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September 10, 2015
The U.S.-China relationship involves both cooperation and competition, but because of the new global changes to the relationship, more must be done to balance these two dimensions.
As the United States enters a presidential election campaign and prepares for the first state visit of a new Chinese leader, the U.S.-China relationship is at an important inflection point. Nearly four decades after the normalization of relations between our two countries, new realities in China, the United States, and the international community are changing the way Americans and Chinese view their bilateral relationship and forcing a re-examination of the principles that underpin our policies.
The global arena has changed dramatically in recent years. Today there are few challenges that the United States or China could solve alone and few scenarios in which one country could succeed without the success of the other. Whereas only a decade ago our relations were focused primarily on bilateral or even regional issues, today our agenda is global. Each country’s ability to achieve its national objectives is threatened by the same set of international challenges. Our future prosperity and security is increasingly intertwined. The stakes for a cooperative and constructive U.S.-China relationship have never been higher.
At the same time, there are new realities that pull us apart. China is now the world’s second largest economy and has accumulated significant influence on the global stage. Its new leader, President Xi Jinping, has charisma and confidence that have contributed to his ability to consolidate more power and reorient the country in a more ambitious direction than either of China’s previous two leaders were able to during their tenures. But Xi is also more nationalistic, risk-tolerant, and ideological than his predecessors, and his more active and muscular approach to foreign affairs can at times be at odds with U.S. interests and reinforces the notion that what China decides to do with its newfound power may not always align with our national objectives.
In the Asia-Pacific, for example, Xi is pursuing a dual-track strategy that on the one hand employs the ace in China’s deck—economic might—to convince neighbors that China’s continued rise will benefit them, and on the other hand involves a much more aggressive approach to strengthen China’s claims to disputed territorial and maritime features in adjacent waters, often through coercion and without due regard for international law. Both tracks are hugely ambitious—Xi’s One Belt One Road project, for example, aims to connect China to Europe by land routes traversing Russia and the Middle East and sea routes navigating through the Malacca Straits and the Gulf of Aden. Xi’s land reclamation in the South China Sea, meanwhile, has recovered over 2,000 acres in just the last 18 months— more than all other claimants combined and more than in the entire history of the region.
This more active foreign policy represents a major departure from the foreign policy principle of taoguangyanghui that dictated that China should keep a low profile on the international stage and focus on its development efforts at home. Potentially more troubling, however, are the rising frictions in the U.S.-China commercial relationship, exacerbated by accusations of cyber hacking, China’s use of industrial policy, and a slowing Chinese economy. The U.S. business community has historically been an anchor of stability between the two countries, especially during inevitable periods of tension. Yet, growing concerns about protectionist tendencies that seem intended to close the door to foreign companies under the pretext of national security threaten to undermine the support of these reliable stakeholders. Civil society and human rights groups are also concerned with developments in China calling for a ban on Western textbooks, a crackdown on NGOs, and the silencing of dissidents.
Thus, as China has emerged as a formidable economic and geopolitical U.S. competitor, its differences with the United States have become more (not less) pronounced. What many Chinese are now calling China’s renaissance—the nation’s revival at home and abroad—while welcomed by the United States, is different than what many in the West expected. Americans who traditionally believed China’s success was good for the United States are now beginning to question this assumption, and in these doubts, a debate has emerged over whether or not Washington has the right framework to respond to a rising China.
At the core of the U.S. debate are questions about the strategic intentions of a rising China, the long-term sustainability of U.S. primacy in the Asia-Pacific, and the roles of both nations in the region going forward. One side of the extreme argues that growing Chinese power is undermining U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific. Without reassurances of sustained U.S. predominance, countries on China’s borders will reorient their defense postures in ways that could lead to an intensified regional arms race and an environment where conflict is more likely. This argument supposes that China’s ultimate aims are not limited to pushing the United States out of Asia, but also include undermining the U.S.-led international system and U.S. global leadership. Thus, the United States should move assertively to block China’s rise.
On the other side of the extreme are those who argue that Beijing’s aims are limited to strengthening its security and enhancing its regional influence, which the United States and its allies should not necessarily see as a threat. Washington should come to terms with the reality that U.S. predominance in the region is unsustainable given China’s growing economic clout and military modernization, and attempting to preserve it would be dangerous and ultimately unsuccessful. In order to avoid conflict, this contingent argues that Washington should share power with China and further assist its integration into the current international order.
Both extremes are flawed and dangerous policy choices. If the United States moves toward a balance of power with China, it will be based on a premature assumption that China’s continued rise to regional predominance is inevitable. China confronts enormous political, economic, and social challenges at home and faces several major powers and nuclear states in the region, not to mention a U.S. military that for the foreseeable future is expected to endure as the strongest in the world. Furthermore, it is not in the interests of the United States or those of its allies to have a G2 with China.
On the other hand, a zero-sum U.S.-China relationship, a divided Asia, and a greater likelihood of military conflicts would be much to the detriment of U.S. interests and those of our allies. A containment policy could lead China to close its doors to cooperation and engagement with the United States. The interests of the U.S. business community, which, despite recent concerns, wants to maintain strong trade ties with China and access to its markets and investment, would be threatened. Additionally, growing Chinese investment in the United States, which is already contributing significantly to U.S. economic growth and job creation, would also be threatened.
A move by the United States to a more confrontational approach with China also ignores the fact that U.S. allies and partners, all now larger trading partners with China than with the United States, are not looking to choose sides between the United States and China. They want good relations with both. While on one hand they hope the United States can serve as a useful counterbalance to China’s growing influence, on the other hand, they want to benefit from increasing trade and investment with China.
Also at risk would be the interests of nearly every other nation with a stake in trying to address our common global challenges from climate change to transnational terrorism. And a policy of blocking China’s rise would further confirm the widespread view in China that the United States is determined to contain it and lend credence to hardliners who want to take an even less accommodating approach toward the United States. Revisions to U.S. policy toward China must account for Beijing’s likely reactions and the second- and third-order consequences.
The success of Washington’s engagement with China starts with an understanding of these new global realities shaping our relations. Rather than moving toward extreme policy courses in the face of these new challenges, the U.S. strategy for advancing bilateral relations with China should begin with a comprehensive approach to the Asia-Pacific region, be founded on strong American domestic fundamentals, and be guided by U.S. leadership globally. The United States needs to get its approach to the region right, get its economy and political system working again, and project leadership and staying power on the regional and international stages. Only then will it be able to lead a much more deliberate effort to work with China where it has common interests, to pursue a more effective strategy to shape Chinese decisionmaking, and to invest adequately in current and future military capabilities.
The U.S. ability to uphold regional rules and norms in the Asia-Pacific, strengthen institutions, lead the building and modernizing of trade and economic architectures, and modernize its strong alliance system is critical to a secure and peaceful region and constructive relations with China. Although a majority of Americans view Asia as the most important region to U.S. interests, many question U.S. political will, staying power, and resources to implement its rebalancing policy in the region. The United States needs to get its economy growing again, get its political system out of gridlock, and keep its military funded and capable of meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. U.S. national security, global credibility, and regional leadership rest on the foundation of its fiscal and economic health and the effectiveness of its policymakers and legislators.
When it comes to China, the United States should keep in mind several key principles that have guided our mix of competition and cooperation over the past four decades: where the United States and China have common interests, the United States must find ways to work with China; where the two countries have differences, leaders need to manage and narrow them; and given the uncertainties of China’s trajectory, the United States must maintain a hedging strategy and ensure its military is prepared and capable of defending U.S. interests today and in the future. Recently, the United States has struggled with all three major components of its China policy. It has fallen short in its efforts to expand meaningful cooperation with China on addressing shared regional and global challenges. Washington and Beijing have been unable to effectively manage their differences—tensions in the South China Sea and the cyber realm have come to define the bilateral relationship and set it on a path toward confrontation. With few positive narratives or examples of tangible cooperation between our two countries, the military hedging strategies threaten to dominate our front-page news.
As then deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick stressed in an important speech in 2005, a more cooperative relationship with a China that is a major stakeholder on global security and economic issues will not only make it easier for the United States to handle the wide range of global challenges we face in the years ahead, but is also essential to sustaining the existing, open international system. While cooperation will not mean we will not have serious differences and disagreements that we will need to manage, it will provide a broader framework for constructive engagement. If we can find ways to enhance our cooperation with China and change the narrative of our relationship among our publics by demonstrating that the United States and China can be a positive force in the international community, then this will give us space to deal with some of the more challenging issues in our relationship.
While there are challenges in the U.S.-China relationship, Washington cannot lose sight of the fact that this is an important relationship—perhaps the most consequential one for the United States in this century. Whether or not Washington gets this relationship right will determine whether or not the United States is able to take advantage of the Asia-Pacific region’s growth and make progress on addressing critical global challenges in ways that yield benefits to the citizens of both countries, our neighbors, and the world. The U.S.-China relationship has been and will continue to be composed of both cooperation and competition, but because of the new global realities of our relationship, we must do a better job of balancing these two dimensions. If successful, our constructive cooperation will benefit not just our two countries but the entire international community.
A version of this article was originally published in Chinese by China Policy Review.
м.н.с. ЦВПИ ИСКРАН
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 
В настоящее время космическое пространство всё больше приобретает черты если не театра военных действий, то пространства для конкуренции, противостояния и противодействия ключевых действующих лиц мировой политики. Этот факт зачастую преподносится средствами массовой информации как одна из новых тенденций развития мирового военно-политического процесса. Однако ничего принципиально нового в этом процессе нет. От начала воплощения космических программ (как СССР и США, так и других стран) в жизнь по сию пору они имеют чётко выраженную военную окраску и используются, в основном, в чисто военных или военно-гражданских целях.
Однако после окончания Холодной войны конкуренция и военное противостояние в космосе имеют совершенно иной характер, чем во времена американо-советской «космической гонки». Сегодня первенство в космических технологиях неоспоримо принадлежит США. Кроме того, появляются новые державы (такие как Китай и Индия), имеющие возможность выводить спутники в космическое пространство. Они не стремятся превзойти космическую программу США, однако хотят сделать свои космические программы (в т.ч. военные) конкурентоспособными и дающими конкурентные преимущества в смежных с космосом областях, таких как C4ISR (командование, управление, компьютеры, наблюдение, разведка и рекогносцировка).
Учитывая вышеописанную конъюнктуру, исследование проблем и перспектив развития военной космической программы США представляет, на наш взгляд, большой интерес. Следует отметить, что в настоящем исследовании под военной космической программой понимаются действия в космосе, осуществляемые Министерством обороны США. При этом не будут рассматриваться программы, осуществляемые разведсообществом (хотя зачастую они координируют между собой свои действия в космосе), по причине различий в организационной структуре, целях и задачах и других особенностей. Для начала определим, какие системы используются Министерством обороны США в настоящее время.
Во-первых, это спутники связи, обеспечивающие непосредственную связь с подразделениями на поле боя. Речь идёт, прежде всего, о Военной системе спутниковой связи (Defense Satellite Communications System), использующейся по всему миру всеми видами вооружённых сил США. Вскоре её должна сменить более современная и обладающая большей многозадачностью система «Wideband Global SATCOM». Также используются такие системы спутниковой связи как Milstar, грядущие ей на смену спутники Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) и система узкополосной связи «Mobile User Objective System» (MUOS).
Огромное значение для современных вооружённых сил имеет спутниковая навигация, использующаяся в большинстве видов современной военной техники и повысившая как потенциал переброски войск от мест базирования до театров военных действий, так и точность нанесения авиационных и артиллерийских ударов. В вооружённых силах США эту роль выполняют спутники GPS, нашедшие широчайшее применение и в невоенных областях.
Нельзя не упомянуть и о системах раннего предупреждения о ракетном нападении, используемых для отслеживания пусков баллистических и иных ракет и для установления местонахождения пусковых площадок. Речь идёт о таких спутниковых системах, как Программа обеспечения обороны (Defense Support Program (DSP), Инфракрасная система космического базирования (Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) и Система инфракрасного наблюдения земной поверхности третьего поколения (Third Generation Infrared Surveillance (3GIRS). Кроме этих систем, фиксирующих с помощью инфракрасных датчиков пуск ракеты, США используют также Космическую систему наблюдения и сопровождения (Space Tracking and Surveillance System) для слежения за движением баллистической ракеты на среднем участке траектории.
Большую роль, особенно для Военно-воздушных сил, играют метеорологические спутники как военного, так и гражданского назначения, позволяющие получить информацию о погоде в любой точке мира за счёт атмосферных, океанографических исследований, мониторинга солнечной активности и пр. Метеорологические спутники, собирающие информацию для военного ведомства США, входят в Военную метеорологическую спутниковую программу (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Запланированные ранее альтернативные системы: Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) и National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) были отменены в результате бюджетных сокращений.
Необходимо упомянуть также и виды ракет-носителей, используемых для выведения в космическое пространство полезной нагрузки как военного, так и гражданского назначения. Это Перспективные одноразовые ракеты-носители (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles), такие как Атлас-5 и Дельта-4, а также ракеты серий «Пегас», «Таурус» и «Минотавр».
Далее представляется необходимым рассмотреть роль и место, отводящееся военным аспектам космической деятельности в доктринальных документах, посвящённых космосу и национальной безопасности США.
В XXI веке особое внимание космической сфере уделяли и Джордж Буш-младший, и Барак Обама, что отражено в важнейших доктринальных документах, определяющих политику США в области обороны и безопасности – Стратегиях национальной безопасности, выпущенных упомянутыми администрациями.
В своей первой Стратегии, увидевшей свет в 2002 году, Дж. Буш-мл. оправдывает интерес США к космической сфере прежде всего возникшей в начале века необходимостью передового базирования всех видов вооружённых сил США в регионах, удалённых от основной территории страны (таких как Афганистан), и проведения заокеанских войсковых операций. Защита жизненно важной инфраструктуры США в космосе представляется авторам Стратегии такой же важной задачей, как и способность защищать территорию США, проводить информационные операции и обеспечивать доступ к удалённым театрам военных действий.
В Стратегии 2006 года отмечается, что одним из вызовов, способных подорвать военное превосходство Соединённых Штатов, является возможность проведения государствами и негосударственными акторами операций в космосе и киберпространстве.
В Стратегии национальной безопасности 2010 года, выпущенной первой администрацией Б. Обамы, тема космоса нашла своё заслуженное место в комплексном подходе к вопросам безопасности, являющемся «визитной карточкой» этого документа. Возможности вооружённых сил США в космическом пространстве, по мнению авторов стратегии, играют неотъемлемую роль в обеспечении национальной и глобальной безопасности наравне с землёй, воздухом, морем и киберпространством, которые называются в документе не просто средами для проведения военных операций, но и всеобщим достоянием человечества, охрана которого также является приоритетом национальной безопасности. Угрозами национальной безопасности администрация Обамы называла попытки перекрыть США доступ к упомянутым средам или использование их с враждебными целями. Одновременно с этим в документе отмечается роль космического сообщества и космических исследований как катализатора научно-технического и коммерческого прогресса в США и в мире в целом. Утверждается, что Соединённые Штаты выступают за ответственное и мирное использование космоса, но при этом признают за собой право на самооборону в этой сфере. Подчёркиваются намерения США инвестировать в передовые научные исследования и разработку новых технологий, промышленную базу и человеческий потенциал. Планировалось также более тесное сотрудничество с университетами для улучшения подготовки кадровой базы для космической сферы.
Более подробно позиция США по вопросам космоса описывается в специфических документах, посвящённых этой теме и в том числе космическому измерению обеспечения национальной безопасности. Прежде всего, речь идёт о таком документе, как «Национальная политика в области космоса», основном документе, определяющем характер деятельности США в космическом пространстве. Его последнее издание было выпущено администрацией Обамы в 2010 году. Оно, в свою очередь, опирается на документ, принятый администрацией Дж. Буша-младшего в 2006 году. Заложенные в нём принципы осуществления космических программ во многом повторяются и в документе администрации Обамы, поэтому есть смысл остановиться на них подробнее.
Главным принципом космической деятельности США провозглашается ответственное использование космоса в мирных целях. Но этот принцип, по мнению авторов, не исключает осуществление оборонной и разведывательной деятельности в целях обеспечения национальной безопасности. Также отмечается, что США не приемлют никаких ограничений на «фундаментальное право Соединённых Штатов действовать и получать информацию из космоса». Кроме того, согласно документу, США будут рассматривать целенаправленное вмешательство в их космические системы как посягательство на их права. Поэтому США намерены не допускать подобных посягательств, как и разработки возможностей для их осуществления, а также, при необходимости перекрывать враждебным акторам доступ к космическим возможностям, угрожающим интересам США. Среди целей космической политики США в области обороны и безопасности относится, безусловно, обеспечение доступности космических возможностей и создание прочной научно-технической базы для военных и гражданских нужд. Признаётся, что национальная безопасность всё в большей степени зависит от космической сферы. Отдельно выделяется значимость космической сферы для обеспечения многоуровневой противоракетной обороны.
Аналогичный документ, изданный первой администрацией Б. Обамы в 2010 году, как было сказано выше, базируется на предшествующем, однако имеет и ряд отличий. Прежде всего, новый документ отличается повышенным вниманием к вопросам международного сотрудничества и экономической целесообразности в осуществлении космических программ. Однако большинство принципов космической политики остались неизменными, что свидетельствует о стремлении авторов стратегии найти «золотую середину» между национальными интересами в космосе и экономической необходимостью. В разделе общих руководящих принципов значится усиление лидерства США в связанных с космосом областях науки и техники и промышленности. Отдельное внимание уделяется развитию инфраструктуры космических запусков: в частности предписывается доставлять на орбиту правительственную полезную нагрузку, используя только ракеты-носители, произведённые в США, за исключением особых случаев, а также инвестировать в модернизацию существующей инфраструктуры космических запусков. Также особое внимание уделяется поддержанию и усовершенствованию глобальных навигационных спутниковых систем, таких как GPS и её правительственных дополнений. Созвучно этим принципам выглядят и руководящие принципы в отношении национальной безопасности, где во главу угла Стратегия ставит экономическую эффективность, выживаемость и развитие космических систем.
Отдельно вопросам национальной безопасности в космосе посвящена «Стратегия национальной космической безопасности», принятая администрацией Обамы в 2011 году. Лейтмотивом Стратегии является представление о том, что стратегическая обстановка в космосе определяется тремя тенденциями: перегруженностью, состязательностью и конкуренцией в космической сфере. Перегруженность космоса рукотворными объектами связана прежде всего с количеством стран, обладающих спутниками в космическом пространстве (более шестидесяти), и количеством орбитального мусора, угрожающего сохранности мировой космической инфраструктуры. Состязательность в космической среде подогревается уязвимостью размещённых в ней систем перед относительно легкодоступными противокосмическими средствами, способными уничтожить их или нарушить их работу, что может привести к последствиям, выходящим за пределы космоса. Авторы документа отмечают, что за последнее время повысилась и конкурентность в космической сфере. Причиной этого служит развитие технического прогресса и доступность космических технологий, что значительно снижает входной барьер на рынке космических систем и, соответственно, уменьшает конкурентные преимущества США перед другими государствами, их объединениями и негосударственными акторами. Высокая международная конкуренция в сфере космических технологий создаёт проблемы американским поставщикам, которые, в свою очередь, зависят от поставок многих компонентов из-за рубежа.
