Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations
USMA Class of 1978
2023 STUDENT WORKSHOP ON CIVIL-MILITARY OPERATIONS
Overview of the Workshop:
The purpose of the Student Workshop on Civil-Military Operations is to create a focused venue for student development and learning within the realm of Civil Military Operations (CMO). This is an opportunity to bring together leading scholars and practitioners on topics of Civil Military Operations to debate and discuss recent developments that contribute to Cadet learning and professional development.
The Workshop, sponsored by the USMA Class of 1978 and organized by the Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations (CSCMO), is for Cadets enrolled in EV482: Military Geography, which is the capstone, integrative experience for Geography and GIS majors, and includes many Defense and Strategic Studies (DSS) majors as well as other Cadets who take it as an elective. There are 95 Cadets enrolled in the course, and there are likely to be Cadets and faculty from other courses who attend all or part of the event. We have also invited students from US Naval Academy, Tufts, Princeton, and several other local colleges.
One of the primary reasons for establishing the CSCMO was the vision of its benefactor, Mr John DeBlasio, working with USMA faculty, to ensure that lessons learned in the realm of civil military operations are not lost and that we are preparing graduates to work alongside the diverse and wide array of partners they will encounter in today’s operating environment.
This Year’s Topic:
The subject of this year’s Workshop is the Geopolitics of Disinformation in the Middle East and will be keynoted by Ambassador Jonathan Cohen. The Army’s current doctrine codifies that US military forces will increasingly work with and alongside a wide range of other actors including US and host nation government officials, international and non-governmental rganizations (NGOs), and of course local leaders and populations.
The focus of the Workshop therefore allows us to further educate Cadets about three areas in which they will most likely find themselves leading Soldiers in the near future: Contending with malign activity by Iran on a global/regional basis, responding to urban based humanitarian disasters and having to plan, prepare, and deal with civilian populations in these operations. As the experiences in contested cities like Beirut, Baghdad and within areas of Israel have demonstrated, even limited combat in urban areas can produce devastating outcomes.
In contemporary regional conflict, perhaps no state has been as active, and even effective, as Iran. The list of Iran’s activity in regional targets is extensive. Iran and their surrogates have conducted offensive cyber attacks, enabled naval attacks in the Red Sea, and conducted missile and drone attacks on hard targets and the populous in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Quds Force operations have provoked hundreds of Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Iranian sponsored units sites in Syria. Iran has also maintained small ground forces in Yemen, Syria, and on occasions in Iraq.
Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations
In the course of their malign activity, Iran has positioned itself as the paramount menace in the Middle East. They continue to pursue their activities against the interest of the West as well as their regional neighbors. From supplying Russia with suicide drones and other military equipment for Ukraine to harassing civilian cargo ships in the Gulf, the Mullah led regime is behaving like the pariah most of the Gulf region proclaims it to be.
In November US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVECENT) in Bahrain, confirmed that an attack on a Liberian-flagged vessel off the coast of Oman was the result of an Iranian drone. “The Iranian attack on a commercial tanker transiting international waters was deliberate, flagrant, and dangerous, endangering the lives of the ship’s crew and destabilizing maritime security in the Middle East,” stated Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT.
Since its large scale departure from the region, US foreign policy pursuit has been open to criticisms for lack of focus. In response to this, an aggressive Iran will likely continue its bellicose pursuits, posing a significant danger to Israel, the Gulf States and the greater region. The US is among very few countries able to flex some deterrence with economic sanctions and military response capability but the foreign policy team has a decision to make: Which is more important – influencing a secure Middle East or cooperating with the regional menace for an elusive nuclear agreement?
The question remains how does the US, International partners and regional allies respond to these challenges? Any option will require the promotion of deeply planned and coordinated Civil-Military Operations to mobilize the strengths and unity of effort among our counterparts. How can our national leaders harmonize these efforts to promote a more capable and effective posture for the challenges ahead? These are just some of the hard subjects we will tackle in this year’s workshop. Schedule of Events: At present 19 March event will be in the Hudson Room at the West Point Club. The 20 March event will be in the Ike Hall Riverside Café.
Sunday, 19 March 2023. 1800-2100. Thayer Hotel Eisenhower Room.
There will be a scheduled dinner lecture by Ambassador Cohen to the Class of 1978 and select cadets to discuss Iran’s role in Global Geopolitics. We are seeking to create a link for that engagement to be distributed among participants from the class online.
Monday, 20 March 2023. Ike Hall Riverside Café.
0800-0810: LTC Chris Fuhriman and Mr John Melkon. Gather, Welcome, Admin and Introductions
0810-0830: Online Introductory remarks by former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Sec McCarthy is a Senior Advisor for CSCMO and will briefly set the stage of the days event highlighting the subjects of Geopolitics, Great Power Competition and Civil-Military Responses in actions short of armed conflict.
0830-0915: Opening Keynote. MG Matt McFarlane, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. There has been numerous occurrences of Iran-backed forces attacking Coalition forces in Syria. Iran-backed forces probably retain the ability to conduct rocket and IED attacks against U.S. interests in Syria with little warning and also have demonstrated the ability to conduct more complex attacks using advanced weapons including the employment of UAVs. How does the US balance its vital mission to counter ISIS while engaging in a struggle for influence with Iran in the region?
0930-1015: Session 1. Hamed Behravan. Development Transformations Institute. What can be done to Counter Iranian Disinformation? Mr. Behravan designs and implements innovative and impact driven solutions to empower civil society in closed societies. Hamed has pioneered the use of technology to help civil society organizations push for reform and accountability in Iran, and has played a key role in design and development of multiple mobile applications and platforms that have been and continue to be used by tens of thousands of users.
1015-1100: Session 2. Shabnam Aslam. Development Transformations Institute. Ms Aslam will address a wide range of issues including the Iranian Human Rights record and how they interact with the regional population.
1100-1115: Table discussions and break: Faculty enablers or Distinguished Guests at each Cadet table will foster a discussion about the topic just presented.
1115-1200: Session 3. Iran’s Use of Cultural Heritage in Influence Operations
Presenters. COL Scott DeJessee and CPT Hayden Bassett. Understanding how countries use cultural heritage in influence operations is one of the roles of the Army’s Monuments Officers program. Iran, like many countries, makes wide use of cultural heritage as a method by which to influence populations. Analysis of data on Iranian influence operations is enhancing our understanding of how cultural heritage is being utilized as a medium for influence by Iran, for what audiences, and to what ends.
1200-1255: Working Lunch / Discussion between Cadets and Speakers, Class of ’78, Distinguished Guests, and faculty. This is a working lunch where Cadets at each table with a speaker, guest, Class of ’78 member, further discuss the topics and questions presented in the morning sessions.
1255-1340: Session 5. Rob Jenkins. USAID. A USAID representative explains how development theory, practice, literature, and experience from implementation can support USAID’s mission to promote and demonstrate democratic values for the people of the Middle East, counter Iranian misinformation and advance conditions for more prosperous relations. How does USAID pursue collaboration with its development partners to adapt strategies to recent changes in Iran’s needs and pursue new priorities to achieve results.
1340-1440: Closing Keynote. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen. Address by former Ambassador to Egypt.
Ambassador Cohen will share his observations on the current situation in the Middle East. He will also share his own perceptions on the importance of Civil-Military Operations as a response to Iranian influence in the region.
1440-1500: Closing Address. LTG (Ret) Hunzeker. Distinguished Chair for the CSCMO.