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Greece debt crisis: IMF suggests debt relief as referendum campaign begins - Business - CBC News about 15 hours ago
Greece debt crisis: IMF suggests debt relief as referendum campaign begins
Finance minister says he will resign if there is a Yes vote in Sunday referendum
The Associated Press Posted: Jul 02, 2015
The battle for Greek votes went into full swing today ahead of a crucial weekend referendum that could decide whether the country falls out of the euro, but the IMF suggests the next step might be negotiating debt relief, a key demand by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greeks face massive uncertainty, while for many, particularly the elderly, the daily struggle is to get cash for living expenses.
Greece's creditors have halted any negotiations on a new financial rescue program until after the popular vote on whether to accept proposed reforms in exchange for bailout loans.
In a statement released Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said Greece is officially in arrears on its debt, but its policy is to work collaboratively with members to clear their arrears. Greece missed a $1.6-billion euro payment ($2.2 billion Cdn) on 21.2 billion euros ($29.5 billion) in total debt to the IMF.
The IMF said being in arrears means Greece can no longer borrow from the IMF. But an analysis created before Greece missed its payment deadline and released today suggested the country may need 50 billion euros and widespread debt relief over the next three years to help it turn around its economy.
Pointing to Greece's failure to reform its finances over the past five years, the IMF explained to European creditors that Greece may need a 20-year grace period on debt and said any bailout package would have to include debt relief, as well as a new reform package for the economy.
Ashoka Mody, a visiting professor in international economic policy at Princeton University, responded to the IMF study by saying debt relief should have been on the table from the start and the release of this report seems to indicate the IMF was not negotiating in good faith when it drew a hard line in debt talks.
Tsipras has staunchly advocated a No to the referendum, saying it would put the country in a stronger negotiating position with creditors. But European officials and the Greek opposition have warned such an outcome could be tantamount to a decision to leave the euro.
Until then, the country remains in limbo, with banks mostly shut and strict cash withdrawal limits imposed until after the vote.
Crowds of elderly Greeks, some struggling with walking sticks or being held up by others, thronged the few banks opened to help pensioners without debit or credit cards withdraw at least some money.
The banks shut down on Monday to prevent remaining funds fleeing after Tsipras announced he was calling the referendum.
The European Central Bank continues to provide funding for Greek banks, hoping to keep Greece stable.
Greeks are now restricted to a daily withdrawals of 60 euros ($83 Cdn), although in practice this has become 50 euros ($70 Cdn) for many as large numbers of ATMs have run out of 20 euro notes.
Pensioners without bank cards are being allowed to withdraw a maximum 120 euros ($167 Cdn) for the week from open bank branches.
"All I know is that that we are all going crazy here," said Anisia Kaklamanou, one of those waiting to get into a bank in central Athens. "And I don't know what to do on Sunday: vote Yes, vote No. I don't know. All I know is that I have 120 euros to get by until whenever the banks open."
Markets dislike the uncertainty, but investors know they have to wait out the crisis. Europe's Stoxx index was down slightly on Thursday, but markets in London and Switzerland rose, while Toronto stocks rose on Thursday.
The question on Sunday's ballot is whether they accept or reject a reform proposal made by creditors during negotiations last week.
With Tsipras stepping up the No campaign in a televised address, there are signs the vote is too close to call. A euroday survey of Greek voters showed 47 per cent would vote Yes to accepting EU terms, while only 43 per cent leaned toward No.
And there are arguments over whether Greece can even afford its referendum, with ballots and election monitors projected to cost at least 20 million euros ($28 million Cdn) and many Greeks, who are registered to vote in their hometowns, unable to travel home to vote because of travel restrictions.
Election rallies set for Friday may help sway the poll.
Meanwhile, Tsipras's party Syriza is appealing to the country's media watchdog to get private TV and radio stations to stop from what it called an "incomprehensible and unprecedented" campaign in favor of a Yes vote.
No talks until after vote
Europe's last proposal is no longer on the table. It was amended later in the week and has now been rendered moot by the fact that Greece's international bailout expired Tuesday.
The country is now seeking a different deal with its European creditors. But European officials have said they cannot negotiate with Athens until after Sunday's vote.
The head of the eurozone finance ministers' group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says it will be "incredibly difficult" to build a new bailout package for Greece if the country votes No in Sunday's referendum.
He raised questions about the new government's ability to continue talks in such a case and rejected the Greek government's argument that it might get a stronger bargaining position in case of a No vote.
