Unconventional Military Instruments
The unconventional threats to national security are not based on the ability to seize territory and defeat military forces; rather, they affect U.S. interests through less direct means and often take advantage of, or are directed by, non-state actors or forces. Terrorism, insurgency, subversion, narcotics trafficking, and refugee flows, for example, are all means that foreign adversaries may employ or manipulate to their advantage and at the expense of U.S. national interests. Such unconventional threats are distinct from the threat posed by the military forces of other nations and the routine political and economic competition that mark interstate relations.
The importance of unconventional threats to national security is often debated. Some hold that unconventional threats do not challenge vital national security interests and do not typically evolve into major threats to peace. Others, however, maintain that the cumulative effect of unconventional threats is a slow but steady erosion of the U.S. security posture, and that it is best to deal with these threats while they are smaller and more easily managed.
The end of the Cold War produced two countervailing effects on unconventional threats to U.S. national security. On the other hand, the dissolution of the Soviet Union eliminated a primary source of support for international terrorism, regional subversion, and insurgency directed against U.S. interests. On the other hand, with the passing of the bipolar world, many regional, intrastate, and transnational antagonisms that had been held in check by the Cold War have erupted, and some have precipitated unconventional challenges to U.S. policy and security. For instance, the withdrawal of superpower support for Siad Barre's regime in Somalia was largely responsible for his fall from power, an event that set the stage for a humanitarian disaster that prompted a complicated U.S./U.N. intervention.
Ironically, the unparalleled success of U.S. forces in the Gulf War has also contributed to the likelihood of unconventional threats. Having witnessed the proficiency of conventional U.S. military forces in Operation Desert Storm, foes of U.S. interests will probably be more inclined to challenge the United States through unconventional means.
Conventional threats to national security generally evoke a
response in kind.
But for legal, moral, political, and practical reasons, the United States usually cannot
respond in kind to unconventional threats. More often than not it must use tools other than those adopted by its foes. Diplomatic and military responses are, respectively, the first and last lines of defense against unconventional threats, but the United States may also augment these options with its own unconventional tools, such as nonlethal weapons and special operations.
Managing unconventional threats with unconventional instruments presents problems for the United States, for a variety of reasons. The American tendency to see war and peace as discrete, discontinuous states makes it difficult to build public support for unconventional options, which often employ limited means to obtain limited ends. An unconventional campaign may require restraint, patience, perseverance, and acceptance of ambiguous results, all of which may be unpopular. Because of the political sensitivity attached to such options, they require special management.
Besides being politically sensitive, unconventional options often fall between or beyond the typical mandates and missions of government agencies. For example, encouraging an adversary to desist from destabilizing a government friendly to the United States might involve a covert act of sabotage that requires military expertise resident in DOD and tradecraft skills resident in the Central Intelligence Agency. Negotiating migrant camp rules with Haitian refugees in Panama may require the legal background of Department of Justice personnel but the linguistic and cultural capabilities of special operations forces or diplomats. Delivering large amounts of aid to Bosnian refugees may require DOD logistics and the Agency for International Development's contacts with the humanitarian organizations. Hence, applying unconventional instruments to unconventional security problems requires an unusually high degree of interagency cooperation.
This chapter begins with general response options to the unconventional threats of terrorism, narcotics, and refugee/migrant flows. It then considers a number of unconventional capabilities at the disposal of the United States: special forces, unconventional warfare, nonlethal weapons, psychological operations, and foreign law enforcement and constabulary training.
By themselves, terrorist organizations have never threatened vital U.S. interests. But when used by states in a deliberate way, they have adversely affected U.S. actions and policies, if only by imposing higher costs. State support gives these terrorists money, weapons, training, diplomatic passports for their travel, diplomatic pouches for their weapons and explosives, intelligence, and safe havens. The terrorists' organizations give them resiliency, durability, and, through the division of skilled labor, expertise in the destructive arts greater than any individual could muster. Thus, state-sponsored terrorist organizations were and are formidable adversaries.
Since the mid-1960s, states have supported and sponsored terrorist attacks against the interests of the United States in an effort to undermine American policies in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
The United States responds to the threat of international terrorism by:
* Encouraging cooperation among targeted countries.
* Refusing to make concessions to terrorists' demands.
* Seizing terrorists overseas and transporting them to the United States for trial.
* Imposing economic sanctions on countries that sponsor terrorists.
* Retaliating against sponsoring countries with military force.
* Attempting to prevent, preempt, and disrupt terrorist activities.
None of these measures alone constitutes a sufficient response. However, when used in combination as part of an integrated, consistent strategy, they can be effective, despite the inevitable exceptions to the strategy that must be made to serve more pressing national interests. The decline in international terrorism between 1985 and 1995 resulted not merely from worldwide political and economic changes but from the application of just such an integrated, consistent strategy toward a number of countries known to sponsor terrorists, especially Libya and Syria.
U.S. Special Operations Forces rehearse counter-terrorism actions.
The last two of the six enumerated methods deserve special comment. The United States has used military retaliation twice: the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps raid against Libya in 1986; and the Navy cruise-missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in 1993. The raid on Libya quieted its leader, Mu`ammar al-Qaddafi, for approximately eighteen months and, according to some experts, has had a residual chastening effect. Yet more Americans died from Libyan terrorism following the raid than before it--even excluding those killed in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103--suggesting a limit to the usefulness of retaliating with overt military force. However, a less public use of force might sacrifice the coercive effect the raid produced on other countries as various as Syria and East Germany.
