PRISM - The Journal of Complex Operations

PRISM - The Journal of Complex Operations PRISM, a part of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, is located at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. The congressionally mandated Center for Complex Operations (CCO) was established within the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University in February 2009.
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Its purpose is to address a widely perceived need for improved interagency interoperability in analysis of, planning for, and intervening in complex operations worldwide.

Operating as usual

Event reminder!
02/18/2021
The United States, China & Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War

Event reminder!

Co-hosted with PRISM, the NDU Press Journal of Complex Operations. Join the NDU Foundation for an interactive discussion with the world’s leading experts on U.S. Foreign Policy and Defense, Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill and Philip Zelikow.

PRISM Highlights NDU Researchers and Faculty and their WorkIntroducing Dr. Bryce Loidolt. Dr. Loidolt is a Research Fell...
02/16/2021

PRISM Highlights NDU Researchers and Faculty and their Work
Introducing Dr. Bryce Loidolt.

Dr. Loidolt is a Research Fellow at National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS). Prior to joining NDU, he was a Defense Analyst at the RAND Corporation. Dr. Loidolt’s current research draws on statistical, archival, and interview-based methods to examine the instruments and dynamics of interstate competition and irregular and hybrid warfare. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan to provide research support to Special Operations Forces and has conducted field research in Egypt, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Loidolt's work has been published in RAND Corporation and NDU Press monographs, in West Point's CTC Sentinel, the Modern War Institute’s War Room, and in scholarly journals such as Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and Terrorism and Political Violence.

A Southern California native, Dr. Loidolt received his B.A. in Middle East Studies from Middlebury College, his M.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University, where he held the Rumsfeld Fellowship from 2015-2017.

Two of Dr. Loidolt’s publications are being featured today:

Bryce Loidolt et al., “Rogues, Disrupters, and Spoilers in an Era of Great Power Competition,” in Tom Lynch ed., Strategic Assessment 2020: Into a New Era of Great Power Competition, (Washington, DC: NDU Press 2020). Available at: https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2404583/10-rogues-disrupters-and-spoilers-in-an-era-of-great-power-competition/

Bryce Loidolt, "Al-Qaeda’s Iran Dilemma: Evidence from the Abbottabad Records." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (2020): 1-28. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1780011

If you are interested in being featured or wish to nominate someone, please email Michael Miklaucic at [email protected].

PRISM is proud to host Robert D. Blackwill & Philip Zelikow with National Defense University Foundation for a critical d...
02/11/2021
The United States, China & Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War

PRISM is proud to host Robert D. Blackwill & Philip Zelikow with National Defense University Foundation for a critical discussion on the crisis building with China over Taiwan. Register now to join us on February 18th: https://ndufoundation.org/event/united-states-china-taiwan-strategy-prevent-war.

"We believe that a crisis is building over Taiwan and that it is becoming the most dangerous flash point in the world for a possible war that involved the United States of America, China, and probably other major powers. We think this danger is half understood intellectually, but it is downplayed in the invariable human tendency to assume that whatever the commotion, tomorrow will be pretty much like yesterday. We propose a realistic strategic objective for Taiwan, and the associated policy prescriptions, to sustain the political balance that has kept the peace for the last fifty years."

Robert D. Blackwill, Council on Foreign Relations and Philip Zelikow, Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Co-hosted with PRISM, the NDU Press Journal of Complex Operations. Join the NDU Foundation for an interactive discussion with the world’s leading experts on U.S. Foreign Policy and Defense, Robert D. Blackwill and Philip Zelikow.

In this op-ed adapted from his Feb 10, 2021 testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee, Dmitri Alperovitch, Chai...
02/10/2021
We Must Reorient US Cyber Strategy Around the Only Safe Assumption

In this op-ed adapted from his Feb 10, 2021 testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee, Dmitri Alperovitch, Chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, writes that "the only safe assumption in the cyber battlespace is to assume that networks are never safe," and that the US underestimates the capabilities of our competitors "at our own peril."

We should assume adversaries are already in our networks — and Congress should take these five steps to mitigate the damage.