Несмотря на свою развитость, военная космическая программа Соединённых Штатов испытывает ряд проблем, которые в той или иной степени затрудняют её осуществление.
Прежде всего, речь идёт о сокращении бюджетного финансирования космических программ, так как оно наиболее сильно ударило по самым перспективным отраслям и проектам военно-космического характера.
Одной из самых насущных проблем американской космической отрасли в целом является сокращение бюджетного финансирования космических программ, включая оборонные и разведывательные. Связаны они как с колоссальными затратами на проведение военных операций в Ираке и Афганистане и всеобщим экономическим спадом 2007-2010 годов, так и с секвестрацией бюджета, причиной которой послужила неспособность законодательной и исполнительной власти в США прийти к компромиссу по бюджетным вопросам в начале 2013 года.
Какие военно-космические программы подверглись сокращению за последние два года, а также ситуацию на 2015 финансовый год наглядно иллюстрирует таблица 1.
Таблица 1. Сравнение бюджетов военно-космических и связанных систем
|Закон о военных ассигнованиях 2013 ф.г.||Закон о военных ассигнованиях 2014 ф.г.||2015 ф.г.|
|Запрос Президента||Утверждено Конгрессом|
|Спутники и связанные программы|
|Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)||167,3||53,0||221,0||221,0|
|Advanced Extremely High
|Global Positioning System (GPS)||1232,2||1220,4||1028,2||1051,6|
|Space Based Infrared System
|Wideband Global SATCOM
|SPOC Mission Systems (JSPOC)||н/д||58,5||73,8||73,8|
|Evolved Expendable Launch
(2013-2015 ф.гг.), млн. долл.
Источник: U.S. Defense Space-Based and -Related Systems Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Comparison 2013-2015
Как показывает таблица, все без исключения крупные военно-космические спутниковые программы подверглись финансовым сокращениям в результате секвестрации бюджета на 2014 финансовый год. Наиболее существенно было сокращено финансирование таких программ, как MUOS, AEHF и SBIRS, ассигнования на каждую из которых уменьшились приблизительно на сто миллионов долларов. В настоящее время ситуация с финансовым обеспечением этих программ несколько улучшилась, однако в бюджете на 2015 финансовый год ни одной из этих программ не было выделено больше средств, чем указывалось в запросе президента. Кроме того, была значительно сокращена бюджетная поддержка проекта Space Fence, признанного Конгрессом экономически неэффективным. Более благоприятная ситуация, отражающая приоритеты военно-космического направления складывается с навигационной системой GPS и системами ракет-носителей EELV, затраты на которые начинают приближаться к досеквестровому уровню. Также начинают возобновляться работы по усовершенствованию оборонной системы наблюдения за погодой, на что на 2015 финансовый год Конгресс США выделил почти 40 млн долларов. Кроме того, на 2015 финансовый год были увеличены бюджетные ассигнования, в частности, на закупку космических систем, связанных с управлением беспилотными летательными аппаратами, а также общий объём затрат Министерства обороны на НИОКР в космической сфере.
Во-вторых, следует отметить некоторые трудности, связанные с организацией закупок в космической сфере, осуществляемых Министерством обороны США. Связано это прежде всего с тем, что, как уже отмечалось выше, космические системы требуют для своего создания и работы значительных капиталовложений, как на этапе разработки, так и на производственном этапе. В значительной степени на работу космической программы министерства обороны повлияло увеличение расходов на большинство программ, приведшее к задержкам в их исполнении.
Разницу между изначально запланированными затратами и текущей стоимостью основных космических проектов минобороны США наглядно иллюстрирует график.
Рисунок 1. Сравнение первоначальной и текущей стоимости отдельных крупных программ закупок в космической сфере с 2013 по 2014 ф.гг. (в млн. долл. 2014 ф.г.)
Источник: GAO-14-382T, March 12, 2014, p. 3 // http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661567.pdf
Параллельно с этим негативный эффект создает и осуществление большого количества оборонных программ при ограниченном финансировании. Это приводит к тому, что в итоге выполняются программы, победившие в своеобразной конкурентной борьбе за финансирование, а не наиболее целесообразные. Другим негативным фактором является использование министерством обороны только что открытых или находящихся на этапе разработки технологий. Из-за того, что технологии, использующиеся в космической сфере крайне сложны, зачастую невозможно точно определить, когда завершится процесс разработки и испытаний той или иной технологии. Одновременно с временными рамками, могут увеличиться и объёмы финансирования.
В частности, из-за вышеупомянутых рисков были отложены или отменены следующие программы:
Министерство обороны предпринимает ряд мер для повышения эффективности своей деятельности в космосе. Во-первых, в рамках спутниковых программ разрешено совмещать этапы разработки и производства космических систем. По мнению специалистов из МО США, это позволит избежать нескоординированности между этими этапами, что, одновременно с высокой стоимостью спутников, приводит к тому, что первый работающий прототип используется и для испытаний, и для непосредственного осуществления своих функций. Во-вторых, c этого года все программы министерства обороны, включая космические, должны проходить независимую экспертизу на стадии разработки. В-третьих, планируется перейти к практике создания отдельных наземных систем управления для новых спутниковых систем вместо их совместного использования.
Однако существует и другой ряд проблем, связанных с организационной структурой военной космической программы в рамках Министерства обороны США, что значительно усложняет управление осуществляемыми проектами и надзор за их исполнением. Отсутствие единого органа или должности ответственного за космическую деятельность министерства обороны, контроль и координацию приводит к таким последствиям, как задержки ввода систем в эксплуатацию и несоответствие по времени между выпуском спутников, наземных систем управления и пользовательских терминалов, куда поступает информация со спутников. Однако зачастую спутники разрабатываются и создаются быстрее, чем два других элемента системы, в результате чего спутники запускаются на орбиту, когда вся система ещё не функционирует. Соответственно, вооружённые силы не могут воспользоваться ими, а спутники проводят часть своего ограниченного срока службы в космосе, не выполняя никаких функций.
Такое положение является отражением сложного состава ведомств, отвечающих за военно-космическое направление в министерстве обороны.
Ответственным за общее проведение и планирование операций, связанных с обороной и безопасностью в космосе, является Стратегическое командование вооружённых сил США. За космическую деятельность видов вооружённых сил США отвечают соответствующие структуры: Командование космической и противоракетной обороны Армии США, Космическое командование ВМС США и Космическое командование ВВС США. Также с космической деятельностью тесно связано Командование воздушно-космической обороны Северной Америки, в которую объединены системы противовоздушной и противокосмической обороны Америки и Канады. Важную роль в военно-космической сфере играет и Национальное управление военно-космической разведки США (УНР), подотчётное как Директору национальной разведки, так и Министру обороны Соединённых Штатов.
Из-за отсутствия общего бюджета, а также единого органа, который занимался бы координацией, оценкой экономической эффективности разрешением конфликтов и несостыковок между всеми военно-космическими программами, возникают задержки в их осуществлении и прочие трудности. Для решения этих проблем в 2010 году при министерстве обороны был создан Оборонный космический совет — консультативный форум для обсуждения проблем, связанных с космической сферой, в котором принимают участие руководители соответствующих организаций и направлений. Его главной целью служит информирование заинтересованных структур в составе министерства обороны о программах, бюджетных вопросах и приоритетах в военно-космической сфере.
Увеличивающаяся стоимость космических программ и запуска спутников, высокие риски потери спутников в результате неудачного запуска, столкновения с космическим мусором или поражения противоспутниковым оружием противника не позволяют в полной мере выполнить задачу создания космических систем одновременно обладающих экономической эффективностью, выживаемостью и широкими возможностями, поставленную в «Национальной политике в области космоса» администрации Обамы.
Это побуждает министерство обороны изменить подход к разработке и производству космических систем, что рекомендуют некоторые эксперты. Суть нового подхода заключается в том, чтобы отойти от производства дорогих, комплексных и многозадачных спутников, основанных на дорогостоящих технологиях. Вместо этого предлагается разрабатывать и производить удешевлённые кастомизированные спутники, создаваемые для конкретной задачи и конкретного потребителя. Кроме того в целях экономии средств предлагается устанавливать государственные модули на коммерческие спутники. Также министерство обороны намерено создать конкурентную среду среди компаний, предоставляющих пусковые услуги, в отношении запусков ракет-носителей EELV. До сих пор право запускать эти ракеты принадлежало United Launch Alliance, совместному предприятию компаний «Боинг» и «Локхид Мартин».
Большую опасность для осуществления военно-космической программы США представляют противокосмические возможности, к которым могут получить доступ возможные противники США. Под противокосмическими возможностями обычно подразумеваются:
Противокосмические возможности обычно воплощаются в создании противоспутниковых систем. Наземные противоспутниковые системы обычно принимают вид систем пуска ракет, способных достигнуть космического пространства. Системы, расположенные в космосе, должны занять ту же орбиту, что и их цель, а затем использовать один из описанных выше методов уничтожения возможностей спутника. Противокосмическое оружие является частью возможностей преграждения доступа и блокирования территории, призванной лишить противника стратегических преимуществ в определённой зоне (как правило, в современном понимании речь идёт о преимуществах в космосе, в воздухе и на море).
Учитывая возрастающую зависимость США от спутниковых и других космических систем, их вывод из строя гарантированно самым негативным образом скажется на боеспособности всех видов вооружённых сил США.
В настоящее время противокосмические системы разрабатываются в таких странах, как США, Россия, Китай, Индия и Израиль.
В настоящее время наибольшую угрозу для США, по оценкам ряда экспертов, представляет противоспутниковая программа Китая. Связано это, прежде всего, с проведёнными Китаем успешными испытаниями противоспутникового оружия.
11 января 2007 года метеорологический спутник Фэнъюнь 1-3, имеющий в поперечнике 2 метра (+ 9 м батареи) был сбит китайской стороной при помощи ракеты Дунфэн-21. Это стало наглядной демонстрацией наличия у Китая комплексной инфраструктуры, которая может быть использована для точного поражения находящихся в космосе небольших целей, в том числе датчиков, отслеживающих технологий и компьютерных систем. В результате взрыва образовалось более 900 частиц космического мусора размером более 10 см, тем самым повысив общий объём космического мусора, находящегося на земной орбите, на 10%. Год спустя аналогичный манёвр был проведён и США: американский спутник-шпион USA-193, сошедший с орбиты и начавший падение на Землю, был сбит ракетой SM-3, выпущенной с борта ракетного крейсера USS Lake Erie.
Американцы обеспокоились тем, что Китай, возможно, поставил себе целью приобрести противоспутниковое оружие, то есть нарастить определённое количество противоспутниковых установок с тем, чтобы иметь возможность уничтожать американские спутники на низкой околоземной орбите для получения преимущества в возможном конфликте. Хотя США намного опережает Китай по возможности сбивать спутники, зависимость Китая от их бесперебойной работы намного ниже, чем у США. Однако спутниковые возможности Китая всё больше увеличиваются, так что это преимущество временное. Кроме того, если бы предполагаемый конфликт произошел, и США вознамерились бы атаковать китайские наземные противоспутниковые объекты (такие как командные центры), это сразу же резко усилило бы эскалацию конфликта.
Эксперты предполагают, что в качестве основного сценария, при котором противоспутниковое оружие могло бы использоваться Китаем, мог бы выступить вооруженный конфликт из-за Тайваня. Также предполагается, что наряду с ракетами в качестве такового оружия Китай может использовать микроспутники, способные нанести повреждения спутникам противника, а также лазеры и микроволновое излучение. Это приведёт к увеличению количества космического мусора, который, в свою очередь, может быть использован как противокосмическое оружие. Американские опасения подогреваются рядом китайских научных и публицистических трудов, авторами части которых являются военные. В них приветствуется и поощряется идея создания китайского противоспутникового потенциала. Кроме того в стратегических документах Китая содержится пункт о победе в информационных войнах. Неуверенность создаёт также закрытость китайской военной и космической программ.
Без сомнения, противокосмическим потенциалом обладает и Россия. Мощная противоспутниковая программа разрабатывалась и испытывалась в Советском Союзе, однако в последние 5 лет в СМИ стали появляться сообщения о возобновлении разработок противокосмических систем или размораживании советских программ. Например, в 2009 году бывший секретарь Совета Безопасности РФ академик РАН Андрей Кокошин заявил о правомерности развития в РФ противоспутниковых возможностей: «Россия, безусловно, имеет все основания работать над такого рода средствами и в случае необходимости продемонстрировать возможность того, что она может соответствующим образом обеспечивать свои интересы национальной безопасности в космическом пространстве». Учёный отметил, что исследования в рамках подобных проектов ускорились после того, как США в одностороннем порядке вышли из договора по ПРО, отметив, что противоракетное оружие может быть использовано и как противоспутниковое, что делает наращивание систем ПРО Соединёнными Штатами угрозой космическим возможностям России. О разработках противоспутниковых систем заявил в том же году и тогдашний заместитель Министра обороны РФ генерал Поповкин. По его словам, такие разработки оправданы развитием таких же возможностей другими странами, имея в виду испытания противоспутникового оружия Китаем и США. Если рассматривать более конкретные заявления, то поступала информация о ведущихся разработках военного лазера воздушного базирования. А в 2011 году директор Центра анализа стратегий и технологий Руслан Пухов заявил, что в России разрабатывается военная лазерная система прямо направленная против США: «Идет успешно разработка ослепления и уничтожения американских спутников; программа называется «Сокол-Эшелон»». В другом сообщении называются и предприятия, получившие заказ на разработку системы. Также поступали сведения о «разморозке» советского противоспутникового проекта «Крона», состоящего из следящего компонента в виде наземного радара и поражающего – ракет, которые будут запускаться с самолётов, а возможно и с земли.
Одной из угроз, способных подорвать успешность выполнения космической программы США является её зависимость от поставок из третьих стран. Прежде всего это касается поставок из России, и после начала кризиса на Украине эта проблема вызывает у американских специалистов всё большее беспокойство. Кроме доставки на МКС американских астронавтов, что напрямую не относится к военно-космической области, Россия поставляет в США жидкостные ракетные двигатели РД-180, которые используются в ракетах-носителях Атлас-5. United Launch Alliance приобретает эти двигатели у совместного российско-американского предприятия «RD Amross». Сами двигатели изготавливает химкинское предприятие ОАО «НПО Энергомаш». Ракеты Атлас-5, в свою очередь, используются для доставки на орбиту таких военно-космических спутниковых систем, как AEHF и SBIRS. По оценкам экспертов, в США в настоящее время не производится даже близких аналогов РД-180 по своим возможностям. Именно поэтому в Америке столь резонансно прозвучали сделанные в Твиттере заявления Дмитрия Рогозина о том, что Россия может приостановить поставки этих ракетных двигателей, если выяснится, что они используются в военных целях. Такая ситуация вызывает недовольство у многих американских политиков и экспертов, в частности у сенатора Джона Маккейна, который потребовал от министерства обороны опубликовать размеры затрат ULA на закупку российских двигателей для ракет. Для преодоления этой зависимости предлагается налаживать собственное производство, на что Соединённым Штатам, по мнению специалистов, придётся затратить 1,5 млрд. долл. и шесть лет разработок. Генеральный директор компании Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Илон Маск предложил второй путь – использовать вместо Атлас-5 ракеты-носители Falcon 9 производства SpaceX, однако, скорее всего, компания не получит сертификат на государственные космические запуски до 2017 года.
Ко времени пребывания у власти в США второй администрации Барака Обамы, в военно-космической сфере страны наметились две тенденции. С одной стороны беспрецедентно сокращается финансирование этой отрасли, которая ранее могла похвастаться весьма щедрыми ассигнованиями. Это сочетается с изменениями в мировой конъюнктуре, где одним из общих для всех стран процессов является повышение значимости космической сферы для военных и гражданских нужд. Это приводит к количественным и качественным изменениям в самой космической среде, конкуренции и соперничеству между странами за доступ к космическим системам. В итоге американскому военному ведомству предстоит решать большее количество задач при меньшем количестве имеющихся ресурсов. Учитывая, что подобная ситуация в целом необычна для США, её решение представляет и будет представлять немалые трудности. Успешный выход из сложившейся ситуации состоит в более тщательном осмыслении таких вопросов, как распределение финансирования, организация закупок, структурные реформы в военно-космической сфере. Кроме того, Соединённым Штатам придётся ответственно подойти к вопросу противодействия таким угрозам, как противоспутниковые возможности других стран с тем, чтобы это не привело ни к появлению новых конфликтов, ни к эскалации существующих, ни к ухудшению состояния окружающей среды в космосе.
 Исследование выполнено при финансовой поддержке РГНФ в рамках научно-исследовательского проекта «Нетрадиционные направления военной политики США в начале XXI века», проект 12-33-01251.
