Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part II

This is my second paper for the Naval War College in which I attempt to analyze the American War for Independence through the three phases of revolutionary warfare theorized by Mao Tse-Tung in his book On Guerrilla Warfare.  This is part two of two.  Part one can be found here.  While I do not adhere to Mao’s political views in any way, shape, form, or fashion, his insight into guerrilla warfare is invaluable, as USMC Capt. Samuel B. Griffith II said in his forward to the translation: “it remained for Mao Tse-Tung to produce the first systematic study of the subject….  His study…will continue to have a decisive effect in societies ready for a change.”  Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard, the Naval War College, or the US Government.

The U.S. Army 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the Commander-in-Chief's Guard demonstrate Revolutionary War battle tactics and customs at Mount Vernon, Va., Feb. 17, 2014. The demonstration was part of festivities celebrating President's Day at the home of George Washington. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Diana Sims/Released)
The U.S. Army 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard demonstrate Revolutionary War battle tactics and customs at Mount Vernon, Va., Feb. 17, 2014. The demonstration was part of festivities celebrating President’s Day at the home of George Washington. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Diana Sims/Released)

The British Regulars and their German Allies 

In stark contrast to their colonial opponents, the British fielded one of the largest and most professional armies in the world at the time.  In 1776, “this was a modern, professional army with much experience of war.  Its fifteen generals were on the average forty-eight years old in 1776, with thirty years of military experience.  By comparison, the twenty-one American generals who opposed them in New York were forty-three years old, with two years of military service.  In British infantry regiments, even privates had an average of nine years’ service in 1776…From 1755 to 1764, the British army fought on five continents and defeated every power that stood against it.” (Fischer, 2004)  Twenty-three thousand of these highly experienced troops landed in New York in July and August of 1776.

Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part I

In addition to the twenty-three thousand British Regulars, ten thousand professional German troops, commonly called Hessians (though not all were actually from Hesse-Cassel), landed in New York.  More soon followed.  These soldiers hailed from a long tradition of professional soldiering.  In fact, their officers “were highly educated in their profession….They were expert at military cartography, tactics, and logistics, more so than British or American officers.” (Fischer, 2004)  The enlisted troops fell subject to harsh discipline, but that discipline inculcated in them a legendary fearlessness and adherence to orders.

Members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment – Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall at Fort Myer, Va., stand in a defensive formation during the Revolutionary War as part of the annual Yorktown Day celebration, in Yorktown, Va., Oct. 19, 2014. The regiment’s fife and drum corps also preformed during the events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle/ Released)
Members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment – Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall at Fort Myer, Va., stand in a defensive formation during the Revolutionary War as part of the annual Yorktown Day celebration, in Yorktown, Va., Oct. 19, 2014. The regiment’s fife and drum corps also preformed during the events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle/ Released)

The Argument for Guerilla Warfare

Clearly, as the War of Independence began, the British and Colonial forces were seriously mismatched.  The Colonial militia demonstrated a proficiency in unconventional warfare, and successfully conducted multiple Phase II-style engagements.  Examples include the ambushes employed during the British retreat from Lexington and Concord and the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga by the Green Mountain Boys. (Allison, 2011)  General Nathanael Greene also distinguished himself through his unconventional tactics in the South later in the war.  In late 1780 and early 1781, Greene employed hit and run tactics, losing many battles, but constantly drawing the British away from their sources of supply.

Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part III

He summarized this method of attrition warfare in a letter: “we fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.” (Allison, 2011)  In this manner, he embodied what Mao later wrote: “When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws.” (Tse-Tung, 1961)  Throughout the colonies, this pattern repeated itself: Colonial forces regularly beat back the British in small irregular/guerilla engagements, and in some cases, legends were born.  Guerilla leaders such as Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and Charles Pickens kept the British on the defensive in South Carolina, and possessed a more distinguished battle record than the Continental Army at that time. (Allison, 2011)  Conventional battles, however, continued to produce losses; at one point in 1776, between battlefield losses, desertions, and enlistment expirations, the Continental Army had fallen to less than 3,000 men.

