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Great Powers and Irregular Challenges. T. X. Hammes 7 November 05. Enduring Characteristics of Insurgency. Political Political not military fight US critical vulnerability is will No military victory required Uses international boundaries Low technology side wins Protracted Decades.

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Great powers and irregular challenges

Great Powers and Irregular Challenges

T. X. Hammes

7 November 05

Enduring characteristics of insurgency
Enduring Characteristics of Insurgency

  • Political

    • Political not military fight

    • US critical vulnerability is will

    • No military victory required

    • Uses international boundaries

    • Low technology side wins

  • Protracted

    • Decades

Emerging characteristics of insurgency
Emerging Characteristics of Insurgency

  • Human Network

    • Resilient, flexible, fast

    • “Coalitions of the Willing” - local, regional, global, cyberspace

    • External actors drawn to the conflict

  • Transnational

    • Actors a single nationality or in a single nation

Emerging characteristics of insurgency1
Emerging Characteristics of Insurgency

  • Transdimensional

    • Real and cyber elements

    • Some elements exist only in cyber; others in both

  • Self supporting

    • Fund raising/charity organizations

    • Legitimate businesses

    • Criminal enterprises

  • Reflects today’s society

Insurgent ideology
Insurgent Ideology

  • Themes vary by group

  • Growing impact of causes rather than nationalism

  • All address Friedman’s “Poverty of Dignity”

    • Lack of power to influence own future

    • All offer a way out – Islamic, Sunni, Pashtun, Tamil, Chechen ...

  • Not about poverty, lack of education, etc.

Enduring characteristics of counterinsurgency
Enduring Characteristics of Counterinsurgency

  • Governance

    • Security first

      • Without security, people can’t help

    • Hope for a better future

      • Better according to people

      • Must address “Poverty of Dignity”

Emerging characteristics of counterinsurgency
Emerging Characteristics of Counterinsurgency

  • International effort required

    • Insurgent is transnational/transdimensional

  • Must deal with multiple aspirations

    • “Coalition of Willing” can be broken up

  • External actors must be eliminated

    • “True believers” not subject to influence

    • Must be kept from returning to their homeland

Why a model of human connections
Why a model of human connections?

  • Reflects insurgencies as they operate

    • Best visual model of reality – not an org chart

    • Reveals interaction between all nodes

    • Shows true impact of friendly personnel decisions

  • Networks allow for human elements

    • Will, decisions, insights, charisma

  • Networks actively seek to grow

    • Adapt rapidly – seek to secure niche – govern

  • Networks interact with environment and other nets

  • Can portray transdimensional aspects

  • Works at all levels from international to local

Network analysis visualization and understanding
Network Analysis –Visualization and understanding

  • “A string of recent breathtaking discoveries has forced us to acknowledge that amazingly simple and far-reaching laws govern the structure and evolution of all the complex networks that surround us.” Albert-Laslzo BarabasiLinked: The New Science of Networks

Use the laws
Use the Laws

  • Understand type of network

    • Scale free –

      • Very few huge hubs (Google, Yahoo, Amazon)

      • Huge number of tiny nodes (Personal web pages)

    • Small world – Very small, little outside contact -9/11 cells

  • Map nodes and links

    • Pre-existing social nets

    • Intelligence reports

      • Persons, events, organizations

    • Anti-gang/network analysis software

  • Look for blanks in maps

    • Templating for 21st Century

Already been done!

The al qaeda human network


The Al Qaeda Human Network

Pre existing vs operational links


Pre-existing vs Operational Links

Key outputs
Key Outputs

  • Intensely HUMAN activities to map

  • Know hubs

    • Understand how environment feeds hubs

    • Understand how changing environment impacts hubs

  • Know links between hubs

    • In real time

    • In cyber

    • Between cyber and real

What do human connections tell us
What do human connections tell us?

  • Hub relationships

    • Inside organizations

    • Between organizations

      • Is same person or organization a hub in more than one?

  • Your map versus theoretical map

    • Are there elements missing?

    • Scan the gaps

  • Mapping should reveal

    • Changes over time in nodes/hubs/links

    • Relationships

    • Anomalies

  • Only by understanding relationships can you determine actions to be taken

Strategy it s about people
Strategy –It’s about PEOPLE

  • Integrated command/execution

  • Strengthen your key nodes

    • Central task remains governance

  • Weaken his key nodes

    • Change environment – population control is essential

    • Exploit tensions between groups

    • Create counter networks

  • Information operations

Integrated execution
Integrated Execution

  • Get strategy right – resources to requirements

  • Delegate to in-theater leadership

  • Committee structure – networked leadership

    • Host nation and US personnel on SAME staff

    • Committee structure

  • Civil not military problem –

    • Must build civil capability

Network attack plan
Network Attack Plan

  • Identify people hubs – real and cyber

    • OO trumps DA in OODA loop

  • Enemy leadership won’t look like a hub


    • 1. Exploit is better than attack

    • 2. Best attack is soft attack –

      • creates distrust in enemy network

    • 3. If hard attack, targeted, simultaneous attacks only – otherwise network repairs

  • Increase surveillance after attack

Information campaign
Information Campaign

  • Integral to both strengthen and attack

  • Integrated Host Nation/US

    • US is junior partner

    • Strategic themes; local release

      • Mission orders for IO too

    • MUST not be controlled from DC or by US agency

      • Cultural understanding

      • Speed of response

      • Targeted message

        • Different for various audience

        • Messages do not conflict

  • Must be based on truth – learn to deal with mistakes

    • Abu Ghraib accountability

    • Anti-Islam sentiment in administration

New capabilities required
New Capabilities Required

  • Change personnel policies

    • Professional and educational development

    • Beyond Goldwater-Nichols for Interagency

    • Separation from parent agency upon deployment

  • Cultural and language expertise

  • Advisory capability – civil and security

  • Human network analysis

    • Trained Personnel – culture, language, networks

    • Software


  • Insurgency is a competition between human networks

  • Must understand those nets

    • Cultural, historical

    • Insurgent, HNG, People, Coalition, NGOs

  • Strategy should be based on network interaction

    • Strengthen our key nodes

    • Weaken his key nodes

    • Shift mass from connecting to him to connecting to us

  • Governance is the central function

    • Security for the people – NOT killing T’s

    • Hope for the future