"That suggestion is simply wrong," Dijsselbloem told lawmakers in the Netherlands.
Some European officials have said the Greek referendum amounts to a vote on whether to stay in the euro. The Greek government says that is merely an attempt to terrorize the people into voting in favour of destructive austerity policies.
Many Greeks say they will be casting their ballots to end the budget cuts and tax increases imposed in return for bailout loans from other eurozone countries and the IMF.
"We've been going through this crisis over the last five years and we had nothing to eat, our pensions and our wages have been slashed and some made a profit off us," said pensioner Koula Makri in a bank queue.
She said Tsipras took too long to shut down the banks. "I'm in total agreement with [banks] closing. The queues are nothing next to all the suicides, the soup kitchens and the homeless on the streets of Athens."
Vow to resign
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Bloomberg TV he would resign in case of a Yes vote.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Europe remains committed to avoiding "catastrophe" for Greece and keeping it in the eurozone.
"The exit of Greece from the eurozone is not desirable, nor envisaged," Sapin said on France's iTele television Thursday.
If voters reject international bailout terms in Sunday's vote, then "we are entering in an unknown zone, an economic slide," Sapin warned.
Sapin had been pushing for an agreement with Greece before Sunday, but after a fruitless meeting of European finance ministers Wednesday, he conceded there was no point negotiating until after the vote.
He said he and other European finance ministers "tried until the last minute to find an accord, until the Greek prime minister said No.
European officials say Greece walked out of negotiations last week when the two sides were relatively close to a deal. Varoufakis said the main disagreement between the two sides was the notion of easing the terms on Greece's debt.
He told Bloomberg TV "I prefer to cut my arm off" than sign a rescue deal that does not include a debt relief provision.
Business associations and the country's largest labor union urged the government to cancel the referendum, while two private citizens have appealed to the Council of State, the country's highest court, to rule the vote unconstitutional.
The Council of Europe — an independent body with 47 member states that monitors elections and human rights — told The Associated Press the referendum would fall short of its internationally accepted recommendations, with the time allowed too short and the question put the people not clear.
In a sign of serious financial deterioration, Greece suffered another sovereign downgrade Wednesday night, the fourth this week. Moody's slashed the country's rating from Caa2 to Caa3, or just above default.
Fair Elections Act critics seek injunction, arguing new ID rules block voting - Politics - CBC News about 15 hours ago
Fair Elections Act critics seek injunction, arguing new ID rules block voting
Proof of address requirement would make voting difficult for seniors, students, aboriginal groups
By Michelle Ghoussoub, Trinh Theresa Do, CBC News Posted: Jul 02, 2015
The Ontario Superior Court is hearing arguments today and Friday from a coalition of groups seeking an injunction against a couple of key elements of the Conservative government's Fair Elections Act.
The group, comprised of the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students, and three private voters, wants to restore the ability of Canada's Chief Electoral Officer to allow the use of voter information cards as proof of address, and reinstate vouching provisions that would allow electors to prove their identity.
The applicants filing the motion say they are concerned that provisions in the Fair Elections Act will systematically affect the ability of certain groups to vote, including youth, seniors, indigenous people, the homeless and people with disabilities.
"We know that youth historically have low voter turnout and so we want to see changes to elections law that encourage students and youth to vote," said Jessica McCormick with the Canadian Federation of Students.
"The Fair Elections Act did the opposite," she said in an interview with CBC News.
The group has also filed a lawsuit against the legislation, arguing that the act violates section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the "right to vote in an election of the members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."
'Immediate action' needed
The group decided to file an injunction because the Charter challenge is unlikely to be heard and determined in court prior to the Oct. 19 election.
"We believe and you know, hundreds of thousands of Canadians who signed our petitions opposing this legislation believe that these changes will disenfranchise a significant number of people when they head to the polls in October," said McCormick.
"So we really need immediate action, at least to put on pause some of these changes and ensure that people are able to cast a ballot on Oct. 19."
Under the act, voters are no longer able to use their voter information card as proof of address. Voters must now provide a second piece of identification, such as a driver's licence, to prove where they live.
Voters who do not have a driver's licence — around four million Canadians — must provide another piece of identification as proof of address. For groups such as aboriginal communities, university students living off-campus, and senior citizens living in care facilities, this can prove challenging.
Elections Canada conducted pilot projects in 2010 and 2011 allowing the use of voter identification cards, along with another piece of authorized identification, to prove identity and address of registered voters in polling sites that served aboriginal reserves, seniors' residences, long-term care facilities and on-campus student residences.