Works Cited

Allison, R. J. (2011). The American Revolution: A Concise History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Clausewitz, C. v. (1976). On War. (M. Howard, P. Paret, Eds., M. Howard, & P. Paret, Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Ferling, J. (2010, January). Myths of the American Revolution. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from Smithsonian.com: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/myths-of-the-american-revolution-10941835/?no-ist

Fischer, D. H. (2004). Washington’s Crossing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Griffith II, S. B. (1961). Strategy, Tactics, and Logistics in Revolutionary War. In M. Tse-Tung, On Guerrilla Warfare (S. B. Griffith II, Trans., pp. 20-26). Champaign, IL: University of Chicago Press.

O’Shaughnessy, A. J. (2013). The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the British Empire. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Pritchard, J. (1994, Autumn). French Strategy and the American Revolution: A Reappraisal. Naval War College Review, 83-108.

State Department. (n.d.). French Alliance, French Assistance, and European Diplomacy during the American Revolution, 1778–1782. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from Department of State, Office of the Historian: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/french-alliance

Tse-Tung, M. (1961). On Guerilla Warfare. (S. B. Griffith II, Trans.) Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Tzu, S. (1963). The Art of War. (S. B. Griffith II, Trans.) New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part I

This is my second paper for the Naval War College in which I attempt to analyze the American War for Independence through the three phases of revolutionary warfare theorized by Mao Tse-Tung in his book On Guerrilla Warfare.  While I do not adhere to Mao’s political views in any way, shape, form, or fashion, his insight into guerrilla warfare is invaluable, as USMC Capt. Samuel B. Griffith II said in his forward to the translation: “it remained for Mao Tse-Tung to produce the first systematic study of the subject….  His study…will continue to have a decisive effect in societies ready for a change.”  Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard, the Naval War College, or the US Government.

Cristopher Ruff, the Curator of the Army Reserve Museum shown wearing a period correct Continental Soldier's uniform, explains what took place during one of the closing moments of the Battle of Guilford County Courthouse to leaders and Soldiers of the 108th Training Command (IET) during their staff ride on Feb 6 at its site in Greensboro, N.C., which is now a National Park. The staff rides are training events used by staff members of the unit to learn important lessons from the past in order to ensure success in future conflicts. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Javier Amador)
Cristopher Ruff, the Curator of the Army Reserve Museum shown wearing a period correct Continental Soldier’s uniform, explains what took place during one of the closing moments of the Battle of Guilford County Courthouse to leaders and Soldiers of the 108th Training Command (IET) during their staff ride on Feb 6 at its site in Greensboro, N.C., which is now a National Park. The staff rides are training events used by staff members of the unit to learn important lessons from the past in order to ensure success in future conflicts. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Javier Amador)

Introduction

Beginning in 1764, protest spread across thirteen British colonies in America.  These colonies, seemingly the beneficiaries of British protection and largesse, despised the taxes that Parliament levied on them.  Specifically, they questioned the legality of a legislative body – in which they had no say – imposing those taxes.  Protests grew into riots, riots grew into rebellion, and rebellion grew into a Declaration of Independence.

Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part II

The likelihood that the American colonies could win their struggle against Great Britain was limited in 1776.  A primary factor contributing to this limited likelihood was a lack of a cohesive military organization.  At the outset the colonies relied entirely upon the militia system, and on Mao’s continuum, the colonies were better prepared for a guerilla war than the conventional war they fought.  However, the colonies understood their need for recognition as an independent nation, and sought recognition and an alliance with the French.  To demonstrate to the French that an alliance would be beneficial to them, the colonies needed to be able to show conventional military victories.

Even with this valid need, the colonies should not have rushed into conventional warfare.  The French were longtime enemies of the British, and their support would more than likely have still been available later.  This long-standing enmity could have allowed the colonies to spend more time in the guerilla stage before proceeding to conventional war.

