Harnessing the Islamist revolution: a strategy to win the war against religious extremism.
As our country continues to face the challenge of religiously inspired terrorist attacks, it is not uncommon to hear at least four general views within political, diplomatic, and military circles of how we should deal with this sustained threat. The first of these views is the "kill 'em all" approach, which sees success as coming about through significant military action against those who support and conduct terrorist activity. (1) It typically eschews any concern for civilian casualties and hopes that through intimidation, deterrence, and the total destruction of terrorist safe havens, US citizens will be safer. The second view takes the exactly opposite approach and sees US foreign policy, especially its military policy, as the root of the problem and recommends a comprehensive retrenchment of US advocacy of its interests abroad. (2) This view can be characterized as the "withdrawal" approach. A third view proposes that the United States remove the political, economic, and military "provocations" that inspire religious extremists to attack it, effectively addressing their grievances while ruthlessly attacking them. (3) This approach of "concession and kill" is a blending of the first and second views. (4) The fourth and final perspective advocates more of a bunker strategy. This view sees "[p]unishment [as] irrelevant" and posits that there will be no "dawning of reason" within the communities that create religious extremists and that the attacks of suicide bombers "can only be forestalled." (5) This approach only hopes to prevent attacks through an active defense and a robust early warning system thereby seeking to "weather the storm." For many policy makers, navigating between these treacherous shoals of kill 'em all, withdrawal, concession and kill, and weathering the storm while maintaining and expanding US interests, upholding commitments to our allies and our own position in the world, and moving beyond rhetoric to concrete courses of action can seem quite daunting.
There is a better approach to the challenge of combating religiously inspired terrorism than these former approaches advocate. It draws upon all of the national government's capabilities including military, diplomatic, economic, development, intelligence, and information operations resources and those of American civil society. It does this while maintaining our fealty to allies, robbing opponents of propaganda and recruitment opportunities, upholding American values and standing in the world, and allowing us to separate the terrorists from the support networks they depend upon so that they can be killed, imprisoned, or rehabilitated. It does not inflame the problem through a wholesale military solution or by giving in to the demands of the terrorists or simply hoping that we can limp along, praying for some sort of reprieve from terrorist violence. It recognizes that the safe haven of a person's mind--how one sees the world, what one thinks, and the actions one hopes to take--cannot be discerned with all of the advanced technology in the US arsenal. It requires a nuanced, interdisciplinary approach that removes concerns, addresses legitimate complaints, eliminates jihadist enablers, and provides a peaceful path to the resolution of conflict.
But which countries should be targeted in this type of campaign and with what tools? Where should they be employed and for how long? What kinds of policies, bureaucratic organizations, and other structures should be created or reformed to deal with a foe that actively seeks death? Before we begin to answer these questions it is useful to rethink our general approach to how we confront al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
The Global War on Terror and Global Counterinsurgency
Ngo Dinh Diem [president of Vietnam in the late 1950s to the early 1960s] did not believe in representative government, although he had learned enough about Americans during two and a half years of exile in the United States to give [USAF Major General Edward] Lansdale the impression that he did. He was not interested in social justice.
--Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1989
A useful intellectual framework in constructing a comprehensive approach to dealing with the problem of religiously inspired terrorist activity is to think of today's struggles against radical Islamists as part of a global counterinsurgency campaign. (6) Reconceptualizing the Islamist challenge in this manner provides us with viable solutions, or at a minimum, several possible ways with which to deal with the nonstate threat of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The first aspect of this problem is to recognize that nonstate Islamist radicals are waging their own insurgency, not only against the United States and the West in general, but also within the broader Muslim community. Al-Qaeda, for example, as articulated by Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, seeks to "force the US out of [the Middle East]. This would be followed by the earth-shattering event, which the West trembles at: the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Egypt." (7) Their second step would be to use the newly established caliphate to begin a global jihad against the West "in order to re-make the world order with the Muslim world in a dominant position." (8) To this end, al-Qaeda and its affiliates are challenging the governments of several Muslim countries in the Middle East, most prominently Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia; in Afghanistan and Pakistan in Central Asia; in South Asian countries such as Indonesia; and in Africa such as in Somalia, among many other countries and regions. In non-Muslim countries such as Russia, the Philippines, and India, they are waging wars of insurgency against "infidel" central governments. Additionally, their advocates vie for the loyalty and support--the hearts and minds, if you will--of the broader Muslim world to buttress their cause in expatriate Muslim communities in Europe and the United States, minority Muslim communities outside of the developed world, and those within majority Muslim countries. These sources of sympathy facilitate financial and material support, provide recruits, bolster propaganda opportunities, and provide other assistance to these extremist groups.
A second aspect of this problem is that typical counterinsurgency approaches of the past--most often gleaned from national wars of independence during the Cold War--offer ideas, plans of action, and lessons learned that are, to a significant degree, inadequate to address the challenge. (9) Typically, traditional counterinsurgency takes place within one country, and counterinsurgent policies are a blend of military, diplomatic, political, development, and information operations approaches, usually led by a single individual and highly synchronized, with the express goal of isolating the insurgents from the surrounding population that supports them so that they can be killed, arrested, or rehabilitated. (10) A key component of this strategy is securing a country's borders to prevent the insurgents from receiving outside support. In countries with armed Islamist insurgencies, these approaches can be quite effective although they have been imperfectly applied. (11) A key difference between today's nonstate Islamist insurgency and past insurgencies is that the former draw their resources globally and virtually over the Internet and readily take advantage of the growth of international transportation opportunities and communications technology. Additionally, their inspiration is religious and not secular, as were most of the insurgencies during the Cold War, although aspects of secular insurgencies have taken on religious overtones; therefore, they must be confronted on not only the temporal plain but the spiritual as well. (12) Furthermore, unlike many past insurgencies, nonstate radical Islamist insurgencies are not structured in as hierarchical a fashion as past insurgencies such as the Vietcong. They often operate in cells with little to no direction, and their amorphous nature complicates their eradication. (13) And finally, any attempt to centralize a global counterinsurgency campaign, which one might imagine would naturally fall under the auspices of the United Nations, is almost completely impossible; not only due to the difficulty in getting common agreement about the problem, but also due to the resource shortfall of those who would need to be involved. (14)
Because the logistic, political, diplomatic, and military challenges of mounting a centralized global counterinsurgency campaign are very steep, a selective approach should be used that seeks to deny the "insurgent systems of energy." What this means is that the number of recruits, amount of financial assistance, sympathy, and other types of support for the insurgency will dissipate following certain types of actions from the global counterinsurgent. To accomplish this goal, a "constitutional path" must be established "that addresses Muslim aspirations without recourse to jihad, thus marginalizing Islamists." This approach, which one author refers to as "disaggregation," recognizes that not all points of contention between, within, and across the West and the Muslim world can or should be solved. (15) For example, the ongoing dispute over the disposition of Kashmir would be a prime candidate for US and global diplomatic initiatives. Not only would a resolution of this issue significantly diminish the "energy" to the global Islamist insurgency, but it would also reduce the strategic logic of Pakistani military and intelligence support to local combatants who are sent to fight the Indian military in Kashmir. Additionally, by resolving this issue, the Pakistani military may then be able to direct its energies to extending the government's authority to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and other parts of its domain that are ungoverned, undergoverned, or misgoverned. The disaggregation approach should also be supplemented by more conventional approaches, where appropriate, although modified in light of the global nature of religious extremist violence.
