Thursday, September 26, 2013

Afghanistan’s answer to Hillary Clinton? Fawzia Koofi launches bid to be president

In spite of the many doubful challenges Afghanistan faces, this is one hopeful example of what might be possible. The standard critique of her bid is that the culture could never accept it, or at least they could not accept it now. I think we have seen in recent years that that paradigm is not entirely true in our own country. Moreover, the so-called cultural-religious hurdle she figuratively has to jump over in an ideologically based country like Afghanistan, is, I think largely mythical. There have been enough examples of other women in other countries who have led staunchly religious societies. We should not be so quick to think this could not happen in a place like Afghanistan. Rather, we should wonder if this is exactly what might motivate a paradigmatic wave of change. I would not be surprised if her support is more profound than expected. Here is the link to the NBC article:

Afghanistan’s answer to Hillary Clinton? Fawzia Koofi launches bid to be president

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Special Operations Forces in Unlit Spaces Monograph

SOF in Unlit Spaces: Understanding the World’s Dark Spots inthe Context of SOF Operational Planning is finally available through the Combined Arms Research Library at Fort Leavenworth. This is my monograph that explores several things. First it takes a look at unlit spaces. I’ve talked about them before here, but this new research expounds upon the various definitions I placed on kinds of unlit spaces. I make some adjustments to commonly understood definitions such as failed states, fragile states, and ungoverned spaces. Since the term 'unlit space' is too general, it really has little meaning particularly when one is planning military operations. Furthermore, the various kinds of unlit spaces have vague meaning when one considers the context of that area’s condition.

Second, I take a look at how Special Operations Forces (SOF) should consider operational level planning for activities in those places. While it might seem trite to simply say “it depends,” planning truly does depend on the conditions that make those spaces “unlit.” Moreover, the hyper-attention being placed on unlit areas such as fragile states, ungoverned spaces, etc. overlooks the dynamics of those places and misses threat potentials elsewhere. In other words, all unlit spaces are not necessarily an existential threat; therefore, deploying SOF to unlit spaces merely because they are unlit makes little strategic sense.

Afghanistan and Somalia during two time periods, 1990s and 2000s, are the case studies I use to explore the nature of an unlit space. They reveal how SOF operational planners need to deeply understand the context of an area before considering the value of SOF activities in those places. This is especially true when one considers that SOF operate in a human domain. The human domain is full of nuanced peculiarities that do not fit neatly into typological molds. Therefore, certain kinds of SOF missions depend more heavily on knowing the context of a situation than do others.  

I hope to publish this in a journal or magazine somewhere, so I’m open to recommendations. Here is the link to the monograph:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Connecting Syria's allies and enemies - Interactive - Al Jazeera English

There is a fascinating interactive graphic that shows the military relationship between many of the actors interested in Syria. While I don't know that much about the overall situation in Syria, I do know, it's complicated. I do think the domestic rhetoric is largely ignorant of the region's history and the various narratives that are at play. In other words, people talking about what should or should not be done in Syria, don't know what they are talking about - generally. Check out this interactive to get a little better feel for the military considerations that all actors are facing.

Connecting Syria's allies and enemies - Interactive - Al Jazeera English