Preventing terrorism entails the use of defensive measures, such as perimeter security around facilities, as well as efforts to address what are sometimes called the underlying causes of terrorism, such as economic inequalities, injustice, or racial or religious discrimination. The former sort of prevention is the least glamorous but perhaps the most effective way to combat terrorism; the latter, because of limits in our knowledge and resources, is perhaps the least effective.
Preemption does not mean assassination. It means only preventing a specific act of terrorism from taking place. That may be accomplished by sending a démarche to a sponsoring state or by apprehending terrorists before they act. Preemption requires good intelligence, however, which is often not available.
Disrupting terrorist activity means targeting a terrorist organization and taking measures, not to stop one of its particular operations, but to render all its activities more difficult. The ultimate goal is to make the organization completely ineffective. How that is done depends on how the terrorists are organized, but it can include all of the measures mentioned above, especially attacks on the means by which terrorists are supported.
Increasingly, international terrorism has been marked by the appearance of less-organized groups, which coalesce around a leader for a specific operation or series of operations, receiving various kinds and levels of support from different governments and individuals. Such a group carried out the bombing of the World Trade Center. Because they are not tied directly to any one country's political agenda, these groups may be less restrained in their use of violence. For the same reason, it is more difficult for the United States to influence them by pressuring their state sponsors.
It is too early to tell how serious a problem these groups pose. While they are capable of horrendous acts of violence, they generally are more vulnerable to penetration and less capable than terrorists who are more organized. All the measures used against the more highly organized terrorists may be useful to a degree against these groups, but countering them will require that we disrupt the activities of both the operators and their supporters. Tracking and arresting the ringleaders, as was done after the World Trade Center bombing, or having another government seize them are important ways to counter this terrorism. Such anti-terrorist operations will require a continued emphasis on intelligence and close cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement.
The flow of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana into the U.S. from South American and Southeast and Southwest Asian source nations continues to constitute a critical national security threat to the U.S. The violence accompanying the distribution and sale of these illegal drugs and the societal toll that drug use imposes are national problems that affect every U.S. citizen. Moreover, the violence and official corruption that the narcotics smuggling cartels bring pose significant threats to democratic institutions throughout the world.
The programs used in international counternarcotics operations include, but are not limited to, enforcement measures such as aerial and manual eradication of coca and poppy crops, crop substitution programs, destruction of drug laboratories, and the disruption and dismantlement of major narcotics trafficking organizations through arrests, prosecutions, and asset seizures.
The demise of the USSR has significantly changed the
international political and geographical landscape, and the drug
industry is responding to an array of new business and criminal
opportunities. Traffickers now use new smuggling routes that
traverse the poorly guarded borders of the Caucasus, Central
Asia, and Eastern Europe, where local law enforcement is poorly
staffed and ill equipped to oppose smugglers. In some cases the
"new" routes are in fact old smuggling highways that had been
blocked by the Soviet Union and
To attack this threat, the U.S. has called for a shift of emphasis away from efforts to disrupt the flow of cocaine in transit and toward efforts in source countries, beginning in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, interdiction activities now make up only 8.8 percent of the total U.S. FY 1996 counterdrug budget, while a major effort has been made to assist other nations in developing and implementing policies to destroy narcotrafficking organizations.
Numerous federal agencies are involved in international
counternarcotics efforts. The Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA), the lead agency enforcing federal drug laws, has 3,000
agents in 100 offices in the U.S. and 65 countries abroad, as
well as an intelligence center in El Paso and an air wing active
both in the U.S. and abroad. The U.S. Customs Service, as the
primary border-enforcement agency, plays a key role in
interdicting the flow of illegal drugs; it also maintains an
extensive money-laundering control program. The U.S. Coast Guard,
the principal maritime law enforcement agency, conducts patrols
and special operations in maritime areas to intercept drugs, and
maintains an intelligence capability on vessels and aircraft
engaged in smuggling drugs. The State
Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) has primary responsibility for the U.S. government's international supply-reduction strategies, in which it is aided by the Agency for International Development.
The Department of Defense's role in anti-drug operations includes domestic activities, such as the use of National Guard forces, as well as an array of international programs, including aerial and ground reconnaissance, detection and monitoring, and administering the distribution of excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies for use in counterdrug operations. Despite budget cuts and competing requirements, DOD has made a concerted effort to enhance programs in source nations, while maintaining a strong presence in the transit zone. For example, DOD provides training and operational support to strengthen foreign police and military counterdrug activities. It also provides a continuum of specialized training teams to other countries' counterdrug forces, both in those countries and in military schools in the United States. This training ranges from aircraft maintenance to small-unit tactics and operational planning. DOD also provides intelligence to other countries' counterdrug forces through Tactical Analysis Teams, which help coordinate intelligence and build tactical-information portfolios on key drug traffickers. Joint Planning Assistance Teams assist foreign forces in developing operational plans around intelligence collection activities. Lastly, DOD assists other countries' interdiction forces by providing their interceptors with essential real-time tracking information on suspected narcotrafficking aircraft.
Partly as a result of international cooperation during 1995, Peru and Colombia have had greater success in intercepting illegal flights between the two countries, significantly disrupting the movement of cocaine base into Colombia. Moreover, cooperative counterdrug efforts with the government of Colombia led to the arrest of six of the top seven Cali mafia kingpins. With U.S. encouragement, Colombia and Bolivia have also launched active coca eradication campaigns.