For the purposes of this paper, the terms guerilla or unconventional war will refer to warfare conducted outside the standard of seizing and holding territory or attempting to do so.  The term conventional war will refer to siege warfare or other warfare intended to seize or hold territory.

Mao, Revolution, and the Colonies

Many years after the American Revolution, a Chinese Communist named Mao Tse-Tung theorized on the idea of revolutionary warfare.  According to Samuel Griffith in his introduction to Mao’s On Guerilla Warfare, Mao organized revolutions into three fluid phases.   Phase I is the organizing phase, where “volunteers are trained and indoctrinated, and from here, agitators and propagandists set forth, individually or in groups of two or three, to ‘persuade’ and ‘convince’ the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside and to enlist their support.” (Griffith II, 1961)  Phase II, the “progressive expansion” phase, sees “Acts of sabotage and terrorism multiply; collaborationists and ‘reactionary elements’ are liquidated…The primary purpose of these operations is to procure arms, ammunition, and other essential material….” (Griffith II, 1961)  Finally comes Phase III: “It is during this period that a significant percentage of the active guerilla force completes its transformation into an orthodox establishment capable of engaging the enemy in conventional battle.” (Griffith II, 1961)

In the case of the American Revolution, Phases I & II occurred intermittently from approximately 1764 to 1775. During this period, various Parliamentary acts, such as the Stamp Act, Declaratory Act, and Coercive Acts inflamed colonial sentiment, and violence flared.  Colonists and British authority clashed in places such as the “Boston Massacre,” the “Boston Tea Party,” Lexington, Concord, and Fort Ticonderoga.  July 3, 1775 marked the beginning of Phase III, when General George Washington road to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to assume command of the newly formed Continental Army.(Allison, 2011).

Mao’s Phases of Revolution and the War for Independence: Part III

The colonists spent significant amounts of time organizing themselves politically.  Starting with Boston’s Committee of Correspondence in 1772, the colonies gradually formed a network to keep each other informed of events.  By 1774, every colony participated, and British actions in one colony rapidly traveled through the network to unaffected colonies.  These committees served to keep the flame of indignation alive and well from Rhode Island to Georgia. (Allison, 2011)  Other citizens’ groups, such as the famous Sons of Liberty in Boston, stirred civil unrest and attacked tax collectors and other symbols of authority, but typically did not engage in battles with British troops.  The Continental Congress met and adjourned multiple times between 1774 and 1776. (Allison, 2011)

Members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment – Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall at Fort Myer, Va., demonstrate battle techniques used during the Revolutionary War in Yorktown, Va., as part of the annual Yorktown Day celebration, Oct. 19, 2014. The celebration included a parade and other festivities including wreath laying ceremonies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle/ Released)
Members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment – Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall at Fort Myer, Va., demonstrate battle techniques used during the Revolutionary War in Yorktown, Va., as part of the annual Yorktown Day celebration, Oct. 19, 2014. The celebration included a parade and other festivities including wreath laying ceremonies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle/ Released)

The Continental Army at its Inception

The colonies also organized militarily, relying on the traditional militia system.  Each state raised at least one militia, some raised many.  These militias tended to represent a town or region.  Their officers were typically elected, and had various backgrounds ranging from sea captains to wealthy merchants to farmers. (Fischer, 2004)  Militias were not professional military organizations for the most part; they formed to address a specific threat, then disbanded once the threat had passed.  Despite the recent conflicts in the colonies, the majority of colonial militia leaders (including George Washington, who served as the Colonel of the Virginia militia) possessed little to no experience in the large-scale employment of professional soldiers. (Ferling, 2010)  No one would question their determination and valor (except perhaps the British), but they simply did not possess the experience of their British counterparts.  Many viewed militia as unreliable and undisciplined, including General Washington. (Fischer, 2004)  The prevailing opinions on both sides gave the colonists little chance in a pitched battle against British regulars.  A British parliamentarian is reported to have said that the colonists “were neither soldiers, nor could be made so; being naturally of a pusillanimous disposition, and utterly incapable of any sort of order or discipline.” (O’Shaughnessy, 2013)

