Change and the Strategic Security Dynamic
The Only Certainty in Life is Change
Strategic security policy cannot be a static plan as evolving threats and conflict conditions can dramatically alter or even negate the validity of existing policies. The intelligence profession understands the imperative to continuously collect information and analyze the data in the context of changing local situations and world events. As the intelligence profession provides objective threat analyses, the policymakers can adapt new plans of action that realistically correlate with the changing threats. Online military colleges have a similar imperative to ensure their educational programs include fundamental principles and the most advanced practical techniques to deal with evolving threats and shifting international relationships. The pressures are immense for the security community and online military colleges to recognize that seemingly obscure events or a misunderstood occurrence, such as the Arab Spring, are harbingers of a change in the course of history and new strategic threats to the United States. These climatic changes can take years or surface in only a few weeks to alter strategic calculations.
Current Changes that Demand New Strategic Analyses
The current situation in the Middle East is a textbook illustration of dramatic change overlain with more dramatic change. Furthermore, the intelligence profession appears to have either misread the changes or lagged behind in perceiving the significance of events. Syria and Iran provide a strategic kaleidoscope within a five year period. In 2010, Syria was firmly ruled by an Alawite Shiite minority under the Assad familial dictatorship. Iran was a benefactor of Assad and the patron of Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran was patiently extending influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to create a “Shiite arc of influence” across the Middle East. With virtually no warning, a minor incident in Tunisia generated a conflagration that swept across North Africa and the Middle East to eclipse the prior history of the 20th century. Civil disobedience in Syria quickly morphed into a civil war that threatened the Assad regime and the Iranian “Shiite arc of influence.”1 The Syrian Sunni rebels held a substantial advantage numerically but were disorganized and fragmented into as many as 15-20 different groups. Despite the fragmented opposition, the early trend of the conflict went against the Shiite government as Sunni government troops could not be trusted. Many intelligence analysts and academic experts predicted an early demise of the Assad regime. However, Iran perceived the threat to Iranian strategic goals and ordered combat troops from Hezbollah to rescue the Assad regime. The Hezbollah intervention stabilized the fortunes of war for Assad and Iran. However, two unexpected radical Sunni forces, ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliated al Nusra, then emerged to once again alter the strategic balance in what was simultaneously a civil war and a sectarian war. As Sunni Saudi Arabia and Sunni Turkey both hold national strategic objectives in opposition to Iran, the two Sunni powers provided a range of support to moderate and radical Sunni rebels in Syria. However, the Islamic radicals now are the most potent fighting forces in the Syrian war as warriors of Jihad and instruments for terrorism. Once again, the pendulum has swung in a matter of weeks from an Iranian strategic recovery to an existential threat to the Assad regime as the Sunni radicals are on the march in western Syria.2 However, even as the Sunnis oppose Shiite gains, the Sunni countries' national interests remain in stark conflict.3 Meanwhile, security policies in the West are in disarray as events seem to outpace the responses of Western policymakers.
The Challenge for National Security.
The intelligence profession and online military colleges in the U.S. must incorporate responsive new dynamic models for analysis and education. Those select online institutions that specialize in intelligence, counterterrorism, and strategic security education provide a curriculum and faculty that delivers a solid grounding in security domain principles. The elite strategic security online institutions employ faculties which combine practical experience with the fundamental principles and theory to provide the students with an education and skills to work in a complex world of rapid change and evolving threats.
1. Schiesz, S. (2014). Hezbollah, Before and After the Syrian War. (Master’s Thesis). Retrieved: www.ssrn.com
2. Solomon, A. (2015). Nasrallah: Downfall of Assad would mean fall of Hezbollah. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved: www.jpost.com
3. Why Sunni Unity is a Myth. (2015). Stratfor, electronic newsletter. Retrieved: www.stratfor.com