Although cocaine remains the primary drug threat to the U.S., heroin has reemerged as a major threat. The heroin threat may require a significantly different approach than that prescribed for cocaine. The heroin industry internationally is much more decentralized, diversified, and difficult to monitor for purposes of enforcement operations. Also, in many of the major heroin source and transit countries, particularly in Southeast and Southwest Asia, the U.S. has important security interests that must be taken into account; however, to pursue these other interests, the drug industry and its criminal activities must be dealt with as well.
Large population movements can be intentional tools of statecraft as well as humanitarian problems. By employing emigration as an instrument for creating international friction, regimes are able to embarrass or frighten their enemies, influence other states' domestic and foreign policies, divert another state's resources, negotiate preferred outcomes from international organizations, stabilize their internal politics by expelling dissident groups, and even fill their coffers by extorting payments either from those leaving or states receiving the emigrants. Among the countries that have used this tool successfully in the last two decades are Vietnam, East Germany, Cuba, and Haiti. The use of emigrants as an instrument costs little, is highly effective in attracting international attention, and is readily available to virtually every state, particularly those of the developing world that may lack more traditional tools of statecraft.
Cuban Refugees at Guatanamo.
Emigration from both Haiti and Cuba in 1994 illustrates many of these general statements. Although not an organized initiative of the junta in Port-au-Prince, the emigrant flow created strong political pressure that affected U.S. policies. Simultaneously, the Cuban regime successfully manipulated mass emigration to extract concessions from the United States on several issues. As in the past, Castro used emigration not only to embarrass Washington but also to gain a favorable change in the annual quota of legal emigration from Cuba to the United States, a move that helped stabilize his own domestic political situation.
Dealing with a sudden emigration crisis requires the diversion of resources from other government activities. In the 1994-95 emigrant operations in the Caribbean, for example, DOD provided a broad range of goods and services, including camp facilities, rations, health care, security, crowd control, and mail delivery. The Navy provided the principal forces for a massive interdiction operation, including the tracking, interception, and inspection of all craft departing either Cuba or Haiti, as well as the transportation of all emigrants to DOD facilities throughout the Caribbean. These activities significantly impaired military operations and readiness. In order to deal with emigrants at the Guantanamo base alone, Atlantic Command had to cease fleet training and base maintenance operations, suspend contracts, halt base construction, and send home all non-essential civilian personnel.
Responding successfully to the strategic use of emigration requires, first distinguishing between population movements that are initiated or manipulated for political purposes from those resulting from humanitarian problems. Since the former are largely efforts at extortion, they may multiply if the targeted states repeatedly succumb to pressure and accommodate the objectives of the state from which the movement originated. Countermeasures to stem emigrant flows depend largely on the role of the originating state. If, as in the case of Cuba, a government manipulates an emigrant flow for political gain, countermeasures focus on altering the behavior of the government, through sanctions, blockades, or other diplomatic and/or military means. Interdiction can limit the number of emigrants that reach U.S. territory. Programs for the transport, protection, processing, or repatriation of the emigrants handle those that do.
In cases such as Haiti's, where the emigrant flow is exploited but not originated by the sending country, countermeasures primarily focus upon the emigrants themselves. Measures include interdiction at sea or by land, repatriation, or transfer of migrants to a third location. In addition, psychological operations (PSYOP) can help convince would-be emigrants that they have little or no hope of reaching U.S. territory.
All countermeasures must be applied carefully. For example, sanctions that affect a country's population more than its leadership may only increase emigration by adding a humanitarian exodus to a forced one. Forcible repatriation can serve as a deterrent, but may present legal and political problems. Often, public information campaigns are neccessary to cast the country of origin a bad light and to apprise domestic and foreign citizens of the true character of the refugee problem.
The cases in which forced emigrant flows might affect the United States directly are few in number but, particularly in the case of Cuba, are difficult to handle politically and logistically. Ethnic cleansing in the Balkans will probably suggest to those engaged in ethnic conflicts that forced emigration is an effective tool. It helps attain a war aim, ethnic purity, while causing difficulties for your enemies, who must receive and take care of the emigrants.
Special operations forces (SOF) are an exceptionally flexible instrument for responding to unconventional threats. The small size, unique capabilities, and relatively self-sufficient nature of SOF units often mean that their employment will not entail the degree of political liability or risk of escalation normally associated with the employment of larger, more visible conventional forces. Those traits, in turn, make SOF a particularly attractive option for responding to indirect aggression.
SOF may be used to maximize the effectiveness of conventional forces, for example, by augmenting the Navy and Coast Guard enforcement of sanctions. Or they may be used to provide decision makers with an unconventional alternative to diplomacy or conventional force, such as a hostage rescue operation. Or they may be used to perform a variety of nontraditional military missions, such as emergency medical procedures or de-mining operations, that are especially appropriate for unconventional threats.
SOF as Commandos. In general terms, SOF perform two roles for the National Command Authority that may prove useful in responding to unconventional threats. SOF exercise their commando role when they utilize stealth, speed, precision, and audacity to undertake precision penetration and strike operations against selected targets. Such missions may be designed to seize, damage, or destroy a target; to recover personnel or materiel; or to conduct reconnaissance/surveillance operations. In the context of unconventional threats, SOF commando capabilities can be used for gathering intelligence and evidence against terrorists; recovering valued persons, such as hostages; or destroying an adversary's selected national assets in support of an aggressive sanctions effort.
