Modern Political Warfare Rand RR-1772
This covers Russia, which makes it a good read given the recent bout of news mania over the Ukraine. Granted, this is just background and should not be viewed as predictive in any manner.
That said, it sources from interviews and so on many fronts it is especially apropos because while defining and delivering the Olsonian public good provided by the United States remains an issue...
One of ISILs key advantages in its information operations is its extremism and refusal to compromise; those qualities enable internal coherence. ISIL can easily expose inconsistencies and contradictions in American foreign policy, which teeters between realpolitik and idealism, brokers compromises between global security and the national interest, and balances the demands of international and domestic politics. The U.S. government signs deals with Iran and bombs Sunnis in Iraq, even as it supports Saudi Arabia bombing Shias in Yemen. This may confuse people in the Muslim world, unless they decide that the only consistency in American foreign policy that they can depend on is that America acts in its own national interests. The American message gets perceived around the world as supporting democracy, but also dictatorships. The U.S. message is complicated; it is nuanced. The United States and its allies moderate to govern. They try to strike a middle ground, and that exposes them to accusations of hypocrisy.
... some things never change.
'Political warfare' never fit neatly in American strategic dialogue, however. Many American military officers originally dismissed the term because it sounded too British (Corke, 2006, p. 109).
Political warfare is but one term among many that describes the arena of conflict short of conventional warfare. Chinese analysts have employed the term unrestricted warfare, Rus sian of f i cials have used soft power and new generation warfare, and a variety of terms are in use by U.S. of f i cials, including gray zone conf l icts, hybrid warfare, asymmet-ric warfare, and irregular warfare. Th e latter term has been of f i -cially def i ned in U.S. military doctrine and Department of Defense (DoD) directives, but one impetus for a new nomenclature is to place emphasis on the nonmilitary and nonlethal elements of this form of warfare.
Valery Gerasimov, in a February 2013 article, T h e Value of Science in Prediction, in the Military Industrial Courier: In the 21st century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template. T h e role of non-military means of achieving political and stra-tegic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their ef f ectiveness. Th e focus of applied methods of conf l ict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other non-military mea suresapplied in coordination with the protest potential of the population. All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed charac-ter, including carrying out actions of informational conf l ict and the actions of special operations forces. Th e open use of forces often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulationis resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of fi nal success in the conf l ict. (Gerasimov, 2013)
Russia sees itself as a great power with a rich culture and as a con serv ative bulwark in the face of encroaching liberalization (Van Herpen, 2016, pp. 2829).
the Foreign Policy Concept notes, For the fi rst time in modern history, global com-petition takes place on a civilizational level, whereby various values and models of develop-ment based on the universal principles of democ racy and market economy start to clash and compete against each other. Cultural and civilizational diversity of the world becomes more and more manifest. Timothy Th omas writes, Some still blame the fall of communism on what many Rus sians term the information-psychological assault from the West sometimes referred to as the so-called Th ird World War ( Th omas, 2014, p. 123).
Peter Pomerantsev writes that Vladislav Surkov, the political technologist of all Rus17 and a senior advisor to Putin, directed Rus sian society like one great reality show. He claps once and a new political party appears. He claps again and creates Nashi, the Rus sian equivalent of the Hitler Youth (Pomerant-sev, 2015, p. 65). In Pomerantsevs account, Surkov and others have a philosophy of government in which everything is PRthe regime has no connection to any particular ideology, and instead seamlessly shifts between narratives and controls opposition groups voicing appar-ently contradictory messages (Pomerantsev, 2015, pp. 6574).
It is natural for Putins regime to draw on these techniques to create political change abroad. Indeed, Wilson highlights how politi-cal technology used in Russia has been exported and used in the rest of the post-Soviet world,19 including media manipulation, the setup of manufactured groups to disrupt opponents campaigns,20 the creation of fake political parties to distract from the real candidates, and black PR or Kompromatthe use of compromising ma te rial, real or imagined (f i nancial details, lurid videos, simple slander), against oppo-nents (Wilson, 2005, p. 47).
Examples include orga nized evening canvassing by company employees claiming to work for opponents, issued invitation to opponents rallies in bad weather or rallies that simply failed to happen, handed out free but shoddy goods from opponents (Wilson, 2005,
In addition to drawing from views of the changing nature of warfare, Rus sian thinking about political war-fare takes into account long-standing analysis of information warfare, Soviet-era tactics of political warfare, and the use of political-warfare-style tactics in Rus sian domestic politics. Nevertheless, there may be a substantial gap between the way that Russia thinks about political warfare and the way it actually practices these tactics.
Perhaps the best example of a category 3 organization is the Night Wolves, a Rus sian biker gang with ties to Putin. Mark Galleotti writes that the 5,000-strong Night Wolves are best thought of as aux-iliaries of the state, noting that they have received signif i cant amounts of money from the Rus sian government. He explains that Putins sup-port of the biker gangs ref l ects the Kremlins broader strategy of co- opting potentially opposing groups: they occupy the cultural niche that the real outlaws would otherwise colonize, and deny it to groups that would be rather less congenial for the Kremlin (Galeotti, 2015).
