Community Events

24-27 October 2011 PTSS COI GCMC Germany
31-October-1 Nov SEE Regional Roundtable on Stability Operations GCMC Montenegro
March (TBD) Women in War NDU CISA CISA
April and August Advanced SpecOps Course JSOU Tampa
18-21 February 2012 Maritime Security and Alumni Program NESA Oman
9-20 April 2012 Yemen Bilat and Alumni NESA Washington
4-8 June 2012 Intel, CT and SpecOps to CbT DIA/JSOU Botswana
4-8 June 2012 Countering Illicit Networks and Threats ACSS/DTRA Tanzania
August/Sep (TBD) FBI Retrainer FBI/PACOM Australia
Sep 2012 (TBD) Cyber Security Conference NDU/iCollege Brazil
(TBD) Contiuing Engagament Seminar APCSS Southeast Asia (TBD)


Conference Reports

Joint Special Operations University and the National Intelligence University Come Together in Gaborone, Botswana

Robin Parker

Staff Officer, National Intelligence University

The National Intelligence University and the Joint Special Operations University co-hosted a Continuing Engagement Symposium in Gaborone, Botswana from 4 to 8 June, 2012. Graduates from the National Intelligence University's International Intelligence Fellows Program (IIFP) and Joint Special Operations University's Special Operations Combating Terrorism Course attended the Symposium, representing Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, and the United States. The theme of the program was "Integrating Intelligence, Counterterrorism Strategies, and Special Operations to Combat Terrorism," with an emphasis on terrorist threats and counter-terrorism strategies pertaining to countries in Africa. 

Mr. Terrence Ford, Director of Intelligence, U.S. Africa Command, commenced the Symposium with a pointed keynote address, in which he frankly stated, "I am confident that threats will continue to test us in the future, as individuals as well as our nations collectively. My pledge to each of you is that U.S. Africa Command is committed to strengthening the partnerships needed to be successful against the threats to our common interest."

Brigadier General Peter Magosi, Director of Military Intelligence, Botswana Defense Force, and a graduate of NIU, delivered a keynote address focused on the evolving, borderless threats of the world today, and how dynamic threats are a case for consensus and collective security among international militaries and governments. Dr. Brian Maher, President, Joint Special Operations University, also presented a keynote address, emphasizing the importance of frequent engagement, such as the symposium, as the way education should be conducted, as well as a critical component of an effective whole-of-government approach to security.

NIU and JSOU alumni briefed their fellow alumni on the following topics: Terrorism in the Horn of Africa: The Case of al-Shabaab in Somalia; Challenges with Peacekeeping Operations: Ghana Case Study; Development of a CbT Strategy: A Whole of Government Approach; Al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb; Complex Security Challenges in Mali; Perspectives on Africa and Counterterrorism; and Social Media. Alumni from NIU and JSOU also hosted a panel discussion addressing the question, "Is CbT a Military, Law Enforcement, or Whole of Government Responsibility?"

On the final day, the 40 Symposium participants divided into three groups to discuss ideas and lessons learned from the Symposium that could be implemented in their respective countries and regions in order to better combat terrorism.  Key lessons identified by each group include the following:

  • Terrorism moves fast and is uninhibited by borders. Therefore, the strategy to combat terrorism cannot be hindered by borders between partners. To effectively combat terrorism, a whole of government approach, as well as cooperation among regional and international partners, is critical.
  • The significance and use of social media by the public has become apparent. As such, there needs to be training and education in order to understand and utilize these systems.
  • Governments need to make an effort to inform the public about terrorism, particularly in places like Africa where resources to combat terrorism are minimal.
  • Continued education and contact through academic forums is an overlooked but valuable way of communicating and sharing resources that is often overlooked. To build a strong network to combat terrorism, partners and allies need to utilize educational mechanisms.

The Symposium successfully brought together current and future leaders in various African and U.S. military and intelligence organizations, allowing them to share best practices related to combating terrorism and operational information with regional and international participants. In an environment where continuous engagement is critical, this Symposium aims to be a building block for the development of understanding within the security establishment of partner countries, develop the capacity of the host government to effectively take sustained action against violent extremists, and potentially provide insights to improve policy, operational practices, and CT related training and education.


Pacific Area Security Sector Working Group in Cebu, the Philippines

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) hosted the third annual Pacific Area Security Sector Working Group (PASSWG) which was held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu, Philippines from 7-11 May 2012. Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) facilitated and Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) organized the event. Security sector leaders from thirteen countries were present, to include a representative from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The purpose of PASSWG was to enhance the understanding of non-traditional security issues specifically from the perspective of Southeast Asian (SEA) countries and to network with SEA security sector professionals across the region to foster enhanced collaboration and cooperation especially in counterterrorism.

The conference theme was "non-traditional security issues" and reflected the concept that non-traditional security issues such as reducing violent extremism and crime are not the responsibility of a singular entity or organization, but of the Security Sector as a whole. Nations discussed integrating practitioners of Counter Terrorism (CT) within the security sector in a "whole of government" approach. PASSWG inspired and encouraged thought provoking dialogue on the increasingly transnational nature of security issues in the world today and the challenges in security sector development to effectively address these evolving priorities.