Dramatic improvements over the past decade in conventional standoff precision-strike and long-range reconnaissance capabilities mean that the undesirable risk of putting SOF personnel on the ground can often be avoided. However, to retrieve personnel or materiel or to make critical on-the-scene judgments still requires putting men on the ground. Moreover, advances in long-range reconnaissance and strike capabilities have been partially offset by improvements in integrated enemy air defenses and the trend toward moving high-value targets underground.
The airborne platforms carrying U.S. advanced reconnaissance and strike systems are not invulnerable. They can be shot down, risking loss of life or the taking of hostages, as well as the embarrassing loss of a high-value platform, as occurred in Lebanon in 1983 and Bosnia in 1995. Depending on the target and circumstances, SOF used alone or in conjunction with conventional forces to assist in target designation, location, and tracking may reduce the overall risk of a reprisal attack or sensitive reconnaissance mission. To improve their reconnaissance and precision-strike capabilities, SOF are taking advantage of advanced technologies in such areas as thermal imagery, electronic-signals collection, radiation and magnetic-detection equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles, secure real-time communications, and placed, unattended systems that increase the team's survivability and enable it to cover a larger area.
SOF Definition and Forces
Special operations forces (SOF) consist of Army Special Forces, Rangers, and Special Operations Aviation; Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) teams and special boat squadrons/units; Air Force special operations units; special operations support units; psychological operations units; and civil affairs units.
In defense planning, decision makers look to SOF to provide a strategic economy of force in support of conventional forces, to expand the range of available options, and to provide unique capabilities. The small, self-contained, and highly trained units can support conventional military forces before, during, and after a conflict. Their skills include intelligence gathering, surgical strikes, and language training and regional orientation, which make them particularly suited to support coalition warfare with advisory and liaison capabilities. Small, self-contained SOF units also provide the United States with rapid, focused military options that avoid the political and military ramifications of a larger, more visible conventional force.
SOF are often defined in contradistinction with conventional or general-purpose forces, with the observation that SOF conduct operations that conventional forces cannot accomplish or undertake without unacceptable risks and commitments of resources. A more technical definition of special operations is that they manifest at least three of the following characteristics.
Unorthodox Approaches. Special operations require tactics, techniques, and procedures that cannot be employed efficiently or effectively by conventional forces. This does not mean that special operations negate the traditional principles of war, but rather that they put a different emphasis on their combination or ranking of importance. For example, in comparison with conventional operations, mass is less important in special operations, while surprise achieved by speed, stealth, audacity, deception, and new tactics and techniques is far more important. Special operations forces can target a conventional enemy's weaknesses through unorthodox approaches or counter unconventional adversaries by meeting them on their own unorthodox terms.
Unconventional Training and Equipment. All military training and equipment, from boot camp to the cockpit of a B-1 bomber or Abrams tank, is to some extent special. Moreover, as General Wayne Downing (Commander-in-Chief, Special Operations Command) noted in 1995, the definition of what is unconventional changes over time. SOF pioneered techniques that today are considered conventional, such as the use of night- vision devices and deep precision-strike capabilities. At any given time, however, there are mission requirements that must be defined as unconventional when compared with existing conventional capabilities. Because special operations are often conducted at great distances from support facilities, beyond the limits of conventional military forces, and using a broad range of specialized skills, they often require special training and equipment compared to their conventional counterparts.
Political Context/Implications. Army special forces doctrine rightly identifies recognizing political implications as an imperative. Political considerations define the general parameters of almost all military operations, but special operations are often conducted in a politically sensitive context that constrains virtually every aspect of the operation. Local mores may dictate methods, and more general political considerations may require clandestine, covert, or low-visibility techniques, as well as oversight at the national level.
Special Intelligence Requirements. Special operations require special intelligence. This may sometimes mean very fine-grained intelligence about a difficult target; other times it may mean in-depth information on political, social, and cultural issues. In certain instances, the intelligence picture will not only help design the special operation but may in fact determine its very feasibility.
SOF as Diplomat-Warriors. SOF perform their second type of role--sometimes referred to as their indirect, diplomat-warrior, or unconventional-warrior role--when they influence, advise, train, and conduct operations with foreign forces and populations. In this indirect role, SOF may help manage refugee camps, train and advise allied counterinsurgency forces, train and assist allied indigenous forces in unconventional warfare, and help stabilize friendly governments via psychological operations and advice and assistance on civil-sector activities. The quiet deployment of SOF to assist allies can signal U.S. determination and provide a low-risk, high-payoff option for decision makers. Performing the unconventional-warrior role requires not only language and cross-cultural skills but also cutting-edge lethal force capabilities.
Nevertheless, there is a nonlethal dimension to SOF's indirect role that is attracting more attention and providing a more balanced view of these versatile forces so long associated in the public imagination with "mission impossible" commando operations.
Immediately following the Gulf War, the relief effort in Northern Iraq, to save the Kurds from Saddam Hussein's wrath and the harsh mountain environment showcased SOF's nonlethal skills. While cognizant of tribal prerogatives and an ongoing insurgency, the civil affairs and special forces soldiers were able to earn the confidence of Kurdish leaders, organize camps, and deliver lifesaving food, shelter, and medical supplies. PSYOP detachments used loudspeakers and on-the-spot newsletters to reassure the Kurds and coax them down from the mountains, and civil affairs units designed way stations and camps that reflected religious, tribal, and family customs. These units also negotiated the transition between U.S. military forces and the U.N. and other international relief agencies.
