Small Wars Journal
  • “Great to have Secretary Pompeo confirmed. He will do an excellent job helping @POTUS lead our efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.”
    -- White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
  • “To protect our democracies we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news which exposes our people to irrational fear.”
    -- French President Emmanuel Macron to the U.S. Congress
  • “They’ve got to look over their shoulder and be worried that we’re looking at them, and we’ll have the ability to strike them again.”
    -- Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie on Syria
  • “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
    -- Heraclitus
  • "The requirement to adapt quickly to unforeseen conditions means that commanders will need additional forces and resources that can be committed with little notice. For efficiency in all forms of warfare, including counterinsurgency, means barely winning. And in war, barely winning can be an ugly proposition."
    -- Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

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Soldiers wade through a river during a ruck march at Fort Bragg, NC, on 19 April. The soldiers are paratroopers assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Army photo by Maj. Thomas Cieslak.

"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

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Journal

by James Emery | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:23pm | 0 comments
Ramadan - a sacred month of fasting, prayers, and spiritual renewal for over 1.9 billion Muslims around the world - will occur May 16 to June 14, 2018, depending upon the sighting of the new crescent moon. For radical terrorist and insurgent groups, Ramadan is an opportunity to encourage and initiate increased attacks, suicide bombings, and carnage against perceived enemies around the world, regardless of nationality, location, or religious affiliation. Virtually everything about these attacks and the motivation behind them goes against the core teaching of the Qur'an.
by Ingrid A. Parker | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 8:44am | 0 comments
Unlike maneuver units, intelligence combat power is different and takes a combination of hard and soft skills to address the full gambit of intelligence and individual readiness. That meant, we needed a full-spectrum strategy to address organizational challenges. To demonstrate the direction and guidance to our organizational leadership, the Soldiers and civilians of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade wrote a series of articles, indicative of how we are building intelligence combat power in the brigade to (1) to sustain, modernize, improve, and optimize the intelligence enterprise, (2) to build intelligence and individual readiness, and (3) to set the theater. It was necessary that subordinate leaders understand their piece of the overall strategy towards organizational improvement. Like all organizations, some improvements were “Easy Wins” and quickly achieved because (1) the subordinate leader (or SME) understood and quickly implemented their piece of the plan or (2) the improvement simply required identification of the problem to fix it. Other improvements are moving slower and require continual oversight, hence the challenge of command. Even so, improvements to date have been remarkable and I want to highlight some of the stellar work that will be published by 'Small Wars Journal' over the next week.
by James Emery | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:50am | 0 comments
There are several talking points contained in my Ramadan report to use during and after Ramadan to improve rapport with Muslims. Everything good in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and similar collectivist cultures, happens through personal relationships. This is the key to obtaining information, cooperation, and support. It can mean the difference between success and failure. Whatever else you achieve, otherwise, may be meaningless if you have not established and maintained the appropriate personal relationships with the most powerful, influential, and helpful people in your respective areas of operation.
by James Emery | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:21pm | 0 comments
Ramadan is a time for fasting, prayers, charity, and self-reflection. Many Muslims make personal resolutions for the coming year to improve one or more aspects of their lives. Ramadan is a time of spiritual and personal transformation of the body, heart, mind, and soul. It is the best time to begin practicing good habits and giving up things that are haraam (prohibited), discouraged, or unhealthy, such as alcohol, profanity, or smoking. In many respects, these personal vows are similar to New Year’s resolutions that Americans, and people from many other cultures around the world, make. During Ramadan, Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, swearing, and sexual intercourse between sunrise and sunset.
by Patrick Collins | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 3:02am | 0 comments
As the youngest Theater Special Operations Command in the United States Special Operations Command, SOCNORTH fills a vital capability for our nation and the United States Government. Operating in a complex environment of authorities, resources and threats, SOCNORTH does more with less by cooperating on an enhanced basis with the interagency and law enforcement, as well as partner and allied nations.
by Joanne Patti Munisteri | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 12:15am | 0 comments
Violent extremist groups are using all methods possible to wage a successful long-term campaign using children. These groups infiltrate existing systems, threaten and radicalize important players, use extreme forms of violence to attack those they perceive as non-compliant. No foundation of society is off limits be it: hospitals, schools, religious organizations, legal institutions, law enforcement, orphanages, charities, sports, businesses, transportation, recreation or communication sites. Every means is justified for their stated aim of a worldwide Islamic caliphate under Sharia law. The scope of this phenomenon has increased in the past decade, however the methods implemented were developed and refined during and after World War II. No child is left behind if they can be exploited.
by Joanne Patti Munisteri | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:17am | 0 comments
Violent extremist groups are using all methods possible to wage a successful long-term campaign using children. These groups infiltrate existing systems, threaten and radicalize important players, use extreme forms of violence to attack those they perceive as non-compliant. No foundation of society is off limits be it: hospitals, schools, religious organizations, legal institutions, law enforcement, orphanages, charities, sports, businesses, transportation, recreation or communication sites. Every means is justified for their stated aim of a worldwide Islamic caliphate under Sharia law. The scope of this phenomenon has increased in the past decade, however the methods implemented were developed and refined during and after World War II. No child is left behind if they can be exploited.
by S.A. Cavanagh | Mon, 04/23/2018 - 3:31pm | 0 comments
China’s Aggressive Move to Occupy the Spratly regional waters through Reclamation has proved an effective stratagem, for projection of political, economic and military power. The Hague has ruled China has no traditional claims to the disputed region and the Spratlys are “rocks not islands.” China continues to reclaim and militarize several strategic islands (reefs) and occupies them. The United States, French and British navies exercise freedom of navigation near the new islands, as China warns it will use military force to defend new territorial claims. China has tactically and strategically extended its military “range and influence” with navel bases, airstrips, radar, communications, missile installations and shelters. China has bet on reclamation and occupation and won.
by Chad M. Pillai | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 5:42pm | 3 comments
Afghanistan as another Vietnam conjures images of defeat as U.S. helicopters take the last American off the roof from the embassy. While the Vietnam War was a near-term strategic defeat, in retrospect, it may yet prove to have been a geo-strategic win in the long-run. The same may prove true for Afghanistan in the long-run after a U.S. withdrawal. Like a bad business investment, there are times when you must accept one’s losses and move on.
by Jo Patti | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 12:11am | 0 comments
Every generation needs to be cognizant of those who fought for the foundation of democratic principles which they may presently enjoy. There are many different forms of fighting. How these battles are waged makes for essential historical reporting and often for gripping stories for the public. The divergent types of confrontation and strategies used for victory have been transformed into entertainment in a construct the United States is world famous for…Hollywood movies.