At the heart of any successful counterinsurgency strategy, including a global one, is recognition of the primacy of nonkinetic efforts to any favorable solution and the awareness that kinetic endeavors need to play a supporting role. (16) The goal of the conflict is "the right to win the hearts, minds, and acquiescence of the population.... Injudicious use of firepower creates blood feuds, homeless [internally displaced] people, and societal disruption that fuel and perpetuate the insurgency." (17) Accordingly, "[t]he most beneficial actions are often local politics, civic action, and beat-cop behaviors." (18) These subtler forms of persuasion build confidence and trust between the people and their government, whereas indiscriminate firepower that kills innocent people creates enemies. A successful nonkinetic strategy to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates should have five levels: global, strategic, national, operational, and tactical. (19) But the solution is not one of simply changing certain US foreign policies and how they are implemented; it is also concerned with modifying the national policies of countries that are part of the insurgent network, both within their country and between other countries. Thinking of politics and diplomacy on these several levels and undertaking an integrated approach with other nonkinetic capabilities, we will be able to create "a political program designed to take as much wind as possible out of the insurgent's sails," (20) thus denying the "insurgent systems of energy." (21)
Unlike conventional warfare where "military [kinetic] action ... is generally the principal way to achieve the goal" and "[p]olitics as an instrument of war tends to take a back seat," in unconventional warfare, "politics becomes an active instrument of operation" and "every military move has to be weighed with regard to its political effects, and vice versa." (22) At their core, insurgencies are about political power struggles, usually between a central government and those who reject its authority, where the objective of the conflict is the population itself and the political right to lead it. (23) Thus, the center of gravity in this type of warfare is not the enemy's forces per se, but the population, (24) where "the exercise of political power depends on the tacit or explicit agreement of the population or, at worst, on its submissiveness." (25) Due to the centrality of politics to this type of warfare, counterinsurgent forces must craft a political and nonkinetic strategy that is sensitive to the needs of the population; seeks to secure their loyalty to the government; mobilizes the community to identify, expel, or fight the insurgent; and extends the authority and reach of the central government. (26) If done effectively, the political strategy will have succeeded in "separating the insurgents from popular support" so they can be killed, imprisoned by the government's security forces, or rehabilitated. (27) If a political and non-kinetic plan is implemented poorly or not at all, insurgent forces will capitalize on the grievances and frustrated hopes of a community to entice them away from the government and to the political program of the insurgent force. The community may then actively assist the insurgent force, providing them with a safe haven to rest, rearm, and redeploy to fight another day. In the long run, because this conflict is not about how many casualties counterinsurgent forces can impose upon the insurgents but upon the will to stay in the fight, counterinsurgents tend to grow weary of the amount of blood and treasure they must expend to defeat the insurgent. Though the insurgent force could conceivably lose every military engagement it has with counterinsurgent security forces, it can still win the war if the political program of the government does not win the population over to its policies, plans, and initiatives.
Putting the US Government on a War Footing
If the forces have to be adapted to their new missions, it is just as important that the minds of the leaders and men--and this includes the civilian as well as the military--be adapted to the special demands of counterinsurgency warfare. Reflexes and decisions that would be considered appropriate for the soldier in conventional warfare and for the civil servant in normal times are not necessarily the right ones in counterinsurgency situations.
--David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare
Following the attacks of 9/11, the US government undertook a series of reforms to centralize and synchronize its intelligence and homeland defense departments, bureaus, and offices. The National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security were established, and in 2004 the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) was passed. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell sees the IRTPA as providing "the means to do for the US intelligence community ... [w]hat Goldwater-Nichols did for the military." (28) A global threat required a centralized and synchronized national response. Much like the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 was a further revision of the centralization of US military forces by the National Security Act of 1947 and its amendments, originally passed to help the military combat global communism; we need to examine the possibility of undertaking such a reform of some nonkinetic and unconventional warfare capabilities. We must become the focal point of a global counterinsurgency effort and put our "hearts and minds" agencies on a war footing. Unfortunately, we have yet to see such a comprehensive effort to unify and synchronize nonkinetic capabilities at the national level, although tentative steps have been taken in that direction. (29)
What is required is an interagency organization that centralizes all non-kinetic efforts of the US government while integrating unconventional warfare military capabilities into one place. The organization, which could be called the Irregular Warfare and Stability Operations Center (IWSOC), would focus on using nonkinetic efforts, coordinated with the military, as part of a broader strategy to defeat extremist religious violence. It should be located in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT) at the Department of State (DoS), in part to emphasize the central role politics plays in a counterinsurgency effort, but also to give it the bureaucratic heft it would need to achieve its mission. Additionally, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) should be collapsed into S/CT, and then S/CT should be renamed the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Irregular Warfare, and Stability Operations (S/CIWSO). While the coordinator position would continue to require Senate confirmation and would function as a policy advisor to key national decision makers, the director of IWSOC would be a career civil servant with deputies from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Special Operations Forces (SOF), and the intelligence community. Additionally, the IWSOC would issue an annual report, coordinated with the SOF's Asymmetric Warfare Group, on the status of US efforts at eliminating the causes of extremist religious violence and the implementation of counterinsurgency plans.
