CTX Journal Vol. 4, No. 2 - May 2014
From the Editor
This issue of CTX brings you several articles that take a critical look at the subject of leadership in irregular warfare and stability operations, as experienced in the cities, towns, and countryside of Afghanistan by a generation of special operations officers and military personnel from around the world. In addition to these analytical pieces, we offer two articles on entirely different topics from some new contributors. Two of our contributors chose to remain anonymous, a choice you'll understand when you read their pieces. We're happy to publish these unattributed articles, because it means that some people with important, unorthodox things to say trust CTX as the forum in which to say them. We hope the ideas they share inspire some serious conversation among readers, as well.
We begin with a special section, Leadership in Afghanistan: Three Takes. To begin, an author who prefers to remain anonymous uses two disastrous incidents that befell his unit in Afghanistan in 2010 to discuss the qualities of military leadership that he believes are too often missing in operations against irregular enemies. His concerns are echoed by LTC Lars Werner, a German Army Special Forces officer, who writes about the vital importance of unity of command for stability operations—in Afghanistan in particular, but his observations will apply anywhere an international coalition is trying to rout an indigenous insurgency.
The third article in this section is by LTC Gabor Santa, Hungarian Army, who is concerned with leadership at the planning level (also in Afghanistan). The SOF training units that LTC Santa observed tended to prefer direct action to developing the Afghan provincial response companies that were their responsibility. Not only were the Afghans left out of planning meetings, they weren't given access to the tools and data they needed to function efficiently, nor the equipment to operate effectively. (Leadership in counterterrorism/counterinsurgency operations is a theme that comes up frequently in CTX's pages. See, for instance, "When the Goldfish Meets the Anaconda: A Modern Fable on Unconventional Leadership," in CTX vol. 3, no. 3.)
The next article, by Dr. Bibhu Routray and Dr. Shanthie D'Souza, introduces readers to the insurgent group known as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), which uses bombings throughout India to retaliate for what its leaders perceive to be oppression of Muslims. Closely associated with the notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba, the IM has kept Indian authorities guessing despite some successes against it. Australian freelance journalist Paul Johnstone then interviews Nir Maman, founder of the training program known as Israeli Special Forces Krav Maga. Johnstone, a former Australian Federal Police agent and soldier himself, details Maman's background in close protection, police work, and martial arts, and delves into the differences between what Maman teaches and what most martial arts courses are about.
The final feature article is a treatise on the ethics of drone warfare, but not, as you might expect, about the ways these weapons are used. Instead, LCDR Andrew Ely focuses on the effects on drone pilots of operating far from physical danger. The moral code of most military services demands bravery in battle. But what of the pilot who sits hundreds or thousands of miles away and participates by remote control? LCDR Ely offers some suggestions for training all personnel, not just drone pilots, in how to live up to their moral values when they are unable to take direct action.
The CTAP interview is an excerpt of a conversation Dr. Leo Blanken had with an anonymous Afghan Special Forces officer, about the officer's experience training with U.S. forces. The excerpt, although brief, is surprisingly poignant for those of us who come from countries with modern, bureaucratized, well-equipped militaries. This issue's ethics column, by longtime contributor George Lober, asks us to consider the quality of mercy through the prism of two appalling, yet rational, decisions made by soldiers in wartime. On what basis, the author asks, do the rest of us decide that one death is mercy and another murder?
World War II movie buffs are in for a treat with the review by contributor John Locke, who dives deep into the psychology and iconography of Hollywood war movies made while World War II still raged. Both filmmakers and their audiences had no idea how the war was going to end, Locke notes, a fact that lent the movies an emotional realism post-war films couldn't quite reach. Finally, MAJ Matt Spear reviews the book The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia. As MAJ Spear notes, not only did that geopolitical contest of the late nineteenth century bequeath to the world a tangle of weak nation-states and contested borders, but Western powers are still embroiled there.
You can always find the current and all back issues of CTX at www.globalecco.org/journal. You can also "like" Global ECCO on Facebook. Interested in contributing? See the last page of this journal for information on how to submit an article for review. Feedback is always welcome, especially since our goal is to keep you up to date on news and events that affect the CTFP community.