relief are truly needed. Someone has to bypass the barriers, rigidities, and sectarian/ethnic prejudices in the chain of command and send the right signals to the top. The Iraqis can t do this yet. But, every tactical victory or success has an immediate sequel. Military doctrine, education, and training not only need to emphasize forward support at the tactical level, but the need for strategic planning in providing immediate efforts to restore civil life, ensure that victories in irregular warfare does not mean the excessive use of force or revenge, or leaving civilians without support, security, and immediate incentives to support and trust their governments. Forward deployed train and assist teams are also needed to help encourage effective civilmilitary action in cases where the Iraqi unit has a different ethnic or sectarian bias or simply thinks in tactical terms rather than how to create a local capability to hold, recover, and build at both the military and civil levels. There are times when support from the rear may be enough, however, several thousand years of military history should serve as a warning that there are no times when leading from the rear is adequate in actual combat.
15 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs Human Shields and Propaganda: Rethinking Rules of Engagement, Targeting, and Strategic Communications At the same time, strategic planning, and military analysis and education must address the key issue of how to create strategic communications that are tailored to the very different nature of ideological conflicts, internal civil divisions, and asymmetric wars that attempt to counter the use of military force and states through propaganda. Non-state actors, ideological extremists, and supporting outside states have already focused on the use of human shields, exploiting civilian casualties and collateral damage, and finding ways to limit or paralyze the proper use of military force. The problems created by dealing with irregular and ideological warfare should not become problems that make it impossible to make effective use of the advances in targeting, precision strike capabilities, and UAVs and the other advances in IS&R. The use of air and missile power should take careful account of political sensitivities, humanitarian considerations, and make every effort to limit civilian casualties and collateral damage. But, states need to rethink the steady rise in limits to their rules of engagement, and restrictions on the use of airpower, and the problems in strategic communications in describing what such military systems do. Non-state actors cannot be allowed to make human shields a new constant in every form of irregular and potentially conventional war. This ignores the grim realities of war. There is nothing humanitarian about saving a small number of civilian lives and opening whole towns and cities up to prolonged occupation by threats like ISIL. There is nothing humanitarian about prolonging wars, producing far higher net casualties, and adding to the massive totals of displaced persons and refugees. The horrors of war are not shaped by a single target or moment in time, but by the cumulative impact of a conflict. There also is nothing cowardly about using force at a distance to strike at forces that butcher minorities, civilians with different religious beliefs, and prisoners of war. At the same time, education, training, and exercises must emphasize the fact that strategic planning means effective strategic communications that explain both the necessities of war and that there are credible plans for hold and build and stability operations that have a major civil and humanitarian dimension. The civil-military partnerships needed to achieve any form of meaning and lasting victory must be transparent enough to be fully credible, to reach to threaten and divided populations, to obtain full media support, and ensure that action follows words and pledges. The use of military force cannot be meaningful or justified without enduring civil success. Redefining Security and the Priorities for Cooperation This is a complex and daunting list of ongoing 21 st Century challenges that interact in many different ways. It is particularly challenging because we are now talking about two revolutions in military affairs and not just one. All of the traditional problems in creating effective military forces and security cooperation still exist, and the preparation of forces for 21st century conflict is
16 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs complicated by rising costs, constant shifts in technology and related tactics, and by a growing need for new levels of military professionalism and changes in military education and curriculums that can prepare both officers and civilians for new challenges: Preparing for asymmetric and irregular warfare as methods of conflict that have equal importance to conventional warfare, and whose political and economic dimensions will often be as or more important than their tactical dimensions. Accepting the fact that there will often be no clear dividing line between terrorism, insurgency, and the divisions created by other forces within nations that sometimes approach the status of failed states. Accepting and responding to the challenge of religious ideological extremism as a key element of war, and the exploitation of sectarian, ethnic, tribal, regional, and other differences and fault lines as methods of irregular warfare. Developing new forms of net assessments that produce a clear civil-military picture of the forces driving the emergence of non state actors and internal civil tensions and conflicts, and the relative strength and weaknesses of threat forces, host country forces, and outside strategic partners Creating strategic and tactical plans that look beyond win to civil-military stability operations that can produce both a quick response and lasting solution to hold and build. Preparing both military and civilians, and aid personnel, for an effective whole of government approach to such conflicts. Rethinking strategic communications to respond to ideological threats and threats from non-state actors, to explain and justify the necessary military operations and civil actions, and wage ideological warfare as a key element of asymmetric warfare. Developing new rules of engagement, conflict assessment, and methods of strategic communications to find the best balance between effective methods of waging war and the need to limit cumulative casualties and collateral damage. Redefining strategic partnerships to have the flexibility to be effective in given conflicts. Developing new case studies, models, and exercises that reflect the successes and failures in past conflicts, and learn the civil-military, ideological, and broader lessons of past wars. Moreover, dealing with the civil-military challenges I have listed present special problems for cooperation. Every power must adapt its military forces, training, and education in its own way. One size very definitely does not fit all. Virtually every state faces a different mix of these challenges, and has different priorities for dealing with them. Many of these challenges have political, religious, and ideological aspects that make them hard for governments to openly admit and deal with, and create new barriers to security cooperation even among allies that can cooperate in many other ways. Each major aspect of this second revolution in military affairs involves areas that have acute political sensitivity in given countries. Each creates a natural tendency to respond with empty reassurances and public relations exercises, with denial and delay, and by leaving them in in limbo, and to focus on more traditional forms of conflict and military education. It is also all too clear that no country is yet ready to teach rather than learn. There have been all too many areas in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria where the US has failed to face the seriousness of these challenges, the limits to its own civil-military operations, and the
17 Cordesman: Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs need to change and adapt. General Petraeus put it all too well when he was asked whether the US learned from the lesson of past wars. He responded by saying Well, we take note of them. The last two decades have provided consistently brutal lessons about the cost of ignoring any of these 21 st Century changes in the nature of war. It has shown again and again that successful military and national security operations must redefine security to meet new threats, set new priorities for cooperation, and be ready for new forms of conflict. The key message that we should take out of these lessons not that the Revolution in civil- Military Affairs is difficult or somehow impossible to deal with. It is rather that all of us civilian policy makers, military commanders, planners, educators, and NGOs must work together to learn the lessons of the revolution in civil-military affairs, and act upon them. These are challenges that we must not only accept, but embrace.
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