Small Wars Journal
  • “Psychiatrists tell their patients they have to ‘name their fears.’ A fear that cannot be named cannot be understood or faced. An unnamed threat cannot be defeated. This is particularly true of what is called the threat of ‘terrorism.’”
    -- Shoshana Bryen and Eric Rozenman
  • "There is a tendency in the United States to confuse the study of war and warfare with militarism. Thinking clearly about the problem of war and warfare, however, is both an unfortunate necessity and the best way to prevent it."
    -- Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster
  • "This is not your grandfather's KGB. Putin is running a multiplatform spy service for the Internet era - as quick, disposable and potentially devastating as a Snapchat image."
    -- David Ignatius
  • “The Joint Force must be ready and able to respond to numerous challenges across the full range of conflict including complex operations in peace and during war. This is not an easy task given the complexity of the projected operating environment.”
    -- Frank Hoffman
  • “A paradox of war is that an enemy will attack a perceived weakness, so we cannot adopt a single preclusive form of warfare.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis

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US to send Military Sealift Command Hospital Ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) to Colombia Amid Venezuela Refugee Crisis. Here, the Comfort Participates in Comfort Exercise (COMFEX) on 12 May 2018. US Navy Photo by MC3 Jonathan Clay.

"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 Alexandra Stark | Sun, 08/19/2018 - 5:42am | 0 comments
In early July, the Saudi Arabian-led coalition halted its siege of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah to allow space for UN efforts to negotiate a political settlement. After three plus years of conflict, the United States, through its support of the coalition, has not achieved its strategic goals in the region, while also suffering harm to its international reputation. The Trump Administration should take this opportunity to press its allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to negotiate an end to the civil war in Yemen.
by J. Robert Kane | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:39am | 0 comments
The U.S. military has re-orientated its efforts to countering and deterring Russia abroad. While American counterintelligence and law enforcement has focused on information warfare from Russian assets both abroad and in country, the military has re-shaped its training and deployment to reflect near-peer armed conflict in Europe. Commanders have lost sight of counterinsurgency theory and counterterrorism, replacing it with understanding the Russian way of war.
by Doyle Quiggle | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:28am | 0 comments
The Taliban fighter today does not seek honor. He seeks cleanliness. When contaminated, he uses blood, the blood of that which is non-Taliban, as soul bleach. Any act, no matter how far outside the realm of human decency or of traditional Afghan honor codes it may be, now becomes possible for a Taliban fighter as long as he cleanses himself in medias res or ex post facto, in blood. Without the modulating elaborations of honor-rooted, traditional, highly evolved, overlapping clan relationships, the resulting cultural product -- the Taliban's fighter -- is more primal, far less sophisticated, and far less stable and predictable than the traditional Afghan warrior.
by Diana Myers | Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:20am | 0 comments
The United States’ network of alliances and partnerships is an often heralded military advantage. Yet, this advantage is in many ways shaped, advanced, and maintained through military to military relations, especially those built through military training. Training foreign military personnel in American military institutions is an effective form by which to enhance defense familiarity with allies and partners—it’s a valuable program for our country. In addition to educating and training foreign military officers, these education programs build lasting relationships among officers of different countries contributing to a critical network of defense personnel around the world.
by Huba Wass de Czege | Fri, 08/17/2018 - 4:52am | 0 comments
Read-ahead notes for a 19 July 2018 seminar with the “senior class” at The School of Advanced Military Studies, Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
by Robert Muggah, by Jean de Dieu Ntanga Ntita | Thu, 08/16/2018 - 12:40am | 0 comments
Many of Africa's armed conflicts constitute wicked problems. Across parts of the continent, organized violence is fusing political, criminal and extremist motives, explicitly targeting civilians and involving multiple armed groups. In many cases, regional players are involved — profiting from disorder even as they sue for peace. Complicating matters, national and subnational governments suffer from chronic weaknesses, with limited control over their borders and territories. Due to the many security dilemmas arising from competing groups and the corrosive effects of predatory violence, these conflicts are exceedingly difficult to resolve.
by Parker Asmann | Thu, 08/16/2018 - 12:22am | 0 comments
Mexico’s powerful drug cartels could be using armed drones to attack those impeding their criminal operations, marking the potential expansion of the use of this technology from just transporting drugs or carrying out surveillance.
by Doyle Quiggle | Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:39am | 0 comments
Ethnic/tribal identity is so sensitive an issue in Afghanistan today that neither the CIA nor any other entity monitoring demographics in Afghanistan (or its Diasporas) can provide even ball-park statistics about how many or which specific individuals belong to what ethnic, tribal, clan, or sectarian groups (genetic testing is, however, beginning to secure some reliable ethnic data). While Taliban and most other violent extremists proudly self-identify as Pashtun, the tribal, clan, and ethnic identity of the other Afghan today tends to change depending on which side of the street he's standing, which goat path he's using, or the immigration agent to whom he's relating his refugee narrative.