In the 2011 general election, of approximately 900,000 registered voters that were allowed to use the cards, 400,000 did.
Reinstate vouching provisions: Election chief
The group is also concerned with changes on vouching.
Previously, one voter could vouch for another if they could not provide proof of address. It is now required that an individual vouching for another reside in the same polling division, and that the voter provide two pieces of identification. The concerned group points out that because some polling divisions can include as few as 250 individuals, this may cause difficulty for some voters.
If an injunction is granted, the court factum of Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand said he would authorize the use of voter information cards as identification in all cases, as long as there's enough time to reprint or revise the stock cards already printed.
The office of the elections chief said it requires a minimum of 11 weeks to reprint the voter cards to eliminate the statement that they can't be used for the purposes of identification.
Cards are currently being stored at four locations across Canada and are ready to be printed with pertinent information as soon as the election is called. Under the Elections Act, the cards must be sent out no later than 24 days before polling day.
The elections chief said previously that changes to vouching would be too administratively complex to complete before the upcoming general election.
The Ontario Superior Court will continue to hear arguments on Friday.
A decision on the injunction is expected on July 20.
RCMP conduct Montreal raids linked to radicalization investigation - Montreal - CBC News about 20 hours ago
RCMP conduct Montreal raids linked to radicalization investigation
Police seen removing boxes and computers from home in St-Leonard borough
CBC News Posted: May 26, 2015
RCMP and Montreal police carried out several raids around the city today linked to a radicalization investigation.
At least two of the raids were connected with the 10 Montreal youth recently arrested on suspicion of trying to leave the country to join jihadists in Turkey and Syria, the RCMP confirmed.
Police officers were seen removing boxes and computers from a home in the borough of St-Leonard, in the city's east end.
Investigators obtained a search warrant, but did not say what they are looking for. RCMP said it was the first time they had raided the residence.
Alberto Teixeira, a longtime resident in the area, said he woke to the sight of several RCMP officers on his street knocking on an apartment door.
"Officers were going in and out since 7 a.m.," Teixeira said.
Just a block away, another raid took place at a semi-detached home where a teenager was arrested about a week ago. The raid there also lasted several hours.
The 10 teenagers arrested in mid-May were released without charges, but their passports were confiscated.
RCMP said at the time the investigation was continuing.
A lawyer for one of the people arrested told Radio-Canada his client is a "victim" who was approached online and promised "a better life."
Some of those arrested have ties to the six Quebecers who are thought to have left for Turkey, en route to Syria, in January.
- Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf about 20 hours ago
- Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf about 20 hours ago
Meet Canada’s Latest Liberal Man-Boy » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names about 21 hours ago
Here we go again — the Red Book 3.0. Yet another build-up of Liberal election promises just like the ones we’ve seen before (though I admit the one about changing the voting system might be hard to dodge).
The most infamous, of course, was Jean Chretien’s, which he held high and waved at every opportunity in the 1993 election. Co-authored by Paul Martin, it promised the world as we would like it: strong communities, enhanced Medicare, equality, increased funding for education, an end to child poverty. You could almost hear the violins playing. But what turned out to be the most remarkable thing about the book of promises was the record number that were ultimately broken: all of them.
The only time you can trust the federal Liberal Party is when they don’t have a majority — and even with a minority government they have to dragged kicking and screaming to do anything that does not please Bay Street. This fact needs to be repeated over and over again in the next few months leading up to the election as political amnesia is a dangerous condition to take with you into the voting booth.
It’s been 10 years since we had a Liberal government and even longer since we had a majority Liberal regime. A trip down memory lane might serve as a curative.
The effect of amnesia as it relates to the Chretien regime (actually the Martin regime) leaves most Canadians recalling Martin as the deficit dragon-slayer, saving us from our profligate, self-indulgent, entitlement culture and getting us back on the road to solvency. A few will actually recall that Martin chopped 40 per cent off the federal contribution to social programs — but even that memory is diluted by another one: the legendary “debt wall” built exclusively of hyperbole and hysteria over the three years preceding the 1993 election.
But few today would credit the fact, documented in my book Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?, that the 1990s under Martin’s guidance was the worst decade of the century (except for the 1930s) in terms of growth, productivity, productive investment, employment and standard of living.
Unemployment was higher during almost all of Martin’s reign than it was as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.
But what is worse, this so-called liberal actually made it happen. It was a deliberate strategy, fancied up in policy terms as a commitment to “labour flexibility.” The social and economic carnage and the increased personal misery (an additional 300,000 unemployed) was staggering.