A clear example of this was Rus sian media coverage of the tragedy involving fl ight MH17an apparent attempt to drown the Western-proposed version of events in the cacophony of multiple unlikely possibilities (T h e Kremlins En glish-Language Media, 2014). Th e ef f ects of obfuscation can be powerful even if the communications do not engender belief, and these ef f ects can be compounded if not countered by concerted and authoritative refutation backed by evidence.
Overall, Rus sian media mirrors the regimes generally fl uid approach to ideology, which allows for the tailoring of messages in accordance with dif f erent needs and audiences. Both in Europe and in the United States, RT appeals mostly to the audiences on dif f erent ends of the political margins, similar only in their disillusionment with their governments and skepticism toward Western media. RT view-ers simultaneously encompass the German right-wing fringe, the left-leaning British, the far right in France and Austria, Americas far left, staunch con serv atives, and libertarians (Shuster, 2015). As Pomerant-sev and Weiss note, European right-nationalists are seduced by the anti-EU message; members of the far left are brought in by tales of fi ghting U.S. hegemony; U.S. religious con serv atives are convinced by the Kremlins stance against homosexuality (Pomerantsev and Weiss, 2014, p. 19). Such an approach to targeting and messaging indicates that Rus sian ! media puts great emphasis on understanding the political and societal landscape of each context where it broadcasts. Th e strategy appears to be not to create a new sentiment but to identify and tap into existing divides and grievances of the targeted audiences (Luxmoore, 2015), and then use them to promote Russias views and facilitate its foreign policy objectives.36
T h ough there is growing evidence for suspecting Rus sian involve-ment in the DNC and other attacks, in general attributing responsibil-ity to government actors is dif f i cult. Th ere appear to be many civilian hackers who are employed by or controlled by the state (category 3) or who are independent but whose interests sometimes align with the state (category 4). Cyber expert Jef f rey Carr notes that hundreds of black-hat Rus sian hackers work either at the order of Swiss bankers or Ukrainian oligarchs. Carr also notes that many of these hackers are coopted by the FSB: Rus sian hackers who are caught are given the choice to work for the FSB or to go to jail. Th e FSB also has some on contract hire (Herzog, 2011, pp. 5354).
T h ere are detailed accounts of the role of Spetsnaz in the Rus sian operation in Crimea, which demonstrate some of these roles. Barles and McDermott write that Spetsnaz almost certainly arrived well in advance to secure the local support necessary for the guise of polite people. 43 Mark Galeotti reports that Spetsnaz forces conducted covert negotiations with members of the local ethnic Rus sian elite, who arranged for masked and armed self-defence militias (whose num-bers included both local police and criminals) to begin appearing on the streets. Subsequently, Spetsnaz operators from the KSO and 45th opSpN were moved into the barracks of the 810th Independent Naval Infantry Brigade at Sevastopol. On February 27, these forces seized the Crimean parliament building and began blockading Ukrainian bases in Crimea (Galeotti, 2014b, pp. 68). Accounts of Crimea empha-size the professionalism of the Spetsnaz, including their ability to seize crit! ical sites while pretending to be irregulars and avoiding harm to the local population (Bartles and McDermott, 2014, pp. 5759).
A second military element of Russias political warfare activity has been its extensive air and naval activity in and around NATO territory. NATO fi ghter aircraft in the Baltics moved to intercept Rus sian air-craft some 130 times in 2014. In one example, Sweden deployed naval forces after reports of a Rus sian submarine in their territory (Kramer, 2015; Frear, Kulesa, and Kearns, 2014). Steve Covington, a political advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), con-nects these activities to a larger strategy of breakout from Western encirclement: Russias strategic nuclear aviation fl ights and maritime deployments can be seen as the modern day versions of tactical break-out actions from World War II, designed to demonstrate the Kremlins resolve to not accept encirclement.44
A third critical military component of Russias political warfare is exercises, both scheduled and unscheduled. For example, in Zapad in 2013, a large number of troops (declared at 13,000 but estimated at as many as 70,000) exercised a response to attacks by terrorist forces from imaginary countries to Russias west. In addition to conventional military forces, Zapad 2013 also involved participation of special forces from the Ministry of Internal Af f airs and the FSB, implying a grow-ing desire over previous exercises to develop coordination across the Rus sian government. Previous exercises included a simulated nuclear strike against Warsaw and the rapid deployment of 160,000 troops (Zdanaviius and Czekaj, 2015).
T h ese exercises fulf i ll the conventional military priorities of train-ing and the development of new capabilities. Exercises may be espe-cially important to Russia given that a large portion of Russias military is composed of one-year conscripts who are not always well integrated into their units. But these exercises also likely serve a clear political purpose. Ieva Berzina claims that Zapad 2013s main goal was strategic deterrence.