The discussions and collaboration fostered during the week between SEA security sector professionals is invaluable. PASSWG is an extremely unique and relevant event. Unique in that it is one of few events that drives discussion across all sectors. PASSWG is conducted with the understanding that the security sector includes a nation's core security actors (i.e.: armed forces, police forces, gendarmerie, border guards, customs and immigration and intelligence and security services) combined with the relevant civilian organizations responsible for their management (i.e.: ministries of defense and internal affairs) and civil society organizations that support the security sector as recognized by the United Nations (UN) and ASEAN). 

PASSWG is extremely relevant in that it comes at a time when the U.S, more than ever, is being observed for its commitment in SEA. The Asia-Pacific region as a whole has become a key driver of global politics and SEA in particular represents an increasingly strategic and economically important region. In the fall of 2011, the Obama Administration issued a series of announcements indicating that the United States would be expanding and intensifying its already significant role in the Asia-Pacific, particularly in the southern part of the region.

Recently the U.S. has accelerated its relations with SEA in a number of symbolic and important ways. However, despite considerable U.S. security, economic, and foreign assistance initiatives in the region, particularly at the bilateral level, a perception has developed among SEA elites that the U.S. has placed relatively little priority on ASEAN in the past and has demonstrated a lack of commitment to SEA as a whole. SEA diplomats frequently note that other nations, including China and Japan, have given ASEAN meetings a considerably higher diplomatic commitment than has the U.S... Many question the ability of the U.S. to be able to maintain its stated commitment to the region.

 For instance, in introducing Secretary of State Clinton during her visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in February 2009, ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said, "Your visit shows the seriousness of the United States to end its diplomatic absenteeism in the region." State Department, "Beginning a New Era of Diplomacy in Asia," press release, February 18, 2009. The trip to Asia was Clinton's first overseas trip after being confirmed as Secretary of State.

The 3rd Annual Pacific Area Security Sector Working Group (PASSWG) is an excellent example of the U.S. demonstrating a commitment to building relationships, trust and maintaining credibility in SEA. The mission of PASSWG is to bring together security sector professionals in SEA to promote collaboration and coordination. Much of the diplomatic activity that occurs at meetings of SEA leaders and senior officials occurs on the sidelines and through informal channels. PASSWG does an excellent job of building habitual bilateral and multilateral relationships and promoting open discourse in an international forum.

By engaging SEA nations, both multilaterally and bilaterally, PASSWG links strategic and operational discussions, encourages discussion on collaborative approaches to regional issues and generally builds the capacity of the security sector in the region.

Through PASSWG, the U.S. demonstrates that it recognizes the importance of the SEA nations in helping to address both regional and global issues. Symbolic commitment is particularly important in SEA, a region that places a heavy emphasis on process and informal networking. The evident candor between the participants in discussing some of the greatest security challenges they faced each day was an incredible step forward

SEA SECURITY SECTOR CHALLENGES: PASSWG participants discussed what challenges they faced in addressing security issues. The below points list the highlights of those discussions.

  • ASEAN has traditionally operated on principles of consensus and non-interference in the internal affairs of members, which has led to considerable difficulty in the group operating in formal concert. Bilateral / multilateral agreements or treaties take time for political development. Often simple agreement on terms and definitions can result in delays.
  • The Internal Security Operations (ISO) of each country are unique and have multi-dimensional issues based on the history and culture of each state. It can be difficult for outside elements (other countries or regional groups) to understand the intricacies of the ISO of another country.
  • Human rights violation allegations can take significant amount of time to investigate.  However, individuals accused of HR violations will often be treated as guilty until proven innocent.
  • Finding balance and the right combination (between hard and soft power, external players with differing agendas (U.S./China) and Big/Little brother perspectives (Australia / New Zealand)) can be a challenge.
  • The rich diversity throughout SEA can make adopting common goals difficult. Varying laws, legal systems, governance and military structures in each state, and culturally diverse languages and societies makes it a challenge to find harmonization (i.e.: in security sector priorities, SOPs and terminologies).
  • The complexity of transnationalism can be both a challenge and an opportunity for the complexity of ASEAN's management of diversity within states.
  • A better flow of information is needed between countries, especially a deeper understanding of the capability gaps of neighboring states (i.e.: in HADR).
  • The dynamic environment created by the rapidly growing social information and media environment creates a challenge for security sector professionals as security agencies have trouble responding to social media abuse and mitigating the spread of misinformation.
  • Security sector change and reform is a priority to states and security sector development is a national issue in many countries; however security sector challenges, current and anticipated are increasingly transnational in nature. It is currently a challenge to devise regional approaches to effectively address these security priorities and maintain momentum for these reforms outside of discussions during conferences. Additionally, resourcing change reform is a challenge and needs investment.
  • Competing priorities make coordination and identifying roles a challenge.
  • Resource issues vary as there are differing economic pressures & priorities driven by geographical differences and needs by each state.