 Justin Ray Powerful New US Military Satellite Launches Into Orbit. space.com May 25, 2013
http://www.space.com/21316-night-rocket-launch-military-satellite.html Последнее посещение: 15.07.14
 Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) – Lockheed Martin
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/advanced-extremely-high-frequency—aehf-.html Последнее посещение: 15.07.14
 US Weather Satellites: From NPOESS’ Hairy Crises, to DWSS/ JPSS Split Ends – Defense Industry Daily, Aug 26, 2013
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/major-shifts-flow-from-npoess-polar-satellite-program-crisis-01557/ Последнее посещение: 15.07.14
 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House. September, 2002, p. 29
 Ibid., p. 30
 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House. March, 2002, p. 44
 National Security Strategy. The White House. May, 2010, p. 22
 Ibid., p. 49
 Ibid., p. 50
 См. Ibid., p. 31
 U.S. National Space policy. The White House. August 31, 2006, p. 1
 Ibid., p. 2
 Ibid., p. 3
 Ibid., p. 4
 National Space Policy of the United States of America. The White House, June 28, 2010. p. 5
 Ibid., p. 5
 Ibid., p. 13
 National Security Space Strategy. Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. January 2011, p. 1
 Ibid. p. 2
 Ibid. p. 3
 См. U.S. Defense Space-Based and Related Systems FY 2015 Budget Comparison. Space foundation, p.34
 См. Ibid., p. 36
 См. Таблицу: Space Acquisitions: Acquisition Management Continues to Improve but Challenges Persist for Current and Future Programs. Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Statement of Cristina T. Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management., United States Government Accountability Office, March 12, 2014, p. 3, Figure 1
 Curtis Peebles (1 June 1997). High Frontier: The U.S. Air Force and the Military Space Program. DIANE Publishing. pp. 39
 Space Acquisitions: Acquisition Management Continues to Improve but Challenges Persist for Current and Future Programs. Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Statement of Cristina T. Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management., United States Government Accountability Office, March 12, 2014, p. 7
 Precision Tracking Space System. Fact sheet. Missile defense agency. December 2013
 Space Acquisitions: Acquisition Management Continues to Improve but Challenges Persist for Current and Future Programs. Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Statement of Cristina T. Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management., United States Government Accountability Office, March 12, 2014, p. 8
 Space Acquisitions…, p. 9
 Ibid., p. 10
 Ibid., p. 12
 Defense Space Changes Continue with First Secretary of the Air Force-Chaired Council Meeting. U.S. Department of Defense. December, 25, 2010
http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14163 Последнее посещение 15.07.2014
 Space Acquisitions…, p. 14
 В англоязычной литературе данный термин носит название «Anti-access/area denial» (A2/AD)
 См. Kanwal G. China’s Emerging Cyber War Doctrine. Journal of Defense Studies. July, 2009
 Ручкин В. За космос без оружия. Красная Звезда, 13 марта 2009 г.
http://old.redstar.ru/2009/03/13_03/3_01.html Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Там же
 Минобороны: в России разрабатывают противоспутниковые системы. Интерфакс, 5 марта 2009 года.
http://www.interfax.ru/russia/66904 Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Тимошенко М. Чьи лазерные пушки мощнее — американские или наши? Комсомольская правда. 21 октября 2010 г.
http://www.kp.ru/daily/24579.3/748813/ Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Президент РФ выступил со специальным заявлением о мерах в ответ на развертывание США системы ПРО. Первый канал. 27 ноября 2011
http://www.1tv.ru/news/polit/192074 Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 См. Михайлов А. Волошин М. Минобороны возобновит создание боевого лазера. Известия, 13 ноября 2012.
http://izvestia.ru/news/539185 Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Михайлов А., Бальбуров Д. Испытания противоспутникового комплекса начнутся в конце года. Известия, 24 января 2013 г.
http://izvestia.ru/news/543550 Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Turnbull G. Russian rockets: the US Government’s RD-180 conundrum. Airforce-technology.com, 23 July 2014
http://www.airforce-technology.com/features/featurerussian-rockets-the-us-governments-rd-180-conundrum-4325220/ Последнее посещение 23.07.2014
 Smith M. SpaceX Seeks To Amend Lawsuit Against Air Force Based on McCain Letter. Spacepolicyonline.com. 26 June 2014
http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/spacex-amends-lawsuit-against-air-force-based-on-mccain-letter Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 US not able yet to remove dependency on Russian rocket motors. The Voice of Russia, 14 June 2014
http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_06_14/US-not-able-yet-to-remove-dependency-on-Russian-rocket-motors-9659/ Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
 Rosen A. Elon Musk’s Aerospace Argument Just Took A Hit. Business Insider, Jun. 17, 2014
http://www.businessinsider.com/ula-wont-buy-rocket-engines-from-russia-anymore-2014-6#ixzz3APl1VODl Последнее посещение 20.07.2014
Mr. Nathan P. Freier, Ms. Laura McAleer
May 27, 2015
The Department of Defense (DoD) will face a dramatic and sustained transition period over the next decade. At no other time in recent memory have American defense strategists faced such a dizzying and complex array of challenges like those which they will be required to direct their attention, energy, and resources toward in the coming years. It is frankly impossible to overstate the scale and complexity of the decisions that they will be required to make. This degree of uncertainty and complexity makes the task of deliberately charting a responsible way ahead that much more difficult and urgent.
In the wake of 15 years of persistent combat operations, senior defense leaders will need to repurpose institutions and capabilities for use against a wider range of 21st century threats and challenges. They will have to do so with fewer aggregate forces and resources, more top-down constraints on their use, less clarity of overall purpose, and no bipartisan consensus on either the most compelling threats or the most appropriate responses to those threats. These factors support calls for top to bottom adaptation within DoD.
Resetting DoD to secure at-risk interests effectively will most certainly require a new set of governing “first principles,” since little about the current environment conforms well to the traditional defense playbook. These foundational assumptions will need to focus the enterprise on the most salient and durable characteristics of the decisionmaking and operating environments, while providing a reasoned road map for future requirements, operational priorities, and risk.
One constant amidst the dynamism, volatility, and hazards of the contemporary landscape is a bipartisan commitment to an outward-looking and activist defense of core interests. In all cases, whether or not there is broad agreement on the specifics, that commitment includes an explicit interest in maintaining robust military capabilities that as a rule collectively contribute to conflict prevention, reliable and timely military responses to crises, and durable results across the widest possible range of contingency events. In the end, senior defense leaders want agile military tools at their disposal that demonstrate the requisite competencies and depth of capabilities for assigned missions. They also want some confidence that those tools can deliver on time and at acceptable cost, regardless of operational conditions.
Three tangled, yet distinct, threat vectors make doing this an especially nettlesome challenge. Understanding and socializing these trends within DoD will play an essential role in defining the right first principles for 21st century defense. While precise prediction is a fool’s errand in defense planning, these three foundational trends present U.S. defense planners with a reasonable template for future decisionmaking. Albeit imperfect, they may nonetheless be the best available pacers for a risk informed defense strategy.
The first and perhaps most obvious among the vectors is the rise of a militarily capable revisionist power that increasingly presents a credible alternative to U.S. leadership in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. China’s provocative regional ambitions increasingly put it at odds with the United States in the vast region stretching from the Indian Ocean through the western Pacific and northeast Asia. Escalating regional tensions put both U.S. partners and fence-sitting third parties in the middle of an uncomfortable tug-of-war between two competing giants. Further, China’s distinct interest in actively countering U.S. power projection capabilities hazards triggering a high-end arms race reminiscent of the Cold War. We are entering dangerous times in the western Pacific for sure. Therefore, offsetting increased U.S. vulnerability there is and should remain a high priority for DoD.
Traditional security competition with our likeliest near-peer rival cannot, however, be DoD’s only priority effort. A second contemporary threat vector emerges from so-called “gray zone” actors. “Gray zone” competitors employ sophisticated hybrid combinations of capabilities and methods to encroach on important U.S. interests without decisively breaching unmistakable redlines. In short, “gray zone” competitors are skillfully “pushing our buttons” in ways that fail to conform to preferred U.S. military countermeasures.
In Europe, for example, a worrisome unease has settled in. Russia is incrementally advancing an obvious counter-Western agenda, adversely manipulating local political outcomes on its periphery by combining high politics, resource intimidation, political subversion, and proxy conflict. What we do not yet know is whether increased Russian activism is a sign of growing asymmetric strength or profound fear, weakness, and internal fragility. Both scenarios are equally bad.
Likewise, Iran employs its own unique high-low brand of “gray zone” competition as it simultaneously employs legitimate international engagement with harmful regional activism. While it appears to be negotiating a responsible nuclear accord with the P-5+1, it also actively exploits sectarian fissures region-wide through the same brand of subversion, intimidation, and proxy resistance exhibited by the Russians in Europe. Additionally, it has recently engaged in overt harassment of commercial shipping, raising the potential for miscalculation and escalation. Iran’s overall regional endgame is somewhat uncertain. However, strengthening its position at the expense of its regional and extra-regional rivals is a reasonable opening hypothesis. The Russian and Iranian brand of hybrid competition defies long-held defense convention and, thus, requires fresh ideas to combat it effectively.
Finally, in a wide swath of the Islamic world stretching through North Africa, across the traditional Middle East, and well into South Asia, we are seeing traditional authority structures disintegrating into violent seizures of civil disorder and conflict. Terrorism is one by-product of this trend. However, terrorism is neither the only nor the most important one. Perhaps more troubling than the pop-up extremism likely to emerge from any revolutionary change in the region is the persistent, contagious, and profoundly disruptive instability within countries and between peoples occurring in its wake. So far, the darkest manifestations of the at-first benign Arab Spring respects neither established political boundaries nor the virtue of deliberate political reform.
Thus, in somewhat rapid order, governments and the governed across the region are increasingly at odds over political primacy in an environment where hyperconnectivity, confessional identity, religious radicalism, and prolific violence have proven bankable currency for greater influence. New sources of extremism and the atomization and proliferation of armed conflict are local symptoms of a broader viral malady that increasingly undermine hopes for a stable transition to a more responsible regional order. Ignoring the potential for the worst security outcomes in the greater Middle East is a luxury DoD can ill-afford, and attention to it will require more creativity than a more robust counterterrorism program.
Each vector by itself harbors significant implications for the defense establishment, and all present immediate, compelling, and persistent dilemmas for DoD strategists. Though each is a distinct and definable challenge now, they are all also emblematic of the worldwide strategic and operational future of DoD. There may, for example, be other great power competitors on the horizon who generate niche asymmetries to limit U.S. freedom of action; time will tell. Further, following the Iranian and Russian lead, new challengers may opt to fight in the “gray,” employing ambiguous methods to achieve unambiguous benefits vis-à-vis the United States. Finally, American strategists might be well advised to consider prolific Middle Eastern instability as the leading indicator of systemic and networked resistance to the established order elsewhere.
Any one of these discrete challenges could, through overcommitment, dangerously consume the limited resources that U.S. strategists have at hand. Unfortunately, all of these challenges manifest themselves in knotted combinations that eschew simple categorization and, thus, dim the prospects for “one size fits all” defense optimization. For example, though clearly a traditional military power, China has skillfully entered the “gray zone” in the way it employs resources and capabilities to limit U.S. options. Likewise, while Russia and Iran are pre-disposed to indirect pressure, they possess just enough traditional military capability to threaten unacceptable costs in an open conflict with the United States. Finally, violent devolution in the Middle East occurs alongside old world power politics pitting the United States, Israel, and the Gulf against Iran.
Invariably, planners are likely to get the particulars about future conflict wrong. Further, with new vulnerabilities in space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum, even straight forward defense challenges will manifest in less bounded ways. We can identify, plan for, and build against a divinable set of competing and irreducible macro trends. We suggest DoD start with these three to lay a foundation for a 21st century defense strategy that minimizes the likelihood for disruptive surprise.
Dr. Zachary Abuza
June 25, 2015
Since early-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made gradual inroads into Southeast Asia. There are an estimated 500 Southeast Asians, not including family and kin, in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS, as well as al-Nusra, which at first attracted far more Southeast Asians. Since August 2014, there has been a company of Bahasa-speaking Southeast Asians, Katibah Nusantara,within ISIS. The numbers have remained low only because of proactive policies from regional security forces, who are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when they turned a blind eye to returning veterans of the Afghan mujahideen. As an Indonesian counter-terrorism official put it, “We have experience [of those who committed terrorist acts in Indonesia] after going to Afghanistan and the Philippines and we don’t want ISIS alumni to do the same.”1Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have all detained people for involvement in ISIS or prevented them from traveling abroad. Jihadists from around the region, including the co-founder of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Bakar Ba’asyir,2 as well as Philippine groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have pledged bai’at to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) caliphate. There have been a number of children of JI members to join IS, including the sons of Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, while the sons of senior JI members, Mukhliansyah and Abu Jibril, have joined al-Nusra.
Southeast Asians comprise only a small fraction of the estimated 12,000-16,000 foreigners in ISIS. While their numbers are small, and will remain relatively low, they will have disproportionate influence at home. They include Malaysia’s first suicide bomber and members who have been featured in ISIS beheading videos. They are creating new hagiographies and will be put upon a pedestal back home as the vanguard of the next generation of Salafi militants. Importantly, their ability to recruit through social media has broadened their base and sped up the process of radicalization and recruitment. While some have ties to the former network of JI, many have no ties; ISIS is reaching entirely new demographics, including women. Recruits represent the entire socioeconomic spectrum; there is no single profile of recruits. While JI’s splinters have debated the utility of targeting the “near enemy” or “far enemy,” ISIS has focused on violent sectarianism and attacks what it deems “apostate” regimes; many JI splinters have come to the conclusion that targeting the “far enemy” was very counterproductive. ISIS has reinvigorated social welfare organizations and transnational networks across Southeast Asia. While most JI attacks had organizational backing, ISIS has inspired “lone wolf” attacks that perhaps are less lethal but almost impossible to prevent.
In sum, ISIS has rekindled terrorism in Southeast Asia after years of decline. In the years following the October 2002 Bali bombing, over 500 members of JI, including many of its leaders, were arrested across Southeast Asia. Although JI was able to perpetrate major attacks between 2002 and 2005, it was unable to stage major attacks from that time until 2007. Attacks since then have been relatively small scale. JI was riddled with factionalism and was seriously divided over strategy and tactics. There were two chief camps: There were advocates of the al-Qaeda line who established a new organization, al-Qaeda in Indonesia, under the leadership of Noordin Mohammad Top. On the other side werepeople who argued that targeting the west had little impact on the movement’s objectives and led to government crackdowns, and who articulated a strategy based on waging sectarian conflict in Sulawesi, the outer islands, in order to create pure communities governed by Shariah from which JI could emanate without provoking heavy-handed government responses.
The problem was, neither strategy worked particularly well. The pro al-Qaeda group did stage suicide bombings in Jakarta in 2009, but that was it. Elite Indonesian counterterrorism forces replaced the clumsy and thuggish Brimob forces in Central Sulawesi, helping to neutralize the advocates of sectarian violence. Other members of JI threw in the towel and established nominally nonviolent organizations such as Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT). In 2009-10, there was an attempt to reunify these divisions: JI leaders who had been hiding in Mindanao returned to Indonesia and established a large training camp in Aceh. This cell, which called itself “al Qaeda on the Veranda of Mecca” (a Koranic reference to Aceh), was influenced by the Lashkar e-Taiba’s 2008 takeover of the hotel in Mumbai and wanted to replicate the bold but low cost operation in Jakarta. This cell was broken up and more than 125 members were found. A senior member of this cell, Umar Patek, was arrested in Abottabad, Pakistan, shortly before Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals. Patek was there to solicit al-Qaeda support and funding. After 2010, JI was severely crippled and could only stage small-scale attacks. JAT was also hurt in the follow-up as its leader, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, was imprisoned for 15 years for his role in funding the camp. Other splinters emerged, but they were that, simply splinters. Yet, the emergence and success of ISIS has reinvigorated JI’s successor organizations.
Southeast Asians comprise a fraction of the Soufan’s Group’s estimated 12,000 foreign fighters, or the U.S. State Department’s estimated 16,000 fighters who have joined ISIS since 2012.3 More recent estimates put the number at 20,000.4 There are over 500 Southeast Asians in Iraq or Syria, including family members of militants. Were it not for very proactive policing, the numbers would be far higher. Many Southeast Asians have fought with al-Nusra, which brought in Southeast Asians through the JI network early on because of its al-Qaeda affiliation. But the rate of recruitment into ISIS has grown faster, perhaps because of the group’s battlefield success in 2014.5
Indonesian counterterrorism officials believe that there have only been 159 Indonesians who have served as ISIS combatants, up from their mid-2014 estimate of 56.6 There are estimates of over 514 Indonesians. Though some suggest that figure includes family members, Indonesian counterterrorism officials suggest otherwise. Of the 159, 11 are confirmed dead, though there are estimates of higher casualty rates, while 11 have returned to Indonesia.7 Yet, the number of Indonesians alone going to fight in Syria and Iraq has already surpassed the number that went to Afghanistan between 1985 and 1994.
Malaysian officials have confirmed the involvement of only 67. Although that does not include family members, it, too, is up from their mid-2014 estimate of 30.8 As of March 2015, Malaysia had arrested or detained over 120 people for involvement in ISIS.9 Counterterrorism officials have confirmed 11 Malaysians have been killed, including six suicide bombers.10
Nine Singaporean nationals are also believed to have joined ISIS.11 In addition, Singapore has detained one individual under the Internal Security Act, while two more were under “Restriction Orders.” At least one Cambodian Cham, according to one British jihadist who appeared in a video, “There’s No Life Without Jihad,” is also there.12
While there are no confirmed reports of anyone from the southern Philippines traveling to join ISIS, two fringe militant organizations, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have pledged bai’at to the self-proclaimed IS caliphate.13 I view this largely as publicity stunts. For example, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) linked their threatened beheading of two German hostages to changes in international policy towards ISIS. Despite one of the hostages being photographed sitting in his own grave in front of an ISIS flag, those demands were dropped with the payment of $1.35 million in ransom but with no concession by the Germans on ending their participation in the campaign in Syria.14 But one can never discount the possibility that some of their members will join. A Singaporean JI member, known as Muawiyah, and a handful of Malaysians that have been active in recruiting for ISIS are believed to be with the Abu Sayyaf today. Should the Philippine peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front completely unravel, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front will be the main beneficiary. Their ties—however tenuous—to ISIS may herald a more sectarian strategy.
What we do know is that there are enough Bahasa speaking Southeast Asians to establish a company within ISIS, Katibah Nusantara, that has been at the forefront of the fighting against Kurdish Peshmurga. Katibah Nusantara came together in August 2014, when a core of at least 22 Indonesians and Malaysians in the town of Al-Shadadi, Hasaka province, Syria, pledged allegiance to ISIS.15Katibah Nusantara has recently renamed itself Majmu’ah al-Arkhabiliy.16Moreover, a critical mass of their families have joined them so as to establish a Bahasa language school, the Abdullah Azzam Academy, where children are indoctrinated in ISIS ideology and given military training.17 This is not new for ISIS, which recently released images of its Camp Farouk military training facility in Raqqa where children (“cubs of the caliphate”) are being prepared to be the next generation of fighters, practicing beheadings and fighting.18
Right now it is the logistical backlog and trouble of getting out of Malaysia and Indonesia that is keeping the numbers at current levels. Indonesian officials state that there is a backlog. Indonesian recruiters actually do a fair bit of vetting because the logjam is so great. Malaysian authorities are confident that they have effectively blocked the use of the country as a transit point for Southeast Asian jihadis traveling to join ISIS. A recruiter in Syria for the militant group just posted a warning on the ISIS website urging Indonesians not to transit in Malaysia, saying that to do so would be “suicidal.”19 Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said, “We are glad our efforts are showing results and are preventing militants from joining IS through Malaysia. We will continue our vigilance at all exit and entry points to ensure no one slips through our net.”20 In December 2014, they returned 12 Indonesians, including nine women and children, who were en route to Turkey.21 The governments of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia have all prevented people from traveling to Iraq and Syria. Most recently, Turkish authorities arrested 16 Indonesians trying to cross into Syria and are searching for an additional group of 16, prompting calls for greater intelligence sharing between the two countries.
There is clearly intense pressure being brought on ISIS supporters at home. In August 2014, the head of the ISIS support group in Indonesia publicly quit ISIS under very obvious police pressure.22
Who Are They?