The center would have a core staff in Washington, DC, along with additional staff at key embassies and military commands around the world and in the field. This staff would be supplemented by other nonkinetic agencies such as the departments of Treasury, Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, among others. Collectively, this DC-based staff would be charged with drafting global, strategic, and country-specific unconventional warfare plans in conjunction with the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (JFKSWCS), evaluating their progress, and participating in the interagency process. The center would also be responsible for accumulation of lessons learned; the recruitment, resourcing, and training of personnel; and planning. It would host fellows from selected countries, much like the JFKSWCS, who would learn the "best practices" of counterinsurgency, stability operations, and irregular warfare, among other topics. Additionally, the center would be charged with training traditional diplomats, soldiers, development experts, and intelligence officials as they prepare for their tours. Ideally, each government employee preparing for a tour in a selected country would either undertake a tour at IWSOC or rotate among the various core nonkinetic and kinetic agencies involved in the fight. For example, a USAID official who is interested in working in Pakistan would plan for a tour at the IWSOC or go to the Special Operations Command. Similarly, a member of the military deploying to Chad would complete a tour at USAID or the DoS. The goal is to broaden the skill sets, contacts, and knowledge of government officials who are undertaking a traditional career path. In addition to this training, the IWSOC would also have a core group of dedicated unconventional warfare nonkinetic advisors focusing on the expeditionary side of irregular warfare.
The Diplomatic Field Service Toward an Expeditionary Force
He did not expect to be looked after and rarely asked permission to do anything. His kind of American still had a bit of the frontier in him.
--Mark Etherington, Revolt on the Tigris
These advisors would be part of a separate service called the Diplomatic Field Service (DFS), which would be distinct though not completely isolated from the personnel systems of the Foreign Service and USAID, and would consist of a group of professionals with training and experience in diplomacy, development, intelligence, and unconventional warfare. (30) The members of the DFS would deploy with and be assigned to military units from the tactical to the global level with a special emphasis on SOF, with embassies in selected countries, and would embed with subnational groups. They would have the ability to reach back to an embassy, spend USAID money on development projects, conduct limited intelligence operations, and participate in unconventional warfare to facilitate their mission. A key goal of the DFS would be to advise in-country US officials and their host country counterparts on the nonkinetic side of unconventional warfare. They would also be charged with living among the people, facilitating connections with nontraditional power centers such as tribes, clan groups, families, religious organizations, and other parts of civil society, to work against extremist religious groups. By utilizing their unique skill sets, they would also be able to extend the reach of the central host government by facilitating reconstruction, development, good governance, and improved security. The advisors would undertake a career in either their chosen country or region, developing the personal connections needed to leverage relationships against religious extremists, and would remain in constant touch with the embassy, local US military units, and IWSOC through regular reports. Over time, these personnel would move into leadership positions as unconventional warfare and stability operations advisors, political officers, political/military officers, or regional or counterterrorism experts within the DoS, including USAID and IWSOC, and at military commands. Their efforts would not only be part of an interagency team effort at the US embassy but would also be distinct from the more traditional responsibilities of diplomacy.
An excellent example of the kind of person the DFS should seek to recruit, train, and promote is John Bagot Glubb who served in the Middle East as a military officer for the British Government in the 1920s and stayed in the region where he eventually worked as an administrator and military leader for the Iraqi and Jordanian Governments into the 1950s. During the 1920s, Glubb organized and led the Iraqi tribes who lived along the border with Saudi Arabia into a very successful defense against the raiding parties of the Ikhwan, who were ardent followers of the Wahhabist view of Islam. What is unique about these efforts is that Glubb had spent roughly seven years traveling and living in the southern region of the country, befriending local tribes and gaining their respect and trust while seeking ways to reduce their grievances against the new central government. He did this largely by himself, with only the assistance of a local guide and regularly kept in touch with his superiors in Baghdad through reports detailing the politics of the area's tribes and their respective concerns. Prior to Glubb's efforts at defending the Iraqi tribes, they had lived in constant fear of raids by the Ikhwan who regularly slaughtered every living male they captured, contrary to the accepted Bedouin tradition of warfare where casualties were kept to a reasonable limit. Over the course of several years, Glubb single-handedly coordinated numerous local tribes and a small complement of Iraqi security forces in their efforts to resist Ikhwan raids and visit their winter grazing areas. (31) Due to his efforts the Ikhwan stopped their raids and the border between the two countries became settled.
Several lessons can be learned from Glubb's experience. The first is that working by, with, and through Muslim surrogates effectively reduced the appeal of the Ikhwan's fight against the infidel and facilitated the creation of an effective intelligence system and military strategy to deal with the Ikhwan. (32) A second lesson is that personnel systems need to be flexible with respect to allowing an employee to take additional risks (e.g., Glubb living alone with the tribes) in order to achieve other goals, such as protecting the southern Iraqi tribes. Such policies need to move beyond a force protection mindset and toward an expeditionary point of view that accepts casualties as an unfortunate but necessary cost of realizing our goals. Furthermore, personnel need to reside in a country or region for a lengthy period of time, perhaps over the course of a whole career, to establish the language, cultural, political, and geographical knowledge of an area and to establish the relationships with local actors that allow them to effectively stand against extremist threats and to alter perhaps strongly felt though counterproductive policies. A final point of the personnel system is that Glubb was not only a military officer but also had diplomatic and intelligence skills and the ability to reach back to Iraq's capital for necessary support from the government. A third lesson is that religious identity is but one of many competing loyalties for the affections of people. Loyalty to family, clan, tribe, region, and nation are among many other rival claims for the hearts of men and can be used to mitigate the appeal of extremist religious ideologies. A fourth and final lesson is that the Ikhwan rebels had no safe haven left to flee to once Glubb had turned them back and after they had been militarily defeated by Ibn Saud, forgiveness and punishment were doled out in generally equal measure, in keeping with the Bedouin tradition. Ibn Saud, the leader of Saudi Arabia at that time, allowed the rebellious tribes to return to the fold through a process of reconciliation and rehabilitation through acts and expressions of loyalty and contrition. This carrot and stick approach, blending military strength with political and diplomatic flexibility, was very valuable to Ibn Saud and has its uses in our current conflict.
The Long Career Leveraging Relationships for the Long War
The British Empire was created by such men, who had spent lonely and devoted lives in far-away stations in the East.