Other examples of nonlethal applications of SOF in their indirect role include the mine-awareness and de-mining training conducted by Special Forces and PSYOP units in support of U.N. peacekeeping efforts in the early 1990s. The use of civil affairs units to set up and manage the Haitian refugee camps at Guantanamo and to manage rural security and presence for U.N. forces in Haiti are other examples of the way SOF can be used in response to unconventional security problems.
SOF in Haiti
Special operations forces (SOF) performed a number of key functions in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. Navy SEALs used their Coastal Patrol Craft to interdict embargo violators and intercept refugees during the long buildup. Special forces and Ranger personnel were prepared to remove the illegal military regime by force (some elements were en route when a negotiated settlement was reached). Capitalizing on their flexibility, SOF changed their plan and made a rapid transition to a peacekeeping role. During the peak of the multinational force phase of the operation, there were approximately 1,350 SOF personnel operating in small teams, based in thirty population centers throughout Haiti. From those centers, SOF visited over five hundred towns and villages, where they were essential to establishing a safe and secure environment.
From their bases in the countryside, Army Special-Forces teams acted as an extension of the larger conventional force. When President Jean-Bertrand Aristide abolished the section chiefs as the chief local authority, Special Forces ensured their removal (and security), then helped establish local government by organizing town meetings and helping restore basic public services. In addition, they provided some limited emergency medical care (for both Haitians and other foreign nationals) and assisted the numerous private volunteer organizations operating in the countryside. Special Forces also provided area familiarization and tactical training to the foreign military members of the multinational forces supporting the U.N. mission in Haiti. In addition, they provided most of the secure tactical communications support required for the U.N. peacekeeping force.
PSYOP forces used radio and TV broadcasts, loudspeaker announcements, leaflet drops, handbills, and other dissemination measures to inform and reassure the Haitian people. With the approval of President Clinton, DOD initiated Radio Democracy, an aircraft-based PSYOP radio broadcast that enabled President Aristide to communicate directly with Haitian citizens. His appeals for restraint and a peaceful return, coupled with his assurances of security and justice for all, were a key element in restraining the population from violence.
Civil Affairs (CA) forces were primarily drawn from the U.S. Army Reserves. A contingent of active CA soldiers from the 96th CA Batallion initially deployed until the reservists could be mobilized and sent into theater. Nearly 97 percent of the U.S. CA capability is in the Army Reserves because it needs to draw heavily on civilian acquired skills, which would be impractical or impossible to maintain in the active force. Such professionals as international bankers, transportation system managers, civilian judges, city managers and others bring their education, training, and years of job experience to assist the local and national community in restoring its services, capability, and infrastructure. By alleviating the civilian problems, CA troops can reduce the demands on the military commander for emergency and humanitarian assistance and allow him to comply with his responsibilities, both legal and moral, to the civilian population. The recent history of this type of assistance ranges from Grenada to Kuwait.
In Haiti these CA reservists provided technical advice and assistance to twelve Haitian government ministries for up to ninety days. The advisors assisted the ministries in assessing priorities for their offices and developing plans to carry out their responsibilities. Other assistance included helping to develop department budgets, establishing an immunization system against rabies and anthrax, identifying timber thefts in the national forest, and assisting ministries in preparing for participation in numerous international meetings and conferences. A special group of fifteen civilian judges, prosecutors, and civil lawyers provided an assessment of the Haitian judicial system, codifying the laws, providing training for judges and law clerks, and passing out legal references and forms to court officials.
Civil affairs personnel also provided direct support to all major subordinate units of the multinational force, staffed the Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC), and manned the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center.
Special operations forces include civil affairs units, which are largely in the Reserves. They are trained to provide the interface between the military and the civilian population and government in the area of military operations. They are also increasingly taking on a role of coordination with Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs). An example of the importance of such coordination came during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. The Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC), with liaison officers from each of the major contingents in the multinational coalition, including the U.S., worked closely with the Humanitarian Operations Center run by the United Nations, thereby providing a single focal point for all relief agencies in the country. Eventually, nine parallel CMOCs controlled the issue of ID cards and maintained a data matrix on the status of food relief supplies.
Special Operations Funding 1984- 95
(millions of constant 1995$)
Unconventional warfare is military operations conducted in
enemy-held, enemy-controlled, or politically sensitive territory,
including guerrilla warfare and support to insurgency, that are
out by indigenous personnel supported or directed in varying degrees by external forces. There are three ways in which the United States might engage in unconventional warfare: as part of a major regional conflict (MRC); in support of a citizen/partisan defense intended as a deterrent; and as an effort to support an insurgency. Engaging in unconventional warfare as part of an MRC is not always possible, however, because some regimes oppose the arming and training of any significant number of their general citizenry. Preparing and assisting a partisan deterrence force can likewise present political problems by what it may suggest: that the United States believes the partisans' country is unprepared to fight, or will be overrun in any case, or should mount a holding action while the United States improves its negotiating position.