The recruits to JI were a fairly narrow profile: young male students from a network of madrassahs, centering on Al Mukmin in Yogyakarta, with affiliated institutions in West Java, East Kalimantan, and Johor state in Malaysia. JI also included a large number of technically educated elites, including faculty and students from schools such as Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia. The profile of ISIS supporters and recruits is much larger and represents a cross section of society: from 14-year old girls who were prevented from traveling overseas to former JI combatants. However, it includes people from beyond the JI social milieux. Indeed, of all the Malaysians who have joined ISIS, only six had previously been detained for being involved in JI according to the Minister of Home Affairs.23
In Malaysia and Singapore, most participants have been young, urban, and concentrated within networks in the state of Selangor, notably Shah Alam. The group is a mix of professionals, doctors, lawyers, university lecturers, and factory workers, as well as unemployed youth, mostly recruited through social media, especially Facebook. Malaysian authorities reveal that 10 of the detainees were currently civil servants.24 Security personnel have also been recruited: In June 2014, Malaysian police investigated a navy person for links to ISIS, while former Indonesian army personnel have appeared in ISIS videos. In March 2015, Indonesian counterterrorism officials announced that a policeman had gone “absent without leave” and likely joined ISIS.25 Most other Indonesian recruits are small shop or stall owners or madrassah students, people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.
What I find most interesting is the number of women involved. In the case of JI, women played roles in the social networks, and the core of JI was around 150 intermarried families. But beyond that and socializing their children, women played very passive roles. Because ISIS is truly a social media phenomenon, women are at the forefront of ISIS recruitment, proselytization, and indoctrination. While we do have cases of 14-year-old girls trying to join ISIS, media and reports have vividly described Malaysian women who have joined as brides and taken out loans to fund their travel. The role of women is much more important in terms of building the group’s institutional base. In each cell that gets broken up in Malaysia, the core recruiters are women. In May 2014, Malaysia’s first major group of arrests of ISIS supporters included Azizah Md Yusof, a 55-year-old housewife who was using two Facebook pages to recruit and “support terrorist activities.”26 One of the most well-read blogs was that of an ISIS member who claimed to be a 26-year-old female doctor from Malaysia that traveled to Syria to volunteer her medical training and married an ISIS combatant.27 In October 2014, another 14-person cell was detained that included a recent returnee from Syria and two women described as “top recruiters.28Another housewife (aged 29) was arrested in March 2015 for her online recruiting activities.29 Women have never been as empowered to take a proactive place within a jihadist movement.
Why Are They Going?
Southeast Asia should be infertile ground for ISIS. First, Southeast Asian Muslims are mostly moderate and tolerant, though clearly less secular than in the past. Second, terrorism has been largely discredited in the region, as most of the victims of JI’s reign of terror in Indonesia were fellow Muslims. Third, Southeast Asia is outside of ISIS’ own map of the caliphate, though that, too, has expanded with their acceptance of groups such as Boko Haram.30 Yet, they are taking great risks to go. Why?
This is not the first time Southeast Asians have traveled abroad to gain experience and credibility. Between 120 and 150 Malaysians, Indonesians, southern Philippine Muslims, and Southern Thai Pattani went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to join the mujahideen in the 1990s. Many of these individuals returned to Southeast Asia, where they established madrassahs and indoctrinated a generation of Salafi jihadists and went on to lead militant organizations around the region, including Jemaah Islamiyah, the long-defunctLaskar Jihad, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the ASG, and Gerakan Mujideen Islamliya Pattani (GMIP). The influence of the Afghan veterans cannot be overstated. They returned from Afghanistan and were put on pedestals in their communities. Their hagiographies were embellished as they constructed a narrative that, if motivated jihadists could topple a super power, then regional secular and authoritarian regimes could also be defeated. Unchecked, they formed the leadership of the most important militant organizations in the region and established a network of madrassahs that served as ideological incubators.
JI has been largely decimated; its last major attack against a western target occurred in 2009. What is left has splintered into many small factions and organizations, including Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS), Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), Komite Aksi Penanggulangan Akibat Krisis (“Crisis Management/Prevention Committee [KOMPAK]), Qoidah Aminah, and Mujahideen Indonesia Timor (MIT). MIT is by far the most lethal and organized, but it is geographically contained in Sulawesi and other pockets in Eastern Indonesia.
I do not have a single answer as to why the organizations have not regrouped. There are some ideological differences (i.e., JAS split from JAT over ISIS31). There are differences over targeting (i.e., the near enemy vs. the far enemy). Most groups contend that targeting the West has been highly counterproductive and advocate a return to sectarian attacks and targeting Indonesian security forces. This has been particularly true with MIT. In some ways, it is just hard to reconstitute in the face of an intense security dragnet. Finally, there is ego involved; all see themselves as the spiritual heirs of JI and want to assume the mantle of leadership.
This is an opportunity to gain military experience, to develop their bonafides and haiographies as global jihadists. Their presence alone in Syria and Iraq gives them jihadi credibility. This is the first step to rebuilding their campaign in Southeast Asia. Governments have been proactive at trying to counter them, more than in the 1990s, but there is still a degree of tolerance for activities abroad, far less so than if they were engaged in militancy at home.
It is also an opportunity to develop sources of funds to rebuild their network. “ISIS is the wealthiest jihadi organization on the planet now, and Indonesian jihadis are looking for funding and experience,” said Taufik Andrie, a leading scholar of JI.32 Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency officials speak of the infrastructure that has been put in place to facilitate the movement of recruits, which includes recruitment, preparing their travel documents, providing allowances of $1,500 for accommodations and transportation via Malaysia, and the offer of housing and education for their children.33 On August 8, 2014, Indonesian counterterrorism police arrested a key financier from the JAT who was funding ISIS recruitment.34 On March 20, 2015, Indonesian counterterrorism police arrested a six-person cell, including a man thought to be a top recruiter for ISIS, who had funded the trips of at least 16 individuals.35 Yet the infrastructure is multilayered enough to withstand these few arrests. Several Indonesians who returned from Syria complaining that the benefits promised by ISIS never materialized. These benefits included salaries, housing, and the payment of debts.36 Yet, Malaysian and Indonesian counterterrorism (CT) officials spoke of the established pipeline that got them into training camps in Syria.
The brutality of ISIS makes us often overlook the fact that it is “very Islamic.” Graeme Woods argues very persuasively that “the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”37
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, ‘the Prophetic Methodology,’ which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.
As the leading authority on ISIS ideology, Bernard Haykel put it, “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to Koranic text.38This is very attractive to Southeast Asians who feel that they are confined to the Islamic periphery and often viewed condescendingly by their coreligionists in the Middle East and South Asia.
But to be fair, there is an indication that the militants from Southeast Asia have no plans to return soon. Many are bringing their entire families and appear to be setting down roots and educating their children. This may be a very long-term strategy that is hinged on the success of ISIS in establishing an Islamic state.
Why Their Presence Matters.
Southeast Asians offer little to ISIS other than propaganda value. They are such a small percentage of the foreign fighters that they have little in the way of battlefield efficacy. But ISIS does offer many things, beyond their potential to help regenerate terrorist cells and organizations across Southeast Asia that will impact regional security.
It is the spread of a horrifically virulent ideology. But its spread via social media is ubiquitous in Southeast Asia. Internet penetration in the region is very high, 67 percent in Malaysia. Although it is only 16 percent in Indonesia, it is far higher in the regions from which ISIS is recruiting.39 Indonesia has some of the highest rates of Twitter and Facebook use in the world, while Malaysia’s are not that far behind. Although the governments have been trying to block social media and websites, the work-arounds are too easy, and there are too many mirror sites. Attempts to block ISIS propaganda is doomed to failure.40
Because so much of the recruitment is done online, the rate of recruitment has never been higher.41 For example, recruitment into JI was a gradual process based on personal ties (kinship, friendship, madrassah, and mosque). Recruitment into ISIS is quick and does not require personal connections. The barriers to entry are lower. As one Malaysian counterterrorism official put it, “With JI, it took 1 year to be recruited. This group, in 1 or 2 days, they will take an oath.”42 Malaysian officials have been alarmed at their success using social media: “They are using an organised, steady infusion of propaganda videos and call-to-action messages circulated via social media platforms, such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.”43
These platforms now include Malaysia’s first six suicide bombers.44 In October 2014, an Indonesian martyred himself at an airbase in Iraq. He was the third Indonesian shaheed.45 Every time this happens, the psychological threshold diminishes.
There is a well-founded fear that the spectacle of violence demonstrated by ISIS will take root. Two Malaysians were identified as taking part in a grisly ISIS beheading video.46 It is not that this has not been done in the past. The ASG has beheaded over 20 people, southern Thai insurgents have beheaded almost 40, JI and MIT have both beheaded victims in the past; but it is still regarded as beyond the pale among Southeast Asians. Southeast Asian jihadists have never video-taped the act of decapitation or glorified it. As ISIS videos are viewed and celebrated, the threshold lowers, and their base of support no longer finds it to be anathema to Southeast Asian culture. Moreover, such extreme violence will force security services to react and—most likely—overreact, which is what the militants try to provoke.
Media platforms are frequently used in ISIS propaganda, in part to recruit other Southeast Asians, but also to demonstrate ISIS’ global appeal and reach. The propaganda is very well made, well edited, and has far higher production value than the ham-fisted response of governments. It is broadcast across multiple media platforms, especially with the proliferation of 4G smart phones. ISIS has proved extremely adept at exploiting social media, controlling their message, recruiting, and indoctrinating.
We’ve heard that you want to help the coalition forces, to eliminate the Caliphate. But know that we are truly happy to hear this. Because this means that, God willing, the meeting between you and us will be expedited by God. . . . And if you don’t come to us, we will come to you. We will come back to Indonesia . . . to implement the Shariah of God. The implementation of the Shariah of God starts with waging a war on you—with slaughtering you one by one—the [Indonesian] military, the National Police, Densus  and Banser.53
Radical anti-Shia-ism and sectarianism of ISIS bodes ill for Southeast Asia. In many ways, the Shia are more reviled by Salafis than non-Muslims. Though there are few Shia in Southeast Asia, antipathy towards them is high, but the region’s recent history of sectarian conflict makes it fertile ground for ISIS’ virulent practice of takfir.54 ISIS’ brutal attacks against the Shia are inspiring similar attacks in Indonesia, where there is a similar desire to “cleanse” their religion. The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace has reported a three-fold increase in the number of attacks on Shia between 2012 and 2013. This is coupled with a surge in attacks against the Ahmadiyah sect in recent years, including a brutal attack in February 2011 in which three Ahmadis were beaten to death while Indonesian police stood by.55 In June 2008, the government banned the Ahmadiyah, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of religion.56 According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, between 2008-13, some 62 Ahmadiyah mosques were attacked or destroyed, 45 of which were forcibly closed, and more than 100 people were displaced after their village in Lombok was attacked.57 There have been further attacks on Suffis. The government’s 2008 Decree on Deviant Sects has been seen as a green light for groups like the Friends Provident International to engage in sectarian violence.58 In Malaysia, the government’s narrow view of faith has encouraged takfiri, or accusing other Muslims of apostasy. The Shia in Malaysia have been especially targeted for their beliefs, often openly by the government’s religious authorities. The government has broadly encouraged religious extremist views by funding organizations that promote intolerance and exclusion, and it has sent mixed signals in its interventions over religious hatred.59
In the next 2 years, more than 200 JI members will be freed from prisons in Indonesia, which have become the key breeding grounds for ISIS.60 Abu Bakar Ba’asyir has actively been calling on inmates to pledge allegiance to the movement.61 Aman Abdurrahman, an influential Islamist cleric, is Indonesia’s main translator for ISIS and has been able to disseminate information online from inside a maximum-security prison, including the group’s recent call on Muslims to kill Westerners indiscriminately.62 Indonesian prison officials have warned of a budgetary shortfall for counter-radicalization, and their program was always woefully underfunded compared to those of Malaysia and Singapore.63In Malaysia, too, most of the people that have been detained will be freed without charge.
But it is not just Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. The most violent and active of all the JI splinters that has given Indonesian counterterrorism forces the greatest cause for alarm, the MIT, pledged bai’at to al-Baghdadi in an audio recording uploaded to YouTube in June 2014. These videos have shown training conducted in front of ISIS flags.64 ISIS, meanwhile, has found support among other Indonesian radical groups such as the Forum of Activists for Islamic Syariah (Faksi) and Islam Reform Movement (Garis).65 It has likewise found support from other fringe groups in Malaysia and Indonesia, including 19 groups in Indonesia and five in Malaysia, meaning it is not solely relying on the old JI/Darul Islam network on which the al-Qaeda affiliate had been built.66 ISIS has been able to broaden its base of support.
Malaysian foreign ministry officials, in particular, are concerned about ISIS-encouraged lone wolf terrorism. “A person armed merely with a knife who starts stabbing people in a mall is enough to disrupt safety and security,” said a senior Special Branch Counter Terrorism official. “Anyone who is pro-IS can carry out the attack at any moment. That is our biggest fear.”67 ISIS has inspired lone wolf attacks in Europe and Australia, which are almost impossible to prevent. Indeed, Malaysia, which was spared all the terrorist attacks during JI’s decade-long reign of terror, had its closest brush from ISIS-loyal terrorists in mid-2014. In August 2014, a 19-man cell purchased bomb-making material, including aluminum powder, to bomb a Carlsberg brewery. Though they were still at the “discussion” stage,” as one counterterrorism (CT) official put it, “In terms of ideology and intention it was very clear. It would have been carried out.”68
On April 26, Malaysian police arrested 12 members of ISIS and seized a cache of explosives, 20 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, a similar amount of potassium nitrate, remote control devices, and other bomb-making materials being readied to attack the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, held in Kuala Lumpur from April 26-28, 2015. Never has Malaysia been closer to a major terrorist attack.69
But attacks will be problematic in Indonesia, as well. In February 2015, a small improvised explosive device (IED) that failed to detonate properly in a Jakarta mall raised the specter of increased lethality, as the bomb was comprised of chlorine.70 Though often used by ISIS,71 this is the first time that chlorine was used in an IED in Southeast Asia.
ISIS has reactivated several charities linked to militant groups in Southeast Asia. JI never fully adopted the “inverse triangle” model of Hamas or Hezbollah, in which most of a group’s activities are overt, such as charitable work and the provision of social services, while only a small component of the organization remains a clandestine and violent terrorist cell.72 This violence has always been a weakness of JI as it diminishes their societal resiliency since those overt activities make them long-lived, unrootable, and able to fully penetrate a society. But several JI-linked charities have made ISIS central to their recent operations. These include the Hilal Ahmar Society, which has supported the recruitment and travel of JI members to travel to Syria for military training since 2013.73
There is also a concern about the development of transnational networks, especially within Southeast Asia. The lesson of the 1990s Afghan mujahideen was that returnees operated across international boundaries, exploiting loopholes and taking advantage of different security environments so that no one security service had a clear picture of their operations. This is all the more true today and potentially on a much larger scale. For example, in July 2014, Malaysian officials announced that five suspects with ties to ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf were hiding in Mindanao. This cell was responsible for dispatching the first five Malaysians, including the first suicide bomber, to Syria in March 2014.74 The transnational networks are more than just the traditional intra-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); they now include China. In September 2014, Indonesian authorities arrested seven people, including four Uighurs in Poso, who had been liaising with MIT.75
The insurgency in southern Thailand is now in its 12th year. Although the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) is in it for merdeka (independence) and eschews the caliphate of ISIS, we cannot rule out the presence of people from southern Thailand fighting with ISIS; they are indistinguishable from Malaysians. Second, they will not turn away ISIS supporters that have crossed over from Malaysia. The BRN and those in its social network might not share ISIS ideology 100 percent, but they both have mistrust of the Malaysian government. There is a legitimate concern that ISIS is becoming an attractive model as the BRN appears to be winning, or certainly has enjoyed rapid gains in 2014, while ISIS has plateaued. For now, the threat is of transit and sanctuary. In the BRN-dominated villages, dreams are of merdeka, but sadly, ISIS propaganda and Malaysian discussion forums are starting to be discussed in social media among urban youth and more radicalized university students.
Indonesian and Malaysian officials have been very proactive about the threat of ISIS and have gone to great lengths to stop people from traveling to Iraq and Syria to join them. Were it not for those efforts, the number of Southeast Asians in ISIS ranks would swell. Intelligence and police cooperation with international partners is more important than ever, and states have really overcome their mistrust and reluctance to share intelligence. They are reaching out and forging new partnerships, such as with Turkey.
But ISIS’ slick propaganda and their effective use of social media, compared with the moribund response from the governments, means that ISIS will continue to attract recruits, and not just from traditional jihadist networks in Southeast Asia; they are reaching new demographics. Their virulent and violent ideology is appealing to some in the region. This will serve to rebuild terrorist networks that have been decimated after years of successful police and intelligence operations; ISIS will be the new vanguard. They have refocused efforts against the “near enemy” and worked to glorify gratuitous violence in the region.
Police work and intelligence gathering will not be enough. Indonesia and Malaysia have both found that charging people for merely supporting ISIS has been a dismal failure.76 Simply trying to block certain social media sites or YouTube videos is an act of futility. Indeed, on April 1, 2015, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information reversed course and stopped blocking 22 extremist websites due to freedom of speech concerns.77 And even if they hadn’t, the information would have migrated to other sites one step ahead of law enforcement.
Both Malaysia and Indonesia have drafted a host of new counterterrorism legislation. These will not achieve their desired goals, other than expanding their powers. The Malaysian government tabled two new counterterrorism bills: the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Special Measures Against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Bill (Foreign Fighters Bill). The latter would allow authorities to suspend or revoke passports of both Malaysians and foreigners if they are suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorism while abroad. POTA would allow Malaysian authorities to hold a suspected terrorist for 2 years without trial, harkening back to the draconian 1960 Internal Security Act, scrapped in 2012.78 One provision of the bill effectively gives investigating officers unchecked powers, even possible torture, to gain evidence.79 The bill does not allow for any judicial review by any court. Indonesian authorities are similarly debating a new counterterrorism law to replace their existing 2003 legislation that was passed in the immediate aftermath of the October 2002 Bali bombing.80 Indonesian National Police Inspector-General Tito Karnavian said, “Our legislation today is not sufficient to cover and to prevent and to investigate those supporting ISIS.”81
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is also considering issuing an interim emergency government regulation (a perppu) to deter Indonesians from joining IS. Although a final decision has not been made, it could include a provision to revoke citizenship for people who travel to join IS. The perppu includes bans on verbal support for IS, traveling overseas to support terrorist groups, engaging in terrorist activity abroad, and propagating terrorist ideology, loosely defined.82
Real concerns exist about the abuse of these laws. They offer little in the way of oversights and protections. They also can be misused for political ends. Malaysia’s disturbing spate of arrests under the controversial Sedition Act illustrates the costs of laws that are used to silence opponents rather than genuinely protect national security. Taken with the incredible politicization of its Special Branch, there are serious concerns for the abuse of such powers.83Neither Malaysia nor Indonesia has provided adequate justifications of why these measures are necessary or addressed the potential human rights problems that may arise from the abuse of these laws. Neither country has adequately justified why existing laws, such as Indonesia’s 2003 legislation or Malaysia’s Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012, are inadequate.84
But to no surprise, the governments continue to play up the threats. As the Malaysian Bar Association joined opposition and governing coalition opposition to the new POTA bill, Malaysian authorities announced the arrest of 17, including two recent returnees from Syria. The government stated that those arrested were actively plotting terrorist acts in Kuala Lumpur but offered no evidence.85 States are going to inoculate themselves of this virus through mere increases in funding for security forces or new counterterrorism legislation or stripping people of citizenship.