Despite the fact that Congress named Washington the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, it retained much control until December 27, 1776.  At the urging of General Nathanael Greene, who implored that “Time will not admit nor Circumstance allow of a reference to Congress.  The Fate of War is so uncertain, dependant on so many Contingencies…that it would be folly to wait for Relief from the deliberative Councils of Legislative Bodies,” Congress granted Washington full powers of management of the war effort for six months. (Fischer, 2004)  The reliance on the militia system, the micromanagement of the army, and the relative inexperience of the army’s commanders combine to portray a steep learning curve for the Continental Army.

Works Cited

Allison, R. J. (2011). The American Revolution: A Concise History. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Clausewitz, C. v. (1976). On War. (M. Howard, P. Paret, Eds., M. Howard, & P. Paret, Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Ferling, J. (2010, January). Myths of the American Revolution. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from Smithsonian.com: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/myths-of-the-american-revolution-10941835/?no-ist

Fischer, D. H. (2004). Washington’s Crossing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Griffith II, S. B. (1961). Strategy, Tactics, and Logistics in Revolutionary War. In M. Tse-Tung, On Guerrilla Warfare (S. B. Griffith II, Trans., pp. 20-26). Champaign, IL: University of Chicago Press.

O’Shaughnessy, A. J. (2013). The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the British Empire. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Pritchard, J. (1994, Autumn). French Strategy and the American Revolution: A Reappraisal. Naval War College Review, 83-108.

State Department. (n.d.). French Alliance, French Assistance, and European Diplomacy during the American Revolution, 1778–1782. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from Department of State, Office of the Historian: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/french-alliance

Tse-Tung, M. (1961). On Guerilla Warfare. (S. B. Griffith II, Trans.) Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Tzu, S. (1963). The Art of War. (S. B. Griffith II, Trans.) New York, New York: Oxford University Press.



About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

 

Learn to Swim Like Special Ops, Selection Prep

 Many Special Operations units in today’s military place a large emphasis on training to be able to conduct the maritime operations mission set. Most elite units such as Navy SEALs, Marine Force Recon, Army SF, Air Force PJ’s and CCT have a combat dive capability. From maritime operations to dive ops, these elite units are masters of their craft.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Petty Officer 3rd Class Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 15. Time was deducted or added to the team’s finish time depending on whether or not the weapon was assembled correctly.

SF Selection Prep

Special operators must be willing and able to go through some of the most rigorous training the U.S Military has to offer to be prepared to take on one of the most unpredictable and dangerous environments planet earth has to offer; the ocean.

Stress Training

It is often said that “water is the great equalizer,” this is because you can take a strong-minded and physically fit individual and break him completely in a matter of minutes.  This is accomplished by causing fatigue and inducing small amounts of stress while training in an aquatic environment.

Even the biggest “studs” can succumb to complete panic and enter survival mode if small amounts of stress are introduced into a safely structured training environment. So, if you are uncomfortable in the water, but want to be in an elite unit with a diving capability, how can you prepare yourself both mentally and physically?

SF Fitness

To start, the vast majority of people can eventually become physically ready to take on a course such as BUDS or the Basic Reconnaissance Course, but very few have what it takes to handle the mental stress that will be endured on a daily basis. That being said, there are ways you can better prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the aquatic portions of training. Firstly, if your cardiovascular and muscular endurance is at a high level, then you already have a leg up on the competition.

Remaining calm during training events such as an open ocean swim, or weighted tread in the pool, can become tough when extreme fatigue sets in.  This is because you are much more likely to panic when fatigued. A panicked swimmer is always at a much higher risk of becoming a drowning victim.

There are countless ways to train to become a more proficient swimmer and increase your water confidence.  We will go over a few that can help you, this coming from the perspective of Instructors of some of the above-mentioned courses. The easy and obvious first tip is to do long-distance swims to build both endurance and water confidence. As with all the drills and tips mentioned here, you should begin “slick” (just in a pair of swimming shorts) and slowly add articles of clothing as your confidence and ability increases.  Do this until you are fully clothed to include boots. Your attire should closely resemble modern camouflage utilities and combat boots.

