Summary of the Presentation on….

Assessing the Challenge

from Islamic Fundamentalism

The National Security Forum was able to bring three regional experts together to discuss the increased challenge represented by radical Islamic groups, principally from the Sunni sect.  The shoot down of the Russian airliner over the Sinai, followed by the horrific attacks in Paris, brought a sense of timeliness and urgency to this session.

Colonel/Dr. Dick Hobbs identified five plus broken countries, as well as five centers of power vying for varying degrees of control in the increasingly fragmented Middle East.  Hobbs’ presentation was global in nature, identifying regions where the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims live, the vast majority of which are Sunni, with the remainder– the Shia– primarily centered in Iran and Iraq.  Hobbs noted that many radical Muslim groups– from al Qaeda to ISIS to the Taliban, Boko Haram and al Shabaab– are among many aligning with the Sunni sect.  The primary war within Islam is to see which groups will be able to institute “Sharia” by their own interpretation.

Hobbs focused on key leaders of the various Sunni radical movements including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who formed ISIS two years ago.  Under Baghdadi, ISIS is creating a new “Caliphate” centered in the Syria/Western Iraq areas.  Hobbs noted that the war against ISIS has expanded, with now Russia (who has its own large Sunni population) committing extensive military forces to the conflict.  Hobbs observed that the struggle has given growth to new alliances, which may soon include U.S.-Russia and U.S.-Iranian working relationships.

Ted Morse focused his comments only on Syria, where he identified more than 200 separate fighting militias, that demonstrates the complexity of the conflict.  Just in Syria there is the Assad regime, the Syrian opposition, ISIS forces and its allies, and numerous other jihadist fighters.  That war zone is further complicated by the active participation of Kurdish forces, who operate principally against ISIS, but also see Turkey and Syria as adversaries.

General Joe Shaefer assumed the role for this presentation as the Chief Intelligence Officer at CENTCOM.  Shaefer highlighted five things that the Chairman needed to know about regional conflicts in this combat zone.  He identified areas currently under Islamic State control, the refugee crisis and its impact on European nations as well as nearby countries, such as Jordan, and the implications of this conflict for NATO.  General Shaefer pointed out that there is no such nation as Syria or Iraq, rather they are remnants of the occupation by western powers who drew artificial boundaries.  As such, the divisions also spawned instability engendered by a civil war within the Islam religion, pitting Sunnis against Shia.  However, he said, the conflict with ISIS is by far the most dangerous challenge we face today and the one that has the highest probability of extending well beyond Syria’s borders.

The NSF was extremely pleased to bring such expert and seasoned professionals together for this presentation.  Colonel/Dr. Dick Hobbs has extensive combat experience in his 30+ years in the army and has served in the Middle East, at the Pentagon and in the State Department.  Ted Morse is a retired foreign service officer whose expertise and assistance the State Department continues to draw on.  Morse is frequently asked to go to the conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa in efforts to stabilize these situations.  General Joe Shaefer served as a Deputy to the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has extensive experience in the Middle East, including during the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and continues to advise corporations and governments on international, financial, and politico-military issues.

The link to the PowerPoint used for this presentation is below, put together principally by Dr. Hobbs.

NSF November Meeting PowerPoint

Save the dates for these upcoming meetings….

Do Recent Terror Events Call for

Forceful U.S. Intervention or Restraint?


Steve Metcalf and Other Experts

The Ramada, Thursday, December 10th, 9:00 a.m.

When we first planned this program, we envisioned having a number of experts present policy options with regard to a proper U.S. response to the challenges represented by ISIS and other terrorist organizations.  Interestingly, at that time, Colonel Steve Metcalf had volunteered to argue that post 9/11 U.S. interventions in the conflict-ridden Middle East have not worked and are unlikely to succeed in the future. Western incursions, he said, in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Syria, have not secured American objectives there—stable governments at least loosely aligned with the West, moving toward democratic ideals, respecting women, and promoting overall economic growth. Instead, he finds that incursions by the U.S. and other Western nations have fueled the growth of violent jihadist groups, the proliferation of weapons, proxy wars, and humanitarian disasters. The U.S. has mistakenly thought it could shape the conflicts in the region—instead, intervention has given rise to radical, strongly anti-Western movements and regimes. Political, military and economic developments have reduced the opportunities for effective U.S. intervention. Given this, and the recent track record, and in the absence of a significant threat to core American interests, Metcalf argues for a policy based more on Restraint, and less on Intervention.

We tried hard to find alternative presentations arguing, as many of the Republican Presidential candidates have, for forceful intervention to defeat ISIS and associated terror groups.  We were unsuccessful– virtually everyone sided with Metcalf’s arguments in favor of Restraint.