One Ukrainian of f i cer observed that the troops were unprepared to even drive over a fi eld of newly planted wheat in the spring of 2014, much less to actually fi ght the separatists. Only the newly created National Guard was able to mobilize signif i cant troops. Interviews with Ukrainian of f i cers, Kyiv, April and May 2015. (See also Finley, 2014; Faiola, 2014.)
Russia remains a major supplier (in particular, Russia was the source of 28 percent of Europes natural gas in 2015 (Eurogas, 2015)), and the long-term reduction in supply of gas from Russia would likely have signif i cant repercussions for European energy. Th e EU has sought to reduce the vulnerability of European countries to a shutof f of Russia gas through rules encouraging diversif i cation of imports, con-struction of interconnectors and new pipelines, and increases in pro-duction from non-Rus sian producers (Simon, 2015; European Com-mission, 2015). Even Ukraine, which was highly vulnerable to a cutof f of Rus sian gas, has signif i cantly reduced its vulnerability since 2014.47 Still, while the vulnerability of Europe to a cutof f of energy supplies from Russia is declining, Europe continues to rely heavily on energy imports and other forms of trade with Russia.
For example, one report on information warfare explains, It is repeatedly stressed in of f i cial documents, as well as in military theory, the resources of many dif f erent government agencies need to come together to wage successful information war, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Armed Forces, the Mili-tary Intelligence Service (GRU), the IT and mass media supervision ser vice Roskomnadzor, the Federal Protection Service (FSO), and the Ministry for Foreign Af f airs (Franke, 2015, p. 51).
Russia has continuing inf l uence and interest in Estonia, even as the Baltic nation has sought to integrate itself into Western institutions. Estonia became a Soviet republic following a particularly traumatic experience during World War II: Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union fi rst in 1939 following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, then captured by Nazi Germany in 1941, and then captured by the Soviet army in 1944. Many Estonians perceived the Soviet period as a foreign occupation.50 Th e memory of the occupation of World War II is deeply embedded in Estonias national history. Estonian leaders emphasize that their history guides their desire to resist Rus-sian aggression in the future, and the country has adopted concepts of total defence against a potential invasion in which the entire soci-ety will be mobilized (discussions with Estonian of f i cials, 2015). With the fall of the Soviet Union, Estonia and the other Baltic states com-mitted themselves to Euro-Atlantic integration, and joined the EU and NATO in 2004.
Estonian accounts of the crisis highlight four reasons to attribute the crisis to Russia. First, they note Russias inf l uence in sustaining a nar-rative opposed to Estonias view of World War II. Second, they claim there was direct support and communication between the Rus sian embassy and the Night Watch, a youth group (allegedly supported by Russia) that appears to have played a signif i cant role in rallying the rioters. Th e Night Watch was apparently established to protect the monument from being profaned by provocateurs and vandals, and held a number of protests against the removal of the statue prior to the
Bronze Night (A Brief History, 2007).62 Th ird, the protests of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, by Nashi, were said to be orga nized by the regime. Fourth, Rus sian cyber militia or other state-controlled actors were believed to be responsible for the cyber attacks (Carey, Cyber Militias, 2013).
Estonia does have signif i cant economic relationships with Russia, and Rus sian actions taken after the Bronze Soldier incident cost Estonia 1.85 percent of its GDP. A signif i cant volume of Rus sian goods is transported through Estonia, espe cially Estonian railways. An estimated 80 percent of rail traf f i c in Estonia is transshipment, as Estonia shares the same rail gauge as Russia. Rail traf f i c in Estonia dropped signif i cantly in 2007 following the Bronze Night incident, potentially pointing to Esto-nias vulnerability to Rus sian leverage. However, Estonian of f i cials are actively considering changing the rail gauge to an EU standard, which would diminish Estonias attractiveness as a transit country. Th is fol-lows a continuing trend of Estonian of f i cials insisting that they intend to deepen ties with the West over those with Russia (Schaefer, 2011; discussions with Estonian of f i cials, 2015). Estonia depends on Russia for some of its energy supplies, espe-cially natural gas, but its dependence af f ects a relatively small por-tion of energy supplies, and that portion is declining. Estonia currently receives all of its natural gas supplies from Russia, and is hence vul-nerable to a cutof f in supply. However, EU estimates indicate that by sharing gas with its neighbors, Estonia could replace 40 percent of its supplies (European Commission, 2014). Furthermore, natural gas rep-resents a relatively small portion of the Estonian energy supplyonly 6.4 percent of total energy consumption in 2014and the opening of the Klaipeda LNG port in Lithuania in 2015 enabled Estonia to fur-ther diversify its supply (Eurostat, 2016; Rapoza, 2015). Estonia does not import electricity from Russia, but Latvia and Lithuania do, and they re-export some of this electricity to Estonia. Russia could theo-retically cut of f electricity supply to the Baltic countries, though not without! also cutting of f Kaliningrad. Overall dependence on Russia for electricity in the region is declining with new interconnections with the European electricity supply (Larrabee et al., 2017, pp. 3133; Kropaite, 2015). Finally, Russia has signif i cant trade and investment with Esto-nia, though not to the point that a trade embargo alone would deeply undermine the Estonian economy. Exports to Russia constituted more than 10 percent of the export market share for Estonian agricultural, livestock, and fi shery goods, hence pointing to Estonias vulnerabil-ity to ongoing Rus sian countersanctions against European agricultural goods. However, these goods constitute a very small portion of Esto-nias overall exports to Russia, and Estonia has been consistent in its support for sanctions against Russia (discussions with Estonian of f i -cials, 2015; Larrabee et al., 2017, pp. 3133).
