CIWAG Case Studies

CIWAG’s primary mission is twofold: first, to bring cutting edge research on Irregular Warfare into the Joint Professional Military Educational (JPME) curricula; and second, to bring operators, practitioners, and scholars together to share their knowledge and experiences about a vast array of violent and non-violent irregular challenges. Our aim is to make these case studies part of an evolving and adaptive curriculum that fulfills the needs of students preparing to meet the challenges of the post-9/11 world.

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Case Studies

For digital copies of individual case studies please fill out the form located on this page.

The Al-Qaeda Accelerant in Boko Haram’s Rise

by Jacob Zenn

Using primary source materials, Jacob Zenn’s case study, The Al-Qaeda Accelerant in Boko Haram’s Rise, maps the group’s many factions, loyalties, splinterings, and re-formations. Zenn supplies deep insight into the seams and gaps that exist, and how strategic and tactical motivations have propelled an armed group to regional importance. He also dissects how the group’s evolution has taken place under the watchful eye, and often directing hand, of both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and highlights its starring role in a new international rivalry: the uncivil war between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The Al-Qaeda Accelerant in Boko Haram’s Rise by Jacob Zenn

Totalitarian Insurgency: Evaluating the Islamic State’s In-Theater Propaganda

by Charlie Winter

Totalitarian Insurgency: Evaluating the Islamic State’s In-Theater Propaganda Operations by Charlie Winter examines the in-theater propaganda strategies of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Although much attention has rightly been paid to their online recruiting and social media campaigns, their in-theater strategies are equally compelling and strategically targeted. As ISIS and al-Qaeda continue to inspire and sponsor new franchises around the globe, the issue of how to control access to counter-narratives becomes more urgent; this first look at in-theater strategies provides the basis for further research and investigation into the in-theater and online competition for ideas and influence around the world.

Totalitarian Insurgency: Evaluating the Islamic State’s In-Theater Propaganda by Charlie Winter

ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State

by Michael W.S. Ryan

ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State by Michael W.S. Ryan presents a net assessment of ISIS: its strengths and weaknesses. The conclusion will propose some recommendations for degrading ISIS, both militarily and ideologically. Clearly, ISIS is a fluid topic, subject to change; please note that information in this case study is current as of August 2015.

ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State by Michael W.S. Ryan

El Salvador in the 1980s: War by Other Means

by Donald R. Hamilton

The civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s engaged a remarkable degree of attention at the highest levels of the U.S. government and became a proxy of the Cold War. El Salvador in the 1980s: War by Other Means, by Donald R. Hamilton, brings to light the challenges of committing oneself to a flawed ally and intervening in another country with an exceptionally limited number of military personnel.

El Salvador in the 1980s: War by Other Means by Donald R. Hamilton

Sovereign Wealth Funds as Tools of National Strategy: Singapore’s Approach

by Devadas Krishnadas

Across the globe - from the port of New Jersey to the copper mines in trans-Sahel Africa - governments are wrestling with the issue of foreign financial influence and national security. This becomes even more acute in states that are trying to transition from conflict to stability: When should states allow or encourage other countries to invest in them, and what industries should they allow foreign companies to own or build? Should states allow foreign investment funds to build infrastructure, extract rare minerals, and operate ports? How does this support or undermine the legitimacy and authority of the state? Successful IW practitioners need to understand and be able to account for third-party influence in its many varieties.

Sovereign Wealth Funds as Tools of National Strategy: Singapore’s Approach by Devadas Krishnadas

Water Wars: The Brahmaputra River and Sino-Indian Relations

by Mark Christopher

Although we most often think of water conflicts in terms of access to drinking water, the reality is that most water is needed for industrial and agricultural purposes; when rivers run dry, crops fail and communities face famine and starvation even in some of the world's dampest places. Moreover, in some countries, internal conflicts exacerbate the issue of who has access to water and, in others, state-to-state friction over dams and irrigation water has spilt over into armed clashes. The issue of access to and control of water becomes even more acute in states in which there is an ongoing conflict or in states that are trying to transition from conflict to stability.

