Faculty Research Profiles


Richard Schultz

Since Professor Richard Shultz began studying security issues, there have been massive changes in the international security environment, the use of force and its implications. The most recent shift, which began in the immediate post-Cold War period and climaxed with terrorist attacks on 9/11, has highlighted the fact that traditional conflict and warfare is increasingly being replaced by a new form of irregular warfare - one which modern armies and security services have great difficulties managing. Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Rupert Smith, in his book The Utility of Force, refers to these new conflicts as “war amongst the people.” These are precisely the kinds of conflict that lie at the center of Shultz’s research and publication agenda.

These changes in conflict and war led Shultz to explore many different aspects of the issue: For example, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 he was concerned with three questions: What were the tools the U.S. had at its disposal to deal with these kinds of security challenges? What were the roles of Special Operations Forces? Why did the U.S. never use its Special Mission Units to deal with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda?

The latter question was addressed in a year-long study Shultz conducted with the Pentagon starting in December 2001, which was later briefed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Shultz made a convincing argument to the Department of Defense to allow publication of the study. It appeared in a 2004 issue of The Weekly Standard entitled “Showstoppers: Nine Reasons Why We Never Sent Our Special Operations Forces after al Qaeda Before 9/11.”

Shultz’s other work in the years immediately following 9/11 included research on how other democracies have collected intelligence on armed groups. It was conducted in collaboration with the scholars from the Washington-based National Strategy Information Center (NSIC). Since 1962, NSIC has been at the forefront of innovating and institutionalizing education on major dimensions of security and intelligence studies. Shultz worked directly with Dr. Roy Godson, NSIC president and professor of government at Georgetown University. The findings from their extensive field research were presented to senior U.S. government officials in Washington. Shultz and Godson also published the results in a major article entitled “Intelligence Dominance, A Better Way Forward,” The Weekly Standard (July 31, 2006).

In 2004, Professor Shultz became co-director with Professor Godson of the Armed Groups and Irregular Warfare Teaching and Research Project in Washington. This project focused on how to best understand non-state armed groups, and how to teach about the subject. This led to publication of a monograph entitled Armed Groups: A Tier-One Security Priority (Colorado: USAF Academy, Institute for National Security Studies, 2004). A second monograph appeared in 2007 entitled Global Insurgency Strategy and the Salafi Jihad Movement (Colorado: USAF Academy, Institute for National Security Studies, 2008).

In 2006, Shultz (with Andrea Dew) came out with a major new book titled Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat. The book grew out of his work on the Armed Groups and Irregular Warfare Teaching and Research Project. The book was published by Columbia University Press. It was endorsed by Senator John McCain, Sir Richard Dearlove (former chief of MI-6) and Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker). The book is intended, according to Shultz, as “a provocative account and analysis of 21st century warfare and the costs of failing to understand the changing new faces of combat.” The book is designed to appeal to informed readers and not just an academic audience. 

In addition to conducting research on armed groups, Professors Shultz and Godson designed a full-length course on Armed Groups and Irregular Warfare that includes related curricular materials and an extensive annotated bibliography. Then in the summers of 2007-2008 he helped organize two faculty-development seminars for instructors from professional military education schools and their intelligence community counterparts to learn how to teach the course. A lengthy monograph was published on the topic. With the 2008 workshop, the Armed Groups and Irregular Warfare Teaching and Research Project came to an end. However, a spin off of the project came to fruition when he helped establish a Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups at the U.S. Naval War College. 

At the end of 2008, Professor Shultz began a new two-year book project titled Adapting America’s Security Paradigm to a New Era. The research and writing of the volume was carried out in collaboration with three Washington-based scholars: Dr. Roy Godson, NSIC president and professor of government at Georgetown University; Dr. Querine Hanlon, professor of security studies at the National Defense University; and Dr. Samantha Ravich, senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center.

