Small Wars Journal
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
  • “All I can say to the American people: Welcome to your military. It’s on duty.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis

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Marines prepare for embassy reinforcement training at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, on 5 December 2018. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Mackenzie Carter.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

Welcome. Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.


by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:30am | 0 comments
What would become the book "An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army" is a collection of journal entries and letters that she wrote between 1915-1916 when she joined the ambulance of the Second Infantry Regiment of the Serbian Army.
by William McHenry, by Adam Twardowski | Sun, 12/09/2018 - 7:46pm | 1 comment
Russia is counting on the United States and its allies to calculate that supporting Ukraine with additional lethal and non-lethal aid exposes them to unacceptably high risk of escalation with Russia. But the only side this risk serves to constrain is the West.
by Brad Striegel | Sun, 12/09/2018 - 9:36am | 1 comment
Today, the U.S. has several Dragons to contend with, to include; Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Radical Islamic Terrorism and Narco-Terrorism in Mexico. When dealing with Dragons one must first be ready with the right weapons and protection. When dealing with Dragons we must also be careful how we approach them.
by Tamim Asey | Thu, 12/06/2018 - 9:30am | 2 comments
History is repeating itself in Afghanistan. Proxy wars and great power politics is returning to the country. It is putting Afghanistan once again at the center stage of regional and global rivalries over influence for a variety of geostrategic interests and the quest for resources. This time, unlike the past, there are many players including almost all of Afghanistan's neighbors - with the prominent players being Pakistan, Iran, China and India.
by Matthew Enderlein | Wed, 12/05/2018 - 6:25am | 2 comments
Now more than ever, commanders require a dynamic flow of information and analysis to support decision making. Intelligence facilitates operations, and military intelligence professionals have developed systems to deliver intelligence support down to the lowest tactical level.
by Edward E. Brown | Tue, 12/04/2018 - 9:18am | 13 comments
Military writing requires that the bottom line be stated up front. Here is the bottom line: an advisor is a person lawfully tasked and employed to provide expert advice and counsel to Foreign Security Force officials, representatives, and influencers; through the establishment or continuance of interpersonal relationships founded on mutual trust and respect.” For some reading this, that definition may seem obvious; for others it may seem almost counterintuitive. Our considerably diverse comprehension of what an advisor actually is was the motivation for writing this article.
by Drew McClean | Tue, 12/04/2018 - 7:11am | 0 comments
The ferocious rise of the Islamic State, and the impact of their barbaric acts, turned attention away from Al Qaeda. This has enabled the organization to slip back into shadows, and to reassess their strategic options, in light of new factors that have developed in the Middle East.
by Art Schmitz | Mon, 12/03/2018 - 1:46pm | 0 comments
The holiday season means family time for most Americans, but that’s not the case for many U.S. military personnel who can’t return home to eat turkey dinners, open presents, light the menorah or participate in other traditions.
by David S. Maxwell | Mon, 12/03/2018 - 9:53am | 6 comments
It pained me to read the latest issue of the USASOC Historian Office's publication Veritas and it pains me even more to have to write these words. You might not be familiar with Veritas because it is not published on line, only in an expensive high gloss print publication. The specific article in the recent edition is “The OSS Influence on Special Forces.”
by Gary Anderson | Sun, 12/02/2018 - 3:21am | 5 comments
The United States is actively involved in two hybrid conflicts (ISIS in Syria and Iraq) and is supporting the Ukraine against hybrid threats from Russia. That said, America lacks a formal doctrine for dealing with such conflicts or even an agreed-on doctrinal definition of what they are.

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 12/11/2018 - 12:25pm | 0 comments
Via Ariana News - "The outgoing American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says Pakistan continues to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill American soldiers, asserting that Washington should not give Islamabad even a dollar until it addresses the issue."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:31am | 0 comments
"Disinformation campaigns now emanating from Russia are of a different breed, said intelligence officials and analysts. Engineered for the social media age, they fling up swarms of falsehoods, concocted theories and red herrings, intended not so much to persuade people but to bewilder them."
by Voice of America | Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:05am | 0 comments
The sixth annual Global Terrorism Index, published by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), said terrorism deaths decreased globally by 27 percent in 2017, which is the third consecutive year of declining death tolls. Terrorism, however, remains a major threat to global peace, the report said. The report also showed that most terrorist attacks affect countries where political violence is rampant.
by Voice of America | Mon, 12/10/2018 - 1:32am | 0 comments
In places formerly controlled by IS, locals say they are more worried about their future than the past. Militants may have lost almost all of their territory, but attacks continue and residents fear the group will once again rekindle its campaign of all-out violence.
by The Washington Post | Sun, 12/09/2018 - 12:28am | 1 comment
"Just over a year ago, four U.S. Special Forces soldiers, outgunned and ambushed, lost their lives in Niger fighting against members of the Islamic State."
by Reuters | Sat, 12/08/2018 - 7:27pm | 0 comments
"A year after it was routed from Iraq in a devastating war that left entire neighborhoods and towns in ruins, the Islamic State group is fighting to hang on to its last enclave in eastern Syria, engaging in deadly battles with U.S.-backed forces."
by The New York Times | Sat, 12/08/2018 - 5:57am | 0 comments
"Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was livid last month when he summoned top military officials to a video conference at the Pentagon to press them about an investigation into a 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four Americans on a Green Beret team. His anger, Pentagon officials said, came from seeing news reports that junior officers were being reprimanded for the botched Niger mission while the officers directly above them were not."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 12/07/2018 - 2:53pm | 0 comments
"President Trump is expected to choose the head of the Army to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tapping a voluble and unconventional combat veteran to become America’s top military officer, individuals familiar with White House plans said on Friday."
by SWJ Editors | Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:55pm | 2 comments
Ashley Roque at Jane's 360 - "Nearly 11 months after the release of the new National Defense Strategy, it is still not clear if DoD leaders have a firm grip on what the shift means."
by The New York Times | Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:35am | 0 comments
"An election complaints agency on Thursday invalidated all of the votes cast in Kabul Province in October’s parliamentary election, more than a million in all, over fraud allegations, pushing the country toward another political crisis just as a top American diplomat arrived to build momentum for peace talks with the Taliban."