--John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs
In selected countries, diplomats, development experts, soldiers, and intelligence officials on a traditional career path should have a longer tour than the normal two- to three-year rotation. These officials, who would tend to be the most senior at the embassy in their respective field, would stay in the country or region they have chosen, knowing beforehand the obligations this would require, for a significantly longer time than presently occurs. They would seek to adjust the policies of the host government to address the legitimate grievances of the insurgency or diminish that country's role in the global insurgency while working with the government and maintaining and expanding US interests. They would also seek to erase cultural "practices while preserving and transforming others" that are harmful to successful counterinsurgency approaches. (33) They would not exclusively focus on the national political leadership of the country but would work with the host country's military as well, helping them develop a counterinsurgency doctrine, facilitating the training, manning, and resourcing of counterinsurgency efforts in the host military, and enhancing their deployment capabilities to possibly serve in other countries that have an active extremist religious insurgency. (34) They would also work to bolster and develop the nonkinetic institutions of the host country, such as the Ministries of Health, Education, Justice, and Transportation, to improve their capabilities. Improving the performance of these indigenous ministries will significantly reduce the grievances that jihadist enablers utilize to enlist support. The goal for these officials is to make the ostensibly more secular regime--whether it is monarchist, authoritarian, nationalist, democratic, or so forth--more dynamic, efficacious, and representative, thus undermining the attraction of radical Islamist beliefs and political programs.
If, for example, Egypt were selected as a key state for a sustained campaign of denying the "insurgent systems of energy," the ambassador would have to be carefully selected and would have to have the proper temperament and mix of skills in order to deradicalize the global insurgency by working with Egypt to modify its national policies. This process would have to be gradual to reduce nationalist complaints about foreign meddling and to successfully alter how the Egyptian government deals with Jamaat al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, among other groups. As John Glubb viewed it, "In general, whenever possible, development should be in the nature of the gradual modification of existing institutions." (35) This approach would require a diplomat of rare abilities leveraging traditional diplomatic influence, supplemented by DFS staff, along with USAID, military, and intelligence personnel working with the government of Egypt to embrace nonkinetic approaches. The DFS would also embed with members of civil society to reduce the appeal of extremist religious beliefs and to cultivate relationships with members of civil society. DFS and SOF advisors would work with the Egyptian military to foster a counterinsurgency doctrine, making sure it was properly resourced, and assess their ability to deploy their counterinsurgent capabilities to a theater with an extremist religious insurgency, such as in Afghanistan. They would also work with the nonkinetic ministries of Egypt to bolster their capacity and to facilitate their deployment.
A model for the type of ambassador we might seek to cultivate is Evelyn Baring (later Lord Cromer), who served from 1884 to 1907 as the British consul-general and diplomatic agent of Egypt. His 23 years in Egypt brought a period of stability and justice to the country that greatly enhanced the interests of the Egyptians and the United Kingdom. Because of his strong interest in promoting justice for the Egyptian people and focusing on education, finance, agricultural reform, and administration of the courts, Cromer's tenure was also marked by much admiration from the Egyptian people while they simultaneously viewed their own government with strong contempt. (36) This is certainly an admirable place to be if you are an ambassador of another country seeking to end an insurgency. This case was mentioned not to suggest that any kind of American pro-consul or consul-general should be imposed upon Egypt, or any other country for that matter, or that whatever democratization has taken place should be rolled back, but only to make the point that longevity in position by the right sort of public servant who supports a correct policy conveys many advantages. Our career paths and political timelines in the United States do not presently support any kind of policy of "gradual modification." Lord Cromer's four subsequent successors each governed for less than three years. (37) Each man brought his own particular interests to the position, so consistency of effort was a challenge, and much of their collective tenure was marked by intense political acrimony as they abandoned Cromer's policy of trusteeship and replaced it with more abstract theories of government. They began to abstain from Egyptian politics, and subsequently good governance declined and the state focused less on long-term development and the interests of the people to more ephemeral topics and considerations. (38) The relationship between Egypt and the United Kingdom was never the same, and the Egyptian people suffered because of it.
Enhanced Stability Operations Eliminating Safe Havens
When you break bread with people and share their troubles and joys, the barriers of language, of politics and of religion soon vanish. I liked them and they liked me, that was all that mattered.
In states that are suffering from an armed insurgency or have areas of their country where they lack control or do not have a government presence, thus creating a safe haven for religious extremists, another tool must be available to US policy makers besides longer careers and an expeditionary force of nonkinetic advisors. In these cases, enhanced stability operations, sometimes taking place side by side with war fighting, are key. It is here that Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) can help provide nonkinetic capabilities to host governments by facilitating reconstruction, development, good governance, and security while expanding the reach and capabilities of the government to these ungoverned, undergoverned, or misgoverned insurgent safe havens. PRTs were started in Afghanistan in 2003 as part of the US effort to expand the reach of the Afghan government into the provinces. These teams largely focused on facilitating reconstruction, development, good governance, the reach of the central government, and through these efforts, enhancing security. (39) In Afghanistan, the PRT has typically consisted of a core group of nonkinetic personnel: a diplomat, a development expert, an agricultural advisor, and a military civil-affairs capacity, along with a representative from the Afghan Ministry of Interior. (40) They usually have a dedicated military force-protection element, although instances exist where this has been supplemented by local tribal assets and indigenous security elements, and they work very closely with local government officials to achieve the national government's goals.
The tools the PRT brings to the nonkinetic fight are development dollars and expertise; diplomatic skills, including conflict resolution and cultural understanding; technical expertise, such as in the fields of agriculture, construction, and engineering; political skills, like fostering government institutions and mentoring leaders; and management and policing skills, among a host of other capabilities. (41) In Afghanistan, PRTs have usually been led by a member of the US military although, with the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and International Security Assistance Force units into the provinces, this basic PRT template has been modified in light of each country's capabilities and goals. In Iraq, the PRTs are led by a DoS employee, usually with a military deputy, and they typically have a member of the USAID on their staff" and a military civil-affairs advisor. These nonkinetic advisors are supplemented by members of the military who have been brought in due to their unique skill sets, and force protection is provided by the military unit with which the PRT is embedded.