The U.S. experience in the 1980s--for example, in Afghanistan and Nicaragua--proved that support for an insurgency can be an effective way of putting indirect pressure on adversaries. But it also showed that such support can be hard to control, and that once training and equipment have been provided, they can be used in ways contrary to U.S. precepts or interests. Thus, a careful weighing of costs and benefits is necessary to determine the merits of using unconventional warfare against states that support insurgencies against U.S. allies, support terrorism, or acquire weapons of mass destruction, perhaps the three most important future uses of this blunt instrument.
Nonlethal weapons are characterized by their ability to disable or incapacitate people or things while minimizing physical harm to them, either because their effects are highly discriminate or relatively reversible. The concept of nonlethal weapons is not new. Tear gas, for example, is a familiar option generally employed to nonlethal effect. For example, tear gas was used during the Vietnam conflict, not only to quell disturbances, but to flush Vietcong guerrillas from underground hiding places. In addition, anti-traction compounds were applied experimentally to sections of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Nonlethal Weapons in the Evacuation from Somalia
In early 1995, the U.N. Security Council called for the withdrawal of all U.N. peacekeepers from Somalia by the end of March. The withdrawal--Operation United Shield--was executed by a combined task force commanded by Lt. Gen. Anthony Zinni of the U.S. Marine Corps. Based in part on previous experience, planners knew that unarmed but hostile elements in Somalia could attempt to disrupt the withdrawal. General Zinni determined that nonlethal weapons were needed to help save lives and minimize the impact of any possible confrontation. On an emergency basis, the Marines identified off-the-shelf nonlethal weapons and near-mature developmental nonlethal weapons that showed promise of being useful in this role. The main concerns were: how well the individual devices would perform in the Somali environment; how much time would be required to train individuals with no previous experience in their employment; and how the nonlethal munitions could be fired from weapons already possessed by a marine rifle company, specifically, the M203 grenade launcher, the M-16 rifle, and the 12-gauge shotgun.
With the support of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; the U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development, and Engineering Center; the U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center; Phillips Laboratory; and Sandia National Laboratory, the Marines very quickly identified, located, tested, and obtained the appropriate systems, which included:
* Nonlethal projectiles (bean-bag rounds, rubber-baton rounds, and rubber-pellet rounds).
* Stinger grenades (which dispense rubber pellets instead of metal shrapnel).
* Sticky foam (dispensed by an operator against an individual human target).
* Barrier foam (resembles soap suds, but laced with irritating gas).
The nonlethal weapons and their operators were brought to Mombassa, Kenya, for training, and shipboard training was also conducted. At the same time, legal and policy reviews to validate these new systems were undertaken in the Pentagon, with generally favorable results, and rules of engagement were developed and approved. Also, Somali clan leaders were warned not to attempt to interfere with the operation, and a press briefing in the Pentagon described some of the nonlethal weapons the Marines would have available. It is known that the Somalis became aware of these systems, and the Marines believe the weapons played a significant role in deterring the Somalis from hostile actions.
The withdrawal operation was conducted with no significant problems with crowds or rioters, and no task-force casualties. Thus, it was not necessary to employ any of the nonlethal weapons directly against Somalis. This experience presented a number of lessons.
* There are significant shortcomings in the Department of Defense's ability to identify, acquire, and deploy nonlethal weapons. In particular, there is no unified process in place to coordinate the fragmented efforts in nonlethal weapons research and development.
* Since the use of nonlethal weapons was allowed only in situations where lethal force would be authorized, current U.S. military rules of engagement with respect to the tactical decision to use nonlethal or lethal means need to be clarified. Thus, the Marines believed nonlethal weapons could not be used readily to control escalation or to apply a graduated response to the threat.
* In training for operations other than war, traditional wartime skills, such as the return of a high volume of fire immediately when fired upon, must be modified, since there is a premium on restraint in the use of firepower and violence.
* A media plan must be carefully crafted and conscientiously followed by commanders and spokesperson, releasing sufficient information to deter, but not so much information that U.S. tactics could be easily defeated by a cognizant adversary.
Several elements of the post-Cold War era have affected the use
of nonlethal force. First, a new political and strategic
significance attaches to nonlethal weapons in an era of
increasingly comprehensive and instantaneous multimedia global
news coverage. Secondly, the increased likelihood
of operating in densely populated urban areas and against unconventional foes using human shields has focused renewed attention on alternative applications of force with maximum restraint and minimum violence. Many adversaries understand that the United States is deterred from taking steps that can harm innocent civilians, and so deliberately intermingle with them while engaging in hostile or provocative actions. Nonlethal weapons untie U.S. hands by allowing forces to initiate action against a mixed group of noncombatants, combatants, and agents pro- vocateurs. Even in cases where civilians are consciously abetting foes or acting to disrupt or impede U.S. efforts, it often is inappropriate and counterproductive to respond with indiscriminate lethal force, or sometimes with any lethal force at all.
But not least among post-Cold War developments affecting the use of nonlethal weapons has been the advent of highly advanced and, in some cases, exotic technologies, with subtle damage Non-lethal bullet
mechanisms. These weapons can be highly discriminate or relatively reversible. For example, an electromagnetic pulse can short-circuit electronic subsystems within adversary assets such as vehicles or weapons, rendering them useless; but the pulse leaves human beings unharmed. Or a large crowd might be temporarily incapacitated by a powerful, low-frequency acoustic signal without permanent effect. Ideally, no one dies, and all eventually recover fully, suffering no lasting deleterious effects.
