South Carolina Historical Association Conference

March 10, 2018

This past Saturday, Lisa and I enjoyed the South Carolina Historical Association Conference in Columbia, where I presented my above paper.  This small conference allowed a more direct connection to the scholarly community as well as a chance to reconnect with a former student of mine and also a colleague.  In contrast to security-related conferences where most in attendance are experts in their field, these types of conferences are attended by non-specialists who may be hearing for the first time the subject of terrorism from the view of a security practitioner.  In return, these scholars offer very broad and diverse expertise on topics from the era.

The subject of terrorism continues to attract attention and scholarship, but many forget that our current fight, our GWOT (Global War on Terrorism–I still use the old term), is not America’s first battle against these dark forces that cloud our political landscape. President Theodore Roosevelt and his era had their own battle against radicals, a story I presented at this venue. My thesis statement is below.


Among the more important themes I discussed during the conference was the danger of the terrorist mindset, in this case the anarchists of the era. Rather than victims of capitalism and society these anarchists were nothing more than violent criminals who lacked the character and humanity to peacefully walk the path of reform.  Not surprisingly, these malcontents fought the middle class, labor reformers like Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, and even non-violent Socialists.  Leon Czolgosz (pronounced “Chow Gosh”), the man who assassinated President William McKinley, and anarchist Emma Goldman, are examples and pictured below.


By examining the words, deeds, and lives of these individuals an informed public can better understand the currents of violence and deception that carry these political  movements from the past to the present.  Few leaders understood the fight against these terrorists as well as President “Teddy Roosevelt.”  His leadership, policies, and practices are worthy of our study–as well as our admiration.





Presentation: “Who is Really Crossing the U.S. Border Illegally?”

Fredericksburg VA Patriots.

November 29, 2017

It was a pleasure to discuss Border Security with the Fredericksburg VA Patriots in November 2017. The U.S.-Mexico land border is a critical aspect of our land, sea (maritime), air, cyber and information borders affecting all our lives as Americans. Each one of these domains deserves special attention but my presentation focused on the U.S.- Mexico land border–an area where I worked, lived, and studied.

The audience had a solid grasp of the issues and understood the urgency as well as the risks involved with a politicized, under-resourced, and unsecured border. The speech presented the types of individuals crossing the border and how each sub-group particularly affects national security.  The contribution to the audience involved my observations and field research on both sides of the US-Mexico border as well as my numerous interviews with ranchers “along the line”–research that complemented my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan where border security issues were also paramount.

Furthermore, the speech presented to the Fredericksburg VA Patriots challenged the authority and information streams underpinning the current discussion on this topic. Selecting, evaluating, and synthesizing authoritative sources are paramount to gaining understanding of this national security concern.  Security  professionals (border patrol; law enforcement; domestic security such as INS, etc.),  local eyewitnesses (such as ranchers, victims of crime, and border residents that comprise the human terrain), and the testimony of illegals, gang members, and cartels (often found in court documents) constitute the cornerstone of independent, accurate, and relevant information.

The lively question and answer session that followed demonstrated a hope that the current efforts of the Trump Administration will continue in earnest so that the violent crime, drug and human trafficking, and subversion of the rule of law–all intertwined with illegal immigration–will come to an end.


Book Signing: Ed Ashurst and Scott Catino, Ph.D. Alligators in the Moat: Politics and the Mexican Border

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]

From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday, February 6 at Hastings (Sierra Vista, AZ), Ed Ashurst and Dr. Scott Catino will be signing their new book: Alligators in the Moat: Politics and the Mexican Border. Well-known, local Arizona rancher Ed Ashurst has revealed in this book his years of interesting personal experiences on the border encountering illegal aliens, human smugglers, security officials, and politicians– both national and local.
Dr. Scott Catino is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and specialist in national security issues.

06FEB16 book signing


Lewis Leininger

Mr. Lewis Leininger

The Arizona Military Affairs Forum Proudly Presents— World War II Veteran Lewis Leininger, an extraordinary veteran who recently undertook the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. and to the World War II Memorial.

Feel free to join any time after work and during the event.