Has a ‘fifth generation war’ started between India and Pakistan?  What do recent revelations about an Indian disinformat...
01/07/2021
Has a ‘fifth generation war’ started between India and Pakistan?

Has a ‘fifth generation war’ started between India and Pakistan? What do recent revelations about an Indian disinformation campaign against Pakistan tell us about regional dynamics?

In PRISM V.9, N.1 Shanthi Kalathil described the growth and evolution of authoritarian digital influence campaigns (“Evolution of Authoritarian Digital Influence” https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2383085/the-evolution-of-authoritarian-digital-influence-grappling-with-the-new-normal/). This article shows that it is not only authoritarian states that are engaged in such operations.

Earlier this month, the Brussels-based organisation EU DisinfoLab published an investigative report titled Indian Chronicles, which revealed a staggering network of misinformation and propaganda against Pakistan.

The report exposed an operation that took place over 15 years in 116 countries, featuring more than 500 fake media outlets and a dozen fake NGOs. This network endeavoured to push a pro-India and anti-Pakistan narrative in the European Union and the United Nations.

To continue reading; https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/1/4/are-india-and-pakistan-in-a-fifth-generation-war

What do recent revelations about an Indian disinformation campaign against Pakistan tell us about regional dynamics?

About 15 years ago, the U.S. military’s elite counterinsurgency operators realized that the key to scaling up their oper...
12/28/2020
AI Is Reshaping the US Approach to Gray-Zone Ops

About 15 years ago, the U.S. military’s elite counterinsurgency operators realized that the key to scaling up their operations was the ability to make sense of huge volumes of disparate data. From 2004 to 2009, Task Force 714 developed groundbreaking ways to sort and analyze information gathered on raids, which allowed them to exponentially increase the number of raids from about 20 a month to 300, SOCOM Commander Gen. Richard Clarke said in a Hudson Institute broadcast in early December 2020. Read more at
https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2020/12/ai-reshaping-us-approach-gray-zone-ops/170621/

Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools aren’t just for big hot wars, but also for places where the battle lines aren’t clear.

The U.S. military overcame inter-service friction to become the world’s best at joint operations in large part because C...
12/21/2020
We Need a Goldwater-Nichols Act for Emerging Technology

The U.S. military overcame inter-service friction to become the world’s best at joint operations in large part because Congress imposed legislation upon a Defense Department that could not or would not overcome the challenges on its own. Today, lawmakers should consider similar steps to help the military better grapple with and integrate rapidly changing technology.

The 1986 law made joint experience a prerequisite for high rank. We must do the same for technological facility.

In order to more effectively compete with Russia and China on the great-power stage, the United States must change the w...
12/16/2020
Ray: Great Power Competition Is an ‘Infinite Game’ with Russia, China - Air Force Magazine

In order to more effectively compete with Russia and China on the great-power stage, the United States must change the way it perceives—and plays—the game, Air Force Global Strike Command boss Gen. Timothy M. Ray said Dec. 10: https://www.airforcemag.com/ray-great-power-competition-is-an-infinite-game-with-russia-china/

Great Power Competition; What Kind of Game is This? RAND expert Michael Mazaar argues in PRISM V.9,N.1 that this is a “a contest to have predominant influence over the reigning global paradigm.” (https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2383026/the-essence-of-the-strategic-competition-with-china/)

To more effectively compete with Russia and China on the great-power stage, the U.S. must change the way it perceives—and plays—the game.

The pandemic has completely rearranged day-to-day operations and rendered the traditional perimeter more or less obsolet...
12/15/2020
Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks

The pandemic has completely rearranged day-to-day operations and rendered the traditional perimeter more or less obsolete. In turn, many federal agencies have accelerated their efforts to implement a zero-trust architecture (ZTA). The Department of Defense has been particularly vocal about the potential for ZTA to improve security in the wake of increased remote work, but has also expressed concerns about how to manage it: https://www.c4isrnet.com/2020/12/14/how-agencies-can-better-manage-their-zero-trust-architecture/

In PRISM V.9,N.1 find Huawei scientists argument in favor of a “zero trust/assume breach” approach to network security (https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2383298/dont-trust-anyone-the-abcs-of-building-resilient-telecommunications-networks/)