Thus far the basic PRT concept has been used in Afghanistan and Iraq and essentially contains a force-protection element, a nonkinetic capacity, and a central host-government representative(s). If seen as modular units, these can be modified to reflect local conditions, central government capacity, and the goals of the US government. In some countries, it may be more useful to have a DFS member leading a PRT that is wholly manned by government representatives from the host nation protected by local tribesmen. In other instances, there may be an indigenously led PRT manned with DFS, DoS, USAID, and other nonkinetic advisors with local contract guards. However these components are selected, the US government needs to have the flexibility and wherewithal to alter PRT arrangements to effectively address the problem of safe havens. To these ends, it needs to create a standing capability of nonkinetic advisors and resources to deploy on a regular basis and not narrowly conceptualize the idea as a reserve capacity that will only be called upon during a crisis. If deployed correctly, PRTs can go a long way toward eliminating terrorist safe havens and preventing extremist religious groups from effectively organizing to challenge the host nation's central government or mount a terrorist attack abroad. When integrated with SOF and DFS capabilities, PRTs' influence is enhanced even more.
Enlisting Civil Society A Cultural and Religious Offensive
However much the United States government reforms its kinetic and nonkinetic capabilities and policies, the long war against religious extremists who use terrorist violence cannot be won without support from the US population. In many respects, American civil society can provide more effective tools for dealing with extremist religious groups than the government, but they have to be harnessed and directed in such a way that they effectively reduce extremist religious violence. If this is done, we will be able to confront extremist religious groups and their leaders with a cultural and religious offensive. To this end, a separate arm of the Irregular Warfare and Stability Operations Center, called the Civil Society Center (CSC), should be established. It would not be officially connected to the US government, though it could possibly receive federal grants and other assistance, but would still work in concert with government activities.
One CSC goal would be to facilitate a robust people-to-people exchange program in selected countries. This program could be loosely modeled off the State Department's International Visitor Program and would seek to build cultural ties with nontraditional sources of leadership such as tribal, clan, family, and religious leaders, among others. It would also seek to develop ties with members of governments who work in nonkinetic ministries to create lasting personal relationships. For example, a leading member of the Egyptian Ministry of Health could work or study in the United States at a leading medical college or university, burnishing his credentials in health administration or medical procedures. This type of outreach effort would also aggressively get in touch with US citizens and immigrant groups within the United States who are Muslim or who come from countries that have been selected for a focused approach. By consistently reaching out to these groups, hearing their concerns, and sharing the nonkinetic approach to addressing the challenge of extremist groups, these efforts may provide a robust network for the US government. The DFS, SOF, and other government agencies would benefit from these relationships and profit from the potential recruitment opportunities that such contacts would offer. If members of these various groups were to join the US government, they would also help efforts abroad by reducing the cultural, linguistic, religious, and ethnic barriers that sometimes exist between US entities and the populations we are seeking to work by, with, and through.
Because this entity is not officially connected to the US government, it could also actively liaise with and recruit Muslim religious scholars and leaders in an effort to create a "moderate" or legitimate alternative to the messages and narrative of Islamists. (42) Ideally, these scholars would be working full time at the CSC and would respond to an extremist religious message, in whatever form it may come, including over the Internet, with a robust and scholarly response drawn from the teachings of Islam. (43) Additionally, through their contacts with other scholars around the world, the CSC's imams could facilitate the deployment of Muslim religious leaders with frontline units that are dealing with religious extremist groups. In Afghanistan in 2005, for example, US Special Forces (USSF) teams had what they referred to as a "Mobile Mullah" who would accompany USSF units and speak with Taliban detainees in an effort to "deprogram" them from the extremist teachings of that movement. Additionally, US forces are running a similar program at the military prisons of Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca in Iraq, where detainees receive religious instruction from 43 imams who are focused on deprogramming hardened al-Qaeda fighters by showing them how their interpretation of Islam is incorrect. (44) Because these CSC scholars do not follow extremist religious teachings, they can also seek to convince more radical Muslim leaders of their incorrect understanding of Islam. Not only can the followers of radical Islamists be deprogrammed, but their enablers can also be confronted and perhaps even convinced of the errors of their ways. The religious scholars of the CSC could also draft information operations products, provide advice during the drafting of counterinsurgency plans, and provide training to personnel who are preparing to deploy. An organized and well-resourced CSC can provide a robust capability to the US government to reduce the appeal of Islamists and confront them and their supporters with a correct understanding of Islam that is both peaceful and positive.
However influential Muslim scholars can be at counteracting radical religious teachings, the most effective means of deterring would-be terrorists is by having them listen to former terrorists recount their experiences while repudiating their previous beliefs and misdeeds. The government of Saudi Arabia, for example, has developed a robust effort to prevent radical religious beliefs from gaining currency through a program of showing taped interviews and discussions with failed jihadists on national television who encourage other Saudis not to be taken in by radical Islamists. (45) To get to this point, however, each "reformed" jihadist has to go through a program run by the Ministry of Interior that requires regular visits and conversations with Muslim religious scholars who point out the errors of radical Islamist thinking, and they have to "come clean" by detailing all of their knowledge about extremist religious groups. Eventually, they are provided with a path of integration back into society through a step-by-step reconciliation process that rewards compliance by helping the individual with employment, free medical assistance, monthly stipends, and sometimes cars. (46) While such a program should not be established by the US government, its effectiveness is certainly impressive and warrants integration into a cultural and religious offensive against radical Islamists. (47) Any such program should be administered by the governments of Muslim countries, although they can certainly be aided by the CSC, and any lessons learned from these and any other efforts should be shared through a "best practices" process coordinated through the IWSOC.