LTC Oliver North

It was a privilege to participate in the Frontlines documentary on the terrorist threat on the US Mexico Border. LTC Oliver North’s introduction aptly noted the urgency of the matter. The documentary is published here: https://www.nratv.com/series/frontlines/episode/frontlines-season-4-episode-2-border-security-the-terror-threat

Chuck Holton (pictured below) did an excellent job capturing the insecurity of the border, the transit of the area by not only “illegals” but also OTMs (Other Than Mexicans), including Specially Designated Countries (like Iran). Bottom line: The US Mexico border is easily penetrated and poses a significant risk of terrorist activities.

Chuck Holton

But we need not speculate about terrorist activities on the US Mexico Border. In 2011, as the documentary noted in detail, the border was penetrated by Iranian agents as they infiltrated with the intent of assassinating the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, D.C. as well as the intent to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies there. Had not the operation been interdicted by a DEA agent posing as a cartel member, and the FBI, the outcomes could have been catastrophic. I discussed this event–The Iran Assassination Plot–briefly in the documentary (pictured below). Reports of the presence of ISIS, Somalian terrorists on both sides of the border, and gangs like MS 13 should all be taken seriously. What we as Americans are most likely seeing is a development of organizational structures by these groups as they transit the area. The absence of major attacks does not indicate a lack of activity, but rather an organizational stage similar to Al Qaeda’s work during the 1990s before it attacked on 9-11.

Scott Catino

But on a daily basis Arizona ranchers like John Ladd (pictured below) face a major problem: armed cartels breaking through the border fence or transiting ranches as they move their human and drug cargo to nearby highways and areas for points deeper in our country.  Many Americans do not realize the danger and delicate balance between cartel operations and rancher life along the border. While these ranchers are adaptive, tough, and experienced with the problem it only takes a chance meeting to end in tragedy, a chance meeting with a rogue cartel member not following strict orders, or a desperate, hungry, dehydrated operative moving weapons and money south to Mexico.  The death of rancher Robert Krentz in 2010 illustrates the point.

John Ladd

If border security is going to improve it will take more efforts like this documentary to raise public awareness of the seriousness of the issue.


April 29, 2015, US National Security Speech, Buena High School, Sierra Vista, Arizona

29 Aprl 2015 Buena HS Sierra Vista AZ

Guest lecturing at Buena High School

This past Thursday at Buena High School I spoke on the subjects of US Border Security, The Ongoing Conflicts in the Middle East, Asymmetrical Warfare, and the Vietnam War. The lively exchanges among students, the passion and insights, and the eagerness to learn make these type of events as rewarding as any.  They are just a lot of fun.

I was particularly glad to have had the chance to talk about the Vietnam War given the very day of the fall of Saigon occurred exactly 40 years ago on 29 April 1975. There are many lessons learned from that conflict, and these lessons should be passed along to another generation.

Special thanks to the faculty, staff, and students for participating in the event.


HARW Speech on Strategic Border Security, 10 MAR 2015

HARW Speech 10MAR2015 Sierra Vista AZ

HARW Speech 10MAR2015










This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to speak at the Huachuca Area Republican Women’s Club in Sierra Vista, AZ. I was very happy to present my PowerPoint: The US-Mexico Border: A Strategic Problem. I underscored that this subject is far more important than a local issue of security and affects the entire country.

Here is a link to the presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/martincatino/us-mexico-strategic-border-insecurity-14-mar2015-copy

The people of Arizona, particularly those Arizonans living in the Tucson Sector, are being unfairly criticized for their opposition to the illegal invasion and cartel activity on the border. But the problem is very serious and understood well by many who are not only living here but seeing first hand the violence, cartel control, penetration of our border security, and movement of special interest aliens (SIAs) from the Middle East.


Middle East Dialogue 2015

Catino_Assessing Iranian Security Capabilities

The Middle East Dialogue 2015 this past February in Washington, D.C was another year of interesting papers, discussions, and individuals shedding light on the developments in this critical region. I was happy to present my paper: “Assessing Iranian Security Capabilities: The Case of the Green Movement.”

The thesis of my paper is:

This paper will assert that the defeat of the Green Movement occurred as a result of more than “brutal crackdowns” by Iranian security forces.  Rather, the Iranian regime demonstrated strategic security capabilities including cohesive institutional backing of the state, comprehensive operational skills, mass tactical ground support, and ideological strength exploited by Iran’s senior leadership, which effectively mobilized large segments of Iran’s population against the reformers.   Moreover, the potency, depth, range, and reach of Iran’s security forces indicated a preponderance of power over the opposition, an advantage not likely to diminish in the short and medium terms.

