The Changing Face Of Warfare. Isis Fires Off Tweets And Instagrams In Their Jihad.

by Daniel Russ on September 2, 2014

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ISIS is an example of the changing face of warfare that I have written about here at Civilianmiliyaryintelligencegroup. Future war will not manifest as massive set piece battles and long staged invasions. The new warfare is extremely rapid, light, nimble, and strikes with good intelligence and little warning. In the minds of many westerners perhaps combat is preceded by large massed combined arms forces in the sinuous dusty lines of trucks and horses and infantry making their way to a town.


Perhaps it looked like that for most of history. Today more often than not it is a small force of well-armed well trained men who move into an area they have fully reconnoitered and they overwhelm with might and surprise a small gendarme protecting a power plant.


The army itself is crowd-sourced. They do not recruit from offices festooned with posters all while loitering around in uniforms. They ask for soldiers and they ask for weapons and money and intelligence through mediums like Twitter, Justpaste, Instagram and even leaving long emotional philippics against the west on Soundcloud. They talk to a global pool of Millennials that are not much different from our own generation of Millennials. Many are suspect of and disappointed by the general fruits of western culture.


What is particularly interesting is that the ISIS recruitment drive is not a local sell. It is not about putting down a specific group seen as enemies to Islam. They are framing this as a way to create a Caliphate, an orthodox Islamic state in the same way the Abasids and Fatimids. Looking at this as a marketer, they are creating a new higher brand that exists beyond destroying Israel or seeking revenge on America.


Southwest Airlines rebranded about 15 years ago with a new tagline: A New Symbol Of Freedom. The low cost high access airline provided working class people the ability to fly. So rather than frame themselves as another airline, they framed themselves as the airline that gave you the freedom to see your mom for a few hundred bucks. Or see a football game with your college roommate. Freedom is a higher goal than flying.


Building the Islamic State, then, is a higher goal than destroying Israel, so they are saying. The point here is that they are conducting this insurrection the way an ad agency would run a campaign. If I had an analogy, I would say ISIS is a little like Spartacus, in that the insurrection seems to be growing on the run. It’s a little like a small intelligence unit that creates new Twitter accounts faster than they can be brought down.


The story they tell is a moving one, redolent of the ages when Arabic Islamic states grew to be rich and powerful empires, not the lap dogs of western mining interests. They remind people that western armies drew the lines on a map you currently see in the Mideast. They convince disaffected youth that they can be a part of a huge global and “good” organization that sees the new Caliphate as lines drawn by God, not by British and French precepts.


Digital media has not been ignored by Jihadis. For many years on a website named, Iraqi insurgents carefully filmed the roadside bombing of dozens of US Humvees and tanks. Then they placed these video online sometime even in slow motion, circling the tony figure that was an American soldier flying through the air.


What’s really surprising about ISIS is that they are sophisticated communicators, and they make the ‘hearts and minds’ doctrine that NATO and the US have adopted seem antiquated. I am not sure that that is a fair criticism it’s only just a perception.


Wall posters and graffiti are losing ground to cell phones and sharing apps, and a sophisticated communications hierarchy.


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