Combating ISIS requires social resiliency. And, importantly, it means that governments are going to have to stop creating the conditions where ISIS will be able to plant roots. A more productive holistic approach is necessary. A key starting point is to undercut the recruitment efforts at their source. As ISIS is a social media phenomenon, it has to be confronted in this way. Its recruitment videos and marketing are slick, offering far higher production value across every conceivable media platform than any ham-fisted government counternarrative. Simply blocking websites or demanding YouTube take down videos is doomed to failure; there are too many easy technical work-arounds. Reducing appeal involves taking on the narrative head-on, using the very same mediums.
In March 2015, Indonesia arrested a disillusioned returnee from ISIS. The 31-year-old JAT member was promised a high salary, his debts paid off, and jihadist glory. He was poorly paid, saddled with debts to cover his travel to Syria (RP20 million), and rarely engaged in combat.86 After 6 months, he returned home, fully disillusioned. Rather than arrest him, Indonesia should actively promote him in discussion forums and social media, as well as allow him to lecture at mosques and prisons.
The governments also need to confront growing religious intolerance within their own societies and the policies that create the context for ISIS to be so appealing. The region’s growing religious intolerance makes it fertile ground for the virulent ISIS practice of takfir. The radical anti-Shia-ism and sectarianism of IS resonates across Southeast Asia. Brutal attacks against the Shia are inspiring attacks where there is a similar desire to “cleanse” their religion. The governments’ declaration of sects as “deviant,” as in Indonesia’s 2008 decree, has provided carte blanche to fuel hatred. The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace has reported a three-fold increase in the number of attacks on Shia between 2012 and 2013 in the region. Malaysia’s record is not much better, with the country ranked as “highly restrictive” on religious freedom by the Pew Center, and institutionalized bans on Shia are well established.
There has been little done to change mindsets of intolerance. A new survey of high school students in Jakarta found low levels of support for ISIS (7 percent), though awareness of the group was growing. More disturbing was increased intolerance of sects like Shia and the Amadiyah; 43.8 percent said that they should be banned. Ironically, the religious institutions used to “treat” members of these deviant sects are the same ones charged with disengaging militants.87Part of this problem lies with the embedded intolerance within religious authorities, who are promoting division rather than dignity. Even Malaysia’s Special Branch has acknowledged that religious authorities are sympathetic to ISIS, highlighting that the problem lies less with the laws than with changing the attitudes of those implementing them.
The support of mainstream Muslim organizations in Indonesia such as the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Mohammidiyah, who have rejected ISIS and the establishment of the caliphate by force, is critical. But we need to expose the growing intolerence of some other organizations such as the Indonesian Ulama’s Council (MUI), which has issued appallingly shrill fatwahs on secularism. Most recently, it stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activities would be punished by stoning, while the Islamist political party in Malaysia, PAS, is pushing through its hudud bill that includes stonings and beheadings.
Targeted action is required. The governments should devote more resources for disengagement programs in prison, which are some of ISIS’ most fertile recruiting grounds. Indonesia’s program has long been underfunded, but it is at a critical juncture today, especially as some 200 members of JI are due to be released in the coming few years. Malaysia’s prisons do not meet international standards and similarly serve as breeding grounds of anger. Governments will have to invest more in disengagement programs, especially in prisons.
The threat of ISIS is real. Governments already have significant powers and tools at their disposal for effective law enforcement. Simply giving security forces more powers that can be abused while ignoring the context of ISIS’ recruitment and sources of appeal will do little to stem the movement. In fact, the new laws will create a false sense of security.
1. “Indonesia Prepares for Backlash from Returning Jihadis,” Financial Times, 2014, available from www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e2dc2b12-22c3-11e4-9dc4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3AGuuDIqi.
2. Jet Damazo-Santos, “Support ISIS, Jailed Indonesian Terror Leader Tells Followers,” Rappler.com, July 14, 2014, available fromwww.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/63281- support-isis-jailed-indonesian-terror-leader.
3. Richard Barrett, “Foreign Fighters in Syria,” The Soufan Group, June 2014, available from soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TSG-Foreign-Fighters-in-Syria.pdf. Their June 2014 report cites official government estimates from Indonesia as 30-60, one from Singapore, and no official estimates from Malaysia and the Philippines.
4. “More than 20,000 foreign Fighters Have Joined ISIS,” The Washington Post, available from knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/more-than-20000-foreign-fighters-have-joined-isis/.
5. There is a likelihood that al-Nusra will continue to attract Southeast Asians as ISIS is targeted and overextended. Bassem Mroue, “Nusra Front Quietly Rises in Syria as Islamic State Targeted,” The Jakarta Post, March 24, 2015, available from m.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/24/ nusra-front-quietly-rises-syria-islamic-state-targeted.html.
6. Stuart Grudgings and Aubrey Belford, “Southeast Asia Fears Militant Fallout as Mideast Conflict Widens,” Reuters, June 2014, available fromwww.reuters.com/article/2014/06/25/us-iraq-security- southeastasia-idUSKBN0F02V620140625.
7. Sara Schonhardt, “Indonesian Official Calls for More Authority to Combat Lure of ISIS,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2015, available fromblogs.wsj.com/indonesiarealtime/2015/03/26/indonesian-official-calls-for-more-authority-to-combat-lure-of-isis/.
8. Not all are with ISIS. An estimated 22 are fighting with Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union; others are with al-Nusra. “Malaysia Arrests 17 Over Terror Plot,”news.com.au, April 6, 2015, available from www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/malaysia-detains-17-terror-suspects/story-e6frfkui-1227293202488; Akil Yunus, “Freelance Jihadist Fights for His Cause,” The Star, Vol. 77, July 2014, available from www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/07/Freelance-jihadist-fights-for-his-cause-I-am-on-my-own-and-not-linked-to-any-terror-cells-says-Malay/.
9. “Two Malaysians in ISIS Beheading Video Identified, Says Report,” The Malaysian Insider, March 4, 2015, available fromwww.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/two-malaysians-in-isis- beheading-video-identified-says-report#sthash.iikTxcQQ.dpuf; “Malaysia Arrests 17 Over Terror Plot.”
10. In May 2014, the Syrian representative to the UN disclosed that 15 Malaysians had been killed in fighting. He offered little in the way of evidence, and I assume he was including Indonesians. Adie Suri Zulkefli, “Police Trying to Establish if any Militants Killed in Syria Were Malaysians,” New Straits Times, June 25, 2014; “11 Malaysian Members of Isis Dead,» The Malaysian Insider, May 11, 2015, available fromwww.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/11-malaysian-menbers-of-isis-dead.
11. Imelda Saad, “‘Handful’ of Singaporeans Went to Syria to Join Conflict: DPM Teo,” Today Online, July 9, 2014, available fromwww.todayonline.com/singapore/handful-singaporeans-went-syria-join-conflict-dpm-teo.
12. Alice Cuddy, “Cambodian Jihadists among Us: ISIS Video,” The Phnom Penh Post, June 23, 2014, available fromwww.phnompenhpost.com/national/cambodian-jihadists-among-us-isis-video.
13. Maria Ressa, “Senior Abu Sayyaf Leader Swears Oath to ISIS,”Rappler.com, August 4, 2014, available from www.rappler.com/nation/65199-abu-sayyaf-leader-oath-isis.
14. “Abu Sayyaf Open to Negotiate with DFA over German Captives’ Release,”The Philippine Star, October 15, 2014, available fromwww.philstar.com/headlines/2014/10/15/1380541/abu-sayyaf-open-negotiate-dfa-over-german-captives-release; Carmela Fonbuena, “2 Days before ‘Deadline,’ Abu Sayyaf Steps Up Pressure on German Hostages,” Rappler.com, October 15, 2015, available from www.rappler.com/nation/72028-abu-sayyaf-german-hostage-media; “Philippine Islamist Militants Free German Hostages-Militant Spokesman,” Reuters, October 17, 2014, available fromnwww.trust.org/item/20141017133312-mfqfl/?source=shtw.
15. “Indonesians Posing as Malaysians for Security Measure, Says Study,” The Star, January 13, 2015, available fromwww.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/13/Indonesians-posing-as-Msians-for-security-measure-says-study/.
16. “New IS Militant Wing for Malaysians, Indonesians Uncovered,” The Star, March 4, 2015, available fromwww.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/new-is-militant-wing-for-malaysians-indonesians-uncovered.
17. Michael Bachelard, “Children with Assault Rifles Attend Islamic State School,” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 19, 2015, available fromwww.smh.com.au/world/children-with-assault-rifles- attend-islamic-state-school-20150319-1m30eb.html; Ezra Sihite, “Authorities Scramble to Take Down Indonesian Language IS Video,” The Jakarta Globe, March 17, 2015, available from thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/authorities-scramble-take-indonesian-language-video.
18. Mia Bloom, “Why ISIS Is Increasingly Using Kids As ‘’Cubs of the Caliphate’,” The Huffington Post, March 23, 2015, available fromwww.huffingtonpost.com/mia-bloom/isis-kids-cubs-caliphate_b_6903638.html.
19. Farik Zolkepli, “Malaysia Cuts Off Route Used by Militants to Join IS in Syria,” The Star, January 13, 2015, available fromwww.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/13/No-longer-a-viable-transit-Malaysia-cuts-off-route-used-by-militants-to-join-IS-in-Syria/.
21. Farouk Arnaz, “Fate of Three Alleged Islamic State Supporters to Be Decided Today,” The Jakarta Globe, December 22, 2014, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/fate-three-alleged-islamic-state-supporters-decided-today/.
22. “ISIS Indonesia Head Quits as Police Close In,” The Jakarta Globe, August 18, 2014, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/multimedia/tv/indonesia-highlights/isis-indonesia-head-quits-police-close/.
23. “Zahid: Six ex-ISA Detainees Involved with Militant Groups,” The Star, March 31, 2015, available fromwww.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/03/31/Zahid-ISA-detainees-in-militant-activities/.
24. “Malaysia Arrests 17 over Terror Plot.”
25. ”Navy Officer Suspected of Militancy Freed,” The Star, July 11, 2014, available from www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/11/navy-officer-suspect-in-militant-activities-freed/; John Afrizal, “Police Officer Believed to Have Left Duty to Join IS,” The Jakarta Post, March 24, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/24/police-officer-believed-have-left-duty-join-is.html.
26. Farik Zolkepli, “IGP: Militant Group Believed to Have Ties in Syria and Southern Philippines,” The Star, May 3, 2014, available fromwww.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/05/03/CFrime-IGP-Militant-group/; Li Leen Chan, “Muamar Gadaffi Charged with Providing Militant Training in Perak,” The Star, July 11, 2014, available fromwww.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/11/Plantation-worker- charged-with-providing-militant-training/.
27. Shi-Ian Lee, “Malaysian Militants for ISIS Recruited through Social Media, Says Source,” The Malaysian Insider, September 22, 2014, available from www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-militants-for-isis-recruited-through-social-media-says-source#sthash.0sxkWpD5.dpuf; “Woman Doc among 22 Malaysians with IS, Cops Confirm,” The Star, October 5, 2015, available from www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/10/05/Woman-doc-among-22-Malaysians-with-IS-cops-confirm/.
28. Farik Zolkepli, “14 Suspected Militants Held,” The Star, October 16, 2014, available from www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/10/16/14-suspected-militants-held/.
29. “Housewife Said to Be ISIS Recruiter among Latest Terror Suspects to Be Nabbed in Malaysia,” The Straits Times, March 3, 2015, available fromwww.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/housewife-said-be-isis-recruiter-among-latest-terror-suspects-be-nab.
30. Richard A. Nielsen, “Does the Islamic State Believe in Sovereignty?” The Washington Post, February 6, 2015, available fromwww.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/06/does-the-islamic-state-believe-in-sovereignty/ .
31. Dyah Ayu Pitaloka and Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, “Islamists Are Split Over Support for ISIS,” The Jakarta Globe, August 9, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartaglobe.com/news/islamists-split-support-isis/; Rendi A. Witular, “Sons, Top Aides Abandon Ba’asyir over ISIL, Form New Jihadist Group,” The Jakarta Post, August 13, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/08/13/sons-top-aides-abandon-ba-asyir-over-isil-form-new-jihadist-group.html.
32. “Indonesia Prepares for Backlash from Returning Jihadis,” Financial Times, 2014, available from www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e2dc2b12-22c3-11e4-9dc4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3AGuuDIqi.
33. Fatiyah Wardah, “Indonesia Battles Islamic State Recruitment,” Voice of America, November 25, 2014, available fromwww.voanews.com/content/indonesia-battles-islamic-state-recruitment/2534253.html; Bachelard.
34. Haeril Halim, “National Police Arrest Terrorism Suspects in Face of ISIL Threat,” The Jakarta Post, August 11, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/08/11/national-police-arrest-terrorism-suspects-face-isil-threat.html; Sri Lestari, “Does Islamic State Ideology Threaten Indonesia?” The British Broadcasting Corporation, August 11, 2014, available from www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28700983.
35. “Densus 88 Arrests Six People over Islamic State Recruitment,” The Jakarta Globe, March 22, 2015, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/densus-88-arrests-six-suspected-islamic-state-recruiters/.
36. Nani Afrida, “Indonesian Gets No Incentives as Promised, Leaves IS, Syria,” The Jakarta Post, March 27, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/27/indonesian-gets-no- incentives-promised-leaves-is-syria.html#sthash.mvEtmukc.dpuf; Fedina S. Sundaryani, “IS Not Worth Joining: Returnee,” The Jakarta Post, April 1, 2015, available from www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/04/01/is-not-worth-joining-returnee.html.
37. Graeme Woods, “What ISIS Really Wants,” The Atlantic Monthly, March 2015, available from www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/.
39. Freedom House, Freedom on the Net, 2014, available fromhttps://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2014#.VQsBDlw-Bo7.
40. For example, in August 2014, Indonesian officials blocked seven sites, to little avail. Ezra Sihite and Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, “Comms Minister Tifatul Blocks Access to ISIS-Related Websites,” The Jakarta Globe, August 6, 2014, available from www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/comms-minister-tifatul-blocks-access-to-isis-related-websites/.
41. Shi-Ian Lee.
42. Stewart Grudgings and Trinna Leong, “Malaysian Militants Bought Bomb Material for Planned Attack—Official,” Reuters, August 21, 2014, available fromwww.reuters.com/article/2014/08/21/malaysia-islamicstate-idUSL2N0QQ0BI20140821.
43. Shi-Ian Lee.
44. “11 Malaysian Members of Isis Dead.”
45. The other two Indonesian suicide bombers were 19-year-old Wildan Mukhallad and Riza Fardi. Fardi had attended the infamous al Mukmin (Ngruki) Islamic boarding school in Solo, Indonesia, founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and also attended by the Bali bombers. “Hanzhalah Al-Indunisi, Amaliyah Istisyhadiyah Mujahidin Daulah Islamiyah Asal Indonesia Tewaskan Puluhan Tentara Syiah” (“Hanzalah Al-Indunisi, a Member of Mujahidin Indonesia Daulah Islamiyah, Martyred Himself, Killing Dozens of Shiite (or Shia) Troops),Panji Mas, October 12, 2014, available frompanjimas.com/news/2014/10/12/hanzhalah-al-indunisi-mujahidin-daulah-islamiyah-asal-indonesia-syahid/.
46. Mohd Faris Anwar, “20 from Kedah,” and Muhamad Wandy Muhamad Jedi, “26 from Malacca,” were featured in an ISIS video of mass beheadings released on February 20, 2015. “Men in IS beheading video identified as Malaysians,” The Malay Mail, March 4, 2015, available fromwww.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/duo-in-is-beheading-video-identified-as- malaysians#sthash.cWRZY7VR.QdYjR66y.dpuf.
47. Maria Ressa, “ISIS Online Cheerleader Musa Cerantonio Spotted in PH,”Rappler.com, June 21, 2014, available from www.rappler.com/nation/61200-isis-online-cheerleader-musa-cerantonio-ph; Bea Cupin, “Australian ISIS Supporter Nabbed in Cebu,” Rappler.com, July 11, 2014, available fromwww.rappler.com/nation/63041-australian-isis-cerantonio-philippines;Lindsay Murdoch, “Australian Islamic Preacher Musa Cerantonio Arrested in the Philippines,” The Sydney Morning Herald, July 11, 2014, available fromwww.smh.com.au/national/australian-islamic-preacher-musa-cerantonio-arrested-in-the-philippines-20140711-zt4zy.html; and Woods.
48. Joseph A. Carter, Shiraz Maher, and Peter R. Neumann, “#Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks,” London, UK: International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Violence, 2014, esp. pp. 25-28, available from icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ICSR-Report-Greenbirds-Measuring-Importance-and-Infleunce-in-Syrian-Foreign-Fighter-Networks.pdf.
49. “M’sian Militant Does It the Talk Show Way,” The Star, June 27, 2014, available from www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/06/27/Msian-militant-does-it-the-talk-show-way/.
50. Vita Busyra, “ISIS-Trained Indonesians Ring Alarm Bells,” The Jakarta Globe, June 20, 2014, available from thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/isis-trained-indonesians-ring-alarm-bells/.
51. The video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxsPR-_fYnk or jihadology.net/2014/07/22/al-?ayat-media-center-presents-a-new-video-message-from-the-islamic-state-join-the-ranks/?utm_content=buffer1f24d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.
52. Farouk Arnaz, “Indonesian IS Fighter Warns TNI Chief: Soldiers of God Are Waiting for You,” The Jakarta Globe, December 26, 2014, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesian- fighter-warns-tni-chief-soldiers-god-waiting/.
55. Video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQrOhaH9ekw.
56. “Indonesia Pressured over Ahmadiyah Muslim Sect Killings,” BBC, February 8, 2011, available from www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-12389097.
57. Annual Report 2014, Washington, DC: US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), 2014, available fromwww.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/USCIRF%202014%20Annual%20Report%20PDF.pdf.
58. Because of the erosion of religious freedoms, protection of minority rights, changing policies, and sectarian attacks, the USCIRF has designated Indonesian as a Tier II country since 2009. Ibid.
59. Bridget Welsh and Zachary Abuza, “Malaysia’s ISIS Problem,” The Edge Review, March 6-12, 2015.
60. Support for “Islamic State” in Indonesian Prisons, Jakarta, Indonesia: Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, January 19, 2015, available fromwww.understandingconflict.org/conflict/read/34/Support-for-Islamic-State-in-Indonesian-Prisons.