Here is a link to the presentation:


The paper’s conclusions:

  • The Islamic Republic of Iran possesses strong state and security structures able to withstand severe opposition.
  • The Islamic Republic is likely to resist effectively similar political challenges it faces in the near and medium terms.
  • The tactics of civil disobedience used by the opposition are likely to prove ineffective against a regime which possesses strong security capabilities operating effectively across broad geographical areas of Iran and with significant mass support.
  • The regime’s ability to anticipate, organize, and posture against “soft power” threats is one of its striking features or capabilities.

If the United States is ever going to successfully promote regime change, and encourage the Iranian people to achieve their extraordinary potential, far more insight, effort, and planning will have to occur than simply standing back and watching a radical and tyrannical regime devour its best hopes for a future.


October 14, 2014: Speech to the Arizona Ranchers at Douglas, AZ



Setting up the projector for my PowerPoint: “Securing Our Future: The US-Mexico Border.”

It is not often that I get to lecture at a bar room, but this last speech at the gathering of Arizona ranchers in Douglas, AZ was among the most enjoyable efforts I undertook in a while. The bed and breakfast setting which dates to the early 1900s was an appropriate piece of historical background given that these ranchers and their family lines extend to that period, and much earlier. The group consisted of Ed Ashurst, John Ladd, Roger Barnett, and many other well-known ranchers who are seeking to increase their security given the mass invasion of illegal aliens whose entry into the US is organized and structured by an increasing presence and sophistication of MDTOs (Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations), commonly called cartels.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these ranchers during the last six months while I conducted field research along “the line,” the US-Mexico border. These patriotic cattlemen are the very human terrain encountering the illegals and the criminal trail associated with these movements.  The Morning Call  newspaper was kind enough to publish a short article I wrote on the cartel activity that I noted during my recent field research. The link is here: http://www.mcall.com/opinion/yourview/mc-illegal-immigrants-border-safety-catino-yv-1031-20141030-story.html

The problem is indeed serious, and does not get the attention it deserves, much less the action required to secure our borders. Mr. Ashurst is organizing the ranchers so that their views, concerns, and security issues will gain this visibility needed along with the will, resources, and manpower.  His website is here: http://www.federalobserver.com/


Middle East Dialogue Conference, February 2014, Washington, DC

Catino_MED Conference


This past month in Washington, DC, during the Mideast Dialogue Conference, I had the pleasure to deliver my paper: “A Sectarian Spring: The Continuing Struggles in Bahrain.” The link to my presentation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1piwIwA05gM

As I noted in the previous blog article, the topic of Bahrain is critical to US and regional security. What is at stake is a potential Iranian-inspired insurgency dominated by Al Wefaq overthrowing the Sunnni monarchy of Hamad Al Khalifa, who is a key “non NATO ally.”  The consequences would be significant for not only the security environment but also for human rights, creating a situation similar to southern Lebanon where Shia extremism thrives while obstructing freedom and exporting terrorism globally.

This topic of the insurgency in Bahrain suffers from much misinformation, particularly due to the poor methodology underpinning current studies.  Among the chief reasons for the lack of quality analysis of Bahrain is the deficiency of the academic community’s research on the subject. This complex insurgency in Bahrain requires trained, skilled, practiced military and intelligence analysts who can elucidate the strategy, operations, objectives, and TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) of the Shia opposition.  Analyzing the Shia leadership, training, capabilities, organizational structures, lines of operations, denial and deception tactics, and phasing of operations are all critical for revealing the character of this political-military organization that differs little in substance from Hezbollah, howbeit the Bahraini version of Shia insurgency is more complex and concealed. Understanding key aspects of military science is therefore vital for analysis: planning, logistics, operations, cover, posture, orientation, environment, adaptability, and effects.