Rather than manufacturing political crises from start to fi nish, Russia appears to operate by creating pressure and intensifying social divides, and then taking advantage of crises once they emerge. Th is tendency is clearly visible in the case of the Bronze Night. Rus sian propaganda and narratives directed at Rus sian speakers set the stage for the denouement of the crisis, and Russia provided fi nancial and other support to groups that played important roles, the Night Watch being the best example. But Russia does not appear to have initiated the crisis, and its activ-ity in the crisis appears to be reactive. Similarly, in eastern Ukraine, though the entire story is not yet fully clear, it seems that Russia sup-ported counter-Maidan protests by Yanukovichs Party of Regions and backed propaganda claiming that the Maidan protesters were fascists (Meek, 2014). Once the protest movement grew with limited Rus sian support, Strelkov, Borodai, and others, possibly at the urging of the Rus sian leadership, encouraged the shift into a separatist movement, taking advantage of economic grievances and the close links between Russia and the Donbas (Zhukov, 2014). Again, Russia reacted to a crisis that emerged out of tension that it had helped create.
T h is opportunistic mode of operation is consistent with Rus sian descriptions of Putins strategic thinking. In a public lecture, Lukyanov described Putin as not a strategic thinkerrather, Putin is prepared for any development and ready for immediate reaction (Lukyanov, 2016). Similarly, Sergei Pugachev, a former aide, noted, Putin is not someone who sets strategic plans; he lives today (Bullough, 2014). Monitoring and tracing Russias ef f ort to feed crises may therefore be critical for U.S. and NATO ef f orts to counter Rus sian political warfare. Understanding fi nancial fl ows and the ways in which Russias network of loosely af f i liated proxies and organizations operate is also essential.
In Syria, Iran has taken advan-tage of Assads isolation by stipulating that the billions of dollars in credit extended to Damascus be used mostly on purchasing Iranian goods and ser vices (Yazigi, 2015). However, Tehran rarely exerts eco-nomic pressure in such overt ways, making it dif f i cult to assess the extent to which economic power is being leveraged for political war-fare purposes. But at the same time, the Islamic Republics control over so much of the Iranian economyeither through state-owned enterprises, IRGC-af f i liated companies, or multibillion-dollar religious foundations (bonyads)provides it with opportunities to incorporate its business ventures within an overall political warfare strategy.3
Religious foundations are not subject to public fi nancial scrutiny, and are answerable only to Supreme Leader Khamenei. Th e Foundation of the Oppressed and War Veterans owns hundreds of subsidiaries, through which it has invested in energy, engineering, and multiple other industries throughout the world (T h aler et al., 2010; Ilyas, 2009).
And in September 2014, following the fall of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to Houthi rebels, prominent Iranian parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani boasted that three Arab capitals have today ended up in the hands of Iran and belong to the Islamic Iranian revolution, and he expressed optimism that Sanaa would become the fourth (Sanaa Is the Fourth, 2014). Zakani apparently was referring to Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut, the latter of which is heavily under Hezbollah inf l uence.
Since the fall of Saddam, Iraqs economy has become more reliant on Iran, providing Tehran with additional political leverage. Iraqi depen-dence on Iran for cooking gas, heating oil, gasoline, and electricity has made it particularly vulnerable to pressure from Tehran (Knights, 2010). In the spring of 2008, for instance, Iran cut Basras electricity to retaliate against Baghdads crackdown on pro-Iranian militias there (Sullivan, 2009).
Iraq is now Irans second-largest trading partner, and relies on the Islamic Republic for most of its cement, tiles, ceramics, dairy products, and electricity (Bozorgmehr, 2015).
By 2006, an estimated 80 percent of Shia around the world were seeking spiritual guid-ance from Sistani, bringing the cleric over $700 million per year in religious taxes. Th is esti-mate comes from clerical offices in Qom as well as clerics with access to pilgrimage polling numbers (Khalaji, 2006; Slackman, 2006).
