I have a new essay on Defense and the National Interest concerning the debate about "super-empowered individuals." For anyone unfamiliar with the blogospheric and print discourse on this subject, see this primer by Zenpundit.




The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has an excellent briefing on the splintering of Darfur’s rebel groups. The conflict is often simplistically cast in American media as a fight between a unified rebel nationalist group and the Sudanese government, but in reality the rebel front has disintegrated.  Some have joined the ranks of what Ralph Peters called “The New Warrior Class”—undisciplined and disorganized militia motivated by personal gain.

This poses several major problems for United Nations/African Union peacekeepers and conflict negotiators. Disunity prevents the rebels from agreeing on anything and gives the Sudanese the moral high ground–and an excuse to continue their scorched-earth counterinsurgency. Additionally, some rebels have come to view the peacekeepers themselves as the enemy. In October, a rebel splinter group overran a AU base, killing numerous peacekeepers.The rebels also oppose the presence of Sudanese ally China, an important contributor to the peacekeeeping force. The war rages on and the security situation continues to deteriorate.

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According to National Defense Magazine, law enforcement agencies are
increasingly turning to military training programs to prepare themselves
for terrorist attacks. These exercises simulate a host of urban combat
situations that were once largely the province of SWAT. 

Developing a robust first responder capability is crucial, as the first
line of defense
against terrorism and "street insurgency" is the local
beat cop. As William S. Lind notes, this could account for police
interest in learning about alternative strategic theory. I can attest
to this, having met several policemen working in gang intelligence
units who had studied John Boyd’s "Patterns of Conflict" slides on Defense
and the National Interest

However, these simulations in themselves aren’t enough. Free-play
exercises, tactical decision games, and vigorous red-team exercises are
needed in order to build the kind of organizational flexibility
required for dealing with asymmetric threats. A presidential candidate
looking to get ahead of the pack on national security would be well
advised to pitch a plan about funding more free-ranging and immersive
exercises to help better prepare America’s first responders.


The OpenNet Initiative has produced a chilling report about the Burmese military regime’s total takedown of electronic communications. The regime (like many other authoritarian governments), has always censored political content. But the government’s response to the Fall 2007 protests is shocking even by its own standards. As OpenNet notes:

The targets for censorship expanded exponentially from Web sites that are critical of the junta to any individual with a camera or cell phone and direct or indirect access to the Internet.

The military junta correctly understood that the revolt’s center of gravity was its reliance on electronic media. The junta’s command of a ruthless and disciplined security and surveillance regime was more than sufficient to subdue the rebellious monks and students. However, electronic media such as blogs, cell phone cameras, and email focused disproportionate attention on the regime’s injustices, raising the specter of foreign interference.

Most ominous for the military regime, however, was the role electronic media played in organizing the protests and amplifying their domestic effect.

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In my first post for Dreaming 5GW, I propose the "darknet" as a model for 5GW organization.

UPDATE: It seems that the Feedburner settings were causing problems for a lot of people so I disconnected it and tested it with Google Reader, Bloglines, and Newsgator. All three seem to work, so I’ll keep it at default (instead of the Feedburner feed). Thanks for everyone who gave me feedback, and apologies for the disruption.



The Cold War is commonly understood as a conventional faceoff
between nuclear-armed superpowers. While this is true, it was also a
massive struggle for influence in the developing world that frequently
degenerated into irregular proxy war. Although the US did back
insurgent groups such as the Nicaraguan Contras, it mainly sought to
defend governments against Soviet subversion. This doctrine is known as
Foreign Internal Defense (FID).

Joint Publication 3-07.1 defines FID as:

participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any
of the action programs taken by another government or other designated
organization, to free and protect its society from subversion,
lawlessness, and insurgency.

One military component of FID involved the training of indigenous
conventional and irregular forces to carry out counterinsurgency
against Communist guerrillas. Results were mixed. Vietnamese indigenous
forces were effective but did not reverse the larger problems inherent
in the US strategy. Elsewhere, US advisory forces met with more
success. In El Salvador, the US military advisory group (MAG) played a crucial role
in professionalizing the local military and halting the progress of the
Frente Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrillas.

It is crucial to understand, however, that in those successes
indigenous forces played a supporting role to a greater US/host
government political/military strategy to strengthen political order.

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