The January issue of Prism carried an article titled “The Worst Possible Day”1 that included a discussion of the implications for the United States of banning Chinese company Huawei from networks that

The Pentagon is adopting a set of “Zero Trust” tools and code to keep data safe even if an adversary hacks into the netw...
12/03/2020
Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks

The Pentagon is adopting a set of “Zero Trust” tools and code to keep data safe even if an adversary hacks into the network: https://breakingdefense.com/2020/12/disa-puts-trust-in-zero-trust-with-new-strategy-lab/

Read Huawei’s perspective on “zero trust: assume breach” strategy for network design in PRISM V.9,N.1 “Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks,” By Andy Purdy, Vladimir M. Yordanov, and Yair Kler (https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2383298/dont-trust-anyone-the-abcs-of-building-resilient-telecommunications-networks/)

The January issue of Prism carried an article titled “The Worst Possible Day”1 that included a discussion of the implications for the United States of banning Chinese company Huawei from networks that

NATO needs an updated strategy to meet challenges posed by a rising China, which until now hasn’t been a major focus for...
12/02/2020
NATO high-level panel recommends 'much more' focus on China

NATO needs an updated strategy to meet challenges posed by a rising China, which until now hasn’t been a major focus for the 30-nation Atlantic security pact, a new report commissioned by the alliance’s top official said: https://www.stripes.com/nato-high-level-panel-recommends-much-more-focus-on-china-1.653827.

In PRISM V.9,N.1, “Rediscovering a Strategic Purpose for NATO,” Lord Ricketts offers recommendations for both Europe and for the United States to reorient and reinvigorate the Alliance (https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2383061/rediscovering-a-strategic-purpose-for-nato/)

NATO needs an updated strategy to meet challenges posed by a rising China, which until now hasn’t been a major focus for the 30-nation Atlantic security pact, a new report commissioned by the alliance’s top official said.

Zero trust is a well-known principle in the IT industry. Read what Huawei scientists have to say about zero trust in a r...
11/23/2020
Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks

Zero trust is a well-known principle in the IT industry. Read what Huawei scientists have to say about zero trust in a recent PRISM article; “Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks”

The January issue of Prism carried an article titled “The Worst Possible Day”1 that included a discussion of the implications for the United States of banning Chinese company Huawei from networks that

Though Great Power Competition (or GPC) dominates the current national security discourse, the United States is a global...
10/22/2020
PRISM Vol. 9, No. 1

Though Great Power Competition (or GPC) dominates the current national security discourse, the United States is a global power with global interests. In addition to GPC, PRISM V.9,N.1 offers insight on the future of NATO, on U.S. engagement in Africa, and on emerging technology domains of competition such as quantum computing, 5G technology, and influence operations. Read American and South East Asian perspectives on competition with China, as well as Huawei’s rejoinder to "The Worst Possible Day: U.S. Telecommunications and Huawei," from PRISM V.8,N.3.

Though Great Power Competition (or GPC) dominates the current national security discourse, the United States is a global power with global interests. In addition to GPC, PRISM V.9,N.1 offers insight on the future of NATO, on U.S. engagement in Africa, and on emerging technology domains of competitio...

Is the liberal world order really dead? Much has changed in 20 years, yet it is still within the United States' ability ...
09/10/2020
Reviving the Liberal World Order: An American Challenge

Is the liberal world order really dead? Much has changed in 20 years, yet it is still within the United States' ability to reverse the decline of the liberal world order. A great deal depends on the actions taken by the next administration.

Is the liberal world order really dead? A deluge of lamentation among the global elite about its demise and our descent into authoritarianism and autocratic populism is alarming. True, there has been

"It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framew...
09/09/2020
Eyeing China, Taiwan urges alliance against 'aggressive actions'

"It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions." - Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on Tuesday for an alliance of democracies to defend against "aggressive actions" and protect freedom, alluding to Chinese actions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait as major threats to regional stability.