Iran is also preparing for the death of the 85-year-old Sistani. It appears to be grooming Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi to be among his top successors in Najaf (Nader, 2015). Th e Iraqi-born Shahroudi is an original leader of SCIRI and a former chief of Irans judiciary. He is very loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei. In October 2011, Shahroudi opened an of f i ce in Najaf, marking an intensif i cation of Irans attempts to inf l uence the holy citys seminary students. Shahroudi is reportedly trying to attract Sistanis students by paying higher stipends than the senior cleric, and his followers are constructing what could be Najafs largest seminary (Al-Kifaee, 2012). However, Shahroudi will not likely be able to gain Sistanis clout due to his espousal of the Islamic Republics velayat-e faqih spir it ual-political doctrine, which does not resonate among the majority of the worlds Shia (Nasr, 2007).
While the Syrian conflict has been a costly endeavor for Iran, which has spent billions of dollars defending the Damascus regime, Assads reliance on Iran as Syrias economic lifeline has its advantages. Th e Syrian market provided an outlet for Iranian goods amid crushing international sanctions against Iran. More importantly, Irans expanded market share is likely to grant Tehran political inf l uence in Damascus to last long after the civil war.
Four years of international isolation has forced Syria to shift its economy fundamentally away from Turkey and Qatar, and realign squarely with Iran (Yazigi, 2015). As recently as 2010, bilateral trade between Iran and Syria stood at only $320 million, while Syria-Turkey trade had reached $2.5 billion (Yazigi, 2015). In 2011, shortly before the uprising, Syria rejected an application by the IRGC-af f i liated Toseye Etemaad-e Mobin, which was competing with Turkish and Arab com-panies for a mobile phone license in Syria (Yazigi, 2015). Th e Iranian company was the only foreign fi rm rejected by Syria, suggesting that Assad may have been concerned with providing the IRGC an expanded role in his country.28
In addition to loans, Iran is now seeking collateral from the Syrian government in the form of real estate assets and state properties (Yazigi, 2015). Locals in Damascus also report that Iranians are buying up real estate in the city center at a rapid rate (Black, 2015).
his review of ISILs overall strategy relies on a number of pri-mary source documents, including issues of Dabiq, ISILs long-form propaganda magazine in which it often presents detailed justif i cations of controversial actions; Th e Management of Savagery, written over ten years ago by al Qaeda sympathizer Abu Bakr Naji and reportedly drawn upon by ISIL; and the private notes of ISIL architect Haji Bakr, seized after his death. However, the review draws most heavily from a leaked internal strategy document written by Abu Abdullah Al-Masri in the latter half of 2014 entitled Principles in the Administration of the Islamic State. Th is document, reportedly intended as a blueprint to train cadres of administrators and written in the months following ISILs declaration of a caliphate, of f ers valuable insight into high-level ISIL guidance on political warfare concepts (Malik, 2015).
ISILs propaganda system also serves as the connective tissue that allows ISILs deliberate embrace of atrocities to intimidate potential opponents and to lure its more bloody-minded potential supporters to its cause. Th is concept of the theater of violence is laid out in Najis foundational document, Th e Management of Savagery. Will McCants, of the Brookings Foundation, argues that this strategy manual, which evaluates tactics according to their psychological ef f ects both on ene-mies and potential supporters, is revered by ISIL operatives (2015). As the means that allows ISILs recruitment and governance ef f orts to be globally seen and known, ISILs propaganda system thus enables and multiplies the ef f ects of the other two main prongs of ISILs infor-mation operations campaign.
Projecting an image of global expansion, ISIL has collected pledges of loyalty from a range of violent Islamic extremist organizations and has of f i cially incorporated some of them into the system of ISIL prov-inces (wilayat). ISIL has currently declared as many as 40 provinces: 12 in Iraq, 11 in Syria, 6 in Yemen, 3 in Libya, 2 in Saudi Arabia, 2 in Afghanistan, and 4 other provinces known as the Algerian Province, West African Province, Qawqaz Province in the Caucasus, and Sinai Province in Egypt (Winter, 2015; Zelin, Picture or It Didnt Happen, 2015).
ISIL appears to have partially achieved its objectives of control-ling its own critical resources and sources of revenue, fuel, and food in a bid for independence from foreign funders. As of December 2015, approximately half of its monthly revenues, assessed at around $80 million, were generated by taxes and property conf i scation; the other half were generated primarily by black market oil sales inside and out-side of ISIL-held territory (Kaplan, 2015).
ISIL has begun minting its own currency, vowing to return to the use of precious metals as the basis for value and as an attempt to reduce its dependence on external fi nancial systems and undermine the global economy. However, these moves may be mostly symbolic; a month after the Return of the Gold Dinar video in August 2015 denounced the U.S. capitalist fi nancial system of enslavement, ISIL was still paying its fi ghters in U.S. dollars (Gidda, 2015).
ISILs brutal campaign against the anti-ISIL vigilante group Mosul Brigades of f ers a prime example of ISILs exploitation of the the-ater of violence. In June 2015, ISIL released a video showing 16 men, allegedly including some members of the Mosul Brigades, being blown up in a car, drowned in a cage, and decapitated by explosive neck-collars, in a naked attempt at intimidating the Mosul-based resistance (Lando, 2015). ISIL in Mosul has undertaken a campaign of systemati-cally killing Mosul Brigade members. ISIL also retaliates against assas-sinations of its own militants by accusing former ISIL security personnel of espionage and collaboration with the Iraqi army and publicly executing them in order to intimidate others (Paraszczuk, 2015).