61. Agence France Presse, “Indonesia’s Released Militants Feared to Join ISIS Forces, Straitstimes, October 8, 2014, available fromwww.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/indonesias-released-militants-feared-join-isis-forces-20141008; Kennial Caroline Laia, and Dyah Ayu Pitaloka, “Jailed Terrorist Convict Ba’asyir Pledges Oath With ISIS on the Rise,” The Jakarta Globe, August 4, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartaglobe.com/news/jailed-terrorist-convict-baasyir-pledges-oath-isis-rise/#.U-AxrM4-Evc.twitter; Jet Damazo-Santos, “Support ISIS, Jailed Indonesian Terror Leader Tells Followers,” Rappler.com, July 14, 2014, available from www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/63281-support-isis-jailed-indonesian-terror-leader.
62. Support for “Islamic State” in Indonesian Prisons.
63. Novianti Setuningsih, “Prisons Chief Warns of Budget Shortfall to Fight Radicalism,” The Jakarta Globe, August 5, 2014, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/prisons-chief-warns-budget-shortfall-fight-radicalism/; Abuza, “The Rehabilitation of Jemaah Islamiyah Detainees in Southeast Asia.»
64. Video can be found at youtu.be/I7xvzvUx_As.
65. “Indonesian Hardliners Drum Up Support for ISIS,” The Straits Times, July 17, 2014, available from www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/indonesia/story/indonesian-hardliners-drum-support-isis-20140717#sthash.t4zmtL9U.dpuf.
66. Fedina S. Sundaryani and Haeril Halim, “IS Groups in RI Get Cash from Oz,” The Jakarta Post, March 23, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/24/is-groups-ri-get-cash-oz.html.
67. Farik Zulkepli, «It takes only one pro-Islamic State person to create chaos, says anti-terror cop,» The Star, October 15, 2014, available fromthestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/10/15/Police-fear-lone-wolf-attacks-here/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter.
68. Quotes in the paragraph are from Stewart Grudgings and Trinna Leong, “Malaysian Militants Bought Bomb Material for Planned Attack—Official,”Reuters, August 21, 2014, available fromwww.reuters.com/article/2014/08/21/malaysia-islamicstate-idUSL2N0QQ0BI20140821.
69. Lindsay Murdoch, “ASEAN Summit Bombing Averted: Malaysia Police,”The Age, April 27, 2015, available from www.theage.com.au/world/asean-summit-bombing-averted-malaysia-police-20150427-1mtzl0.html?stb=twt.
70. “Tiga Fakta Ledakan Bom di ITC Depok” (“Three Facts about the Bomb at the ITC in Depok”), Tempo, February 24, 2015, available fromwww.tempo.co/read/news/2015/02/24/064644792/Tiga-Fakta-Ledakan-Bom-di-ITC-Depok.
71. Video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsZhf2OnMKQ&t=12.
72. Zachary Abuza, “Hezbollah’s Model Spreads to Southeast Asia,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2009.
73. Reuters, “US Imposes Financial Sanctions on Islamist Fighters, Including One Indonesian Group,” The Jakarta Globe, September 25, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartaglobe.com/news/us-imposes-financial-sanctions-islamist-fighters-including-one-indonesian-group/.
74. The five were identified as Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, Mohd Najib Husen, Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, Mohd Amin Baco, and Jeknal Adil. Nestor Corrales, “Int’l Terrorists Hiding in Mindanao—Report,” The Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 3, 2014, available fromglobalnation.inquirer.net/107532/intl-terrorists-hiding-in-mindanao-re.
75. First described as Turks, they were later listed as Uighurs (Turkic). The four traveled to Cambodia, then Thailand, where they procured fake Turkish passports, then traveled to Malaysia and then Indonesia. The Four Uighurs arrested by Indonesia over their alleged links to ISIS will be put on trial in Jakarta and then returned to China.
They will be prosecuted. Once the indictment is completed, they will be returned to China. After that, it’s up to the Chinese government whether they want to detain them, sentence them to death, or free them. It depends on the laws in force there.
Agus Salim Suhana and Neil Chatterjee, “Indonesia Nabs Suspected Foreign Militants on Fake Passports,” Bloomberg, September 15, 2014, available fromwww.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-15/indonesia-nabs-suspected-islamic-militants-using-fake-passports.html; Keith Zhai and Chris Brummitt, “China’s Secret Plan to Track Militants and Bring Them Home,” Bloomberg, March 17, 2015, available from www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-17/china-hunts-terrorism-suspects-in-stealth-campaign-around-globe; Aditya Surya and Zahara Tiba, “Uyghurs Arrested in Indonesia to be Tried, Sent to China,” Benar News, March 19, 2015, available fromwww.benarnews.org/english_benar/news/indonesian/indonesia-uyghurs-trial-03192015173141.html.
76. Farouk Arnaz, “Despite Ban, Police Have Few Options in Dealing With ISIS Sympathizers,” The Jakarta Globe, August 6, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartaglobe.com/news/despite-ban-police-options-dealing-isis-sympathizers/.
77. Haeril Halim and Hans Nicholas Jong, “Govt Unblocks Radical Websites,”The Jakarta Post, April 1, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/04/01/govt-unblocks-radical-websites.html.
78. See the statement by the Malaysian Bar Association, available fromwww.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-bar-calls-anti-terror-bill-shameless-revival-of-isa; andwww.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/pota-will-fail-wont-deal-with-root-cause-of-terror-says-saifuddin?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed.
79. Under the article:
An inquiry officer may for the purposes of any inquiry under this act: (a) procure and receive all such evidence, in any form and whether the evidence be admissible or not under any written law for the time being in force relating to evidence or criminal procedure, which he may think necessary or desirable.
80. Ina Parlina and Margareth S. Aritonang, “Government, House to Amend Terror Law,” The Jakarta Post, April 2, 2015, available fromwww.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/04/02/government-house-amend-terror-law.html#sthash.PUexLeKe.dpuf.
81. Sara Schonhardt, “Indonesian Official Calls for More Authority to Combat Lure of ISIS,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2015, available fromblogs.wsj.com/indonesiarealtime/2015/03/26/indonesian-official-calls-for-more-authority-to-combat-lure-of-isis/; “ISIS Prompts Ministry to Consult on Revision of Anti-Terror Law,” The Jakarta Globe, March 27, 2015, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/anti-terrorism-law-to-be-revised-to-help-scrutinize-suspicious-travel-abroad/.
82. Ezra Sihite and Yustina Pat, “New Rules Proposed to Stem Outflow to Islamic State,” The Jakarta Globe, March 20, 2015, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/new-rules-proposed-stem-outflow-islamic-state/; Ezra Sihite, “In Fight Against Islamic State, Indonesia to Intensify Surveillance,” The Jakarta Globe,” September 15, 2014, available fromwww.thejakartaglobe.com/news/fight-islamic-state-indonesia-intensify-surveillance/; Ezra Sihite, “Jokowi Still Mulling Revoking Citizenship of Indonesians Joining IS,” The Jakarta Globe, March 20, 2015, available fromthejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/jokowi-not-time-yet-to-revoke-citizenship-of-indonesians-joining-is.
83. See www.malaysiakini.com/news/294372.
84. See www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/pota-will-fail-wont-deal-with-root-cause-of-terror-says-saifuddin?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed.
85. See www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/malaysia-detains-17-terror-suspects/story-e6frfkui-1227293202488.
86. Sundaryani, “IS Not Worth Joining: Returnee.”
87. Zachary Abuza, “The Rehabilitation of Jemaah Islamiyah Detainees in Southeast Asia: A Preliminary Assessment,” in Tore Bjørgo and John Horgan, eds., Leaving Terrorism Behind: Individual and Collective Disengagement, New York: Routledge, December 2008.
by Brian Michael Jenkins
October 21, 2015
With the debate in Washington about the success or failure of American strategy in Syria and Iraq continuing and presidential campaigns running at full steam, there has been no shortage of competing suggestions about how the United States must respond to Russia’s intervention in Syria’s civil war. These suggestions range from reducing America’s involvement in the ongoing conflict to escalating U.S. military efforts in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s provocation.
Many of these proposals sound muscular but remain vague. It is not clear, for example, what the pronouncement that the United States “must reestablish its presence” means operationally. Adding details dilutes the tough-sounding talk or raises questions about realism. Countering Putin in the Middle East comes down to advising neighboring countries to prevent Russian overflights or sanctioning Russian defense companies — which the United States has been doing since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Turning to another suggestion, it is not clear how the United States might build up a “regional army” to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad or who in the region would be inclined to join such an army. Thus far, America’s efforts to train and equip a limited number of fighters have turned into an expensive embarrassment.
This is not to say that America’s current course of action is based upon a realistic assessment of the situation. Right now, Russia may not be impressed by President Obama’s offer to work with Putin only when Russia drops its support for Assad. If Russia’s military intervention turned into a costly quagmire, as its invasion of Afghanistan did 30 years ago, Moscow could come to see things differently, but that is not the situation now.
Without getting distracted by speculation about Putin’s psychology or long-range strategy, it is clear that Russia does not want to see its long-time ally in Damascus collapse. Russia wants to ensure the survival of the Assad regime, its last remaining partner in the Middle East, or at the very least, a pro-Russian successor that will guarantee its continued possession of Russia’s only naval base on the Mediterranean.
That means defending Damascus and the Syrian government’s remaining enclave in the western part of the country, which, in turn, means going after the adjacent rebel forces. These include both al Qaeda’s affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and what remains of the more-secular forces backed by the West. This goal explains the immediate focus of Russia’s airstrikes. ISIS is concentrated in eastern Syria and thus a more distant threat, although the presence of a reported contingent of 2,500 Muslims from Chechnya and the Caucasus in the ranks of ISIS has to worry Moscow and provides another motive for why Russia is not content to let the United States and allies deal with Syria’s insurgents. Russian participation in ISIS’s destruction should not be unwelcome, even though policy and politics require American officials to insist that the United States and Russia are not cooperating.
Russia’s intervention in Syria distracts world attention from Ukraine and ordinary Russians from their own economic travails in addition to making the United States look foolish. Some Russians may welcome new military engagements abroad as validation of Russian power, but putting Russian soldiers — even as volunteers — on the ground in Syria runs risks. And although Russia’s involvement in Syria is being portrayed domestically as an expression of Deus vult (“God wills it,” the battle cry of the First Crusade in the 11th century), Russia probably would want to avoid the consequences of what could be portrayed as a Russian religious war against all Sunnis.
The United States and its allies have additional objectives, which complicates strategy. For now, ISIS’s rapid expansion in 2014, its well-advertised atrocities, and fear of foreign fighters returning home have made its destruction the politically acceptable priority — the coalition is bombing ISIS, not Assad. But ISIS’s enemies in the West, along with Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf monarchies, also want Assad out and replaced by a more inclusive government that is capable of drawing in the majority of Sunnis who might otherwise end up in ISIS’s camp.
The fact that no suitable replacement for Assad has yet emerged does not lessen Western hostility toward his regime. Western powers definitely want to prevent the Syrian regime, supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, from destroying the anti-Assad forces. Even though these forces include undesirable extremist elements, they keep Assad weak and contained. At the same time, the West does not want Assad’s departure to be followed by the kind of chaos that has continued long after Muammar Gaddafi’s removal from power in Libya. Nor does it want to see jihadists slaughter Assad’s Alawite and Christian supporters — infidels, in the eyes of Sunni fanatics.
Coalitions come with constraints. There is little international support for expanding the coalition’s campaign beyond attacking ISIS. Broadening the coalition’s mission or escalating the conflict by introducing ground combat forces might reassure some in the region of American resolve, but it could make some participants drop out. The United States could go it alone or with a handful of allies, but doing so also jeopardizes legitimacy and could erode already tenuous domestic support.
Fears of the terrorist threat posed by returning foreign fighters, who now make up a sizable portion of ISIS’s ranks, and the difficulties of dealing with the deluge of refugees pouring out of the region, further complicate strategic calculations. The refugee crisis is shaking the European Union to its core.
So what is to be done? Here are five options:
Confrontation. Denunciations by themselves don’t work. Bluffs are not credible. No one proposes going to war with Russia; Syria is not worth it. Still, in the eyes of many, a forceful American response must include boots on the ground. Combining some of the more ambitious proposals would mean the deployment of up to 25,000 American troops to Iraq (assuming Iraq allows this) and sending another 10,000 or more to Syria to lead a larger allied regional army to destroy ISIS. (American military commanders warn that American combat troops, while effective in battle, would still face a long-term pacification problem as seen a decade earlier in Afghanistan and Iraq.) More realistic steps could include declaring no-fly zones off-limits to Syrian government or Russian airstrikes — an idea considered before Russia’s direct intervention — and manning them with American forces to discourage Russia from testing American resolve. The United States could also openly deploy American ground forces — as opposed to covert operatives — to assist secular rebels in Syria, but despite some progress, it is still not certain that independent, viable and effective secular rebel formations can be built up. The United States could exploit Europe’s unhappiness with Russian intervention to further increase targeted economic sanctions already imposed in response to Russia’s moves in Ukraine. Thus far, these have not altered Russian behavior, although they may weaken Russia in the long run by further undermining its economy, which is already hemorrhaging due to the collapse of oil prices.
An international peace conference. This option seems dead on arrival. Although the United States wants Assad out immediately, it might accept an overall settlement resulting in his eventual departure and his replacement by a new government that is able to reconcile with the rebels and restore its authority throughout Syrian national territory. In July at the Aspen Security Conference, a citadel of America’s security establishment, organizers tabled the questions of “whether … the pre-revolutionary Assad regime in Syria … [was] more in line with American interests and whether, as a consequence, the best outcome now is as close to the status quo ante as possible.” But Aspen is not Aleppo. For Syrians, the conflict has gone beyond regime change — it is now almost entirely sectarian and existential. Even if Assad departs, the regime’s Alawite and Christian stalwarts are unlikely to lay down their arms. It is difficult to imagine Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamist rebels abandoning their struggle against infidel foes. And ISIS will remain outside any agreement.
An incremental cease-fire. Instead of a grand war-ending agreement, the United States could support a series of local cease-fires. Putting pre-2011 Syria back together is next to impossible for now. This option would mean accepting de facto partition of Syria into a series of cantons that leave the armed parties in place. Assad would get to stay and rule a miniature state in the western part of the country and Damascus: his Republika Syrianska. The rebels, including al Qaeda’s local affiliate, would get to hold the territory they currently command with the choice of keeping their little emirate or remaining the target of Russian or coalition bombing. Local cease-fires, withdrawals and exchanges of territory would be negotiated individually. As local agreements are reached, international forces, which might include both Russian and American observers, would help to keep peace on the perimeters. Participating entities would receive generous aid. Military action against ISIS by both coalition and Russian aircraft would continue. However, there should be no illusions: The fighting will continue in many areas, and there will be continued terrorist attacks. But local accommodations that allow reconstruction and commerce and that slow the flow of refugees might emerge in other localities.
Afghanistan redux. ISIS has survived coalition bombing for more than a year — that’s more than 12,000 airstrikes. It may be weakened, but it has not been defeated. Anti-Assad rebels now facing Russian bombing will suffer some setbacks but also may be able to adapt and remain effective. Even if Russia is able to drive back or scatter the rebels pressing on the remaining Syrian government-controlled territory, it will face a continuing insurgency, always the more difficult task. Like Syria, Russia is willing to use its military power indiscriminately, but that comes with a cost and does not always work. After nearly four years of ruthless bombing by the regime and assistance on the ground from Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias and Iranian advisers, Assad is still unable to defeat the insurgents. While it cannot halt Russia’s bombing, the United States could increase its support for rebel forces other than ISIS by lowering its strict vetting, which thus far has limited American support. The Gulf monarchies that now support the rebels may be persuaded to do even more. The aim would be simply to put more weapons and more ammunition into rebel hands, accepting that some of these supplies may end up in jihadist possession — hopefully not ISIS, which, in this option, would remain the exclusive target of the coalition’s bombing campaign.
Containment. This option starts with the premise that the United States has limited objectives in Syria and Iraq and limited ability to shape events in these two countries without making a substantial military commitment — one that may turn out to be far greater than proponents of more-ambitious efforts admit. For now, there is no disagreement: American investment increases or American objectives are scaled back. The question is whether the American public, which now supports the bombing campaign as long as there are no U.S. casualties, will support (and continue to support) going to war and all that entails. That does not appear to be the case, a fact that critics of Washington’s current caution ignore. Under this option, the United States would continue its bombing campaign since ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are viewed as a direct threat to American interests, and it would continue U.S. support for Kurdish fighters defending their territory against ISIL. However, the United States would not deploy ground forces, set up safe havens or no-fly zones, significantly increase its support for the other Syrian rebels, or make major investments in other military efforts to bring down Assad. Instead, the United States would pursue what can be described as a prudent course of action, limiting its involvement in a civil war it cannot resolve but can only make worse. America’s primary mission would be to assist neighboring allies in containing the conflict and defending themselves, especially Jordan and Saudi Arabia. ISIS’s black flag flying over Mecca would guarantee a long-lasting clash of civilizations. Helping the neighbors also means devoting more resources to the refugees. This is close to current U.S. policy.
Today’s politicians and tomorrow’s historians will debate whether, as some allege, America’s timidity and inaction allowed the current mess and created the vacuum that Russia has now entered. That does not tell us what America should do now.
There may be other options or preferable variations of these. Since these options are not mutually exclusive, perhaps some combination would make more sense. The purpose of laying them out is to encourage rational thinking based upon realistic presumptions, not media or campaign-driven hype. Right now, the situation in Syria presents a grim picture. Syria must be seen as a long-term problem that will resist any short-term solution, but circumstances will change and opportunities may arise that allow more promising interventions. America can then act wisely in its own national interest.
Dr. W. Andrew Terrill
November 6, 2015
In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
The Russian intervention has moved forward with limited assets in a sort of “intervention lite.” The centerpiece of this policy is the introduction of Russian air units into Syrian combat. At this time, these air assets are composed of around 30 fixed-wing combat aircraft and 20 helicopters operating out of a regime airbase outside of Latakia.2 Russian aircraft have been reported to be using a variety of munitions including precision guided munitions, cluster bombs, thermobaric bombs, rockets, and even cruise missiles.3 The majority of the attacks are nevertheless carried out with simple gravity bombs (“dumb bombs”) and large numbers of civilian casualties have been reported.4 The Su-25 ground attack aircraft appear to be primarily using unguided rockets fired from pods on the aircraft. Unfortunately for Moscow, perhaps a third of this limited number of aircraft are grounded at any one time as Russian maintenance crews struggle to cope with harsh desert conditions.5
Russian ground troops are present in Syria, but their primary duties seem to be protecting their forces at the Latakia base, advising the Syrians, and perhaps helping the Syrian military with the task of absorbing large numbers of new weapons that have been transferred to them as a part of recent military activity. At the present time, the Russians seem to expect that ground fighting against anti-Assad rebels will be done primarily by Syrian forces along with limited numbers of expeditionary troops from Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah group, and Shi’ite militias from various countries including Iraq.6 These forces have been increased over the past few months, but not dramatically, and certainly not in war winning numbers. The Russians have also been reported to have transferred special operations troops from Ukraine to Syria.7
In pursuing this effort, Moscow has created serious difficulties for itself and others with its targeting policies and its tendency to label all Assad opponents as terrorists.8 Anti-Assad groups such as the Free Syrian Army and the various non-ideological “brigades” of the Southern Coalition are clearly weaker than the radical-jihadist Islamic State organization or the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra front, but they are not non-factors.9 Bombing them is therefore extremely problematic for relations with the West and probably for a future political settlement. In areas where these organizations work together and are physically close with al-Nusra (none currently work with the Islamic State), there may be some limited justification for spillover bombing of these groups, but such actions are still a problem.10 The danger is that the Russians may be trying to limit the number of relevant players in Syria to the Assad regime and the Islamic State in the hopes that the rest of the world will accept Assad under these circumstances. The real problem here is that by reducing the number of players to two, they would effectively be reducing it to one, the Islamic State. The Assad regime increasingly appears to be a spent force, heavily dependent on its allies, with little chance of bouncing back and no chance of reconquering the entire country. Moreover, if attacks on non-jihadist rebels continue, anti-Assad Arab states may seek to provide these opposition forces with more and better-shoulder fired MANPADS (Man Portable, Air Defense Systems) to defend themselves against air attack. Saudi Arabia already appears to have dramatically increased its anti-armor support to non-jihadist opposition groups.11
In the longer term, Moscow’s effort to keep Assad in power and move against non-jihadist Assad adversaries could severely complicate any Russian hopes for an eventual withdrawal from Syria as the dictator becomes increasingly dependent on Moscow and Tehran. At some point, a militarily floundering and more pragmatic Kremlin may wish to ease him out of power in favor of a temporary coalition government composed of moderate rebels and perhaps some elements of the Syrian military and regime, but not Assad or his closest cronies. While this may not be Putin’s first choice for Syria, he may come to prefer it to endless, inconclusive, and expensive military involvement in Syria on behalf of Assad. The Russians do not always appear to be aware of the subtleties of military intervention far from their own borders or the dangers presented when a stubborn Third Word client decides to ignore foreign advice. The endless difficulties presented by such people is a problem the United States has faced from at least Ngo Dinh Diem to Nuri al-Maliki. Moreover, Assad can easily accept Russian help while still demanding more and insisting on additional input into Russia’s Syria policy. These actions will not be a problem if Russian and Syrian interests are identical, but they are not and they are increasingly likely to diverge over time as the war continues to bog down for them.
The problem with any military intervention is that if it does not rapidly achieve military goals, the choice often becomes to escalate or withdraw without accomplishing the objectives. The former choice can simply reinforce a bad decision and raise the stakes for a doubtful outcome, while the latter is a humiliating admission that the entire enterprise was a costly mistake. While Vietnam analogies are overused to death, the current Russian strategy does echo the U.S. ideas about infrastructure protection and use of airpower in 1965 after the Viet Cong attack on the Pleiku Barracks (Camp Holloway) and the initiation of Operation ROLLING THUNDER as part of a process of ongoing and eventually very dramatic escalation. If the Russians find themselves unable to push the Syrian regime forward with meaningful military progress, they will surely be tempted to escalate as well. The price of achieving a military solution to Syria could be staggering and it is difficult to see how the Russian economy could support it.
In summary, the Kremlin has not committed the resources to do much more than help prevent Assad’s short-term defeat. It cannot win the war even with the help of Iran and its Middle Eastern allies and may be faced with ongoing pressure to escalate. Under these conditions, it may be tempting for some Western policymakers to simply let them flounder, but this is not a good idea. The problem here is that while Russia and the West do not have the same Syrian friends, they have at least one important enemy in common, the Islamic State. Letting Russia wallow in an increasingly difficult intervention is not the way to defeat the Islamic State. The United States may therefore have to remain open to some form of cooperation, provided that the Russians stop bombing groups like the Free Syrian Army and focus their attention on fighting the Islamic State. Also, Moscow needs to understand that by attacking non-jihadist rebels, it harms the ability of other nations to help end the war through an eventual political settlement involving non-jihadist groups. This outcome seems to be in Russia’s long-term interest. In a best case scenario, the Russians might also be especially useful in convincing Assad that it is time to retire abroad. Otherwise they may remain in Syria propping up an unpopular and probably doomed regime until the economic burden of such efforts forces them to face a humiliating withdrawal with Syria in even more chaos.
1. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies particularly detest Assad, while Egypt is more concerned about the danger of an Islamist Syria. I have considered these issues in some depth in W. Andrew Terrill, Arab Threat Perceptions and the Future of the U.S. Military Presence in the Middle East, Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College Press, 2015, especially pp. 7-15.
2. Matthew Bodner, “Russia Shows Early Success, New Capabilities in Syria,”Defense News, October 19, 2015, p. 4.
3. Ibid., p. 4.
4. Kareem Fahim and Maher Samaan, “In Huge Spike, Civilians Flee Syria Violence,” New York Times, October 27, 2015.
5. Tom Vanden Brook, “Harsh Conditions are foiling Russian Jets in Syria,”USA Today, October 25, 2015.
6. Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim, “Tehran’s proxies ordered to Syria,”Washington Post, October 20, 2015.
7. Thomas Grove, “World News: Russia Sends Units from Ukraine to Aid Assad,” Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2015, A-6.
8. Adam Entous, “U.S. Says Russia Targets CIA-backed Rebels in Syria,” Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2015.
9. On rebel groups see International Crisis Group, New Approach in Southern Syria, Brussels, Belgium, ICG: September 2015, especially pp. 2-10.
10. Agence France Presse, “Apparent Russian raids in Syria’s south for first time,” Daily Star (Beirut), October 29, 2015.
11. Anne Barnard and Karam Shoumali, “U.S. Weaponry Is turning Syrian into Proxy war with Russia,” New York Times, October 12, 2015.
Dr. Robert D. Lamb
July 27, 2015
The problem with the way the international community thinks about and responds to fragile states is not that we do not understand “fragility,” its causes, and its cures, but that we think of them as “states,” as coherent units of analysis. As a result of this strategic level mistake, efforts to build state capacity to contain violence and reduce poverty are at least as likely to destabilize the country as they are to help. The U.S. military should consider the destabilizing potential of its efforts to build capacity, train and equip security forces, and provide support to diplomacy and development when its partners and beneficiaries are officials of fragile states.
State formation has always been an exceedingly bloody endeavor. Most stable countries worthy of the term “state” that are stable, including wealthy, Western, liberal, or democratic nation-states, came into being through complicated social processes, including war, ethnic cleansing, or genocide. That violence was followed by an institutionalization of the values and social priorities of the victors, combined with some degree of accommodation for the vanquished across and within the new state’s borders.
State formation, in other words, has always been a matter of violent exclusion followed by pragmatic inclusion. In all successful states today, those processes have resulted in stable formal political systems, with a significant degree of internal consensus over how those systems should be governed.
Today, a quarter of the world’s population, and half of the world’s poor people by some estimates, live in places commonly referred to as “fragile states,” beset by conflict, poverty traps, low social cohesion and, in many cases, cycles of violence and terror. These pathologies are not contained within the borders of fragile states, however. As it is ritually noted in most articles on state fragility, these are places that often generate dangerous spillovers: regional tensions, international terrorism, transnational organized crime, an inability to contain outbreaks of disease, and other problems generally associated with the term “instability.”
But fragile states are not “states” in the same sense as those that are stable. They developed differently. They went through periods of tribal governance and warfare and, in some cases, territorial consolidation, as European states did, but then most were subjected to colonization by distant powers or severe domination by regional hegemons, in both cases with foreigners imposing borders and manipulating local politics, elevating one set of elites at the expense of populations with whom they did not share a tribal, ethnic, or national identity. When those foreign powers left (or reduced their footprint), the empowered elites either held on to power or were removed from power by their former subjects. In both cases, the internal fragmentation of views about governance—who should govern and how—remained and in all fragile states continues to be one of the most important determinants of fragility.
The most common international responses to these pathologies tend to be exploitation by regional powers, containment by developed countries concerned about spillovers of violence, and capacity building of national institutions by international development agencies attempting to address the “root causes” of fragility by building state structures capable of governing the way “states” are supposed to govern.
Looking at these two sets of countries—well governed, legitimate, and stable on one side, with poorly governed, illegitimate, and unstable on the other—it is understandable to conclude that, if only fragile states were more legitimate and better governed, they would also be more stable, peaceful, and prosperous. Post-conflict reconstruction, stabilization, poverty reduction, and other efforts to improve the quality of life for people living in fragile and conflict environments tend, therefore, to focus on building the legitimacy and capacity of state institutions, both military and civilian. Efforts to reduce the spillover of violence and terrorism likewise have key elements of state-building.
When, however, has state-building ever worked? That is, when has foreign assistance to formal state institutions and civil society over an extended period of time, in places whose borders were drawn by, and whose elites were elevated by, foreign powers but where local populations do not agree with each other over basic questions of legitimate governance, ever resulted in the establishment of a stable state, one that is no longer “fragile” (in the usual definitions) or at significant risk of a return to violent politics?
Consider the places often cited as state-building success stories. When I have asked proponents of state-building to name unambiguous successes, the responses most commonly include Germany and Japan after World War II, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and sometimes Rwanda.
But Germany and Japan were already states with highly developed bureaucracies that were largely left in place after their military forces were defeated. These were not cases of state-building but of state recovery and, in truth, they have little to teach us about how to stabilize fragile states.
The borders of East Timor and Kosovo came into being as a result of wars; they are clear examples of state formation still in progress, and it is difficult to call Kosovo a success story when that country’s stability continues to depend so much on an international presence. Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Rwanda have made progress, but they have not been stable long enough to be considered stabilized, and certainly they continue to appear on lists of fragile states.
Moreover, some post-conflict countries that have done things “right” according to the typical state-building script have dramatically regressed into violence—El Salvador is an excellent example—whereas some that have done things “wrong,” such as Laos, have managed to remain stable for more than 40 years.
As a thought experiment, consider the following two possibilities. A fragile state is territorially fragmented along ethnic and sectarian lines, there are frequent civilian attacks between identity groups, the parliament and ministries are dominated by one group at the expense of the others and, as a consequence, there is constant low-level violence punctuated by periods of intense internal war and repression by the majority ethnic group, which nevertheless enjoys international recognition and assistance as “the” government and the “partner” whose “capacity” is to be built. Years of pouring resources into that government and its security forces serve only to strengthen one group at the expense of the others, providing counsel (and few incentives) to treat the other groups better while giving them the capacity to treat the other groups worse, thereby increasing the potential for conflict.
Yet, even in such places, there are some stable, reasonably well-governed territories and communities that maintain a great degree of independence from the central government, with consensus on how they want to be governed, capable of collecting the resources they need to do so (in some cases democratically), and able to defend themselves against external aggression. Somaliland is an excellent example, but most fragile states have similar communities (large percentages of Afghans, for example, have reported that the conflict this past decade simply never affected their community). Such places look suspiciously like they are engaging in classic state formation, and doing so with neither support from their national governments nor recognition from the international community—whose support of their national governments often undermines local, successful state formation.
I am not arguing that the international community should try to break up fragile states into more stable territories. Outsiders are not likely to be any more effective at redrawing the borders of fragile states today than the outsiders who drew the modern borders of those counties in the first place. But when a country falls apart in a civil war such that the state can no longer be said to be relevant in some areas of the country, or when the elites in control of national governing institutions fail to support or recognize the legitimacy of large segments of their own populations, due consideration should be given to those areas of the country that manage to stabilize on their own and govern the areas they control in ways that are more consistent with international norms than the central government is or had been. State-building is ineffective, and breaking up states is dangerous. International support to (if not recognition of) subnational state formation in fragile states is, therefore, among the more promising ways to think about how best to respond to fragile states.
by Christopher G. Pernin and Jakub Hlavka
November 6, 2015
As Trident Juncture, the largest NATO exercise since 2002 draws to a close, the United States is bound to have the smallest military presence in Europe since the end of World War II.
In an attempt to make the most out of declining defense budgets, the thinking goes, the US needs to engage European forces to build interoperability that would enable joint operations to deter and defeat potential adversaries, even with little advance notice. Unfortunately, building interoperable units has often proved to be difficult even among the friendliest of nations.
A new approach to achieving tactical interoperability among allied defense forces has long been needed: a renewed focus on building targeted unit-to-unit relationships.
Current State of Affairs
The US Department of Defense invests significant resources into efforts to build bilateral relationships, modernize its partners’ armed forces and rehearse joint operations. The US Army manages close to 200 programs related to security cooperation with its allies, most of which fall into four categories: information exchanges, military education, defense and military contacts, and training.
Yet, developing partner capacity and aligning strategic interests – a goal of most of these programs – is not identical to building multinational readiness: Few programs have interoperability as their primary goal, and even fewer lead to standing, interoperable units that can be used to fight.
In our conversations with American and foreign troops, we found that while several foreign units may attend joint exercises and training, their focus (rightly so) often is on the training and readiness of the forces and less so on developing and maintaining lasting relationships between and among units – a critical component of operational and tactical interoperability.
Building such relationships – and with that, tailored solutions to cultural, procedural and technical differences – requires a focused effort and a long-term strategy, and typically leads to higher operational readiness and a more effective use of resources. Yet, targeted interoperability is built in only a limited number of cases: Most security cooperation efforts still focus on partner capacity and high-level interactions.
A targeted approach also creates a political conundrum that can upset the inclusive nature of alliances such as NATO. Those we choose to work more closely with will have a louder voice in international security matters compared with those who, either by necessity or choice, are not so close.
The results of the general approach to interoperability can be seen on the battlefield. As recent operations in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq illustrated, not even the closest American allies are fully interoperable with the United States. Significant gaps remain in the realms of information-sharing and communications, styles of command, cultural understanding, standard equipment, and complex intelligence sharing policies.
The general interoperability the United States has been building doesn’t provide nearly enough detail to be operational in a fight, especially on short timelines. As the Army came together with other nations’ forces in recent conflicts, those gaps at times were mitigated, but at significant cost and time up front, often only through workarounds that lasted as long as those partnerships were in play.
The Changing Nature of Battle
In the recent decade, we observed another shift that implies more targeted interoperability efforts are needed — the shift to more tactical exchange of services on the battlefield. During the Cold War, interoperability was thought of at the division, corps and even group Army level with tactics and operations left to the individual nations. With cuts to force structure and posture—both in the United States and her allies — that interoperability is now expected to occur on a much more tactical level. This requires the ability to form combined units at the division, brigade and even battalion level — something that general interoperability hardly addresses.
Limited examples of such targeted interoperability are taking place now, through NATO. The US 82nd Airborne Division recently achieved significant interoperability with the UK’s 16th Air Assault Brigade through an 18-month effort of detailed planning and extensive exercises. The effort went far beyond just jumping out of each other’s airplanes: It included fostering technical, procedural and cultural connections to make this a standing multinational capability.
The Dutch and Germans hope to achieve a similar outcome through the integration of a Dutch Airmobile Brigade into the Division Schnelle Kräfte. The effort began in 2014 with a fully operational division expected in 2018.
Additional examples of such targeted efforts have recently emerged. The Franco-British Combined Joint Expeditionary Force is hoped to reach full operational capability in 2016 and an integrated Dutch Brigade in German Bundeswehr’s 1st Panzer Division is slated for activation in 2019.
A particularly aggressive example of targeted interoperability is the ongoing development of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force – a brigade-size rapid response force that is designed to deploy its lead elements within 48 hours. This multinational unit is unique in NATO as it will be on a very tight deployment timeline, entail several alliance members and interoperate at a level not typical in NATO.
This poses a number of challenges, one of which is the ability of its rotating lead nations to solve those interoperability gaps, even if just for that subset of the alliance.
These examples are yet to be fully proven as effective. However, the extent to which they will cut down on the spin-up time for building interoperability seems real. One thing we do know is that the closer the forces are, the easier it is for building the interoperability necessary for future operations.
Balancing Two Types of Interoperability
If called to action, European defense forces will necessarily rest on multiple nations interoperating on the battlefield. Assuming those forces can come together and work together seamlessly is fallacy.
As multinational operations are pursued by policy-planners, better balancing of the prevailing general interoperability focus with the targeted interoperability built among specific units for specific types of missions is needed. And, this change in strategy will necessarily rest on commitments among NATO members to maintain readiness and find the political solutions to make multinational units a credible deterrent to avoid conflicts of the future.
Picking these relationships will be difficult and politically controversial. But the alternative is far, far worse.
by S. Rebecca Zimmerman
November 5, 2015
President Obama recently revealed two changes to Afghanistan troop commitments. He also made another, vaguer commitment has received far less attention. But it is this commitment — to “continue to support President Ashraf Ghani and the national unity government as they pursue critical reforms” — that will determine whether the U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan has any value.
Obama’s intention to slow the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2016 and to preserve a force of 5,500 in the country thereafter comes with no change of mission for America’s military. Troops will continue to conduct two tasks: countering terrorist threats and advising Afghan security forces on development and operations. The truth, though, is that these two missions alone cannot save Afghanistan from an unfortunate future.
Terrorist threats in the region are growing: The Islamic State in Khorasan Province, the group’s affiliate in the region, is making strides in parts of eastern and southern Afghanistan. Last week, U.S. and Afghan forces conducted an intense operation to destroy two Islamic State training camps in the south. In addition, the Taliban takeover of Kunduz was a show of strength by that organization’s new leader, seemingly designed to demonstrate his ability to lead his forces to victory. The Taliban campaign in Kunduz is still not over, though Afghan forces have largely beaten back the opposition. Elsewhere in the country, government control is tenuous and, according to United Nations reports, the Taliban now holds greater sway than it has since 2001.
To a significant degree, insecurity in the provinces is exacerbated by confusion in the capital. Afghanistan’s government exists in a state of sustained constitutional crisis, due to the power-sharing agreement that followed its stalemated and contested election. Every decision the government makes provokes concerns that it will upset the delicate balance of forces at the nation’s center, resulting for example, in the failure to name a defense minister able to receive parliamentary confirmation. In a government already burdened with patronage and corruption, jockeying for power and attention in the government takes an inordinate amount of attention and distracts from the business of governing. As a result, the Afghan people often express frustration with the government’s inability to respond to popular needs.
With the central government in crisis, the influence of sub-national power brokers is on the rise. To some extent, this has been sanctioned by the government, as has the use of factional militias reconstituted largely along old ethnic and partisan lines. But these forces are extremely difficult for the government to control, and with scores to settle amongst themselves, the militias often complicate the security picture at the local level by switching sides or pursuing their own agendas. As the government struggles to exert its influence, these actors often fill the vacuum.
