IRAP Scores a Win, ISOA Update, and more


With Ltc. Miska @ Fob Iskan

“Miska delivers comments during the Forward Operating Base Iskan transition in 2009. His comments were only as effective as the translator, “Ronnie,” conveyed to the audience.”

A Message From SPSN’S Steve Miska

Dear Colleagues,

I continue to be humbled as people join the effort to stand for our values as Americans by protecting our Iraqi, Afghan, and other colleagues around the world who have supported our efforts. For example, Jure Erlic continues to volunteer for the SPSN project while studying and teaching as a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) just had a big win in a case that is at the center of a lawsuit. Read more about the case below. Pete Farley, a veteran trying to bring his interpreter’s family to the U.S. has over 136K signatures on a petition, and there are many other instances of people standing up. Most recently, I continue to get asked to help with vulnerable asylum cases where sending individuals who supported our national security back to their country of origin would mean almost certain death. People reach out in need more and more. I don’t see this trend abating in the near term or even over the long run. We need to do better to protect our soft networks as a country. The research and policy development options that SPSN has created offer a path forward. If you haven’t read the white paper we produced this year, click on the link here.

I hope to see some of you in Washington, D.C. at the end of October for the ISOA Summit. If you’re in California, feel free to connect. I would be happy to provide more information on soft networks or trends in the first amendment space when wearing my other hat as Executive Director of First Amendment Voice.

With gratitude,


Dear Soft Network Advocates,

As Steve’s message notes major developments in the protection of Soft Networks have occurred.

  •  IRAP’s aid was crucial in securing a significant legal victory in a lawsuit against the US government over egregious delays in the VISA processing of SIV applicants. The court ordered the US government to expeditiously adjudicate the applications that have been pending for over nine months, an issue that would not have been addressed if not for advocates like IRAP and yourselves who continue to bring attention and support to the issue. To read the full press release of the case click here.
  • Soft network advocate, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, has recently published an opinion piece in the Washington Post calling for the support of our Afghan allies. Ambassador Crocker notes that as the US attempts to devise a withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan, the US is failing to address the crucial question of  “What will happen to our Afghan partners who served the U.S. mission after we leave?” In failing to plan for how to protect our local partners, whose lives and families lives are at constant risk, the US is repeating the same mistakes that endangered our local South Vietnamese partners in the aftermath of the Paris Peace Accords. To read the full opinion click here or on the link below.  
  • SPSN is proud to announce that it will also be participating in this year’s International Stability Operations Association’s (ISOA) summit hosted from October 28-30 in Arlington, Virginia. SPSN’s Steve Miska will be featured as a panelist on the Indigenous Networks panel, moderated by Ioannis Koskinas of the Hoplite Group, at 1:15 P.M on October 30th. For further information on the summit or to register click here
  • Additionally on July 22nd, Steve was featured as a guest speaker on the Truth About War podcast hosted by the Pittsburgh Veterans Breakfast Club Director Nicholas Grimes. SPSN is grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this podcast and hopes that its participation will lead to greater education and attention on this overlooked issue. Keep a look out for updates as we will look forward to notifying you when the podcast is up on their website

Thank you for your continued support of our work in strategically protecting soft networks. We look forward to providing further updates on research and policy development efforts to protect our closest partners in conflict zones during these trying times.

The  SPSN Team 

Suggested Readings:

SPSN Releases Soft Networks White Paper


Dear Soft Network Advocates,

2019 has been an exciting year for SPSN. A generous grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation, in 2018, and the continued support from the Pacific Council, No One Left Behind, and many other valuable partners provided SPSN with the opportunity to delve deeper into the strategic challenges and solutions to protect soft networks. SPSN researchers Steve Miska, Rebecca Ash, and Sam Romano pursued a nearly year-long study that culminated in the creation of Soft Networks: Protecting an Achilles Heel of American Influence.

Building on previous suggestions and research they examined best practices used by non-military actors and local national partners, cybersecurity threats to soft networks, and the gaps in government contracting policy that jeopardize local partner security. Read the Executive Summary here.