In general, nonlethal weapons are an attractive means of expanding the options available to policymakers and commanders in that thin gray area between no application of military force at all and application of lethal force. Nonlethal weapons can stretch out the gray area and control the evolution of situations, providing better management of an escalation. It was precisely that desire to achieve military objectives while minimizing human fatalities and collateral material damage that led the U.S. Marine Corps to obtain nonlethal weapons to assist in the withdrawal of UNOSOM II forces from Somalia.
Nevertheless, nonlethal weapons are not without problems. Left unqualified, the term "nonlethal" can lead to unrealistic public expectations that no fatalities will result from using such weapons. In fact, there will always be some residual risk of fatalities or permanent physical harm to people or physical assets, even though the U.S. intention is to develop nonlethal weapons that cause no lasting harm. Having nonlethal weapons in the U.S. arsenal may also lead some to believe erroneously that the United States is constrained to try them first in any encounter, and escalate to lethal means only if other measures fail. Others may misunderstand the nature of certain nonlethal weapons and incorrectly infer that they violate arms-control treaties or international legal constraints.
Witness the controversy surrounding anti-personnel lasers, which could be used to blind enemy soldiers. The U.S. program is designed to develop lasers that would take enemy equipment, such as anti-tank-weapon sights, out of commission without causing lasting damage to the eyesight of enemy soldiers. That is consistent with the October 1995 laser weapon protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, supported by the U.S. However, a protocol banning anti-personnel devices has been proposed by the Swedish government, illustrating the political sensitivity of nonlethal weapons.
More to the point, the employment of nonlethal weapons will not always be fully successful. Not all prospective nonlethal technologies will prove technically, legally, or politically feasible. Those weapons that are fielded will require special training and new doctrines, as well as careful planning. Unless the United States is very shrewd in the way it conceives of and employs nonlethal weapons, paying particular attention to the psychological and political dimension of such operations, a military success could be thwarted by political countermeasures. Even a perfectly executed attack in which nonlethal weapons perform as expected might be countered by ruthless adversaries willing to kill their own compatriots and blame it on the United States.
Thus, while nonlethal weapons appear to provide important advantages to the United States in the post-Cold War environment, they are subject to a number of cautions. Fully realizing their promise requires coordination of the operational needs of military commanders, the political priorities and concerns of top civilian leadership, and the creativity and resourcefulness of the acquisition and technical communities. Since several agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Department of Justice, have a role in countering unconventional threats, such coordination will require an interagency effort as well.
PSYOP: UH-60 dropping leaflets in Thailand during the Cobra Gold 94.
For years, the subject of PSYOP remained shrouded in mystery, despite its use by the U.S. armed forces since the earliest days of the Republic. It was viewed as a black art that employed falsehoods, half-truths, and deception. In fact, to capture an audience, hold its attention, and foster a particular belief or behavior, PSYOP messages normally must be truthful.
The successful use of PSYOP during military operations in Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), the Persian Gulf (1991), Somalia (1993-94), and Haiti (1994-95) helped lift PSYOP's shroud and demonstrated its utility and flexibility across a wide range of military activity.
The U.S. Army's PSYOP force structure, active and reserves, is relatively small: 1,200 active-duty soldiers and civilians and 3,000 reserves. The force is regionally oriented and trained, and recruited according to language skills, cultural awareness, and ethnicity. A core of highly qualified civilians provides the cultural skills so vital in the conduct of successful PSYOP. The force has many highly qualified linguists but usually relies on local hires and Army-wide searches to obtain native-born speakers.
The U.S. Air Force also maintains the capability to deliver leaflets and conduct airborne radio-TV broadcast operations. This capability has been demonstrated, for example, by the deployment of EC-130 aircraft that conducted television and radio broadcasts of PSYOP messages in Haiti.
As a result of the information revolution and the concurrent explosion of global telecommunication capabilities, a degree of international interconnectivity has evolved that was unimaginable even in the mid-1980s. In this environment, cyberspace may become the battlespace of the information warrior. In addition to PSYOP's usual arsenal of printing presses, loudspeakers, radio, and TV transmitters, efforts are underway to use emerging technologies to enhance PSYOP effectiveness. PSYOP payloads in unmanned aerial vehicles, for example, can be used to extend current broadcast and leaflet-delivery capabilities to previously denied areas. Faxes can be sent to recipients worldwide, autodialers can deliver recorded messages to individuals via telephone, and direct broadcast satellites can be used to provide televised "news" to large segments of the world's population. PSYOP billboards can be established on the Internet to send messages to anyone with access to it. The explosion of information and communication technology will continue to offer new opportunities for PSYOP; the challenge will be to incorporate this technology in the most cost-effective manner.
Information systems represent the medium over which messages are carried; it is the job of PSYOP to tailor the message that is received. PSYOP will be more effective to the extent to which its messages are culturally sound, linguistically perfect, and highly persuasive, that is, messages that resonate with and reinforce attitudes that can work to produce the desired behavioral results.
Responding to unconventional threats very often requires working with the law enforcement communities of other nations. Managing refugees, enforcing sanctions, preempting or disrupting terrorists, interdicting narcotics trafficking, or establishing public order after military operations or a natural or man-made disaster all involve working with indigenous security forces. As with the other unconventional instruments described above, foreign police assistance is both politically sensitive and complex in that several U.S. government agencies may become involved in these kinds of activities.