Tip number two is to practice treading weighted items. This is crucial to building water confidence as well as endurance. Start slick with no more than five pounds, attempt to keep the item out of the water and completely dry, do this for as long as you can. Remember to keep two hands on the item at all times and to try and tread in place.  If you are constantly moving backward or forwards, you risk the possibility of coming into contact with other swimmers.  

Becoming entangled with a classmate when you are actually in a course can throw off both of your rhythms and cause panic in a less confident swimmer. Once you become fatigued and put the item in the water, stop, place the item on the edge of the pool, rest and try it again. As you become comfortable treading weight, slowly start increasing the amount of weight and articles of clothing. Adding weight and items of clothing will increase your proficiency and boost water confidence.

Increase Breath Hold

The last tip that we will give in this article is to increase your breath-hold. There are multiple ways of doing this. From just holding your breath on the side of the pool, to doing cardio, there is really no wrong answer. As long as you consistently practice and strive to make your breath-hold longer, it will steadily increase.  

One tip we can give is retrieving weighted items from the bottom of a 12 to a 15-foot pool. You can add a million different variations to this drill such as treading, dropping the item then retrieving it, or dropping a hand full of change in the pool and trying to come up with a specific amount. As long as you are becoming more comfortable being at the bottom of the pool, you are building water confidence and increasing your breath-hold.

An example exercise begins with retrieving the item from the bottom, bringing it to the surface, treading the item until fatigued and repeating. Once this becomes easy to add any variations that you want, as long as you are continually challenged you should be building up your lung capacity breath-hold.

Water Confidence

In conclusion, these are not the end all be all drills to making you a perfect swimmer with an unbreakable will, and an endless supply of water confidence. These are just some tips and drills that can benefit you in preparation for military selection courses that are aquatic based. All of these drills can be modified and made easier or more difficult based on your skill level.

The main thing to focus on is progressing and building water confidence. You must get used to being uncomfortable and accept the fact that these courses are designed to be tough, and test you no matter how well you prepare. Showing up to these courses as prepared as possible can be the difference between you passing or failing the selection process.  

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Introducing the Essential Shooting Guide

 

reft16_esg_product1

After almost a year of work, we are excited to announce the release of our new Essential Shooting Guide. This 91-page book is specifically designed to use in conjunction with our Essentials Target. Together, they will enhance your shooting skills as well as make the most out of your range time.

The Essentials Shooting Guide starts out with the user shooting our 150 round, 17 course of fire Essential Drill listed in Chapter 1 on page 7.

This drill is designed to test all of the major aspects of shooting including draws, reloads, marksmanship, trigger speeds, and target transitions.  Following the drill, you will see where you need to improve and offers exercises to enhance your skills.

reft16_esg_interiorpages_03

Each drill also has a section where you can record your results and track your improvement.  The books are printed in the USA and measure 4 x 6″ to allow for easy carry to and from the range.

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To purchase, the book go to https://www.refactortactical.com/shop/the-essential-shooting-guide/

Use of Force and Total War in Cyberspace: Part II

This is the second part of a paper I wrote for the Naval War College.  In part one, we discussed whether or not a cyber attack can rise to the same level of use of force as a kinetic attack.  The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.  I am by no means an expert on the cyber realm.  This is a conceptual argument, nothing more.

Total War

The theories of absolute war and total war cause a great deal of confusion.  Absolute war (or ideal war) is a theoretical construct raised by Carl von Clausewitz in his treatise On War.  Clausewitz views absolute war as a war without limitations to means of victory.  He does note, however, that absolute war is a purely theoretical premise and acknowledges that in reality, political considerations will limit military commanders in their conduct of war (Clausewitz, 1976).

