Category Archives: Topics

By, With, And Through: Section 1202 and the Future of Unconventional Warfare

As conflicts continue to be fought in countries far from the United States, it is of increasing importance that our government have the ability to train and equip foreign personnel to ensure global security. To this end, Congress enacted Section 1202 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, enabling the Department of Defense to spend up to $10 million annually to support foreign forces engaged in ongoing and authorized irregular warfare operations.

In their article, Rich, Johnson, and Shirk discuss the significant limitations of this authority, chiefly its definition of irregular warfare as “competition between state and non-state actors short of traditional armed conflict,” and argue that Section 1202 is critical in allowing Special Operations Forces to counteract the aggressive actions of other nation-states through foreign personnel, while emphasizing the lack of specific authority which would allow SOF to train and equip an irregular force during a traditional armed conflict against another nation-state.

Rich, Johnson, and Shirk conclude that, while this gap may be filled through covert funds or existing emergency funds, there is still value in enacting specific authorities prior to an emergency.

Guantanamo Detention in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new attention to what many familiar with Guantánamo Bay have known for years: the military prison lacks the infrastructure, expertise, and equipment to manage and address emergent health issues, including a serious viral outbreak.

In this article, defense attorney and former Judge Advocate in the US Air Force Annie Morgan discusses the unique issues complicating detainee medical care, such as the age and health of detainees, the military’s lack of adequate equipment and personnel for COVID-19, and the domestic law prohibiting the transfer of detainees to the United States for medical treatment.

Morgan then highlights three solutions to address the inadequate medical care available to detainees, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and afterward. First, that there should be increased virtual contact between detainees and their lawyers and NGO representatives. Second, that there should be more agile deployment capabilities for specialist personnel and equipment. And finally, that the military should develop a transport plan for emergency medical treatment, either by pursuing congressional carve-outs from the general domestic ban, or by working with third-party countries to provide treatment.

“Outside Experts”: Expertise and the Counterterrorism Industry in Social Media Content Moderation

Who’s the expert? The counterterrorism industry has often been described as a revolving door. Self-described “experts” move between military, intelligence, research, and academic circles creating the dominant, orthodox narratives that frame our collective understanding of terrorism and terrorist actors.

As companies are under increasing pressure to address and respond to terrorist material on social media platforms, the counterterrorism industry has also gripped Silicon Valley. Amre Metwally’s article is the first to examine the ways in which terrorism experts have increasingly shaped the ways in which technology companies define, enforce, and remove online actors and content they see as part of the terrorism umbrella.

Using a framework of “inside experts” (experts from the public sector moving into the technology industry and the growth of “Intelligence Desks”) and “outside experts” (third-party companies who provide risk monitoring and threat analysis to technology companies), the article documents how expertise is produced as social media companies draft their content policies on terrorism-related issues.