A Strategy to Deter and Defeat Religious Extremists from Engaging in Terrorist Activity
A comprehensive strategy to deter religious extremists from engaging in terrorist attacks should seek to reduce the support mechanisms and recruitment and propaganda opportunities they need by embracing a holistic, nonkinetic approach that aims to separate the terrorists from the population so that they can be killed, arrested, or rehabilitated. It should be done by addressing the legitimate grievances of the global Islamist insurgency while maintaining US interests and working by, with, and through surrogates and bolstering their nonkinetic, security, and unconventional warfare capabilities. It should be for the long-term with targeted nonkinetic approaches that eliminate safe havens and seek to reform the policies of selected countries to remove injustices while refuting Islamist ideology. Nonkinetic capabilities should be integrated with military assets at all levels, and we should seek to reform the military policies of targeted countries so that they incorporate unconventional warfare approaches. Terrorist messages must be refuted, and an alternative and peaceful counter-narrative to Islamist ideology should be crafted. If done effectively, the physical safe havens of terrorists will be eliminated, the injustices they feed off of to fuel their causes will have diminished, their messages will be consistently refuted, and US and allied nonkinetic capabilities will have improved to the point where Muslim populations actively support our efforts of separating the jihadist from the local population. All of these efforts should be done while defending and extending US interests, maintaining good relations with our allies, and always seeking to incorporate lessons learned and best practices. We should seek to isolate regimes and groups that support extremist religious violence, while cultivating links to moderate or "legitimate" powers, and actively engage organizations that peacefully represent Muslim populations (see appendix B for a list of targeted countries). (48)
If implemented with the consistency and unity of effort that is required, proponents of extremist religious beliefs will find that their physical safe havens no longer exist, and the ability of their propaganda to recruit new adherents will have diminished. Because legitimate grievances are being addressed and Islamist messages are refuted, Muslim support for their efforts will have dried up as moderate Muslims and their governments seek viable and peaceful ways to resolve conflict and address the needs of the people (see appendix A for a list of guiding principles to deter and defeat religious extremism). It is easier for these governments and Muslim populations to do this because the United States actively seeks their views and, where appropriate and feasible, tries to create solutions by working by, with, and through surrogate partners with a nonkinetic effort. And because of the long-standing relationships our ambassadors, DFS, USAID, military, and intelligence personnel have with their leadership, we have the ability to leverage these personal ties to facilitate just settlements for the population by reforming the host country's national policies. Furthermore, the poverty, oppression, and violent conditions that many jihadist recruiters take advantage of to enlist suicide attackers will also decline because the people will see improvements in their lives or, because of deployed nonkinetic assets and changes in national policy, see hope for a better future giving them the ability to resist the violent alternative that jihadist recruiters offer. For Islamists in the developed world who are college-educated and "modern," their angst and concern for how Muslims are treated by the West or by their indigenous governments will diminish as their legitimate grievances are addressed and their beliefs no longer provide the answers they seek. Seeing the United States at the forefront of helping the Muslim people, they will be hard-pressed to seek "justice" through suicide attacks or by recruiting and helping others to do so.
With all of these tools, the safe haven of would-be terrorists' minds--how they see the world, what they think, and the actions they hope to take--will be filled with peaceful alternatives to extremist religious violence. They will see their living conditions improve through a more responsive government or because the DFS or government PRT in their village is helping them; their local leadership tells them that violence is not the answer because they want to work with the government; and their local police force, largely drawn from their own tribe, and tribal sheik ask them to identify "strangers" in their village who may wish to cause violence so that they can be arrested or killed. They also hold a handbill, listen to a mosque speaker, or see a poster refuting the violent message of the jihadist recruiter, which also reminds them of the failed terrorists they had heard about on the radio who had been duped by other jihadist recruiters. And when their village and tribe are threatened by an extremist religious group, the loyalty they have to their family, clan, village, tribe, region, and nation bolsters their confidence to effectively confront them. This is also possible because of the strong support they receive from the DFS and SOF (US, allied, or indigenous). They know that their concerns make it to the provincial, regional, and national capitals either through a government presence in their village or because the DFS representative who lives with their tribal sheik conveys them to the government through the US embassy via secure communications equipment. And finally, the ability of indigenous and US military forces to kill or capture religious extremists is easier because the community supports their efforts by sharing intelligence about extremists and by enlisting local security forces to protect their homes. They also support the military because they view them as providers of security and not as oppressors of a distant or repressive government.
Though significant changes in the US government's bureaucratic organization and performance have taken place since 11 September 2001, we have yet to see a serious reform of our nonkinetic departments and agencies in order to put them on a war footing. Many of our efforts are hamstrung due to limited resources, poor coordination, career tracks that are geared towards a pre-9/11 world, and rules that curtail our ability to operate in an expeditionary manner. Additionally, while our government struggles mightily to identify, train, and deploy staff" to the fight against al-Qaeda, these efforts are often ad hoc and are not facilitating the development of a dedicated cadre of specialists who can focus on confronting al-Qaeda with targeted nonkinetic efforts. In this long war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, which I regard as a global insurgency, we need to lengthen the tours of key officials in selected countries and regions, create an enduring stability operations and irregular warfare capability, build an expeditionary core of advisors, and create a counternarrative to radical Islam that is "legitimate" and peaceful.
Most of the ideas outlined in this essay are additions to or modifications of current approaches to address the problem of extremist religious groups intent on using terrorist violence. They are meant to do as little violence as possible to existing personnel systems and bureaucratic organizations while improving their performance and establishing new ways of addressing the challenge of extremist religious groups. Hopefully, the US government will be able to recruit, train, deploy, and promote American equivalents of John Bagot Glubb in our DFS and identify partners for him, such as Lord Cromer, in our diplomatic corps. Additionally, with these added nonkinetic resources, the US government will now have the ability and hopefully the inclination to embrace, integrate, and deploy the necessary unconventional warfare and nonkinetic capabilities needed to fight the long war against extremist religious groups intent on attacking our people. By embracing a holistic, nonkinetic approach that is supported by a robust kinetic capability, the US government will be able to follow a more enlightened policy than the "kill 'em all," "withdrawal," "concession and kill," and "weathering the storm" approaches that so many people advocate uncritically.
Basic Principles for a Strategy against Religious Extremism
1. Remove the political and military rationale for states and other groups that sponsor religious extremism and terrorist activity.
2. Work by, with, and through surrogates while bolstering their non-kinetic and unconventional warfare capabilities. (49)
3. Seek justice for legitimate grievances while isolating, arresting, rehabilitating, or killing groups and individuals that promote violence.
4. Leave no safe havens.
5. Religious identity is but one of many competing loyalties for the affections of people; cultivate those that defeat the appeal of religious extremism.
6. Integrate military strength with political and diplomatic flexibility along with other nonkinetic assets at all levels of government.
7. Counter Islamist messages and craft an alternative to the Islamist narrative.
8. Constantly incorporate lessons learned and best practices into the planning and execution of your strategy.
9. Government personnel systems need to allow employees to take additional risks.
10. The US government needs to move beyond a force-protection mind-set and toward an expeditionary point of view.
11. Government personnel need to reside in a country or region for a lengthy period of time, perhaps over the course of a whole career.
12. Government personnel need to have the skills of diplomats, military leaders, development specialists, and intelligence officers.