This month also saw us welcome a new researcher to our team for this summer. Jure Erlic is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Politics and Strategy and will be housed in the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. Please join me in giving Jure a warm welcome.
Thank you for your continued support of our work in strategically protecting soft networks. We look forward to providing further updates on research and policy development efforts processes to protect our closest partners in conflict zones.  

The SPSN team

Suggested Readings:



Holidays 2018 Update

Ambassador Ryan Crocker discusses protecting soft networks with Steve Miska at the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) Annual Summit on November 13
Dear Soft Network Advocates,

We hope you had a warm and meaningful Thanksgiving. At SPSN, our November was filled with numerous exciting developments for both our own efforts and our partners.

On November 13, SPSN was featured as a keynote partner at the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) annual summit. SPSN principal investigator Steve Miska interviewed Amb. Ryan Crocker on the importance of protecting soft networks and the viability of current protection measures. Crocker drew on his experience as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan to explain how critical our local national allies are to mission success and the pitfalls of failing to protect them from harm. The summit audience expressed great interest in the issue and asked Amb. Crocker insightful and interesting questions. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this forum and are grateful to ISOA for allowing us to do so.

Becca Heller, IRAP co-founder and executive director and 2018 MacArthur Fellow
We wish to extend our congratulations to Ms. Becca Heller, co-founder and executive director for the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) on being named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. The MacArthur Fellowship is awarded to individuals “who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.” Becca Heller is being recognized for “mobilizing the resources of law schools and law firms to defend the rights of refugees and improve protection outcomes for many of the world’s most at-risk populations.” Her work and IRAP’s work are vital to SPSN’s overarching goal of providing meaningful support to refugees and our local-national partners alike as they migrate to the United States. Congratulations Becca!

Thank you for supporting our work in strategically protecting soft networks. We hope you have a lovely holiday season and we look forward to sharing more exciting updates as our research progresses.

The SPSN Team

Suggested Readings:

September 2018 Update

members weekend 2016

The audience from the Pacific Council’s 2017 Member’s Weekend, now called PolicyWest. (courtesy of The Pacific Council for International Policy)

Dear Soft Network Advocates,

As summer comes to a close and fall (and cooler weather!) sets in, the Soft Networks team continues to be hard at work. We have several exciting events coming up on both the East coast and the West coast as well as a new publication in the Pacific Council on International Policy’s newsroom.

On October 12, SPSN will be participating in the Pacific Council’s PolicyWest annual conference. Megan Karsh, the Pacific Council’s Vice President for Initiatives, will moderate a discussion between SPSN’s Steve Miska, Fadi Matti, and the Washington Post’s Sarah Feinberg. Ms. Feinberg is a Marine veteran and sponsored numerous local-national partners who immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing violence in their home countries. Mr. Matti is a former Iraqi interpreter who immigrated to the United States and married a navy service-member–his story is detailed in two books authored by his wife (see ‘suggested readings’ at the bottom of the email for links to purchase both books).

The moderated discussion will occur before PolicyWest’s diverse audience of experts and industry professionals, and audience members will have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session during the panel. You can register for PolicyWest through the link:

To learn more about the west coast event, read Pacific Council junior fellow, Sam Romano’s, piece in the Pacific Council’s Newsroom on our upcoming participation in PolicyWest and updates on his research on non-traditional methods of soft network protection. You can find his article through the link:


Sarah Feinberg (courtesy Wharton Magazine)

Fadi Matti Iraq 2008 (3).jpg

Fadi Matti

We are also excited to announce SPSN’s participation in the International Stability Operations Association’s (ISOA) annual summit on November 13th. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will provide a keynote discussion from 2pm – 3pm with Steve Miska leading the discussion in interview format. Keep a look out for updates on this exciting event and register through the link before October 14 to take advantage of early-bird registration tickets:

Thank you for supporting our work in strategically protecting soft networks. We look forward to sharing more updates with you as the research and policy development efforts progress.

The SPSN Team