CTX Journal Vol. 2, No. 2 - May 2012

From the Editor


Happy Spring, everyone. I have the honor—and the challenge—of taking over as managing editor of CTX in the place of Julia McClenon, who did yeoman's work producing the first three issues of this groundbreaking new journal. A word about myself: I have been a professional editor and publication manager for more than 12 years, specializing in the fields of nonproliferation, international relations, national security, and civil-military relations. Following a year with NATO Allied Com- mand Transformation in Virginia, I was excited to be offered this opportunity to join the CTFP group and take over management of CTX. The journal has seen another important change in personnel since the last issue: We are sorry to say goodbye to layout and design editor Amelia Simunek, who did so much to help get the journal on its feet. Ryan Stuart now brings her skills to this role, and we are happy to welcome her to the CTX team.

This is a good moment to talk about my vision for the future of CTX, which is an unusual kind of publication in the military realm, written for practitioners, by practitioners. Most of its articles are in the first person, recounted by the people who've "been there, done that," offering CT operators the opportunity to learn from the experiences of their peer community around the world. It is especially important to me to preserve the unique voices of our contributors. I will work closely with new writers, and those for whom English is not a first, or even second, language, in a collaborative process to ensure your stories, rendered in clear, accessible English, remain your own.

From the beginning, CTX has encouraged submissions that challenge conventional wisdom or offer new perspectives and insights. The present issue offers some fine examples of what I have in mind. In the first two articles, LT Malaka Chandradasa of the Sri Lankan Navy describes the ways in which Sri Lanka's naval and air forces were able to abandon "legacy" thinking, adapt to the tactics of a tenacious, well-funded, well-armed insurgency, and gradually turn the tide of conflict from stalemate to victory.

The best ideas and intentions, however, may not pay off if operators don't have access to the information they need for planning. LTC Arjan Hilaj of the Albanian Army describes a well-intended mission to "win the hearts and minds" of Afghan villagers in a hostile area, that went awry simply from inadequate understanding of the local culture and conditions. His insights may help others with similar assignments.

From Central Asia we go to South Sudan, a new African country still struggling to establish itself since independence in 2011. Ceaseless border fighting with Sudan has taxed the yo1ung government, a situation that may be made worse by Khartoum's adoption of targeted assassinations. Author Thon Agany Ayiei reflects on the implications of Khartoum's use of sophisticated intelligence and airstrike capabilities to kill a prominent Darfuri leader.

The last main article takes us back north to Iran, with a discussion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' role in Iran's politics and economy. COL Sean Corrigan describes how the IRGC's position outside the structure of the regular armed forces, its privileged access to Iran's political power structure, and its extensive infiltration of both the licit and illicit economies of Iran, make it a primary target of internal dissent. This dissatisfaction, Corrigan suggests, may leave the IRGC vulnerable to disruption by the United States and its allies.

In this issue, we are introducing a new occasional column called State of the Art. Contributor Rachel Davis examines the similarities between high-profile terrorism, epitomized by the 9/11 attacks, and the work of high-profile conceptual artists such as Damien Hirst. My intent as editor is that contributions like this will inspire and provoke us to think differently than we normally do about terrorism, those who practice it, and those who work to stop it. If you have an idea you think is too far outside the box for publication, try me.

We have two book reviews for you this time: Pakistan on the Brink, Ahmed Rashid's new look at the Central Asian dilemma; and Rusty Bradley's Lions of Kandahar, a firsthand account of Operation Medusa in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Kalev I. Sepp reminds us, through his review of five films on the Irish Civil War, that there are lessons we can learn from that 100-year old conflict for dealing with current civil wars and insurgencies around the globe.

Finally, after you've read George Lober's column on military ethics, titled "Moral Courage—Take Two," give yourself time to think over it. He tackles a topic that, he suggests, may have an easy solution, but one that few seem willing to embrace. Finally, as always, CTX remains a work in progress. I look forward to hearing from you what you would like to see in these pages.

Elizabeth Skinner
Managing Editor
CTXEditor@GlobalEcco.org