A quick examination of the leading scholars writing on this topic reveals that they lack most or all the aforesaid requisite skills and venture into this context of urban insurgency in Bahrain without direction and understanding of these critical variables or characteristics. Having a vast community of like-minded scholars, human rights activists, journalists, and other supporters who simply recycle these studies we find that error becomes accepted truth on the subject. When I discuss these issues with the scholarly community, as politely as I can, I find that many have not even studied an insurgency in depth or can give a brief explanation on the main characteristics of an insurgency.  Relying on linguistic skills these scholars follow the tongues and not the feet of the insurgents, and thus are led to believe the propaganda rather than the key events that characterize the subject.  Moreover, these academics have little concern for security, and often view the subject with contempt, and thus demonstrate a lack of humanitarianism, the very subject they claim to champion.  Attention to security issues is far more than a defense of US interests, and involves a defense against terrorist and oppressive regimes (like Iran) spreading their influence, ideas, and networks.

Adding to this problem is the fact that the military-intelligence community has not given enough attention to the home of the US Fifth Fleet. Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated our research efforts, and Africa and Latin America account for increased regional focus and studies. Also, the Arab Spring has redirected US military focus on North Africa, the Levant, and particularly Egypt, which is an important subject in its own right. Iran, Syria, Yemen, and resurgent Al Qaeda activities in Iraq also draw in many qualified military analysts. In general, Andrew Molnar’s scholarship on insurgencies and their passive resistance and crowd manipulations tactics, a scholarship that so richly contributed to the study of insurgency during the 1960s and 1970s, has been overwhelmed by population-centric COIN approaches and the analytic energies needed for countering the crises of the moment.

Military historians and military science experts could contribute significantly to our understanding of regional security if they addressed this Gulf island and it current unrest. Without a significant inclusion of the military science community and their expert analysis of insurgency, the subject of Bahrain and its unrest will remain in the murky discussions of academics who are unqualified for analyzing a conflict zone. More importantly, the strategic and tactical changes occurring in Gulf will not gain the attention they deserve.


International Studies Association Conference,

St. Louis, MO.

8-10 November 2013

St Louis MO

11NOV2013_Scott at the Seven Gables Inn_StLouis_MO

Lisa and I were in St. Louis this past weekend, when I attended the International Studies Association Midwest Conference. The accommodations, panels, and presenters were excellent. I chaired one panel, served as a discussant on another, and presented a paper: “Diving for Pearls: The Aftermath of Protest in Bahrain.”

Since serving as a US Fulbright Scholar in Bahrain (2007-2009) the subject of Bahrain has been dear to me. The small island monarchy made international news on February 14, 2011 during its “Arab Spring.” Although Bahrain received less international attention than Egypt and Libya, the events on this Gulf island are very important for regional security and US interests. My research paper on Bahrain is, to my knowledge, the only study to analyze the strategies, tactics, and objectives of the Shia opposition. Moreover, the Western media has not given enough attention to or analysis of the Sunni population of Bahrain.

The many coffee shops, restaurants, sites, and things to do in St. Louis made this conference one of the most enjoyable that I’ve been to.


Vietnam Experience Conference, Victoria, Texas. 

13 June 2013, Thursday

Vietnam Experience Conference

Ready to Speak

Ready or Not–Time to Speak!

It was a pleasure this past Thursday to present my paper: “Ho Chi Minh: America’s Most Capable Foe.” The audience at UHV was comprised of many Vietnam War era veterans, scholars, and others who have an interest in the subject. The discussion during the sessions was lively. Dr. Beverly Tomek and the University of Houston-Victoria did an excellent job organizing and running the conference.

Several young scholars were present and gave excellent presentations on topics ranging from battle analysis, to psychological operations, to the Phoenix Program.

Special thanks to Mr. Steve Sherman, an expert in the field and Vietnam Veteran, for attending and providing support and a wealth of information on subjects that helped me and others. Steve’s website is outstanding. Here is the link: http://www.viet-myths.net/

=========================================================File:Bruce Crandall's UH-1D.jpg


Featured Speakers Include:

**R. J. Del Vecchio

**Phillip Jennings

**William Laurie

**Steven Sherman

**Hoi B. Tran

*Hosted by Dr. Scott Catino, Instructor, Graduate Military Studies, American Military University


Excellent conference and participation by faculty and students.  


Barnes Conference pic

23 March 2013, Saturday, Barnes Graduate Student Conference, Temple University.

I was happy to participate, and Chair a panel at this conference. The panel was called “Battlefields” and had two graduate student presenters. Both students did an excellent job delivering their papers.

