Speaker: Robinson, L. (RAND)
Date: 15 May 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Ms. Linda Robinson (RAND) as a part of its Future of Global Competition & Conflict Speaker Series. Ms. Robinson focused her presentation on a recent RAND report that examined the practice of political warfare during the Cold War (using George Kennan’s definition as a basis) and similar types of activities today. She first outlined Kennan’s definition of political warfare and then explained how her work applied additional rigor to this definition. She spoke about the continuum of conflict and stated that the World War II mental model based on physical violence inhibits our thinking. Ms. Robinson stressed that it is time to break away from this model, especially because China already has. Next, she spoke about modern political warfare and used Russia, Iran, and ISIS as case studies. After discussing each case study in depth, she identified the key attributes of modern political warfare derived from the case studies. Ms. Robinson then identified the difficulties of detection and warning when it comes to unconventional warfare, due to the ambiguity and deception involved. She stated that RAND’s Analytic System (ACTIV) tracks adversary activity and country vulnerability in order to better prevent and prepare for impending unconventional warfare tactics. Ms. Robinson also provided several response requirements for the Department of Defense and Interagency, including: 1) the recognition of modern political warfare as a form of warfare; 2) the creation of a proactive strategy and an architecture for integrated response; 3) the identification of vulnerabilities in order to build up resilience, detect, defend, and deter; and 4) the repair of gaps in US information practices and capabilities. To conclude, Ms. Robinson offered a few specific recommendations for Special Operations Forces (SOF).