Blog Posts

by Combating Terrorism Center at West Point | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:03pm | 0 comments
The April 2018 issue of the Combating Terrorism Center’s ‘Sentinel’ is now online. Continue on for a note from the editor and links to all the new articles.
by Stars & Stripes | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:04pm | 0 comments
American troops will be key in a soon-to-be re-energized campaign against remaining Islamic State fighters in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators Thursday on Capitol Hill, pledging the United States was not preparing to pull its forces from the war-torn country. “This is an ongoing fight right now,” Mattis told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’re continuing the fight, and we’re going to expand it with more regional support.”
by The Washington Post | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:26am | 0 comments
"Latin America is home to just 8 percent of the world's population, but 33 percent of its homicides. In fact, just four countries in the region — Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela — account for a quarter of all the murders on Earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities."
by George C. Marshall Center - European Center for Security Studies | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 6:17am | 0 comments
Almost 100 mid- to top-level law enforcement specialists and parliamentarians from 52 nations have a better understanding of the strategic-level approaches needed to counter transnational criminal organizations when they return home April 28. They are heading home after completing the three-plus week Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here. The Marshall Center is a German-American partnership that has produced generations of global security professionals for the past 25 years.
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:57am | 0 comments
"Poor training, complacency and a culture of excessive risk contributed to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers during an operation in Niger in October, according to a classified Pentagon report. The report, described by officials familiar with its contents, details a series of missteps and describes a disregard for military procedures and for the chain of command. Among other things, the report discloses that low-level commanders, determined to make a mark against local jihadis in the West African nation, took liberties to get operations approved through the chain of command."
by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:45am | 0 comments
Yesterday, SIGAR released an audit of the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, one of the largest sources of funding to Afghan government operations outside the security sector.
by DoD News | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 7:31pm | 0 comments
Operationally and financially, the Defense Department has had a good year and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis urged the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee to build on this. The secretary and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in a closed hearing before the subcommittee today. DoD released the secretary’s opening statement.
by Foreign Policy | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 6:48pm | 0 comments
"Unlike ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Agency for International Development chief Mark Green has won over his workforce with his reorganization plan. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green is rolling out ambitious plans to reorganize his agency, and unlike a similar effort at the State Department, his initiative is enjoying widespread support among his workforce and lawmakers in Congress."
by The U.S. Naval Institute | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:49am | 0 comments
"A clean sheet review of how the Navy educates sailors and Marines is now underway, with results expected to alter the way Department of the Navy training is conducted. The wide-ranging study is to explore how the Navy can upgrade its education methods in order to maintain a competitive edge at a time when adversaries are increasing their technical know-how, according to a memo released Monday by Thomas Modly, undersecretary of the Navy."
by Newsweek | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 3:39pm | 1 comment
"The spread of UAV technology to militants represents the next evolution of warfare by remote control, whereby terrorist groups can build de facto air forces. Weaponized drones are often low-tech but potentially deadly. The Islamic State military group (ISIS), for example, was able to import and construct hundreds—if not thousands—of inexpensive and portable drones, using them to terrorize their enemies on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. When ISIS’s Mosul bastion finally fell in the summer of 2017, Iraqi forces found dozens of drone factories."