A cap-tured head logistician for ISIL suicide attacks in Baghdad said, when asked about how he selected his targets: It was about hitting as many people as possible especially police of f i cers, soldiers and Shiites. . . . I thought, at some point these Shiites . . . who experienced an explosion would start to think and that they would be afraid. . . . My idea was to continue until all of them converted. Or emigrated (Reuter, Im Not a Butcher, 2015).
Aaron Zelins analysis of the 123 media releases from ISIL in a single week in April 2015 found that top-level ISIL outlets represented 22 percent of the media releases, while the other 78 percent came from province-level media centers, suggesting that ISIL media production has decentralized drastically over the last two years. Zelin, who runs Jihadology, the jihadist primary source ma te rial online archive, also found that while only 58 percent of ISILs provinces are in Iraq and Syria, a disproportionate number (81 percent) of the media releases came from provinces inside the two countries; Libyan provinces accounted for a distant third, at 11 percent of the 123 releases in the study (Zelin, Picture or It Didnt Happen).
As Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Coun-terterrorism Center, testif i ed to Congress in February 2015, T h e rate of foreign fi ghter travel to Syria is unprecedented. It exceeds the rate of travelers who went to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years. Th e Soufan Group estimated that between June 2014 and December 2015, the number of foreign fi ghters fl owing into Syria had more than doubled, and concurred with the May 2015 assessment of the UN Security Council monitoring team that the number of foreign fi ghters who had traveled to join the current conf l ict in Iraq and Syria may have been as high as 30,000, from over 100 countries. While over a third of the fi ghters originate from West-ern countries, including the European Union, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, and the Balkans, slightly over half come from the Arab world, particularly Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey (Barrett, 2015). By appealing to targets disaf f ection and lack of belonging, as well as to a desire to help protect a Muslim community under attack, ISILs use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has proven highly ef f ective at spreading its ideology and plays a signif i cant role in its recruitment and fund-raising ef f orts (Barrett, 2014). While expo-sure to propaganda alone does not turn opponents or even potential recruits into members, it can furnish dissatisf i ed individuals with an internally coherent system of beliefs and signif i cantly catalyze the radi-calization process (Winter, 2015).
ISILs systematic campaign of enslavement and sexual assault, particularly against the Yazidi women of Iraq, can be seen as a means of intimidation but also as a recruitment tool. Th e October 2014 Dabiq article Revival of Slavery before the Hour, in which ISIL declares its embrace of the abhorrent practice, claims that the deser-tion of slav ery had led to an increase in fahishah (adultery, fornication, etc.), because the shari [legitimate] alternative to marriage is not avail-able, so a man who cannot af f ord marriage to a free woman fi nds him-self surrounded by temptation towards sin. When coupled with ISILs promises to match up emigrant husbands and wives, this may help lure men who are excited by this twisted version of religiously sanctioned sexual freedom or simply by the idea of sexual violence.
Winters in-depth study of ISIL propa-ganda distilled its messaging into six overlapping narratives: brutality, mercy, victimhood, war, belonging, and utopia. He argued that while brutality dominates the attention span of Western media, utopianism and belonging are what attract new recruits (2015). ISIL apparently hopes that brutality deters international publics from becoming active opponents, that mercy appeals to active opponents and encourages them to become potential recruits, and that belonging and utopianism lure potential recruits into becoming disseminators or active members. Zelins 2015 study analyzed the dis tri bu tion of ISIL messaging along eleven themes, the six most prevalent of which, in descending order of prominence, were military, governance, dawa (call, or evangelism), hisba (enforcement of adherence to Islamic principles), promotion of the caliphate, and attacks by the enemy (Zelin, Picture or It Didnt
Scott Shane and Ben Hubbard have gone deeper in their qualitative study of the subject, arguing that the message of ISILs En glish-language media productions is far softer than that in its Arabic- language media, which f l aunts violence toward its foes, espe cially Shia elements in Iraq and Syria, with videos that linger on enemy corpses and show handcuf f ed prisoners casually machine-gunned. Shane and Hubbard assert that, in contrast, ISIL En glish-language productions emphasize jihad as a means of personal fulf i llment. In one such video, a British fi ghter asks, Are you willing to sacrif i ce the fat job youve got, the big car, the family? and then answers his own question: Living in the West, I know how you feelin the heart you feel depressed. . . . Th e cure for depression is jihad (2014).
h e U.S. State Department recently announced an end to producing its own En glish content and a shift to helping Arab governments shape more localized anti-ISIL messages to counter ISILs message (Miller and DeYoung, 2016). While this represents a step in the direction of decentralization, it is a far cry from the sort of decentralized Twitter army that ISIL relies upon for a steady drumbeat of support. Th is online swarm is what enables ISILs resilient propaganda dissemination methods, as well as the enveloping sense of belonging of f ered not only to alienated Muslims who emigrate to ISIL-held territory but also to those who just advocate for others to do so. ISIL taps into the desire among frustrated youth to do some-thing real that can bring them a sense of glory and belonging, even without leaving their computer screens.