Water Wars: The Brahmaputra River and Sino-Indian Relations by Mark Christopher

Taliban Networks in Afghanistan

by Dr. Antonio Giustozzi

Dr. Antonio Giustozzi relies on his extensive experience as a researcher in Afghanistan to create an insightful analysis of a wide range of topics including assessments of the Taliban’s strengths and weaknesses, their ability to reassess and adapt, and their operational and strategic successes and failures. He has presented a balanced treatment of the subject matter; however, balance does not mean that the case study will be uncontroversial. In fact, Giustozzi’s analysis contains some rather blunt appraisals of many of the major actors in this conflict; including both ISAF and the Taliban.

Taliban Networks in Afghanistan by Dr. Antonio Giustozzi

Operationalizing Intelligence Dominance

by Roy Godson

Newer, fragile states often lack the police, administrative, and economic resources needed to govern effectively, and many cannot provide basic goods and services to significant sectors of their population. The vacuum inside these states is being filled by armed groups and political movements that are growing in both numbers and capability. The global competition for power, influence, and legitimacy leads to struggles for control of populations, territory, and resources.

Operationalizing Intelligence Dominance by Roy Godson

Varieties of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq, 2003-2009

by Jon Lindsay and Roger Petersen

Varieties of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq, 2003-2009 offers a useful analytical framework for understanding how and why rebellions either grow or diminish. This case study was created to focus on two specific challenges that operators and practitioners faced in Iraq: how to understand the actors and the complex irregular warfare environment; and how to manage interaction, adaptation, and reassessment in irregular warfare.

Varieties of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq, 2003-2009 by Jon Lindsay and Roger Petersen

Piracy

by Dr. Martin Murphy

Piracy, by Dr. Martin Murphy, examines the security challenges created by piracy around the Horn of Africa. Murphy examines the linkages between piracy and weak states, in addition to considering the threat piracy poses to shipping and global trade. In particular, he argues that Somali pirates have proved to be masters of adaptation, both strategically and tactically, as they exploit the chaos within Somalia and in the international maritime order. Moreover, Somali piracy cannot be seen in isolation from the wider geostrategic issues of free movement and safe passage to trade between Europe and Asia, and the shipment of oil from the Arabian Gulf to the rest of the world.

Piracy by Dr. Martin Murphy

An Operator's Guide to Human Terrain Teams

by Norman Nigh

An Operator’s Guide to Human Terrain Teams focuses on the use of Human Terrain Teams in Afghanistan. The Human Terrain System is an innovative military intelligence support program used by the US Army that employs civilian social scientists with backgrounds in linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and regional studies to provide military commanders with clearer insights into the local population and culture in the regions in which they are deployed.

An Operator's Guide to Human Terrain Teams by Norman Nigh

Revolutionary Risks: Cyber Technology and Threats in the 2011 Libyan Revolution

by John Scott-Railton

The 2011 Libyan revolution was marked by the intensive use of cyber technology. Using decentralized ways of connecting, such as two-way satellite Internet, the Libyan opposition almost completely bypassed the government's sophisticated Internet monitoring equipment and effectively ended the ability of the Gaddafi regime to control Internet access. Still, electronic actors working on behalf of the regime attacked opposition computers by exploiting key human vulnerabilities.

Revolutionary Risks: Cyber Technology and Threats in the 2011 Libyan Revolution by John Scott-Railton

Organizational Learning and the Marine Corps: The Counterinsurgency Campaign in Iraq

by Richard Shultz

Organizational Learning and the Marine Corps: The Counterinsurgency Campaign in Iraq examines how the U.S. Marine Corps was able to learn from and adapt to conditions on the ground in Anbar province from 2006–2008 and develop a three-dimensional strategy that resulted in stability. Dr. Richard Shultz views this success through the lens of organizational theory, arguing that the Marine Corps’ organizational culture underscores learning and embeds lessons from its history into the Corps memory.

Organizational Learning and the Marine Corps: The Counterinsurgency Campaign in Iraq by Richard Shultz

The opinions found in these case studies are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense, the Naval War College, or CIWAG.

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