SEA ISSUES OF INTEREST: During PASSWG 2012, participants discussed the current situation in SEA and issues highlighted in PASSWG 2011. The topics this year were (1) Governance of the Security Sector, (2) Maritime Security, (3) HA/DR and Civil Society Organizations (CSO), and (4) Law Enforcement.

Participants from PASSWG 2012 identified / nominated issues to be explored as potential topics for next year's PASSWG. The nominated issues below were compiled from the AAR presentations that the three working groups presented to the entire group on the last day of the conference.   

  • Energy Sustainability
  • Food Security
  • Natural Resource Scarcity
  • Climate Change and its impact on Security Sector
  • Economic Development and its impact on the Security Sector
  • Cyber Security and Cyber Crime
  • Corruption
  • Border Security
  • Human Trafficking (and Effect on Transnational Crime Networks)
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Transnational/Borderless crimes
  • Aviation Security – ICAO and Airport Operations
  • Resolution on Territorial / Border Disputes Issues (to include UNCLOS issues)
  • Maritime Security
  • Nuclear Developments threats and challenges
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Civil Military Cooperation and Coordination
  • Role of Society (people) in Security
  • Information Sharing Efforts (Security Sector)
  • Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Explosives (CBRNE) Threat
  • Gender awareness within the Security Sector
  • Social Media, Opportunities (in HA/DR) and Challenges
  • ASEAN Sec update on regional architecture, existing/planned initiatives, etc.
  • Inter-relatedness of security risk enablers and need for region-level responses to these
  • Briefing on current status terrorist threats and evolving trends
  • Active planning coordination for cooperation on CT and HA/DR Responses


PASSWG is designed to solicit the inputs of a diverse, inter-disciplinary group and through these discussions, certain trends arose.

There are questions about U.S. intentions in the region.
While PASSWG is a great example of U.S. commitment to security in the region, there were a few instances where questions for clarification on the stance of the U.S. on certain issues arose. Although PASSWG is not the venue to push education on U.S. policy, these questions from the group are an indicator that the U.S. needs to improve its ability and effectiveness in communicating its intentions, needs and values to the SEA region, beyond PASSWG. Instances of failing to communicate consistently have led to charges of hypocrisy and arrogance and significantly damaged U.S. credibility worldwide, clearly demonstrating a need to ensure that messages being sent by the U.S. are consistent and appropriate with its stated values. Effective communication is of particular significance in the Asia-Pacific AOR because of the importance regional cultures tend to place on long-term relationships. Events such as PASSWG where the U.S. is demonstrating a commitment to building the capacity of the security sector in the region is an excellent step towards building relationships, trust and maintaining our credibility in the region. PASSWG is also an extremely valuable assessment opportunity for the U.S. to gauge how effectively the U.S. is communicating its intentions in SEA. One of the most important tasks for the U.S. over the next decade will be to communicate effectively within this region.

Assessment best practices are of interest across all sectors. In the resource constrained security environment that many are operating in, there is a strong need more than ever to have a strong assessment framework in place. The presentation on the Philippines Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) generated questions and much discussion in the working groups around how the Philippines approaches assessment for a national level plan, and there was interest in sharing specific details on Measures of Effectiveness (MoE) that could be provided as examples. During the HA/DR brief, the presenter discussed the need for standardization of assessment procedures for use by both civilian and military disaster relief workers. During the presentation on the challenges of engaging the security forces from the working group on security sector reform, the presenter specifically reviewed the "Bantay Bayanihan" assessment matrix which received much interest from the audience. 

Managing organizational change is more challenging than ever. Globalization has made the dynamic environment in which organizations function hard to keep up with-- how does one communicate rapidly evolving roles and changes to the organization (internally as well as externally)? One of the presentations discussing the clarification of the roles of the military and police in Internal Security Operations (ISO) generated much heated debate as the process of implementing large scale change at all levels of organizations is a challenge that many can sympathize with, regardless of level.

Resentment between military/police in determining ISO responsibilities are one example. Both sides agree on the end state but getting there seems to be difficult. This seems to be more of a communication issue than anything else. The military agrees that it should be in a support role regarding ISO but the trust for handover needs to be built, perhaps through clarifying processes. The rapidly evolving role changes between the two agencies are not being clearly communicated enough internally; the confusion leads to assumptions and frustration between staff. At the leadership level it seems clearer.

Uncertainty surrounds implementing strategy to action. While there is a common understanding that regional solutions are necessary for regional problems, discussing collaboration is different from actually collaborating and taking collective action. In an environment where ASEAN has traditionally operated on principles of consensus and non-interference in the internal affairs of members, there is considerable difficulty in the group operating in formal concert. Frustration from translating strategy into action is a common issue with various causes.

Collaboration challenges are amplified by confusing terminology.
As regional coordination increases, it becomes clearer that within nations and between nations, consensus and clarification on key terms are essential for improved coordination and cooperation. Often simple agreement on terms and definitions can result in delays.