13. Reconciliation and punishment need to be aspects of a comprehensive approach.
14. Cultivate cultural links with targeted countries.
15. As always, adjust your plans accordingly and think unconventionally; the insurgent does, and so must we!
Countries with Islamic Populations
The following chart lists all the countries of the world which have at least 10 percent of their population claiming Islamic religious affiliation. (50) I have also included the countries of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay that, while they have small to insignificant numbers of Muslims, do play a role in the global insurgency through the presence of safe havens in their territories. Data for the "% Muslim" category was taken from the US Department of State's 2006 International Religious Freedom report. The "Insurgency/Civil War" category was taken from the US Department of State's 2006 Patterns of Global Terrorism report. Whether a country's government is democratic or not, as is indicated in the "Democracy" category, was taken from The Economist Intelligence Unit's Index of Democracy, which is an assessment of a country's democracy based upon an analysis of its civil liberties, conduct of elections, media freedom, participation, public opinion, functioning government, corruption, and stability. Whether the Irregular Warfare and Stability Operations Center should engage with a country or should the US government begin longer tours there, deploy DFS staff, establish PRTs, utilize SOF, or engage its people through the Civil Society Center were decided by the author. In general, if a country is not a democracy, I have opted to extend the tours of US government personnel. If a country faces an armed insurgency or is going through a civil war, I have also recommended longer tours along with the deployment of DFS, PRTs, SOF, and the Civil Society Center. I have made a judgment call as to the capacity of a state's institutions (kinetic, nonkinetic) to effectively confront an insurgency or civil war when making other recommendations of the appropriate mix of approaches. I am confident some of my colleagues may disagree with these assessments, but my general goal is to prompt debate and discussion, leaving to the hands of more knowledgeable experts which countries should be selected, for whatever reason, and how best to deal with them.
Country % Muslim Insurgency/ Democracy IWSOC Civil War Afghanistan 99 Yes No Yes Albania 70 No Yes Algeria 99 Yes No Yes Argentina 1.5 No Yes Yes Azerbaijan 93.4 No No Yes Bahrain 93.1 No No Bangladesh 88.3 Yes Yes Yes Benin 19.8 No Yes Bosnia & Herzegovina 40 No Yes Brazil 0.016 No Yes Yes Brunei 64.5 No N/A Burkina Faso 52 No No Cameroon 20 No No Central African Republic 15 No No Yes Chad 51 No No Yes Colombia 0.024 Yes Yes Yes Comoros 98 No No Cote d'Ivoire 35 No No Djibouti 94 No N/A Yes Egypt 90 Yes No Yes Eritrea 48 No No Yes Ethiopia 32.8 Yes Yes Yes The Gambia 95 No N/A Georgia 9.9 Yes Yes Yes Guinea 85 No No Guinea-Bissau 45 No No India 13.4 Yes Yes Yes Indonesia 88.2 Yes Yes Yes Iran 98 Yes No Yes Iraq 97 Yes Yes Yes Israel 12 No Yes Yes Jordan 95 No No Yes Kazakhstan 47 No No Yes Kuwait 80 No No Yes Lebanon 55 Yes Yes Yes Liberia 20 No Yes Yes Libya 97 No No Yes Macedonia 32 No Yes Malaysia 60.4 No Yes Yes Maldives 100 No N/A Mali 90 No Yes Mauritania 99.9 No No Mauritius 16.3 No Yes Morocco 99.9 No No Yes Mozambique 20 No Yes Niger 85 No No Yes Nigeria 50 Yes No Yes Oman 92.66 No No Yes Pakistan 96.7 Yes No Yes Paraguay 0.008 No Yes Yes Qatar 77.5 No No Yes Russia 14 Yes Yes Yes Saudi Arabia 100 No No Yes Senegal 95 No Yes Yes Sierra Leone 60 No No Yes Singapore 15 No Yes Yes Somalia 100 Yes No Yes Sudan 65 Yes Yes Yes Suriname 13.5 No N/A Syria 88 No No Yes Tajikistan 90 No No Yes Tanzania 45 No Yes Tunisia 98 No No Yes Turkey 99 Yes Yes Yes Turkmenistan 89 No No Yes United Arab Emirates 76 No No Yes Uzbekistan 88 Yes No Yes West Bank & Gaza 84 Yes Yes Yes Yemen 99 Yes No Yes Country Long DFS PRTs SOF CSC Tours Afghanistan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Albania Algeria Yes Yes Yes Yes Argentina Yes Yes Yes Azerbaijan Yes Yes Yes Bahrain Yes Bangladesh Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Benin Bosnia & Herzegovina Brazil Yes Yes Yes Brunei Burkina Faso Cameroon Central African Republic Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Chad Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Colombia Yes Yes Yes Comoros Cote d'lvoire Djibouti Yes Yes Yes Egypt Yes Yes Yes Yes Eritrea Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Ethiopia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes The Gambia Georgia Yes Yes Yes Yes Guinea Guinea-Bissau India Yes Yes Indonesia Yes Yes Yes Iran Yes Yes Yes Iraq Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Israel Yes Jordan Yes Yes Yes Kazakhstan Yes Yes Yes Kuwait Yes Yes Yes Lebanon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Liberia Yes Yes Yes Libya Yes Yes Yes Macedonia Malaysia Yes Yes Yes Maldives Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Mozambique Niger Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Nigeria Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Oman Yes Yes Yes Pakistan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Paraguay Yes Yes Yes Qatar Yes Yes Russia Saudi Arabia Yes Yes Yes Yes Senegal Yes Yes Yes Yes Sierra Leone Yes Yes Yes Yes Singapore Somalia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Sudan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Suriname Syria Yes Yes Yes Tajikistan Yes Yes Yes Yes Tanzania Tunisia Yes Turkey Yes Yes Yes Yes Turkmenistan Yes United Arab Emirates Yes Yes Yes Uzbekistan Yes Yes Yes Yes West Bank & Gaza Yes Yes Yes Yes Yemen Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
(1.) Diana West, "Total War, Total Victory," Washington Times, 13 July 2007.
(2.) William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2005).
(3.) Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005).
(5.) Mortimer B. Zuckerman, "Putting Safety First," U.S. News and World Report, 16 July 2007, 60.
(6.) David Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency: A Strategy for the War on Terrorism," The Journal of Strategic Studies, (August 2005) Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 597-617.
(7.) Ayman al-Zawahiri, "Knights under the Prophet's Banner," in Al-Sharq al-Awsat, 2 December 2001. Quoted in Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency," 597-617.
(8.) The idea is from al-Zawahiri, but the quotation is from Kilcullen.