Yet because it was all couched in double-speak, Martin and the Liberals were never held to account. The finance ministry’s senior officials convinced Martin that the principal cause of unemployment was not low demand but unmotivated workers. The solution — make them more “flexible.” The best way to do that was to ensure that unemployment remained high. The finance department’s operating policy assumption (radical compared to the U.S. and other G7 nations) was that the “natural” level of unemployment was eight per cent — much higher than the five to six per cent that conventional theory suggested. But the spin never mentioned this number. It was always about keeping inflation below two per cent, extremely low given the country was barely out of a recession. The Bank of Canada worked closely with the government, increasing interest rates whenever unemployment went below about nine per cent.
The cost to the economy was brutal. The federal Human Resources Development Department calculated that Martin’s excessive unemployment cost the country’s GDP $77 billion just in 1993. Pierre Fortin, a distinguished economist at the Université du Québec à Montréal, calculated the radical policy cost the economy $400 billion between by 1996. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) study calculated the total loss to all levels of government in foregone revenue and increased social security costs at $47 billion.
Martin pounded labour in other ways. He slashed UI eligibility and eliminated the federal government’s role in maintaining decent social assistance rates.
At the same time, he was making the largest cuts to federal spending in the country’s history — including a massive 40 per cent cut to Medicare, education and social assistance.
Throughout this period the Liberal a government and its cheerleaders in the media framed the exercise as “deficit fighting.” But according to then CAW economist Jim Stanford, had Martin simply frozen federal spending and allowed unemployment to drop to six per cent, the deficit would have disappeared just one year later than it did. Martin knew all of this but two years after launching his “labour flexibility” program he proudly revealed his actual goal in his 1995 budget speech to Parliament, announcing the massive cuts. He never mentioned the word deficit — because that was not his target.
All those cuts by Martin were intended, in his words, to “redesign the very role and structure of government itself. [A]s far as we are concerned, it is [the] redefinition of government itself that is the main achievement of this budget. This budget overhauls not only how government works but what government does.”
Martin’s biggest boast? “Relative to the size of our economy, program spending will be lower in 1996-97 than at any time since 1951.”
To guarantee his handiwork would not be challenged by any future government, Martin, in 2000, introduced the country’s largest ever tax cuts: $100 billion over five years with the vast majority of the total going to high income individuals and corporations.
Why is Paul Martin’s appalling record relevant today? Because Liberal and Conservative politicians with rare exceptions (like Stephen Harper) are largely at the mercy of their bureaucracies and the agenda of the economic elite at the moment. In Martin’s case he was easily manipulated by his deputy minister David Dodge, in spite of the fact that Martin had a reputation for being supportive of activist government. His first, 1993, budget actually increased spending.
One of the Liberals’ main election planks in the 1993 election was job creation. Supporting this goal was Martin’s junior finance minister Doug Peters — an exceptional economist with excellent standing on Bay Street having worked for the TD bank as its senior economist for many years before jumping into politics. But in the end Martin, a long-time corporate CEO, could not have made any other choice. Dodge just made it easy for him. Martin was a Liberal finance minister at a time of unprecedented corporate power and its merger with the state. His role was assigned to him before he even got there. (Dodge actually lobbied Chretien to appoint him.)
Liberal politicians, with few exceptions, are captive to their neoliberal advisors, bureaucratic apparatchiks and senior corporate power brokers as soon as they actually get into power. This political capture is a likely prediction for Justin Trudeau if he ever becomes prime minister. Martin was not a blank slate — he was sophisticated, self-confident, with strong personality and a well developed liberal vision. He lasted a year.
Justin Trudeau, the man/boy, seems to have never had an original idea in his life nor any discernible vision of the country that drives his politics. No matter how long he is on the scene as a potential PM I cannot get past reacting to him as if he is an MC at a high school prom.
He is all artifice. More than any Liberal party leader in the past 35 years Trudeau is an empty vessel with little choice but to be filled up by his party’s corporate brain trust.
Bay Street desperately wants back into the game and the Liberals are their only option. While they have been given lots of goodies by Harper, they have been cut off from their historic role as the principal source of federal policy making. (Harper doesn’t care what they think.) In addition, the federal bureaucracy has been made to reflect the ideology of pro-business “efficiency” to such an extent over the past 20 years a genuine small-l liberal would have to replace most of it to get any advice contrary to the status-quo.
Justin doesn’t have a chance. The promises he makes will not be his to keep.