The paradigm project addressed two major issues. First, it described and assessed the emergence of a new and complex 21st century international security environment that is characterized by a proliferation of weak and failing states, as well as of powerful armed groups able to affect stability and security in fundamental ways; the creation of new interactions and interrelationships between and among local, regional and global state and non-state actors; and the emergence of unprecedented coalitions of adversaries and allies comprised of states and non-state actors. These are new conditions and they diverge sharply from the security paradigm of the 20th century. The second part of the project identified the kinds of strategies and capabilities the U.S. and other democracies need to develop in order to address the challenges that will emanate from this new 21st century security environment. The project report is titled Adapting America’s Security Paradigm and Security Agenda for 21st Century Security Challenges

Beginning in 2010, Professor Shultz began to examine one of what he believes is illustrative of the types of conflict that will characterize the 21st century security environment. He researched the U.S. Marine Corps’ 2004-2008 counterinsurgency campaign in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. To complete the research. he had access to the records and Iraq oral history collection at the U.S. Marine Corps History Division and also to the leadership of the USMC that carried out that campaign. The study was published under the title The Marines Take Anbar: The Four-Year Fight against Al Qaeda (Annapolis, MD: The Naval Institute Press, 2013). For a roundup of the book’s publicity and the Publisher’s Weekly review, go here.  The book was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal and can be accessed here.  A brief description of The Marines take Anbar is now available online.

His more recently completed research study focused on developing a U.S. blueprint for Security Sector Reform (SSR) for the 21st Century. The study: 1) developed a framework for the U.S. that adapts SSR theory and practice for addressing dysfunctional security sectors of fragile states; 2) examined the state of capabilities across the U.S. government for addressing these challenges; and 3) identified gaps in those capabilities that need to be filled if the U.S. is to employ SSR as an effective policy tool. The project was a joint effort with Dr. Querine Hanlon of United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The Smith Richardson Foundation provided support for the project. The study was published as a book in the spring of 2016 by the United States Institute of Peace under the title Prioritizing Security Sector Reform: A New U.S. Policy.

In 2014 he initiated a new research project which seeks to examine military innovation during the war in Iraq. During that war the U.S. assigned its national counterterrorism (CT) force to find, degrade, and dismantle the Al Qaeda dominated insurgent apparatus (AQI) that had burgeoned dramatically in 2003. Deployed as Task Force (TF) 714, it soon became apparent once in Iraq that the CT force was not able to effectively execute this mission. It could not keep pace with, let alone reduce AQI’s burgeoning operational tempo. However, over the next four years TF 714 re-created and transformed itself and in doing so was able to eviscerate AQI, making a major contribution to the successful counterinsurgency campaign waged by U.S. military forces. The research puzzle this study seeks to address focuses on two questions —how and why TF 714 was able to learn and innovate in the midst of war. This monograph length manuscript was published in July 2016 by the US Special Operation Command’s JSOU Press under the title Military Innovation in War: It Takes a Learning Organization--A Case Study of Task Force 714 in Iraq. It is available online.  An article based on the study appeared in the September 2016 issue of the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism

Professor Shultz is now working on a new project titled “Intelligence Leads the Way: Meeting the Challenge of Weak States, Armed Groups and Irregular Conflict.” The puzzle this research addresses focuses on identifying the kinds of intelligence methods, capabilities and organization required to meet the challenges posed by armed groups and irregular conflict. These are different from those employed against Cold War state threats. Consequently, the intelligence instruments—collection, analysis, covert action—need to undergo important changes in methods, capabilities, and organization if they are to be effectively used by those U.S. security agencies engaged in conducting operations against irregular challenges. The goal of this project is to produce a well-structured set of recommendations that can be used to craft intelligence requirements for managing 21st century irregular threats.

For the last ten years Professor Shultz has served as a Senior Fellow to the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Joint Special Operations University.  He deploys abroad as a member of SOCOM/JSOU military education teams to teach terrorism/counter-terrorism and special operations integration courses to foreign military officers.  In the last few years these have included program in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Tunisia, Morocco, Uzbekistan. Romania, Poland, Cameroon, and Mali.  In doing so, he is able to gain first hand knowledge about the irregular warfare environment around which his research interests are centered.