Use of Force and Total War in Cyberspace: Part I

Total war, on the other hand, is a war conducted short of absolute war that involves the full mobilization of the nation’s civilian populace and infrastructure in support of the war effort.  Because the populace and infrastructure fully mobilize as part of the war effort, they become valid targets for the opposing army.  An example of total war is the pillaging of Confederate states during the American Civil War under the justification of breaking the will of the people to fight while depriving the Confederate Army of needed war supplies (Janda, 1995).  More recent examples of total war include the deliberate carpet-bombing of both British and German targets during World War II, along with the conversion of civilian production lines to tank or bomber production.

 

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In the cyber world, everything is connected.  The hard distinction between a military target and a civilian target does not exist.  In order to target the power to a military base, attackers could target a nearby power generation plant or a power grid.  However, taking down that power plant or grid could “bleed” into blackouts in surrounding critical infrastructure.  That bleed could have severe effects on the local civilian population, especially if done during extreme weather conditions or on a grid with a hospital or other emergency services nexus.

Spc. Isaiah Anderson, an Information Management Officer with U.S. Army Alaska updates the anti-virus software on a stand-alone, off-network computer in the signals section of USARAK headquarters. Cyber security is important on both military and civilian networks.
Spc. Isaiah Anderson, an Information Management Officer with U.S. Army Alaska updates the anti-virus software on a stand-alone, off-network computer in the signals section of USARAK headquarters. Cyber security is important on both military and civilian networks.

Scenario

Cyber-attacks offer an opportunity for substantial effects at relatively low cost.  Take, for example, a future conflict between China and the United States.  China is rising, and its goals are not clear.  If they choose to pursue regional hegemony, they must push out the American influence from their sphere in the Pacific.  If they pursue great power status, conflict may be inevitable, a possibility foreshadowed by the conflict between Athens and Sparta between 500 and 400 B.C. (Allison, 2015).  From the perspective of a modernized military, China lags significantly.  They certainly possess a numerical superiority, but they also suffer from an inability to move those numbers the distance required to use them to affect the continental United States.  China knows this, and they must seek a way to defeat the United States in a deniable way that avoids a physical battle.  As Sun Tzu said, “Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle.  They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.” (Tzu, 1963)  Cyber may prove to be the key.

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China could pursue a dual-pronged strategy that would first destroy the people’s will to fight, while also impeding any military response to the attack.  Targeting the economic, technological, electrical, and logistical structure of the United States creates an opportunity to distract the American leadership while China makes moves that would normally merit a military response.  A simple glitch in the system provides no benefit, it must be a sustained outage that deprives the American people of necessities and conveniences long enough to cause pain, not mere discomfort.  It need not rise to the level of physical death to people, although once power and supply chains are attacked, the death toll will rise as the duration of the shortages lengthen.  As American General Philip Sheridan once said: “Death is popularly considered the maximum of punishment in war, but it is not; reduction to poverty brings prayers for peace more surely and more quickly than does the destruction of human life, as the selfishness of man has demonstrated in more than one great conflict” (Sheridan, 2004).    A simultaneous, or closely following, attack on the military’s command and control and logistical systems would disrupt the military’s ability to provide a cogent response, whether kinetic or cyber.

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This strategy is not without serious danger, however.  First, it plainly falls within the category of both a use of force and armed attack.  Under the United Nations Charter, the United States would be well within its right to respond either kinetically or in the cyber realm.  Second, due to the international connections of the financial sector, an attack on the economic structure of the United States could easily affect many more nations than originally targeted.  While this may cause further confusion under which China could move, it would also broaden the number of countries eligible to respond under the Charter, and possibly forge them into an alliance.  Third, and closely related to the second point, China requires a market for the goods it produces.  Causing massive economic harm could backfire rapidly unless China has a well thought out strategy for the aftermath of the attack.

Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 (LSE-16) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. The overall purpose of the exercise was to practice the deployment of a fighting force of more than 50,000 military personnel to a partner nation and incorporate both live-fire and simulated combat scenarios against a near-peer enemy force. 553-CPT is a team of cyber defense specialists with Fleet Cyber Command. The team advised I MEF while setting up the command element’s networks.
Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 (LSE-16) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. The overall purpose of the exercise was to practice the deployment of a fighting force of more than 50,000 military personnel to a partner nation and incorporate both live-fire and simulated combat scenarios against a near-peer enemy force. 553-CPT is a team of cyber defense specialists with Fleet Cyber Command. The team advised I MEF while setting up the command element’s networks.

Conclusion

Though the gap diminishes with every passing year, the United States remains the world’s most powerful military.  However, weaknesses in our cyber infrastructure provide an opportunity for an adversary willing to wage a total war and suffer its backlash.  A massive attack aimed at both military and civilian targets could provide the “shock and awe” and disruption necessary to prevent a kinetic or cyber response, or at least minimize it.  Total war in the cyber realm involves many of the same risks as kinetic war, and could be every bit as devastating to the belligerents and the international order.  The advantage to cyber-attack lies in its ability to strike far beyond the range of kinetic weapons and avoid attribution.  It could prove to be the equalizer between nations with extreme disparity in kinetic forces, allowing weaker countries to assert their areas of influence without ever firing a shot.

Bibliography

Allison, G. (2015, September 24). The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War. The Atlantic. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Clausewitz, C. v. (1976). On War. (M. Howard, P. Paret, Eds., M. Howard, & P. Paret, Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Janda, L. (1995, January). Shutting the Gates of Mercy: The American Origins of Total War, 1860-1880. The Journal of Military History, 59(1), 7-26. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944362?origin=JSTOR-pdf

Schmitt, M. (Ed.). (2013). Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyberspace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/nato_ccd_coe/docs/tallinnmanual?e=0/1803379

Sheridan, P. H. (2004, June 7). The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Volume 1. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from Grant Under Fire: http://www.grantunderfire.com/civil-war-resources/various-memoirs/sheridans-memoirs-vol-2/

Tzu, S. (1963). The Art of War. (S. B. Griffith, Trans.) New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations. (2016, October 5). Charter of the United Nations: Chapter VII. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-vii/index.html

United Nations. (2016, October 5). United Nations Charter: Chapter I. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html

About the author

Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Use of Force and Total War in Cyberspace: Part I

This is the first part of a paper I wrote for the Naval War College.  The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.  I am by no means an expert on the cyber realm.  This is a conceptual argument, nothing more.  And no, the professor hasn’t seen it yet, so please hold all critiques until after he gets done chewing me a new one…

Introduction

The specter of cyber warfare sits front and center in most homeland security and homeland defense discussions in the news today.  Constant tales of emails, personal identities, and trade secrets stolen combine with defaced government websites and stories of infiltration into our power grid by shadowy attackers to bombard us.  Governments and private entities argue about the correct response.  Should we counterattack?  At what level should we attack them?  Is it a criminal matter, or an act of war?

Use of Force and Total War in Cyberspace: Part II

In this article, I will attempt to show that under specific circumstances cyber-attacks are a “use of force” under the charter of the United Nations and that in cyberspace – more so than in the temporal realm – total war remains a real threat.

A Cybersecurity Expo, hosted by the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters, was held Oct. 3, 2016, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The expo was held to increase awareness of cybersecurity threats and how they impact day-to-day Army operations. (U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale)(Released)
A Cybersecurity Expo, hosted by the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters, was held Oct. 3, 2016, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The expo was held to increase awareness of cybersecurity threats and how they impact day-to-day Army operations. (U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale)(Released)

Background

Cyber-attacks are not a new phenomenon.  Though the media did not cover cyber events in the early stages of the

internet nearly as heavily as they do now, cyber-attacks occurred throughout the 1990s.  As the world became more dependent on the digital, the number of attacks and their associated media coverage has increased.