Army Makes Case For Funding Culture Skills Beyond COIN « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary on Jul 02, 15
As budgets tighten and the wars wind down, the Army is struggling to institutionalize the hard-won cultural skills it learned in Afghanistan and Iraq — and to make the case for their continued relevance and resourcing to an administration whose new strategic guidance swears off counterinsurgency.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey himself recently touted the importance of “the science of human relationships” as essential far beyond Afghanistan. The Army, Dempsey’s own service, has already begun to “align” specific brigades with specific regions they might operate, starting with Africa, so they can bone up on the local culture, language, and politics before they deploy, in an effort to replicate the pre-deployment training now done for Afghanistan for other parts of the world. But to secure funding for such efforts in the long term, the Army needs to enshrine them in joint doctrine.
At the heart of the Army’s evolving argument is a concept so new it hasn’t got an official name. “What we’re working to avoid is getting trapped into a title,” said Col. Robert Simpson of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), in an interview with Breaking Defense, though the leading proposed term is “human domain.” What’s essential, Simpson said, is “to make sure that we get into our doctrine, into our thinking in terms of the joint force and policymakers, that the purpose of any military operation is to affect human behavior.” But current planning processes fixate on physical factors. What’s necessary is a sophisticated cultural, sociological, and psychological understanding, he went on, of “what are our opponents wiling to fight and die for” — and how to convince them to give up.
“It’s not just COIN [counterinsurgency],” Simpson went on. “To take the extreme example, we dropped the atom bombs not to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki but to compel the Japanese people to surrender. That was purely a decision based on an intent to control behavior.”
That may seem a cold-blooded way to talk about such lethal violence. It’s uncontroversial nowadays to tout the importance of understanding and influencing foreign cultures in so-called “low-intensity” conflicts to “win hearts and minds.” It’s another matter to talk about high-intensity warfare as simply a way “to affect human behavior.”
“To think of war as a bargaining process is uncongenial to some of us. Bargaining with violence smacks of extortion,” wrote Thomas Schelling, one of the most influential political scientists of the Cold War, in his landmark 1966 book about superpower conflict in the shadow of nuclear weapons, Arms and Influence. “[But] coercion is the business of war.”
Schelling was hardly the first to have this thought. It goes back to Carl von Clausewitz’s dictum that “war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with an admixture of other means” (often shortened to “war is politics by other means”) and to Sun Tzu’s admonition to “know your enemy and know yourself.” But it’s a new insight for the US military, whose closest approach to Sun Tzu has traditionally been to “know your enemy’s technology and know your own.”
Since Ulysses S. Grant in 1864, the mainstream American way of war has relied on concentrating superior firepower, logistics, and technology against enemy forces and grinding them down. That worked brilliantly in World War II, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq; it worked less well in Korea and backfired disastrously in Vietnam. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army (and Marines) slowly learned to navigate a complex landscape of enemies, neutrals, and factions capable of changing from one to another, as in the famous “Anbar Awakening” movement where Sunni Arab insurgents turned against al-Qaeda.
Iraqi sheikhs and Afghan elders didn’t have to read a political scientist like Schelling to know that violence can be negotiating tactic. But US military doctrine, planning, and budgeting processes fixate on the material aspects of war — building weapons, locating targets, deploying forces, amassing supplies — and not on whether all this effort would actually convince an enemy to give up, or better yet switch sides. That’s something the Army now seeks to change.
“Over the last 12 years or so, [we] realized that we were not including the whole picture,” said one Army officer who fought in Iraq. “Yeah, sometimes we had civilians on the battlefield,” he said, “but we didn’t deal with them in any professional manner: [We’d] throw MREs [rations] at these guys and make sure they have a tent, and then the kill the enemy army.”
The Army is exploring how it might make use of civilians and neutrals in future “hybrid” conflicts that combine Taliban-style guerrilla fighters with nation-state-style weapons. The most recent annual wargame at the Army War College, for example, featured a new twist in the computer model. As simulated US and hostile forces hunted each other on the electronic map, their odds of spotting their opponent were affected by the political and ethnic leanings of local villages: A Muslim village helped militants detect US forces nearby, a Christian village helped the Americans.
During the wargame, senior officers and civilians convened to discuss the concepts it was testing, including the new emphasis on cultural factors. “Using human relations as an amplifier [for military operations] — I found that really interesting,” retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales told Breaking Defense afterwards. Scales has written on the need for cultural knowledge and argued social scientists will be as critical to future wars as nuclear physicists were to World War II, but, he said, “I had not seen this before” as a factor in Army wargames.
