This article originally appeared at Divergent Options.

National Security Situation: The international community lacks consensus on a binding definition of “act of war” in cyberspace.

Date Originally Written: March 24, 2017.

Date Originally Published: June 5, 2017.

Author and / or Article Point of View: The author is an active duty officer in the U.S. Army. This article is written from the point of view of the international community toward common understandings of “acts of war” in cyberspace.

Background: The rising prominence of cyber operations in modern international relations highlights a lack of widely established and accepted rules and norms…

Sana’a Celebration Hall Bomb Damage, October 2016. Photo courtesy of BBC.

On 31 January 2017, the U.N. Panel of Experts on Yemen (Panel) issued a report to the Security Council concluding that widespread violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) had occurred in the Yemeni armed conflict during 2016.[1] The panel investigated numerous cases of alleged law of armed conflict (LOAC) violations by the displaced Government of Yemen, the Saudi-led Coalition, and the Houthi rebels. The violations ranged from improper deprivation of liberty, torture, and religious discrimination to intentionally or recklessly targeting civilians and civilian objects with lethal strikes.

While the entirety of the Panel’s report is comprehensive and far-reaching, this article…

Photo courtesy of

As the prevalence and importance of data in society grows, and the lines between civilian and military information technology infrastructure continue to blur, such systems and the data residing on them will become increasingly important in future armed conflict. As with every development of warfighting technology throughout history, the weaponization of cyberspace will require a new understanding of how laws written to address traditional kinetic operations causing physical injuries and damage apply. Perhaps the most unique aspect of cyber operations is its ability to cause a wide range of consequences. …

Why there was more to the 2011 withdrawal than political expediency.

An Iraqi…on a sofa. Courtesy of

In recent days, multiple sources have claimed that the withdrawal of the vast majority of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 was a grave mistake by President Obama. The Washington Post called the move politically expedient ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Former generals and members of Congress have criticized the move as short sighted and detrimental to security in the region. The hasty withdrawal has become the go-to example for every strategist arguing against timeline-based withdrawals in favor of conditions-based operational considerations. The rise of ISIS and the destabilization of Syria, to some degree, are blamed directly on…

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.

A recent report by the advocacy organization, Protect our Defenders (POD), accuses the Pentagon of giving false and misleading testimony to Congress in opposition to the Military Justice Improvement Act. The MJIA was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in order to combat what she and others perceive as the military’s inability to appropriately handle allegations of sexual assault in the ranks. The key provision of the law provides for the removal of commanders from the prosecution of sexual assault cases. …

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, GEN Martin Dempsey, addresses the U.S. Senate in 2013. Photo courtesy of

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem.

If you have had even passing contact with a media outlet in the past few years, chances are you have seen headlines and stories presenting alarming, and often excoriating, views on the “epidemic” of sexual assault in the military and the flaws of the military justice system. In something of a self-perpetuating feedback loop, prominent members of Congress, military officials, and the media spun themselves into a frenzy over the victimization of service members by other service members.

Don’t get me wrong. I wholly support the notion, among a profession that prides itself on teamwork and the elevation of the…

Breaking the Ice: The First Foray…

I may be breaking the cardinal rule here. I sit down to write with no particular topic in mind to write about and nothing particularly insightful to say. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

So instead I will focus on why I am writing. You have to start somewhere and I am starting at the literary equivalent of just throwing yourself off the pier into the cold water. You can swim or you can drown, but there is no way to know until the first icy jolt hits your spine.

I have been a…

Shock & Law

Ramblings and musings on the law, policy and practice of warfare and foreign policy. All views are solely those of the author. Twitter: @shockandlawblog

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