In response to abuses related to police-training assistance programs in Vietnam, Congress passed legislation in the 1970s prohibiting the use of any Foreign Assistance Act funds for the purpose of training or assisting foreign police, a general prohibition that applied to all government agencies. In subsequent years, however, Congress allowed several broad legislative exceptions to this general prohibition, particularly in the area of cooperative international counternarcotics and antiterrorism efforts, which also applied generally to all agencies. DOD, for example, has trained foreign civilian police under the counterdrug program and other special exceptions to the Foreign Assistance Act in Costa Rica, the eastern Caribbean, Honduras, and El Salvador. Under the auspices of the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance Program, the Departments of Defense, Justice, Transportation, and Treasury, as well as the CIA, provide antiterrorism assistance to friendly governments. By 1995, more than 16,000 people from 83 countries had received training since the program's inception in 1983. The general trend toward acknowledging the importance of human rights and the rule of law continued in 1986, when the Department of Justice created its International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). ICITAP activities are funded by the Department of State and structured to provide advice and assistance on the long-term development of law enforcement institutions.
Unfortunately, in military contingency operations where there is little warning or where the environment is not permissive, ICITAP does not have the authority, structure, or capability to quickly reconstitute police forces and police services. Dependent on funding from Congress to pay for consultants or award a contract to a civilian firm to conduct training classes, ICITAP may require several months to establish a training program. ICITAP civilian consultants and contractors generally do not accompany indigenous security personnel on joint police patrols to provide on-the-job training or operate at the precinct/substation level. ICITAP is designed to professionalize existing police forces over an extended period of time by teaching detailed classes in police methods, often in a police academy setting.
Consequently, the Department of Defense often is called upon to shoulder the burden of emergency law enforcement and short-term support of foreign police. Over the past two decades, DOD personnel had to assist in the creation of rudimentary public security forces following short interventions in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Haiti. Since military police, civil affairs, special forces, engineers, and other supporting forces normally are already on the ground to conduct U.S. force protection and public safety activities, in some cases it may be possible to extend these capabilities to support for internal security forces. The DOD has been slow to plan for and undertake these potential activities, being concerned about legal constraints, the political sensitivities surrounding public safety issues, and the budgetary implications of assuming even partial responsibility for what ultimately is a job for other government agencies. While acknowledging that it is occasionally required to support foreign internal security forces, the department responded to the 1995 Roles and Missions Commission's recommendations for greater DOD involvement in this area by emphasizing that "the training of foreign constabulary forces is not and should not be a DOD mission."
One barrier to greater DOD involvement in foreign law enforcement training and constabulary operations is that DOD has no role in such activities inside the U.S. The 1868 Posse Comitatus law prohibits the Army and Air Force from engaging in domestic law enforcement; a long-standing order from the Secretary of Navy extends that prohibition to the the Navy and Marines. Despite a few exceptions made over the years, Congress remains extremely reluctant to relax the Posse Comitatus restrictions.
Since 1975, a provision known as Section 660 (of the Foreign Assistance Act) has restricted use of foreign assistance funds for foreign law enforcement, including training. These restrictions were designed to distance the U.S. from controversy over police violatinos of human rights, and they do not apply in countries with longstanding democratic traditions. A variety of execptions to Section 660 have been exacted over the years, but it still restricts DOD's role in foreign law enforcement training.
Despite past and present legal and bureaucratic disagreements over divisions of responsibility, some elements in the Congress and many senior civilian leaders in the executive branch recognize that it is often not possible to pursue U.S. national security interests without working with foreign internal security forces. Civilian police who support democracy, respect internationally recognized standards of human rights and the rule of law, and are free of corruption can support U.S. regional defense strategy by contributing to the restoration of peace and stability following conflicts or crises; countering terrorist acts and terrorist groups; strengthening local authority at the grassroots level; and fighting subversion of their democratic governments. In late 1995, Congress was considering legislation that would relax some restrictions on the use of Foreign Assistance Act funding for police support and training activities overseas under specific conditions.
While the United States must expect more unconventional challenges to its interests in the future, this does not necessarily mean that unconventional threats are growing in importance or that unconventional instruments will be a policy option of choice for U.S. decision makers. With respect to unconventional threats, the extent to which they have a cumulative effect on U.S. security interests, and thus must be taken more seriously, depends in part on how the United States defines its interests and on how one assesses trends in the international security environment. For example, a U.S. national security strategy of engagement designed to preserve a position of world leadership will treat unconventional threats more seriously than a strategy that reflects less concern for developments overseas. Likewise, unconventional threats will be deemed more important if they are directed or manipulated by growing regional powers intent on systematically challenging U.S. interests than if they seem to be isolated and discrete events.
It is also difficult to generalize about the applicability of unconventional instruments to future national security problems. The instruments discussed in this chapter seem to be of increasing importance because they can broaden the range of options open to decision makers reluctant to resort to higher-cost military measures, and they often minimize the collateral damage associated with the use of coercive measures. Nevertheless, all unconventional options will continue to be politically sensitive and hard to manage. Unconventional instruments, which often are slow to produce even limited results, may seem attractive to decision makers who consider all the alternative policy options even less satisfactory, but they may not be sustainable without a carefully managed effort to marshal public support. To the extent unconventional measures are seen as innovative, proportionate, and discriminate responses to real threats, the public is more likely to be supportive. If they are interpreted as unethical and ineffective half-measures, they will receive less support and be difficult to sustain.
Table of Contents