What to call this concept is an open question. Many in the Army advocate the term “human domain” — which would explicitly and formally put it on par with the other “domains” officially enshrined in joint doctrine: air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace. “If we put it on par with the other domains we’ll be forced to resource it, we’ll be forced to train it,” said one Army officer. Politically, however, convincing the other services to go along would be an uphill battle. Intellectually, separating out cultural and psychological factors as their own “domain” ignores how they are fundamental to all human conflict.
Whatever it’s finally called, getting joint blessing for the importance of such human factors would help the Army make its case for funding in hard budgetary times. Better understanding of cultural, sociological, and psychological issues helps use materiel better, Simpson said — it can’t substitute for it. “We still need the equipment,” he said. “We still have to dominate the physical environment as well.” And that takes money that will be increasingly hard to get.
Defense.gov News Article: McRaven: Success in Human Domain Fundamental to Special Ops < on Jul 02, 15
McRaven: Success in Human Domain Fundamental to Special Ops
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 5, 2013
While there's no shortage of doctrine on how the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps provide value to the nation, special operations forces aren’t restricted to any of the traditional doctrines, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said here today.
The three great military theorists of the past 200 years -- Carl von Clausewitz, Alfred Thayer Mahan and Giulio Douhet -- made powerful arguments for the land, sea and air domains of warfare, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven told the audience at an Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis-Tufts University Fletcher School conference.
“But where does SOF fit into all of this?” he asked.
While special operations forces are comfortable in the realms of traditional warfare, the human domain is perhaps more important -- both to the troops and to policy makers, McRaven said.
The human domain encompasses the totality of the physical, cultural, and social environments that influence human behavior, he explained. Success in this domain won't be achieved by traditional ground, naval or air forces, he added.
“Instead, success in the human domain will depend upon understanding the human terrain and establishing trust with those humans who occupy that space,” the admiral said. Building understanding and trust takes time, but once it’s built, “we can apply unique capabilities that are designed to assess, analyze, operate and prevail in population-centric strategies or struggles,” he said.
While operating in the human domain is not the sole purview of special operations forces, it is one of their core competencies, McRaven said. “It is where our language training, our cultural skills and small footprint all lend themselves to developing the military-to-military trust necessary for success,” he explained.
Any discussion of the global special operations forces network is incomplete without including the human domain, the admiral added.
When that network is laid on top of the human domain, its full potential begins to be revealed, McRaven said. This potential, he added, is what he was trying to capture when he developed the Special Operations Command 2020 vision.
Borrowing ideas from Defense Department experts on network-centric operations, the concept is more about networking than the network, McRaven said. “We cannot simply apply new technologies to the current doctrine, platforms and organizations. Organizations, doctrine and technology must co-evolve,” the admiral said.
“The power of the network is derived from linking knowledgeable entities that are geographically dispersed,” he said. Today, Socom has more than 11,000 men and women operating in more than 80 countries around the world, he noted.
Done right, networking enables special operations forces to share information, to collaborate with partners, to develop shared awareness and to achieve a degree of self-synchronization, McRaven said.
Self-synchronization is an understanding of what the other person in the node brings and how to tap into that, McRaven explained. The idea complements the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s mission command philosophy for the joint force, he added.
Networking has enormous potential for improving speed of command and force responsiveness, the admiral said, but most importantly, it will improve the understanding of the human domain. This, he said, will improve special operations’ ability to illuminate problems and help policy makers understand the threats and opportunities that are out there.
Building understanding of the human domain requires boots on the ground, feeding information into the network, McRaven said.
“Every single person on the ground is important,” he said. “Metcalfe's Law, which was developed to understand hard-wired communications systems, states that as the number of nodes in a network increases linearly, the potential value, or effectiveness of the network, increases exponentially.”
Humans are more important than hardware, , and “while the law may not be directly suitable to the human network, experience tells me that every additional node in the human network does, in fact, add an exponential understanding of the problem area,” McRaven said.
The admiral noted that this exponential increase is achieved with the signature small footprint of special operations forces. “So, it's not about a large footprint, it's about what SOF brings in 80-plus countries around the world, sometimes with only a couple of operators at remote locations, working face-to-face with our partners,” he said.
“This is how the network becomes connected, and this is how we can create an operating picture that can effectively inform the Pentagon and the geographic combatant commanders,” McRaven added.
- strategic-landpower-white-paper.pdf on Jul 02, 15
- HumanDomainFinalEdits.pdf on Jul 02, 15