Steven Elliot, a Ph.D. student at Temple University, presented first, a paper on “Rethinking Twentieth Century Warfare: Infantry, Artillery, and the Mechanized Battle of Attrition.” The paper called attention to several key issues, particularly the over generalization of the term “maneuver warfare” as a distinct characteristic and change from World War I. Elliot noted the primacy of firepower and frontal assaults in World War II, and that occurring across its diverse theaters.

Scott Manning, a Master’s Degree student from American Military University, presented second. His paper, “The Battle of Falkirk (1298): A Case and Method for Making the Messy Historical Process More Accessible” was as interesting as it was informative. Manning called attention to the problems of historical methodology on the Battle of Falkirk, but in a larger sense the same problems in historical research on ancient military history.  I thought his valuable points could also have value and application in modern military studies.

Both student papers generated questions and comments from the audience, which likewise enjoyed the papers.

Kaete, Tom, and Pat, the student organizers of the conference, deserve a lot of credit for making the event a success, and for coordinating the panels, lunch, dinner and other activities.

Panel Battlefields



DSCF3954 - Copy







South Carolina Historical Association Conference. Clinton, South Carolina.  16 March 2013

Lisa and I had a fun time at the SCHC conference this Saturday. I presented a paper on “Tribal Capabilities and Warfare: The Case of Ancient Israel.”  The paper abstract is below. One of the best aspects of the conference was to see some old friends from South Carolina, like Dr. James Farmer from the University of South Carolina Aiken, and to see the graduate students present their papers–very impressive. There were interesting papers on the Civil War, Southern Women, South Carolina history, and too many other topics to list here.  Likewise it was a pleasure to meet some new folks.

Saber and Scroll Jounral published the article this past winter, and the article is available online at: http://digitalcommons.apus.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=saberandscroll

My abstract on Tribal Capabilities:

The Old Testament history of the ancient Jewish tribes presents ample evidence for not only the study of military leadership and tactics, but also the social and cultural behaviors animating, structuring, and strengthening the military culture of these Hebrew peoples during the period of early conquest and settlement (circa 1300 B.C.). Current historical scholarship has called attention to Israel’s military leadership and war councils, flexible tactics, weaponry and emerging technology, terrain analysis–and the force capabilities and posture of Israel’s opponents (both local and regional), particularly the absence of large aggressive empires like Assyria and Babylon operating in Palestine, which emerge later in time and defeat both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, respectively.

The research methodology of the proposed paper utilizes historical analysis of primary sources to analyze an unexplored aspect of tribal warfare: “tribal capabilities.” Tribal capabilities are the unique cultural norms, values, and behaviors that shape a tribe’s ability to conduct war, and affect the conditions that determine the outcomes of war.  Tribal capabilities, in its most basic form, are the abilities of a tribe to sustain life during periods of war and thus affect the battle space.  The concept of social “capabilities” is discussed in current US military doctrine [See Manual, Field. “Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.” Department of the Army, Washington DC (2006)].  Utilizing a study of the ancient Hebrew text [translated by Robert Young, Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (Edinburgh, n.p. 1898)], and traditional accounts of Israel’s tribal warfare such as the The Works of Flavius Josephus, the paper will assert that tribal vitality rested not only in the leadership, the heroic judges that act as champion-saviors, but also in a complementary socio-military force emanating from the population.  Leadership in depth (emerging from broad demographic groups), potent master narratives, and a vibrant military culture operationalized by a practical military art synergistic with religious practice created this “bottom up” force structuring and supporting senior military leadership. Potent tribal capabilities were therefore instrumental to the survival of ancient Israel during the period of the Judges, and by extension are critical to the structures and viability of tribal warfare in the modern era.

The significance of this study transcends historical analysis of the tribes of ancient Israel. As the United States continues to engage in asymmetrical conflicts that devolve to the tribal level of society, understanding tribal capabilities will be essential for effectively stabilizing the operational environment. The detailed case study found in the ancient Hebrew text is not comprehensive but is indeed highly informative and rich in information on the neglected subject of tribal dynamics shaping military conflict.  Understanding and influencing these tribal capabilities will be critical for military decision making in future asymmetrical conflicts in developing societies and nations.





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