Small Wars Journal
  • "War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality."
    -- Senator John McCain
  • “The American foreign policy establishment is notoriously forgiving — of itself. Rarely are policymakers held to account when they offer bad advice, such as supporting a disastrous war in Iraq or helping organize torture or assassinations.”
    -- Daniel Bessner
  • “The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.”
    -- George Orwell
  • “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse.”
    -- John Stuart Mill
  • “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations... entangling alliances with none”
    -- Thomas Jefferson

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Cold Weather Training - Marines march to a cold-weather training site in Iceland, 19 October 2018, as part of Trident Juncture 18, a NATO training exercise. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Menelik Collins.

"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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by Tony M. Kail | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 5:37am | 0 comments
This essay has been written specifically for Small Wars Journal—El Centro as part of an ongoing Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán research project that will be published as a future eBook.
by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 5:27am | 0 comments
About five years ago, I stumbled upon the audiobook of ‘Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War’ by Frederick A. Talbot while searching through the free audiobooks available on While at the time this book was written it might have been more closely aligned to the popular mechanics genre, it is one of the most fascinating military history books I have encountered.
by State-USAID-DoD Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 6:50am | 1 comment
Kevin Melton, Peter Quaranto, Patrick Quirk, Sara Reckless and Kelly Uribe - State-USAID-DoD Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) - As we completed the SAR, far more than breaking new intellectual ground, we were more interested in breaking bureaucratic barriers.
by George C. Kraehe | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 6:32am | 0 comments
This article argues that Islamic law should be enlisted in the fight against narcotics trafficking in the Sahel, rather than being displaced by the western counter-narcotics regime. An understanding of Islamic law’s distinction, however nuanced it may be, between drug use and trafficking is crucial to assessing, developing, and implementing, at both the macro and micro level, a counterdrug regime in a majority-Muslim region.
by Teun Voeten, by Maaike Engels | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 6:30am | 0 comments
This interview of “Edgar” was conducted by Voeten and Engels, CeReSo, Ciudad Juárez, October 2016. It is an excerpt from the PhD thesis from Teun Voeten, titled: The Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty. 274-276. See also: Maaike Engels and Teun Voeten, Sacrifice. Belgian Canvas TV, 2017.
by W. R. Baker | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 7:52am | 1 comment
The Easter Offensive of 1972, coming at the end of the Vietnam War, is usually an afterthought in most histories of the conflict, primarily because most U.S. troops had already left the country. This does a great disservice to the American and South Vietnamese militaries who remained, particularly to those killed or wounded in-action.
by R. Andrew Chesnut | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 8:09am | 0 comments
This essay has been written specifically for Small Wars Journal—El Centro as part of an ongoing Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán research project that will be published as a future eBook.
by William McHenry | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:33am | 0 comments
President Trump seems to have accepted that the risks of withdrawal outweigh the costs of perpetuating a military commitment to a conflict without a coherent plan to end it. It is one of his more cynical foreign policy decisions, but it has many precedents throughout US history.
by Nicholas Mercurio | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:20am | 1 comment
Once we accept the fundamentally communicative purpose of terrorism, it becomes clear that strategic communication should be the preeminent tool in the counter-terrorism toolbox. The trouble is, the U.S.-led approach to counter-ISIS strategic communication is hamstrung by reliance on a flawed paradigm that I call narrative jamming. The good news is that there is a potential solution and it comes from an unlikely place: recent research on climate change communication.
by InSight Crime | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 1:16am | 0 comments
Reports that criminal groups in Colombia are increasingly recruiting migrants from Venezuela shows how these armed actors are taking advantage of those fleeing the neighboring country’s economic crisis in order to strengthen their criminal structures.

Blog Posts

by Defense One | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 6:48am | 0 comments
“The Afghan security force effort to hold Taliban violence at bay is “working,” a Defense Department spokesman said Monday, amid a spate of insider attacks and violence linked to this weekend’s parliamentary elections. A Pentagon spokesman cites a two-thirds decrease in attacks since the war’s peak eight years ago.”
by The Washington Post | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 5:22am | 0 comments
"To understand how the United States is countering Iran’s expansion across the Middle East, consider the outpost at Tanf. This tiny garrison, a jumble of dirt-filled blast barriers and tents surrounded by the immense desert of southern Syria, was established to roll back the Islamic State’s once-vast domain."
by SWJ Editors | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 5:21am | 0 comments
"Despite the presence of multiple militant groups in the Philippines who have made pledges of allegiance, or bayah, to Islamic State, the Philippine’ government and Armed Forces (AFP) have downplayed this threat. The statements they’ve made continuously ignore the reality of ISIS in the Philippines. This is partially due to the AFP deliberately downplaying the threat from ISIS by making false statements, something they’ve admitted to. At the same time, the Philippine government and the AFP have also managed to genuinely underestimate ISIS, likely in part due to the public downplaying of the threat as well as systematic intelligence failures."
by Voice of America | Tue, 10/23/2018 - 5:17am | 0 comments
"The U.S. Senate has recently passed two bills sanctioning the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Once signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, the sanctions will target foreign nationals and companies that provide financial, material or technological support to Hezbollah and its affiliates in the region. The Lebanese militant group has footprints beyond Lebanon in places like Syria, but analysts believe that with increasing U.S. pressures, the militant group would be forced to reduce its military activities outside of Lebanon."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 5:35pm | 0 comments
“The study’s very existence is little known outside the Army. The Wall Street Journal pieced together its history through dozens of interviews with former and current officials familiar with the effort, and from reviews of internal memorandums and emails. In the past few months alone, Army officials debated whether the study should be embraced or disowned. After a high-level review last month, Army officials issued instructions to remove a foreword noting the study had been “commissioned” by the Army and to scrub it of other signs that it had top-level sponsorship.”
by The Times | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 9:03am | 0 comments
General David Petraeus in The Times - The growing “judicialisation” of conflict should concern Britain, just as it concerns me. “Lawfare”, as it’s also known, has resulted in many British soldiers being accused in court, sometimes decades after the events in question have taken place.
by Divergent Options | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 7:14am | 0 comments
"International and regional forces have all but deprived the Islamic State (IS) of its territory, yet its apocalyptic ideology allows it to continue fighting despite these losses. IS’s goal to prepare the world for the end times does not require territory and will serve as a justification for its surviving members to maintain insurgencies in the Middle East and elsewhere."
by Associated Press | Mon, 10/22/2018 - 5:26am | 0 comments
“Turkish and American troops could begin conducting joint patrols in a matter of days around the northern Syrian city of Manbij within the coming days, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Sunday.”
by Military Times | Sun, 10/21/2018 - 12:47pm | 0 comments
Carl Prine at Navy Times - "Charged earlier this month with multiple war crimes in connection with the 2017 stabbing death of a detainee in Iraq, Special Operations Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher vows to fight for his freedom."
by The New York Times | Sun, 10/21/2018 - 12:08am | 0 comments
“The Khashoggi crisis has called attention to a largely overlooked Saudi-led war in Yemen. On a rare trip to the front line, we found Yemenis fighting and dying in a war that has gone nowhere.”