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The Combating Threats Exchange staff are happy to bring you the November 2015 issue of CTX.

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Countering Extremist Groups in Cyberspace: Applying Old Solutions to a New Problem

Finding ways to counter an adversary that is not physically observable poses a significant challenge, especially when that adversary is operating within the vast domain of cyberspace. For various extremist groups that promote hatred and violence, cyberspace provides a virtual safe haven where they can promote their causes, raise funds, communicate, and grow...

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Disaster Response: A Not-so-Sexy Kind of Job

When Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in early November 2013, I was a staff officer with the Philippine Fleet (Division category), while at the same time serving as the deputy commander of a SEAL-type unit of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG)...

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The Phantom Raid

The computerized log register at the Air House shows that at 0207 local time on 2 May 2011, an urgent telephone call for the air chief came in. When the air chief came on the line, the army chief, his land counterpart, informed him of confirmed reports of aerial activity, weapons fire, and a helicopter crash around the northeast garrison town of Abbottabad. "Is there any flying activity from the PAF [Pakistani Air Force]?" the army chief inquired... 

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Generic placeholder image Seymour Hersh Reignites the Bin Laden Raid Controversy

The news that broke in Pakistan on the morning of 2 May 2011, that a US special operations team had conducted a daring night raid inside Pakistan to eliminate terrorist Osama bin Laden, left the Pakistani public in a state of shock and utter disbelief...

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The Sri Lankan Civil War: a Personal Reminiscence

As a member of the Sri Lankan armed forces, I have served since 1992 in various capacities that dealt with the planning and execution of counterterrorist operations against the ruthless insurgent organization known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The effort to eliminate the terrorists completely from Sri Lankan soil through military strategy and political and national will superseded all other national priorities and was ultimately successful. In this article, I discuss my operational experience in different stages of the conflict with the LTTE, the progress the armed forces achieved over time, and our success adapting small-group tactics to overcome LTTE strongholds and defenses...

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The Use and Misuse of Influence in Counterinsurgency

In 2007, the US military was heavily invested in the war in Iraq. Following the initial success against the regular Iraqi army, the American war effort became mired in counterinsurgency operations against the numerous criminal and insurgent groups that rose to fill the power vacuum left in the wake of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's fall. Faced with the decision to pull out altogether or to double down on US involvement, the George W. Bush administration opted for the latter course and sent an additional 30,000 troops into Iraq, in what was called "the surge." These troops were tasked with establishing security and providing breathing space for the budding government of Iraq to establish control over the country...

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The Dark Side of Drones: Implications for Terrorism

In recent years, rapid advancements in drone technology have raised questions, not only at the tactical level but also at the academic level, about the potentially revolutionary ways drones will affect how terrorists operate and what such technology will be capable of. As historian Walter Laqueur warned, "Society has … become vulnerable to a new kind of terrorism, in which the destructive power of both the individual terrorist and terrorism as a tactic are infinitely greater..."

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The Comprehensive Approach: a Silver Bullet or the Loch Ness Monster?

The way militaries understand what constitutes a threat to security has gone through a significant transformation since the end of the Cold War. Single peer-on-peer military threats of the past have given way to complex forms of violence and upheaval that simultaneously threaten both national and global peace and security. The natural consequence of this transformation is a fundamental change in the way nations approach crisis management, a role that has radically expanded over the course of recent conflicts in terms of tasks, timelines, and the number of actors involved...

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This interview is taken from the collection of the Combating Terrorism Archive Project (CTAP). On 13 August 2015, Dr. Doug Borer sat down with counterinsurgency expert Dr. David Kilcullen to talk about current trends in counterinsurgency planning and operations, and the fight against ISIS...

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The WRITTEN WORD American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security

A lengthy absence from the academic world can make returning to graduate school an intimidating proposition. Those of us who have been military practitioners more than theorizers over the past decade have found it necessary to push aside introspective thought in favor of preparing for the current or next challenge. When the time finally comes to make the leap back into academia and expand our minds' ability to think critically about the world, we inevitably face some start-up costs: recalling and dusting off long-forgotten theories, catching up on domestic and international events and their consequences, recalling the lessons of history that apply to current realities, and thinking critically about where we stand as citizens and professionals...

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THE WRITTEN WORD the Hour Between Dog and Wolf

The hour between dog and wolf, that is, dusk, when the two can't be distinguished from each other, suggests a lot of other things besides the time of day. … The hour in which … every being becomes his own shadow, and thus something other than himself. The hour of metamorphoses, when people half hope, half fear that a dog will become a wolf. The hour that comes down to us from at least as far back as the early Middle Ages, when country people believed that transformation might happen at any moment...

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The Moving Image

If you are interested in learning about one of the most important irregular warfare campaigns in American history, AMC's American Revolutionary War television series, Turn: Washington's Spies, is a great place to start. Based on historian Alexander Rose's book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, Turn combines drama, suspense, and intrigue to bring to life the spies of the Culper Ring—relatively unknown yet important and audacious actors in early American history. For those readers who have more than a casual interest in the dynamics of insurgencies and counterinsurgency operations, Turn also offers some thought-provoking reminders that population-centric conflicts may be more similar than they are unique—a consideration that merits continued investigation in our modern era of persistent irregular conflict...

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This journal is not an official DoD publication. The views expressed or implied within are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any governmental or nongovernmental organization or agency of the United States of America or any other country.


Copyright © 2023 by the author(s), except where otherwise noted. The Combating Threats Exchange journal (CTX) is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal available free of charge to individuals and institutions. Copies of this journal and the articles contained herein may be printed or downloaded and redistributed for personal, research, or educational purposes free of charge and without permission, except if otherwise noted. Any commercial use of CTX or the articles published herein is expressly prohibited without the written consent of the copyright holder. The copyright of all articles published herein rests with the author(s) of the article, unless otherwise noted.


  • SALLY BAHO, Copy Editor
  • LAYOUT AND DESIGN, Graduate Education Advancement Center, Naval Postgraduate School


  • VICTOR ASAL, University of Albany SUNY
  • CHRIS HARMON, Marine Corps University
  • TROELS HENNINGSEN, Royal Danish Defense College
  • PETER MCCABE, Joint Special Operations University
  • RAJAN RAVINDRAN, Indian Army (Ret.)
  • IAN C. RICE, US Army (Ret.)
  • ANNA SIMONS, Naval Postgraduate School
  • SHYAMSUNDER TEKWANI, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
  • CRAIG WHITESIDE, Naval War College


  • AMINA KATOR-MUBAREZ, Naval Postgraduate School