In twenty-f i rst-century political warfare, the plausible deniabil-ity that comes from using unattributed means of f ers another strate-gic advantage: entrapping the target in a legal quagmire. Retired Air Force major general and staf f judge advocate turned Duke law professor Charles Dunlap coined the term lawfare. In twenty-f i rst- century war-fare, Dunlap argues, law has evolved to become a decisive element and sometimes the decisive elementof contemporary conf l icts (Dun-lap, 2009, p. 34). He notes that casting legitimate actions as illegal can undermine all-important public support (Dunlap, 2009, p. 35). Argu-ably, while lawfare can be applied to any actors, Western democracies and others who respect a rules-based approach to international order are perhaps particularly vulnerable and this, in turn, is one of the reasons why these methods are so appealing in political warfare.
T h e main characteristic which distinguishes campaigns of insurgency from other forms of war is that they are primarily concerned with the struggle for mens minds (Kitson, 1973); I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlef i eld of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma (Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, July 9, 2005).
During the Cold War, the Voice of America broadcast programs in over 30 languages. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty and other U.S. programs used leaf l et-laden balloons and covertly funded cultural activities to counter the Soviet threat. While U.S. informational activities continue, the United States Infor-mation Agency was disbanded after the Cold War. Today, Russia, Iran, and ISIL devote substantial funding and organizational manpower to conduct messaging. Russia runs two major satellite television agencies to broadcast pro-Russia content both within Russia and around the world. Russia also makes ef f ective use of social media by using bots and trolls on Twitter to support Rus sian propaganda themes and to attack adversaries. Iran not only broadcasts propaganda on satellite television but also uses an array of proxies and cultural programming to convey its message. For its part, ISIL has revolutionized the art of propaganda by enlisting its cadre of supporters around the world to help dissemi-nate ISIS-produced content on social media.
Within DoS, the Global Engagement Center (GEC) and its DoS predecessor, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), have both been subject to numerous media exposs (see for example, Cooper, 2016; Miller, 2015; Silverman, 2016).5 As one senior of f i cial from the CSCC noted, for a bureaucrati-cally small and underfunded organization, the CSCC had received a huge amount of attention because of what it was supposed to do (interview 2, 2016). With this attention comes bureaucratic risk. Th e DoD Of f i ce of Strategic Inf l uence, developed shortly after 9/11 to counter jihadi ideol-ogy, was shuttered due to publicity (Hess, 2002). Various sources sug-gest that a segment by John Oliver on his HBO talk show Last Week Tonight that ridiculed a CSCC video, Welcome to ISIS Land, played a critical role in hastening the of f i ces demise (interviews 2 & 10, 2016). A former CSCC of f i cial observed that the White House will hang you out to dry. . . . Th ey will quickly tout your successes, but if something goes wrong, they will not back you up (interview 5, 2016). Just speak-ing to the press carries risk. Sometimes, people have a wide discretion, but you are taking your career in your hands if you speak to the press
without clear guidance. . . . If you say the wrong thing, you are toast; nobody protects you (interview 6, 2016). T h is risk of publicity and the consequent fear of losing ones career have several critical implications for communications. First and most signif i cantly, communications are slow.
In contrast to the real world where you would respond to a tweet within seconds or min-utes, they would at best respond within hours.
According to a former CSCC of f i cial, Once it is in En glish, it is everyones business. Everyone is a critic, everyone has an opinion. Th e traf f i c in this space is excessive. In Arabic, you dont have to worry about the New York Times looking over your shoulder or John Oliver or ACLU. But once in En glish, you are part of the En glish language twitterverse. [We get it] from the right and from the left. We get it from Islamists and anti-Islamists. If you go in En glish, you are taking your life in your hands. (Interview 2, 2016)
During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), one inf l u-ence program called for the creation of non-attributed video games tar-geted at Middle Eastern teenagers in high risk/unfriendly areas. Th e game provided players a fi rst-person shooter scenario where they could play the role of the Iraqi Hero who shot insurgents trying to kill civil-ians. Ultimately, the program was shut down in part due to negative publicity over its non-attribution status (interview 5, 2016).
Numerous interviewees articulated a fundamental problem with receiving consistent commu-nication themes and messages that can inform U.S. government mes-saging within DoD. One interviewee lamented there being no broad national themes for countering Russias propaganda (interview 3, 2016). Another noted, If I am going to inf l uence a country, I dont know what to say that correlates to a national-level plan (interview 7, 2016). Still another senior MISO of f i cer recounted that shortly after 9/11, a lack of national-level themes and messages emanating from the NSC forced him to dissect presidential speeches in order to draw messaging guidance for operations in Afghanistan. He said national-level guidance had improved little in the subsequent 15 years (interview 8, 2016).