One airman’s opinion on AI and the use of autonomous decision-making weapons on the battlefield. This remains an unresol...
08/19/2020
Artificial intelligence: Removing the human from mission command

One airman’s opinion on AI and the use of autonomous decision-making weapons on the battlefield. This remains an unresolved debate. For a deeper look into this see, "The Ethics of Acquiring Disruptive Technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Weapons, and Decision Support Systems" By C. Anthony Pfaff in PRISM Vol. 8, No. 3 (http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/2054156/the-ethics-of-acquiring-disruptive-technologies-artificial-intelligence-autonom).

Artificial intelligence decision-making algorithms for mission command will be revolutionary. Their pursuit and perfection in implementation are paramount to American success in 21st century great power competition.

Great power competition in Africa takes place not only in the economic dimension. China has emerged as a prominent playe...
08/06/2020
China Promotes Its Party-Army Model in Africa – Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Great power competition in Africa takes place not only in the economic dimension. China has emerged as a prominent player in the military domain as well, with a new military base in Djibouti, and extensive military-to-military relationships, especially in Southern Africa. China receives around 5,000 African military professionals each year in educational programs that indoctrinate the Chinese “party-army” model. In PRISM V.9,N.1 (forthcoming this summer) Katherine Zimmerman—"Does the United States Have Any Interests in Africa? Its Adversaries Do!”—argues that the United States must retain a robust military presence in Africa in order to compete for influence on the continent.

China’s party-army model is antithetical to the multiparty democratic systems with an apolitical military accountable to an elected civilian leadership adopted by most African countries.

“Zero trust” is one approach to countering penetration of sensitive communications networks by adversaries. For a deeper...
08/05/2020
Pentagon wrestles with adopting zero-trust security approach

“Zero trust” is one approach to countering penetration of sensitive communications networks by adversaries. For a deeper dive into “zero trust” keep your eyes open for “Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks,” by Andy Purdy, Vladimir M. Yordanov, and Yair Kler in PRISM V.9,N.1 (forthcoming this summer). These Huawei cybersecurity professionals argue that, “When it comes to managing risks in cyberspace, the best approach is to distrust everyone.

Work from home caused by the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated conversations about zero-trust, several IT officials have said recently.

In PRISM V.8,N.4 author Thomas Donahue argued strongly for choosing alternatives to Huawei in the development of 5G netw...
07/27/2020
To be competitive in 5G, the US must play offense, not defense

In PRISM V.8,N.4 author Thomas Donahue argued strongly for choosing alternatives to Huawei in the development of 5G networks in his article “The Worst Possible Day: U.S. Telecommunications and Huawei”

PRISM V.9,N.1 features a counter-argument by authors from Huawei (coming in August).

The U.S. squabbling with itself only yields an uncontested “win” for China.

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General information

PRISM, the quarterly journal of complex operations published at National Defense University (NDU), aims to illuminate and provoke debate on whole-of-government efforts to conduct reconstruction, stabilization, counterinsurgency, and irregular warfare operations. Since the inaugural issue of PRISM in 2010, our readership has expanded to include more than 10,000 officials, servicemen and women, and practitioners from across the diplomatic, defense, and development communities in more than 80 countries.

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PRISM, the quarterly journal of complex operations published at National Defense University (NDU), aims to illuminate and provoke debate on whole-of-government efforts to conduct reconstruction, stabilization, counterinsurgency, and irregular warfare operations. Since the inaugural issue of PRISM in 2010, our readership has expanded to include more than 10,000 officials, servicemen and women, and practitioners from across the diplomatic, defense, and development communities in more than 80 countries.

PRISM is published with support from NDU’s Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS). In 1984, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger established INSS within NDU as a focal point for analysis of critical national security policy and defense strategy issues. Today INSS conducts research in support of academic and leadership programs at NDU; provides strategic support to the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commands, and armed services; and engages with the broader national and international security communities.

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Comments

Despite IS losses in the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iraq, attacks and IS influence have persisted throughout Southeast Asia. "ISIL Radicalization, Recruitment, and Social Media Operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines" by Nathaniel Moir (PRISM V 7.1) breaks down the ways in which encrypted messaging, social media, and propaganda dissemination have encouraged the continued radicalization of Southeast Asian civilians.
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Prism eh? I like it. Does PRISM represent multiple views of any single specific problem?
Can i contribute pls