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The Afghan Debacle: Causes, Consequences, and Ways Ahead

Article by Dr. John Arquilla, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, US Naval Postgraduate School [1] In testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, just one month after the fall of Kabul in August 2021, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described Afghanistan as a “strategic defeat” for the United States.[2] Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin added, “the Afghan army we and our partners trained simply melted away—in many cases without firing a shot....Read More.

Operational and Strategic Progress in Ukraine: Identifying the Condition Changes

Editor’s Note: In September 2022, ECCO Insights published an analysis by the authors of the early status (Day 54) of the Ukraine war and some potential trajectories. [1] Using a “factors and conditions” array called a Zwicky Box, the authors first illustrated the existing operational and strategic environments, and then demonstrated how identifiable shifts in the condition of specific factors could turn the conflict in Ukraine’s favor. We recently asked the authors to update their earlier analysis and provide us with both a snapshot of the current status (Day 460) and their assessment of how Ukraine and its allies have already and might once again move factors in Ukraine’s favor. ----- The war in Ukraine continues....Read More.

Barbarism Begins at Home

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not a war against civilization. Here’s why: When Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that “we are defending European civilization,” he is articulating something very problematic.[1] Let us not forget that one of the absolute lowest points of barbarism in modern history was the Holocaust, whose epicenter was in the very heart of Europe. Of course, we need to do whatever we can to deal with the victims of this current war of aggression. From aid to fleeing refugees and injured and homeless people and animals, to artillery and air defense systems, we should do whatever we can—short of placing soldiers on the ground—to help the Ukrainians defend themselves....Read More.

Perspectives on Ukraine and the Russian Invasion

Dr. Douglas Borer, Department of Defense Analysis at the US Naval Postgraduate School, asked Dr. Myerson some questions about the causes of the Russian war against Ukraine, the role of allies in Ukraine’s defense, and his perspective on how the war might end.  Can you offer a perspective on the root causes of Russia's invasion of Ukraine? Successful democratic development in Ukraine makes it harder for the President of Russia to rule his country as an autocrat. This basic fact has been the primary cause of Russia's invasion of Ukraine this year....Read More.

Operational Design: Imagination Needed in Ukraine

It is unlikely that there is one single action that can end the present conflict in Ukraine without it being accompanied by significant unintended consequences. It is, however, highly likely that a particular combination of actions, if executed with precise timing, an acknowledgment of the centrality of the three principal actors—Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the NATO alliance—and an awareness of amplifying effects, could deliver an end to the conflict on terms favourable to Ukraine. This paper analyses the central factors at the operational and strategic levels to highlight purposeful courses of action that could be developed: actions that are linked directly to sought-after changes in the system....Read More.