A Quarterly, Peer Reviewed Online Journal

The The Combating Threats Exchange staff are happy to bring you the Spring 2019 issue of CTX. 

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Finland's Special Operations Surgical Team in Action

The dust... . dust is everywhere. You try to avoid it, but somehow it finds its way inside the room. Outside, you can hear loud voices and distant explosions competing with long bursts from machine guns. Here, inside some-one’s living room, a small group of people is working with bloody hands. On the table in front of the silent medical team lies an injured fighter from the Iraq security forces, and the team is trying to save his life by any available means. This time, the effort is worthwhile; the fighter survives, and he will be transported to another place to recover and get more specialized treatment. The dust flies in again when somebody opens the door, the next patient arrives, and treatment begins anew.

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Coercion and Non-State Actors: Lessons from the Philippines

he complicated nature of our contemporary security environment requires states to deal with state and non-state threats alike. However, while there are sound and substantiated frameworks for understanding state interactions, and extensive research regarding non-state actors in insurgency has enhanced counterinsurgency theory, the understanding of coercion’s utility vis-à-vis non-state actors is still lagging behind.

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The Localization Strategy: Strategic Sense for Special Operations Forces in Niger

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily supported by the Special Forces Group, Belgian SOCOM, Belgian Armed Forces, or the government of Belgium.The Localization Strategy: Strategic Sense for Special Operations Forces in NigerIn early 2018, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger gave Colonel Major Moussa Salaou Barmou, the director of Niger’s Commandement des Operations Spéciales (Dir COS—Special Operations Command) the tremendous task of setting up 12 Bataillons Spéciaux d’Intervention (BSI) over five years.

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The Development of a Special Operations Command for Japan

In 2014, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe determined that the Japanese government would develop what it called the Seamless Security Legislation (SSL; 切れ目のない安全保障法制), to ensure the future survival of Japan and its people.1 This legislation filled a gap in the existing Self Defense Law by providing the necessary authorization for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to “seamlessly” fulfill an evolving set of roles and missions.

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The Written Word

Few would argue that special operations constitute a critical element in modern warfare, which makes the relative scarcity of theoretical studies on the subject striking. Furthermore, according to the editors of Special Operations from a Small State Perspective: Future Security Challenges—and my own observation—the literature that does exist within this field focuses primarily on the utility of SOF for states with substantial military power.

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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