TOC – The RUSI Journal, Vol. 157, No. 4

The latest edition of the RUSI Journal has just appeared with its usual mix of contemporary and historical articles including one by John Alexander, a fellow PhD candidate at the Centre for War Studies at Birmingham.

Hussein Solomon, ‘Counter-Terrorism in Nigeria: Responding to Boko Haram

Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has gained increased media attention over the past few years: as the violence, frequency and scope of its attacks continue to increase, the counter-terrorist policies adopted by the Nigerian government are proving ineffective, if not counterproductive. Hussein Solomon dissects the increasing sophistication of Boko Haram and highlights the root causes of the Jonathan administration’s failure to devise and implement a successful approach to counter-terrorism.

Juliana Bertazzo, ‘Brazilian Foreign Policy and Force Projection: Engaging with the Middle East, with Eyes on the UN’

A permanent seat on the UN Security Council is a long-term goal of Brazil’s foreign policy. Political engagement in the international arena and a demonstrable contribution to international peace and security are part of the requirements Brazil needs to fulfil if this goal is to be attained. The South American power’s increasing engagement in the Middle East in the post-Cold War era is to be understood as part of the Brazilian bid to strengthen its credentials as a global player, argues Juliana Bertazzo.

Aaron Haviland, ‘Evaluating the Threat of Withdrawal from the NPT,

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty contains a commitment to nuclear disarmament that, some analysts claim, may lead dissatisfied Non-Nuclear-Weapon States to withdraw from the treaty in protest. But what would be the consequences of such a move, and would any of the Non-Nuclear-Weapon States actually ever take such a step? Aaron Haviland traces a history of the treaty, scrutinises the likelihood of withdrawal on a normative basis, and weighs the implications for disarmament.

Jason Wood, ‘The Importance of Cohesion in the Afghan National Army to Post-Transition Afghanistan’

The Afghan National Army is going to be a key player in the country’s transition after 2014. Historical experience, however, has shown time and again that the ANA could equally become a force for stability or a strong element of destabilisation. If the ANA is to make a positive contribution to the future of the country, it needs to be internally cohesive and avoid disintegration along sectarian or class lines. Jason Wood analyses the many threats to cohesion and explores how the ANA can implement a variety of mechanisms to ensure that these obstacles are overcome.

John Alexander, ‘‘Decomposing’ an Insurgency: Reintegration in Afghanistan’

While conventional wisdom holds that reintegrating ex-combatants into society is a post-conflict activity, ISAF’s commander, General John Allen, sees removing fighters from the battlefield through reintegration and the resolution of local grievances as a means of ‘decomposing’ the insurgency in Afghanistan. John Alexander argues that the combination of the Afghan-led Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme with ISAF and Afghan military pressure, as well as divisions within the Taliban over peace talks, provides the ingredients for accelerating reintegration in Afghanistan.

Peter Layton, ‘The Idea of Grand Strategy

The debate on British strategy-making continues with Peter Layton’s reflections on the meaning and usefulness of the concept of ‘grand strategy’ in today’s world. Grand strategy, he argues, is very distinct from ‘strategy’ and frequent tendencies to conflate the two overlook the former’s wider scope and integrative, forward-looking nature: grand strategy aims to shape the world of the future.

Alexander Alderson, ‘The British Approach to COIN and Stabilisation: A Retrospective on Developments since 2001’

Alexander Alderson was responsible for the publication of the new British Army doctrine on counter-insurgency in 2009. Three years after its publication, Alderson looks back at how the doctrine was formulated, dissecting its historical and contemporary influences, conceptual framework and practical application. His insider’s reflection on the elaboration of UK doctrine illuminates the ongoing nature of the process, and highlights the need for constant attention and innovation to meet the challenges faced by the British Army.

Duncan Depledge and Klaus Dodds, ‘Testing the Northern Flank: The UK, Norway and Exercise Cold Response’

Britain’s participation in the March 2012 Exercise Cold Response was a powerful indication of the country’s strategic interest in the Arctic. Far from being a mere throwback to the Cold War, it signals the UK’s intention to re-affirm its presence and capability in northern Europe as the global geostrategic significance of the Arctic grows. Regardless of whether the coalition government does release an Arctic strategy in 2013, Nordic neighbours, especially Norway, welcome this British commitment to the ‘High North’.

Jeremy Black, ‘The Problems of a Great Power: Britain and the War of 1812’

Two hundred years on from the last conflict between the US and UK, what lessons might today’s global power draw from the problems and dilemmas faced in a two-front war by its long-eclipsed predecessor? The War of 1812 – a limited conflict in which neither side achieved much in the way of success – offers a number of enduring lessons across the centuries; not least, that the strength and capability of a major power can only usefully be considered in specific spheres, rather than in aggregate terms.

A D Harvey, ‘Trench Mortars in the First World War’

The emergence of trench warfare on the Western Front proved to be fertile ground for the development of the mortar. Yet for all their worth, trench mortars struggled to compete with more traditional forms of artillery in the British Army, their crews often working other duties, and full integration with infantry units was lacking even as late as 1918.

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