Referring to the DIME concept (Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic), one source complained: The DIME ... the D, M, E have very clear leads. The I has no lead. It is an orphan. The organizational construct for the U.S. government to yield information is not optimized.... Who is pulling it together? You tell me (interview 7, 2016).
As one reviewer of early drafts of this report noted, Do we want speed or well coordi-nated long lead in times? How can we balance the two delicately? We recognize that this is an excellent question. Ideally, if ef f ective coordination processes are put in place, then the interagency can promulgate key coordinating themes and messages to subordinate elements. Subordinate elements can than draw on those themes to message in real time. 9 One critique leveled against the JIATF model, however, is that there would still be a need to coordinate across JIATFs. In such a case, Who is your synchronizer? Who would arbi-trate a dispute between dif f erent JIATFs? (interview 10, 2016).
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in his recent book World Order, argued that a fi rst step in establishing a strategic framework is to determine the hierar-chy of U.S. interests, the goals it intends to pursue, and the values it seeks to defend. Otherwise the U.S. government cannot hope to craft an ef f ective approach to the contests that roil the international system today (Kissinger, 2014, pp. 37273).1
A retired senior U.S. diplomat interviewed for this study argued that the strategy must be clearly broadcast as an af f i rmative and inclu-sive call for promoting and defending a rules-based international order. Th is positive formulation does not frame the overarching U.S. goal as conducting warfare, but envisions robust proactive mea sures as needed, including coercive ones, as well as deterrence and defense.
Th e 6,500-person diplomatic corps does not need to become as large as the 1.3 million active-duty armed forces, but it needs suf f i cient personnel to accom-plish key tasks, conduct coordinated planning, undergo training, and receive at least some of the educational opportunities that are routinely af f orded to the nations uniformed ser vices. Military personnel receive the opportunity to earn advanced degrees during their careers, and they have up to a year to prepare for deployed assignments, normally visiting their predecessor units one to three times during that year. In contrast, civilian personnel receive a few weeks training and are lucky if they arrive in their post before their predecessor departs.
Th e general cohesion of a society is also a factor in resil-ience: Any fractured society can be further rent by outside powers that play on, distort, or exacerbate these cleavages. In Ukraine, for example, Rus sians portrayed government supporters as fascists or Nazis; while in Europe, both far-right and far-left political parties exploit anti-immigrant, anti-European Union, and anti-NATO sentiments. Many threatened countries, such as Estonia, formally embrace and plan for resilience as a means of national defense. In all of these cases, support for building national resilience is another type of external support that friends and allies might provide.
In addition to seeking robust support from NATO to serve as a deterrent and to signal that the alliance will act on its Article 5 com-mitment to defend its member country in the event of a Rus sian mili-tary intervention, Estonia is undertaking its own whole-of- government ef f ort to prepare for a range of contingencies. Estonias leaders believe that the Rus sians could seek to provoke or stimulate unrest in its Russian- dominated northeastern region and use that pretext to inter-vene to protect fellow Rus sians in the guise of a peacekeeping force. An ambiguous stand-of f could pose a serious test for NATO, if the provocation were staged clandestinely by plainclothes Rus sians and attribution could not readily be established. Even if NATO is much more alert to such a scenario after the clandestine activity in Crimea, the current pressures facing Europe could prompt an opportunistic Rus sian leader like Putin to test the alliance, some Estonians fear. Th ey point to just such an attempt by the Soviet Union in 1924, when the Communist International (COMINTERN) attempted to carry out a coup in Estonia by inf i ltrating Soviet GRU agents in hopes of sparking a wider uprising with the help of the Estonian Communist Party.
When Brigadier Alastair Aitken assumed command of the 77th Brigade two years ago, he fi rst set about def i ning the personnel require-ments for the new unit. Working with British Special Forces, he devel-oped selection criteria based on lateral thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and all types of communications skills, for both active-duty and reserve recruitment. He built upon a British reserve model whereby senior business executives serve as top advisers to the military in areas of engineering and logistics as a special reserve. He obtained exemptions to allow him to recruit reservists with unique skills and rec-ognition in technology, creative arts, and the above specialtiesand to transform their terms of ser vice. Th ey may work remotely or part time, and they may provide reachback ser vices to deployed troops. Similarly, he has arranged to place troops in training fellowships at companies or other organizations where they can gain discrete skills and build social networks to aid the brigade. We want people who think dif f er-ently, who can tear ideas apart, an idea factory, an of f i cer at the 77th Brigade explained. Th e Hybrid Warfare Center at Dennison Barracks is designed as a brainstorming center for a core of the 500-strong joint brigade, 40 percent of whose troops are reservists. Th e nascent ef f ort is now supporting UK and coalition forces in Iraq and Africa.