by Yul Rapoport, by B.J. Adrezin, by Joel Garrison | Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:20am | 0 comments
This is the latest addition to the U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative’s Future of Warfare 2030-2050 project at Small Wars Journal. This paper provides a framework on the future of war in 2050 and is also a call to action, providing examples of current and emerging nutritional research to help the Army take its first steps toward a nutrition revolution.
by J. Robert Kane | Tue, 08/14/2018 - 12:25am | 0 comments
In counterterrorism, the interrogation of high-value targets (HVTs) can be difficult. Rapport building can be near impossible because HVTs may be determined not to talk regardless of the approach strategies used by the interrogator. If these unconventional HVTs were members of a conventional military, it would be said that they possessed a high degree of resistance training.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 08/20/2018 - 4:38am | 0 comments
"President Trump is expected to nominate a former operations officer who played a critical role in the 2011 raid targeting Osama bin Laden to head of the U.S. Special Operations Command as part of a series of military promotions in coming months, according to U.S. officials. The changes, which include commanders for the Middle East and Europe, will mark the administration’s largest imprint on military leadership thus far. The personnel moves stand to affect top officers overseeing conflicts in the Middle East, U.S. policy to counter Russia, the detention center on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as stealth operations globally."
by The New York Times | Mon, 08/20/2018 - 3:55am | 0 comments
"Even as insurgents in Afghanistan have escalated their attacks against government forces across the country, they have also been staging a simultaneous charm offensive of sorts in advance of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, which starts this week. In the past week alone, the Taliban have overrun a city, burned down government facilities, hidden in civilians’ homes and killed hundreds of their opponents."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 08/20/2018 - 3:53am | 0 comments
"The campaign started with the cyber equivalent of a massive airstrike: law-enforcement agencies from eight countries, moving in unison to smash two of the main propaganda organs of the Islamic State. In the two-day operation in April, police seized computers and networks servers across Europe and North America and blocked Internet portals used by the terrorist group’s radio broadcaster, al-Bayan, and its official news agency, Amaq. Yet, less than a week later, Amaq suddenly reappeared at a different Web address, forcing the governments to pounce again. Then it surfaced a third time. And a fourth.
by Stars & Stripes | Sun, 08/19/2018 - 3:17pm | 0 comments
"Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced a three-month-long cease-fire with the Taliban beginning Monday – but only if the Taliban reciprocate. 'We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace, and we urge them to get ready for peace-talks based on Islamic values and principles,' Ghani said via a tweet."
by Dave Dilegge | Sun, 08/19/2018 - 6:35am | 1 comment
A hearty thanks to the TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative.
by The New York Times | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 6:04pm | 0 comments
"Two wars are convulsing Afghanistan, the war of blood and guts, and the war of truth and lies. Both have been amassing casualties at a remarkable rate recently."
by Voice of America | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 4:59pm | 0 comments
"Taliban insurgents unleashed a fresh wave of attacks across Afghanistan this week, overrunning at least two Afghan military bases and launching a sustained attack on a key city, in a multifront show of strength that left hundreds dead and threatened to upend recently begun peace talks with Washington. As recently as last month, it appeared efforts to end the war were gaining traction, amid reports that American and Taliban officials had held a series of initial meetings in Qatar. The talks had followed a three-day cease-fire in June between the Taliban, the U.S. and the Afghan government."
by Voice of America | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 3:29pm | 0 comments
"The fugitive Taliban leader renewed his call Saturday for direct talks with the United States, dismissing as impractical and unacceptable 'propositions' he asserted Washington has offered to promote a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan. Malawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, in a message to his followers ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid, has for the first time offered some details of a recent 'preliminary' meeting between Taliban and American officials."
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"A spokesperson for the National Security Council responded to a proposition by Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and ally to President Trump, to send a small, privatized force to fight on behalf of the United States in Afghanistan. Prince had claimed that this strategy would save more than $52 billion. 'No such proposal from Erik Prince is under consideration. The president adopted the South Asia strategy after months of deliberation among his key national security advisors,' the spokesperson said in a Friday statement to CBS News."
by The Washington Post | Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:15am | 0 comments
“One year ago, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced cuts of roughly $570 million to the U.N. peacekeeping budget — of which the United States would have shouldered 28 percent, or $160 million. This year, the budget decreased further as some missions were shuttered, with the United States again saving about the same amount as last year. This is part of a general reduction in U.S. expenditures abroad, including a call to slash the foreign aid budget by a third, which was later thwarted by Congress. Now my colleagues report that the Trump administration is using other means to take back more than $3 billion in already approved foreign aid in an effort to curb such spending.”