(9.) Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency," 597-617.
(11.) Although other examples exist where purely military approaches were used to good effect against insurgents, they are of limited use in waging a global counterinsurgency campaign. See Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2005); and John A. Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
(12.) Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency."
(13.) David Kilcullen, "Counter-insurgency Redux," Survival 48, no. 4 (Winter 2007-8): 116.
(14.) Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency," 597-617.
(16.) David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006). Some portions of this section were published in an article titled "The Political Officer as Counter-Insurgent" in Small Wars Journal in 2007.
(17.) David Kilcullen, " 'Twenty-Eight Articles:' Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency," Military Review (May-June 2006): 103.
(19.) Any political strategy to defeat al-Qaeda, its affiliates, other extremist religious groups, and the insurgencies faced in Afghanistan and Iraq must integrate all elements of national power to include not only political resources and strategies but also economic, informational, and military.
(20.) Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare, 72.
(21.) Kilcullen, "Countering Global Insurgency," 597-617.
(22.) Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare, 4-5. Emphasis in original.
(24.) Kalev I. Sepp, "Best Practices in Counterinsurgency," Military Review (May-June 2005): 10.
(25.) Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare, 4-5.
(26.) Ibid., 72.
(27.) Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, 115.
(28.) Mike McConnell, "Overhauling Intelligence," Foreign Affairs (July/August 2007), 50-53.
(29.) Sebastian Sprenger, "DOD, State Dept. Eye Joint 'Hub' for Stability Operations, Irregular War," Inside the Pentagon, November 21, 2006; John Hillen, "Developing a National Counterinsurgency Capability for the War on Terror," Military Review (January-February 2007), 13-15; and Michael W. Coulter, "State and Navy: Partnership in Diplomacy," Proceedings (July 2007), 44-48.
(30.) An earlier version of these ideas was published in Military Review. Please see Dan Green, "Counterinsurgency Diplomacy: Political Advisors at the Operational and Tactical Levels," Military Review (May-June 2007), 24-30.
(31.) John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1957); John Bagot Glubb, Britain and the Arabs: A Study of Fifty Years 1908 to 1958 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1959); John Bagot Glubb, The Story of the Arab Legion (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1948); and John Bagot Glubb, Arabian Adventures: Ten Years of Joyful Service (London, Cassell, 1978).
(32.) This "indirect approach" has long been an aspect of US unconventional warfare doctrine and was most recently stated in Joint Forces Quarterly. Please see, David P. Fridovich and Fred T. Krawchuk, "Winning in the Pacific: The Special Operations Forces Indirect Approach," Joint Forces Quarterly, issue 44 (1st Quarter 2007): 24-27.
(33.) Joseph A. Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 159.
(34.) At least two SOF from the Middle East have deployed to Afghanistan, and their ability to conduct unconventional warfare due to their cultural and religious backgrounds was impressive. This indirect approach can often be more effective than any of our best efforts. Many militaries of the developing world pursue a completely conventional military or security services approach to dealing with their insurgency. We must assist them to also adopt a more counterinsurgency and nonkinetic mind-set and to resource any such approach.
(35.) Massad, Colonial Effects, 230.
(36.) John Bagot Glubb, Britain and the Arabs, 180-90.
(37.) Ibid., 190.
(38.) Ibid., 188.
(39.) Robert M. Perito, The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan (Washington, DC: United States Institute for Peace, 2005), 1-16.
(40.) Sometimes Special Operations Forces are collocated with conventional forces and provincial reconstruction teams. The Panjshir Valley PRT is the only PRT in Afghanistan that is led by a DoS employee.
(41.) Other nonkinetic capabilities exist independent of the PRT such as US Army civil-affairs and psychological operations units that are attached to conventional and SOF forces. These are often the only nonkinetic resources we have in the field because PRTs are not in every province and are sometimes unable to get out to an area due to logistical or security concerns. Some portions of this section were published in an article titled "The Political Officer as Counter-Insurgent" in Small Wars Journal in 2007.
(42.) The idea of using Muslim scholars to counteract radical Islamists has been most highly developed by Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, director of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dr. Gunaratna is also the author of Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (New York: Berkley Books, 2003).
(44.) Walter Pincus, "Iraq's 'Battlefield of the Mind,' " The Washington Post, 10 December 2007.
(45.) MSNBC, "Truck bomber turns against jihad in Iraq: Disfigured and feeling cheated, Saudi denounces al-Qaida mind-set," MSNBC.com, 29 July 2007.
(47.) In the interest of justice, some failed jihadists may need to face the death penalty. These and other issues will be determined by each country.
(48.) Encouragingly, President Bush recently decided to appoint an envoy to Islamic nations to "listen" and "learn," and such efforts should be continued, expanded, and deepened. Please see Michael A. Fletcher, "Bush Plans Envoy to Islamic Nations, Appointee will 'Listen' and 'Learn'," The Washington Post, 28 June 2007.
(49.) This approach has worked very effectively in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, which the author can verify through personal involvement in this effort. A good summary of how this process has worked can be found in: Greg Jaffe, "How Courting Sheiks Slowed Violence in Iraq," The Wall Street Journal, 8 August 2007.
(50.) I absolutely recognize that the problem of the nonstate Islamist insurgency requires us to also deal with how individual governments deal with their Muslim minorities in the developed world as well as in the developing world. This view is consistent with Kilcullen's prescription with how best to deal with a global Islamist insurgency; we are as much a part of the system as any other country. Having said that, I trust that the governments of the developed world are better able to adjust their internal policies in order to meet this threat than many developing countries and that most of the problems of the Islamist insurgency have their roots in problems abroad rather than at home.
Dan Green is employed at the US Department of Defense (DoD) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He previously worked at the US Department of State (DoS) from 2003 to 2008 in the Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation and in the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-terrorism. He also worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2003. He served a year as a political advisor with the DoS to the Tarin Kowt Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, for which he received the DoS Superior Honor Award, the US Army Superior Civilian Service Award, and a letter of commendation from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace. Mr. Green served as a mobilized US Navy reservist in Anbar Province, Iraq, in 2007 as a tribal/leadership engagement officer. He is presently working on his dissertation for a PhD in political science at George Washington University.
The title of this paper was inspired by the 1965 Vietnam War strategy paper, "Harnessing the Revolution in South Vietnam," by John Paul Vann. His essay formed a large part of the intellectual justification for the creation of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program.