The CSS Blog Network

(W)Archives: Cooking the Books on the Islamic State and the Viet Cong

A Viet Cong guerilla fighter with an AK-47. Image: SSgt. Herman Kokojan/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 4 September, 2015.

According to recent press reports, the Pentagon’s Inspector General is investigating whether officials from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have skewed intelligence assessments to show more progress in the fight against the Islamic State than the facts would justify. Allegedly, these politicized assessments have made their way to senior officials right up to the president.

We do not yet know the full truth but these are serious allegations; politicization is one of the most profoundly unethical acts that intelligence officers can engage in. If the charges are substantiated, this will not be the first time that the U.S. military has cooked the books on a war. In 1967, the U.S. Intelligence Community produced Special National Intelligence Estimate 14.3-67, “Capabilities of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting in South Vietnam,” which is available at the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act website. The sordid story of this estimate encourages us to take a hard line on politicization. It also reminds us, however, that intelligence is an inherently uncertain business. » More

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Human Terrain System: An Insider’s Perspective

A social scientist with the Human Terrain Analysis Team speaks with the displaced women of the Tagab District. Image: DVIDSHUB/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) on 13 July, 2015.

The idea behind HTS was simple and promising: embed social scientists with military units and give them the resources to unearth operationally relevant socio-cultural data and findings. Its founders, Dr. Montgomery McFate, an anthropologist by training, and former Army officer Steve Fondacaro stood the program up and served as its leaders and missionaries for its first few years of existence. At the height of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan most ground-holding brigades and special operations units had Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) supported by Human Terrain Analysis Teams (HTATs) at the division level. » More

Khaan Quest and Mongolia: Molding a Mediator?

US Marine during the 2015 Khaan Quest Exercise in Mongolia. Image: Marines/Flickr

This article was originally published by Offiziere.ch on 9 July 2015.

From June 20 to July 1, the Mongolian Armed Forces and United States Pacific Command jointly hold the latest edition of Khaan Quest (Facebook page), a multinational peace operation exercise hosted on Mongolian territory and primarily intended to enhance peacekeeping and peace support capabilities among participating states. Beyond allowing opportunities for strengthening relationships and exchanging best practices, Khaan Quest entails a command post exercise and a field exercise by ground forces. Of particular interest, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) participated for the first time, demonstrating China’s growing interest in regional security. » More

The Military is Not the Answer to South Africa’s Xenophobic Violence

A South African soldier with an ammo belt. Image: Cpl. Jad Sleiman, U.S. Marine Corps/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Fund For Peace (FFP) on 22 April 2015.

A rapid rise in anti-immigrant violence has emerged in South Africa, with at least seven people killed and many more local immigrants’ properties and businesses destroyed. In response to this wave of xenophobic crime, the South African government announced the deployment of troops to areas that have been most affected by the violence, including parts of Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the impoverished district of Alexandra in Johannesburg. » More

‘Hybrid War’ and ‘Little Green Men’: How It Works, and How It Doesn’t

Masked soldiers in Crimea. Image: E. Arrott/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 16 April 2015. It is an excerpt from E-IR’s Edited Collection “Ukraine and Russia: People, Politics, Propaganda and Perspectives”.

When Russian special forces seized Crimea at the end of February 2014, without their insignia, but with the latest military kit, it seemed as the start of a new era of warfare. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that Moscow, in a bid to square its regional ambitions with its sharply limited resources, has assiduously and effectively developed a new style of ‘guerrilla geopolitics’ which leverages its capacity for misdirection, bluff, intelligence operations, and targeted violence to maximise its opportunities. However, it is too soon to declare that this represents some transformative novelty, because Moscow’s Ukrainian adventures have not only demonstrated the power of such ‘hybrid’ or ‘non-linear’ ways of warfare, but also their distinct limitations. » More

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