The cyber-world is vast, and the realm of attacks equally so.  For the purposes of this discussion, we will confine ourselves to purely cyber warfare.  Cyber-attacks with the intent of preparing the battlespace for follow-on kinetic engagement will be out of scope.  We will define what differentiates a criminal cyber-attack from a “use of force” cyber-attack and total war.  Finally, we will discuss the theoretical possibility of a “total war” fought solely in cyberspace.

Decisional Framework

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter recognizes “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defen[s]e if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations…” (United Nations, 2016).  Article 2(4) states that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” (United Nations, 2016).  Articles 39, 41, and 42 (taken together) allow the United Nations to take action using the four instruments of power against a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” short of a use of force or armed attack (United Nations, 2016).

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Note that Articles 39, 41, and 42 refer to the United Nations as a whole, whereas Article 51 refers to individual members.  Because we are limited to the discussion of cyber warfare without a kinetic component, how do we determine if a cyber-attack rises to the level of an “armed attack,” or whether our cyber actions constitute a “use of force?”

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 28, 2016) Electronics Technician 1st Class Chidubem Duke conducts maintenance on one of the thousands of circuit boards used at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. Navy Electronics Technicians (ETs) are specially trained in the electrical engineering, computer and aerospace fields. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Jason Howard (Released) 160928-N-XB816-016
FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 28, 2016)
Electronics Technician 1st Class Chidubem Duke conducts maintenance on one of the thousands of circuit boards used at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. Navy Electronics Technicians (ETs) are specially trained in the electrical engineering, computer and aerospace fields. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Jason Howard (Released) 160928-N-XB816-016

The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyberspace provides us with important answers to this question.  Commissioned by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, it states, “A cyber operation constitutes a use of force when its scale and effects are comparable to non-cyber operations rising to the level of a use of force” (Schmitt, 2013).  In considering the scale and effects, the manual lists six criteria to determine whether an attack rises to the level of a use of force:

  1. Severity: how great is the threat of physical injury or destruction of property from the action?
  2. Immediacy: how quickly do the negative consequences of the action develop?
  3. Directness: how closely tied are the consequences to the action?
  4. Invasiveness: does the action causing the harm cross into the target state?
  5. Measurability: are the consequences of the action easy to ascertain?
  6. Presumptive legitimacy: was the action taken in accordance with international laws and norms?

 

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Concerning an armed attack, the manual states: “A State that is the target of a cyber operation that rises to the level of an armed attack may exercise its inherent right of self-defen[s]e.  Whether a cyber operation constitutes an armed attack depends on its scale and effects.” (Schmitt, 2013)

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The scale and effects criteria separate nuisance or criminal cyber-attacks and cyber intelligence gathering from the level of attack that would constitute a use of force or armed attack.  As a matter of course, criminal cyber-attacks (including nuisance attacks) remain the realm of law enforcement for investigation and prosecution; intelligence briefs remain the realm of federal law enforcement or the applicable intelligence agency for prosecution, damage assessment, and remedy.  However, an attack against a nuclear power facility or hydro-electric dam that resulted in even the danger of a meltdown, release of materials, or deadly flooding could easily rise to the level of armed attack.

References:

Allison, G. (2015, September 24). The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War. The Atlantic. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Clausewitz, C. v. (1976). On War. (M. Howard, P. Paret, Eds., M. Howard, & P. Paret, Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Janda, L. (1995, January). Shutting the Gates of Mercy: The American Origins of Total War, 1860-1880. The Journal of Military History, 59(1), 7-26. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944362?origin=JSTOR-pdf

Schmitt, M. (Ed.). (2013). Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyberspace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/nato_ccd_coe/docs/tallinnmanual?e=0/1803379

Sheridan, P. H. (2004, June 7). The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Volume 1. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from Grant Under Fire: http://www.grantunderfire.com/civil-war-resources/various-memoirs/sheridans-memoirs-vol-2/

Tzu, S. (1963). The Art of War. (S. B. Griffith, Trans.) New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations. (2016, October 5). Charter of the United Nations: Chapter VII. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-vii/index.html

United Nations. (2016, October 5). United Nations Charter: Chapter I. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html

About the author

Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.