The U.S. troop presence cannot halt the devolution of authority in Afghanistan, should it continue on that path, but it can have a dampening effect on any consequent insecurity. There is no point to that effort, though, unless the other half of Obama’s promise — to support real reform of the Afghan government — also materializes. There are four areas where the U.S. government can provide key contributions to stabilize the Afghan central government and secure its writ in the country’s periphery.
First, the United States can support efforts to resolve questions related to the structure and future of the national unity government. The present arrangement is not provided for in the constitution. Responsibilities are informally allocated and the future of this arrangement is unclear. The process of changing the constitution to formalize the procedures of the unity government is challenging and contentious, but there must be some push for legitimization of these high-level relationships.
Next, the United States must work to accelerate the Afghan government’s timeline for reforming electoral processes. Parliamentary elections have been indefinitely delayed because of the poor performance of electoral institutions in the presidential elections. But while badly managed parliamentary elections would sap confidence in government, so too will continued failure to hold them at all. Without solid provincial representation at the national level, informal provincial leadership will be strengthened.
Third, the United States ought to work with Afghanistan to clarify the increasingly murky relationships between sub-national power players and the central government. As sub-national actors are gaining in influence, their tendency to look to the center for legitimacy and direction may be on the wane. Particularly because so many of these powerful actors and their armed affiliates have re-formed along old ethnic and partisan lines, there is strong potential for them to reactivate old rivalries with each other, complicating the security and governance picture. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to such an endeavor, but the United States can help the Afghans to extend and enforce conditions that could help keep these actors engaged with the central government.
Finally, the Afghan government has placed a high priority on peace negotiations with the Taliban and the United States should work to support this outcome while being wary of the risks associated with negotiating peace. Few insurgencies conclude with a grand bargain, and it is unlikely that the Taliban will conclude such an agreement while the international community retains forces in Afghanistan. In fact, the Taliban might prefer to make local bargains with increasingly powerful sub-national actors from whom they could be able to extract the kind of concessions about an Islamist legal code that the central government would be unlikely to allow. The United States can best contain the risks of negotiation in two ways. First, it should seek to foster conditions under which the central government can better influence who militias are fighting, in order to maintain maximum clarity between pro- and anti-government actors and reduce the possibility of sidebar alliances with the Taliban. Second, it should synchronize negotiations with military operations so as not to allow for splintering of the Taliban into factions, limiting the utility of an agreement, weakening the government, and prolonging conflict. If adequate pressure can be kept on Islamic State affiliates and other groups opposed to reconciliation, then they cannot use a Taliban peace to take on the mantle of conflict as their own.
President Obama’s decision to preserve troop strength in Afghanistan is a major step in the right direction for U.S. policy there. These forces maintain flexibility to respond to a range of scenarios, demonstrate confidence in the Afghan government, and stake a claim for American interests in the region. But the ultimate success of these endeavors rests upon Obama’s commitment to continue to encourage reforms in the Afghan government. Without smart policies to stabilize the center and maintain participation from the periphery, no amount of troops can be the solution.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael A. Adelberg
March 2, 2015
The Army owes Mr. Vladimir Putin a “thank-you.” So does the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—because his reckless aggression is providing both institutions a resurgent identity. Russia’s current actions provide the United States a unique opportunity, as well as foreshadowing the future. This is because Russia appears likely to be an adversary to the West for some time. If the United States wants to influence Russia’s behavior and actions, it must recognize that it has to act from a position of both real and perceived strength. One of the most concrete demonstrations of strength to both Russia and to our European allies is a robust ground force presence in Europe. Such a robust force will likely keep Putin from acting too aggressively in Europe.
Putin’s position has been unambiguous, to return Russia to its former glory during the Soviet era. Time and again, his bombastic rhetoric emphasizes the theme that Russia is a great power that cannot be ignored. This is not new, nor is it necessarily unique to Putin. As Strobe Talbot outlined in, “The Making of Vladimir Putin,” the forces now at play in Russia were in place from the 1980s. Mikhail Gorbachev’s ascension to power, according to Talbot, began the struggle between reformers and reactionaries fighting for the future path of the Soviet Union, later Russia. Reactionaries viewed Gorbachev’s actions as an existential threat to the Communist system; and when they attempted to overthrow Gorbachev, the result ironically led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-emergence of an independent Russia under Boris Yeltsin.1
U.S. policymakers must appreciate the psychological and emotional differences of Russia as a whole, and Russians individually in the current environment. First, Russia has a long history of xenophobia. However, Putin called xenophobia “a manifestation of weakness” in his annual speech on December 4, 2014. Yet the entire Russian foreign policy position, which emphasizes the right to protect ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad, relies very much on a xenophobic “us-vs-them” logic. The notion that Russia has the right to intervene in foreign sovereignty based upon perceived ethnic repression, i.e., Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Crimea, has little basis in a Westphalian world. While Putin uses the protection of ethnic Russians as a convenient instrument to argue for intervention, the historical mistrust of foreigners makes it a resounding argument to Russian ears.
Second, policymakers must understand that most Russians are willing to believe that the West, and in particular the United States, really is to blame for their declining economy. While American voters tend to find fault with their own elected leaders and will place the blame on them, Russians will tend to blame outside powers, not their leaders—another facet of Russian xenophobia. For example, Russian media blames the United States for destabilizing Ukraine and causing the Ukrainian crisis. This perception is widely accepted among Russians. Along the same lines, Russia continues to view NATO as an offensive threat to Russia just as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) did. To Russia, the NATO expansion into their near-abroad is perceived as a direct threat. Although to be fair, one would imagine that a permanent major Russian naval base in Cuba, for example, would be viewed by the United States as a direct threat.
Third, Russians have a high level of respect for Putin due to his personal and national demonstrations of strength, as evidenced by his approval rating which is above 80 percent. In contrast, American President Barack Obama’s is nearly 45 percent.2 To Russians, Putin embodies the return to Russian greatness, the theme of much of his rhetoric. He is seen as strong and decisive. His pronouncements and those of several of his foreign policy ministers, throughout the second half of 2014, have been extraordinarily bellicose. It vacillates between warning the United States against war and threatening the United States with war. In the U.S. media, such statements are seen as reckless and irresponsible, but to the Russians, these comments continue to demonstrate Putin’s resolve. Such support does not imply that he enjoys universal adoration in Russia. There is still a very vocal opposition, from business leaders, to the press, to at least one popular punk rock group. However, Putin has been managing to keep the opposition somewhat under control through a variety of methods, and the opposition is neither active enough nor strong enough to present much of a roadblock to him.
Putin’s claim of returning Russia to a position of strength and greatness is not solely rhetorical. Russia is undertaking many actions that further the cause, as well as upping the ante to the rest of the world. Without question, Russia has been modernizing and revitalizing its military capabilities. Russia actually has done a decent job of assessing its conduct in both the Chechen war and the Georgia war and drawing on lessons learned. For example, it is working toward creating a professional volunteer military force with the intent of completely eliminating its conscription. It is modernizing its equipment and its command and force structures. Russia has adopted brigade-based battle groups for greater flexibility, a move the U.S. Army took a decade ago.
Russia has been funding its modernization through increased annual defense spending. In 2015, it is projected to spend approximately $80 billion in U.S. dollars, which is nearly 4 percent of its gross domestic product and which marks the highest defense budget to date. According to Reuters:
Between 2004 and 2014, Russia doubled its military spending and according to the newly adopted budget, it will further increase it from 17.6 percent of all budget spending this year to 20.8 percent, or 3.36 trillion rubles ($84.19 billion), in 2017. Defense spending was foreseen at 23 trillion rubles ($576 billion) in the decade to 2020 under the original plan to upgrade 70 percent of military equipment by then.3
In addition to increased military spending and capability, Russia has increased the number of show of force exercises. NATO has had to scramble interceptor jets more than 400 times this year in response to Russian air incursions, more than double that of last year, according to NATO.4 In addition to the number of Russian flights, the size of their military sorties is also increasing. On both December 6 and 7, 2014, Russia flew formations of a dozen bombers, refuelers, and transport aircraft in the Baltic Sea region each day, although they did not violate any NATO airspace. Such Cold War-style shows of force continue to demonstrate that Russia does have real capability.
Aside from its blatant muscle-flexing, Russia is also entering into partnerships in ways that are counter to U.S. interests. Recently, Russia signed a military cooperation pact with Pakistan. Russia, of course, has been a long-time arms supplier to Pakistan’s arch-rival India; Pakistan has received significant U.S. foreign assistance over many decades with a dramatic increase since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. homeland and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. According to data cited by the Center for Global Development,5Pakistan was ranked as the fourth greatest recipient of U.S. Foreign Assistance. Pakistan significantly influences the stability and security of Afghanistan, and at this delicate juncture, after the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan, any new actors on the stage risks upsetting the balance that the United States has worked to achieve.
Russia also is expanding its military, economic, and energy ties to China. Russia and China have agreed to conduct combined naval exercises in 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, as reported by The Christian Science Monitor in November, “economic relations between them have taken a quantum leap, with two massive energy deals totaling almost $1 trillion signed in the past few months alone.”6
Finally, in recent years, Russia has reinvigorated its involvement in Latin America. Dr. Evan Ellis writes that:
Whether or not such activities are benign, the pattern of Russian diplomatic and military activity in Latin America and the Caribbean in response to tensions with the U.S. over states of the Former Soviet Union demonstrates that, for Russia at least, its activities in Latin America is part of its strategic position globally as it seeks to re-project itself as a significant actor on the world stage.7
Such activities include trade agreements and military basing negotiations with several Latin American states.
For several years now, Russia has been attempting to achieve its stated goal of returning to great-power status even though it has been experiencing extremely significant financial challenges. Oil, oil products, and natural gas account for more than 50% of Russia’s federal budget revenues.8 Russia’s 2015 national budget was based on an estimated price for crude oil trading at $100 per barrel, unfortunately for them, oil was trading at approximately $50 per barrel in mid-January 2015. Furthermore, the price of oil is expected to continue to decline as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced that it does not intend to lower production. According to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the decline in oil prices plus the effect of Western sanctions will cost Russia at least $140 billion. In October, he was quoted as stating that Russia’s military spending must be “more realistic” due to the increasing economic constraints.9 Russia’s budget called for $576 billion of defense spending over the next 6 years, which Silianov now says must be re-evaluated and scaled back. The lack of diversity in Russia’s export markets has the potential to drastically curb Russian defense spending. As of December 16, 2014, the ruble was valued at 72 to the dollar, a 60 percent decline in its value over the past year.10
To summarize the previous discussion, Russia’s goal is to return to the world stage as one of the dominant powers. It has been modernizing its forces and using them, but it will face significant economic obstacles in the next few years. Therefore, the question for the United States is: What can the United States expect from Russia? Lacking any indicators that Russia intends to change its present course, policymakers should anticipate that Russia will continue to engage in the same type of actions that it has been doing for the past several years, especially the aggressive use of its forces as it has throughout 2014. Basically, the United States can expect to see Russia continue to flex its muscles in its near-abroad among non-NATO states, while it seeks to frustrate U.S. influence and efforts globally. Most likely, the United States will see Russia executing activities reminiscent of its Soviet predecessor, albeit without the ideological drive behind them. It will continue to work diplomatically and militarily to expand its influence among nonaligned states, and will continue to harass NATO with aggressive show-of-force and out-of-area flights and naval maneuvers. The United States can anticipate seeing at least one large-scale ground exercise annually in the Western Military District, and also may see some additional movement of forces into the Kaliningrad Oblast. With Russia’s permanent membership on the Security Council, the United States can expect to see Russia foiling U.S. efforts there as well.
NATO can expect to see Russia whittling away at NATO’s influence in non-allied states while working to create fissures and questions of credibility within the Alliance. What forms this will take are unknown, but most likely, Russia will continue to strategically posture forces in such a way that the Baltics continue to feel threatened. Much as Russia always views NATO as an imminent threat, the Baltics will likely always believe Russia is an imminent threat, perhaps justifiably so, given Soviet/Russian history and the simple proximity. Putin, and the rest of the world, has probably surmised that being a NATO Partner for Peace does not really guarantee any security, and so he may make more aggressive moves in Transnistria and the Caucasus. He certainly will ensure through all means available, including military means, that neither Georgia nor Ukraine move any closer to full membership in NATO.
Although Russia is likely to conduct Cold-War style activities, this by no means implies that Russia wields the same economic weight of the former USSR. It absolutely does not. Michael Cembalast from JP Morgan found, according to Zack Beauchamp of VOX:
that the bulk of economic power in the former communist bloc now isn’t Putin’s to command, and often is aligned against him. Most of that power is now in NATO and/or EU countries, like Poland and the part of Germany that used to be East Germany, or countries where [Cembalest] judges Russian influence to be fairly limited.11
For U.S. policymakers, all of this means that Russia will remain an obstacle to American interests.12 It is unlikely, given the economic hardships facing Russia, that it will be able to directly threaten U.S. vital interests.It also cannot directly threaten the vital interests of Europe, as currently underwritten and guaranteed by NATO.
There is a distinction to be made here. To say that Russia cannot directly threaten U.S. and European vital interests does not mean that Russia cannot interfere with or negatively influence U.S. and European vital interests. It absolutely can, and will. Policymakers, therefore, must develop a strategic approach that addresses continued Russia adventurism. First and foremost, they must understand that the United States probably cannot dissuade Putin from continuing his “return to great power” actions. The Russian leadership has already determined that this is critical to their own national interest. Economic sanctions have not induced them to change their course of action, and probably will play to the Russian narrative that it is under attack from the West. In actuality, this is likely to have the reverse and unintended effect of giving Putin the pretext to further consolidate his domestic power base; nothing unifies people like a common outside threat whether it is real or perceived.
Given the previous discussion, there are two more strategic assumptions that should be considered. First, one can assume that a stable, secure, economically strong, and unified Europe remains absolutely essential to U.S. national security for the foreseeable future. The second is that NATO is the guarantor of such a secure Europe. Taking these assumptions and understanding Russian motivations and associated factors, the United States should adopt a strategy that employs hard power (military forces) in Europe to allow the other elements of national power (diplomacy, information, and economics) to influence Russia from a position of strength. Such a policy is based on three elements: 1) the United States cannot simply ignore Russia, for example, by hoping the Ukraine crisis resolves itself, and expecting Russia to cease its aggression due to financial challenges; 2) Russia responds to strength; and, 3) NATO is the counterweight to Russian aggression.
The current set of U.S. actions do not appear to have substantially influenced Putin’s behavior. These include several rounds of sanctions, as well as small-scale military activities. For example, during the spring and summer of 2014, the United States sent infantry companies to each of the Baltic states and to Poland in April 2014 to conduct training with the host countries. The United States enhanced its Baltic Air Policing rotation with additional aircraft, as well as sending other aircraft to Poland.13 None of these were major forces, however, and they have apparently done little to cause Putin to cease actions in Ukraine or to scale back his aggressive shows-of force.
Similarly, U.S. policy and actions over the past several years in Europe have also caused several eastern NATO members to question U.S. commitment. The Pacific “pivot” was a poor choice of words that gave the misperception of “turning away” from Europe. While the U.S. policy was actually a Pacific “rebalance,” its material actions made Europe question otherwise. The United States removed the only two armor-equipped Brigade Combat Teams from Europe. It removed A-10 ground attack aircraft from Europe. It also removed the Maritime Prepositioned Ships Squadron One (MPSRON 1) with all of its prepositioned Marine combat equipment. It removed significant amounts of other support units and support equipment from all the Services in Europe. These reductions were, understandably, driven by fiscal uncertainty coupled with an apparently stable Europe. But they did little to assuage European uncertainty about U.S. commitment. One can therefore extrapolate that, if the NATO Allies are uncertain about our commitment, the Russian adversary must be equally uncertain.
This uncertainty, coupled with Russian adventurism could lead to unintentional Russian miscalculation that causes a major military confrontation. To prevent such a catastrophe, the United States should re-evaluate its ground force presence in Europe, and rebuild its ground forces in Europe to reassure allies and dissuade Russian opportunism. If the draw-down was based on a seemingly cooperative Russia and a safe Europe, the reverse must equally apply: an adversarial Russia challenging Europe should logically drive an increased U.S. force presence in Europe. While this may seem to represent Army interests parochially, in a much larger sense it protects U.S. interests. Dr. Luis Simón writes that “if the West is ever to establish any sort of meaningful dialogue with Russia on global security issues, it must do so from a position of strength.”14 A strong U.S. ground presence in Europe, with permanent stationing of the proper heavy capabilities to defend against Russian ground forces, greatly reduces the risk of a Russian miscalculation, making all of Europe that much safer.
1. Strobe Talbotte, «The Making of Vladimir Putin,» August 19, 2014, available fromwww.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/putin-the-backstory-110151.html, accessed on November 12, 2014.
2. Gallup Daily: Obama Job Approval, February 19-21, 2015, available fromwww.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx.
3. Lidia Kelly, «Finance Minister Warns Russia Can’t Afford Military Spending Plan,» October 7, 2014, available from www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/07/us-russia-economy-spending-defence-idUSKCN0HW1H420141007, accessed on December 9, 2014.
4. Brad Lendon, «NATO Jets Scrambled More Than 400 Times This Year for Russian Intercepts, November 21, 2014, available from www.cnn.com/2014/11/21/world/europe/nato-russia-intercepts/index.html, accessed on November 21, 2014.
5. Center for Global Security, «Aid to Pakistan by the Numbers,» n.d., available fromwww.cgdev.org/page/aid-pakistan-numbers, accessed on December 9, 2014.
6. Fred Weir, «Russia, China plan war games, arms sales. Could alliance be in the cards?» The Christian Science Monitor, November 21, 2014, available from news.yahoo.com/russia-china-plan-war-games-arms-sales-could-130004941.html, accessed on November 21, 2014.
7. R. Evan Ellis, «The New Russian Engagement in Latin America, Strategic Position, Commerce, and Dreams of the Past,» Draft, November 19, 2014.
8. U.S. Energy Information Administration, «Russia,» March 12, 2014, available fromwww.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=RS, accessed on January 27, 2015.
10. Associated Press, «Russian Ruble Falls to Historic Lows, While Pressure Increases on Putin,» December 16, 2014, available from www.foxnews.com/world/2014/12/16/russian-ruble-falls-to-historic-lows-while-pressure-increases-on-putin/, accessed on December 18, 2014.
11. Zack Beauchamp, «Why Putin’s Russia is Weaker Than the USSR, In One Chart,» September 4, 2014, available from www.vox.com/2014/9/4/6105491/putin-russia-chart, accessed on September 23, 2014.
12. “Vital” in this article means the security of the United States (notwithstanding nuclear attack, of course), her citizens, and her economy.
13. Luis Simón, “Assessing NATO’s Eastern European ‘Flank’,” Parameters, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 67-79.
14. Ibid., p. 79.