However, the downing of the Russian airliner and the horrific, random attacks in Paris by ISIS may have changed a lot of thinking.  Those two incidents, coupled with the hostage taking in Mali by an ISIS or al Qaeda affiliated group, have, more now argue, escalated the need for intervention.  At this time, we plan on having Colonel Metcalf lay out his arguments in favor of Restraint (which he may modify by then!) and will invite other experts to present short alternative U.S./NATO positions for confronting the growing threat represented by ISIS and affiliated groups.


Air-Sea Battle in the South China Sea


Kevin Cole (COL/USAF-ret)

Wednesday, January 6, 9:00 am, The Ramada

Tensions are rising in the West Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea, as Beijing creates new “islands” and claims a 12-mile sovereignty around them. The U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), particularly the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), have been developing capabilities to respond to a notional “powerful adversary” in the region. The planning has focused on modernizing “Air-Sea Battle” concepts into doctrine and operational tactics as a counter to more sophisticated air-to-air and air defense capabilities that the potential adversary forces have generated. The plans are directed towards securing unimpeded military actions, whether by force or by “informational warfare” systems (i.e., cyber attacks).

Colonel Kevin Cole is the lead for Air-Sea integration in the Pacific Air Forces Concepts, Strategy and Wargaming Division. He has served in Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns.

No need to RSVP now—just mark these dates down on your calendars.

NSF members and participants:

That was a really great program we had the other day on “Countering Radical Islamic Movements”. We had planned it well in advance of the shoot down of the Russian airliner and the Paris attacks, but those events clearly spurred interest in the Forum.

Given the timeliness, we anticipated a high attendance, and at the last day it did soar. The Ramada is always very flexible, and has been able to expand to meet our attendance–both estimated from sign ups and those who walk in. But that has become increasingly difficult to plan for; hence, we asked our members to please register via the website. Almost 180 did. But about 20-25 did not and this time the Ramada was unable to add extra spaces to accommodate those who had not signed up. With some advance notice they could have expanded into an adjoining room.

We regret having to turn away some of you who wished to attend. Given the increased popularity of our programs we anticipate that could happen again in the future, so we are stressing the need to register for the Forums.

All the best and we will see you on December 10,


Dr. Jim Megquier                              Dr. Carina Black

Chairman                                            Director of Operations



This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit held in Geneva in November of 1985, the first meeting of the leaders of the world’s then two superpowers.  Although the meetings were contentious and were marked by sharp exchanges, it also began a special relationship between Reagan and Gorby that lasted until Reagan’s passing in 1994 (Gorbachev attended his funeral).

My account of the preparations for, the conduct of, and the aftermath of that Summit, which I describe as the “Turning Point in the Cold War”, is attached.




Colleagues: The atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris have highlighted the need to seriously examine the challenge from Radical Islamic Fundamentalism. That makes our Tuesday NSF on that topic very timely and necessary, as this escalation of the threat represented by ISIS/Al Nusra/Al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadist groups has come to the European continent…and likely soon again, to the U.S.
Please join us for this session which will focus on analyzing the roots of the militant groups, located principally in the Middle East.

This is the final announcement for the presentation on….

Assessing the Challenge from

Islamic Fundamentalism


Richard Hobbs            Ted Morse            Joe Shaefer

The Ramada, 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The United States and western powers are confronting multiple challenges from various Islamic fundamentalist groups, from North Africa to the Middle East to the Muslim areas of the Asian continent (as well as Southeast Asia and the Philippines). This is an extremely complex, multi-fasted conflict with numerous sub-rivalries, partially religious in nature but mostly about power.

In the wake of this global conflict, Dick Hobbs will identify 5+ broken countries, as well as 5 centers of power vying for varying degrees of control. In addition to the states involved, Hobbs will identify key non-government organizations (often with shifting alliances), including Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and Daesh. Ted Morse will take this global conflict down to the micro level by examining just one front in this war– that being Syria, where he will highlight the more than 250 competing militia groups! Finally, General Joe Shaefer will assume the role as the CENTCOM Chief Intelligence Officer, briefing the new Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shaefer’s focus will be on the “5 key things the Chairman needs to know about regional conflicts in this combat zone”.

Note: While the presentation by COL/Dr Hobbs will be global in scope, our discussion will focus on the critical zone of conflict in the Mid-East today. The purpose of this discussion is to illuminate the complex and numerous challenges facing U.S./Allied nations—it will NOT be a discussion of policy options (that will come in December).

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailing Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be accepting new and renewal membership applications for the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership.