Small Wars Journal
  • “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



New and now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.



Modern Desert Rats - Airmen conduct exercise scenarios at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, 12 April 2019, during Razor’s Edge, a pre-deployment exercise that allows airmen to maintain readiness. Photo by Air Force Airman 1st Class Kristine Legate.

"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

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.

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by Scott Padgett | Tue, 04/23/2019 - 9:13pm | 0 comments
This article explores how state actors are using advanced software development tools and artificial intelligence (AI) to invent and perfect new deception capabilities to fool both people and machines on the virtual battlefield. It examines intelligent computer vision systems and their capabilities to support state-sponsored hybrid warfare.
by Jeff Goodson | Mon, 04/22/2019 - 5:09pm | 12 comments
In the future, more countries are likely to serve as theaters of great power competition. Conflict will arise in those countries where it didn't exist before, and will deepen in those where it already exists. In both cases, instability will grow. The use of proxies will mitigate the potential for direct great power conflict, but tensions will rise as the world becomes smaller and opportunities for conflict grow.
by David B. Parker | Mon, 04/22/2019 - 2:49am | 3 comments
Preparations for future small wars described in the JOE 2035 must account for stability operations, FHA and peace operations, and counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations. Viewing these types of small wars as distinctly separate and mutually exclusive is a flawed perspective; the world is an interconnected place and the types of small wars the joint force may encounter in the future will often occur simultaneously and as a result of one another.
by Ronald W. Sprang | Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:07am | 0 comments
This research seeks to determine how cyberwarfare applied through the lens of operational art contributes to cross domain synergy within the context of multi-domain battle. Cyber and EW capabilities are critical to enable operational commanders the opportunity to create temporary windows of advantage, shape the deep fight, control tempo of multi-domain operations, and arrange cyber effects in time and space to achieve strategic objectives.
by Stephen B. Young | Sat, 04/20/2019 - 4:11pm | 1 comment
The study needs to start with a baseline of how to defeat terrorists and insurgents. It can’t accept at face value the hopes and aspirations of American policy makers and field commanders as they entered the War on Terror. It needs to measure their strategies and tactics against proven success.
by J. “Lumpy” Lumbaca | Thu, 04/18/2019 - 6:25am | 0 comments
The past two decades in the Indo-Pacific region have resulted in remarkable change across the terrorist landscape. Attacks and deaths are down, but jihadist ideology and threats persist. The Indo-Pacific states of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines consistently remain among the “Top 10” countries affected by terrorism according to the Global Terrorism Index report. If there was any doubt whether or not 2019 would see a continuation of the deadly trend, this year’s bombing just days before the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite, the Pulwama terrorist attack in India, the breakup of an international terrorist cell in Malaysia, and the New Zealand mosque shootings all serve to remind us that extremism remains at our front door.
by Robert Hunter Ward | Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:46am | 0 comments
To a large extent, the question of whether remote warfare waged by RPAs is ethical depends on if one believes riskless war is dangerous, destructive, and overly easy. The ethical issues of asymmetric risk, moral hazard, and destructive behavior are difficult considerations to face, but necessary to reconcile. Ultimately, despite these concerns, the RPA is an ethical instrument of air warfare which leaders should certainly take advantage of, if they do so judiciously as they should with any weapon.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 10:11pm | 0 comments
U.S. Department of the Treasury Report: "Action Targets ISIS Financial Facilitators and Money Transfer Company"
by Bruce McClintock | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 6:01pm | 0 comments
Imagine this: As you drive down the highway at the speed limit in the right lane, another car races past you on the left then veers into your lane without warning. The other car then slows down until it is just feet in front of you, forcing you to make a quick decision to slow down, change lanes or even swerve off the road to the right to avoid a collision. Now imagine the same scenario involving two satellites orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth and traveling at 6,800 miles per hour.
by Barnett S. Koven | Mon, 04/15/2019 - 9:16am | 0 comments
This article is informed by the author’s experience adapting his previous fieldwork studying counterinsurgency in Colombia into lecture content for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School’s Contemporary Irregular Warfare Course.

Blog Posts

by U.S. News & World Report | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 2:01pm | 1 comment
"International support, considered critical to Afghanistan’s ability to govern, will evaporate if rights for women are not secured, inspector general John Sopko says."
by The Atlantic | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 12:03pm | 0 comments
"When ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, it did so in Arabic and English—and in languages spoken in just a few regions across South Asia."
by Voice of America | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 2:42am | 0 comments
"A peace treaty to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan could usher in a new era of instability and erase many of the gains made by international reconstruction efforts, a key U.S. official cautioned Wednesday."
by Military Times | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 2:04am | 0 comments
"The drug lab bombing campaign that was championed as a game-changer didn’t have the intended effect of hitting the Taliban’s purse and was probably a waste of resources."
by Jerusalem Post | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 1:00am | 0 comments
"Since the US left the Iran Deal and began exerting pressure on Tehran via sanctions, there have been tensions between the US and pro-Iranian groups in Syria and Iraq. This includes the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU), a group of mostly Shi’ite paramilitaries in Iraq that are now part of the Iraqi Security Forces."
by Defense News | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 12:58am | 0 comments
"Trump tweeted that 'Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border,' but he didn’t offer any support for the drug-smuggling claim.
by The New York Times | Thu, 04/25/2019 - 12:18am | 0 comments
"Sri Lankan investigators are being assisted by a team of F.B.I. agents who flew into Colombo amid a sense of urgency. The American ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, said there were 'ongoing terrorist plots' and Mr. Wijewardene said 'there could be still a few people out there.' He urged Sri Lankans to remain vigilant."
by The Washington Post | Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:25am | 0 comments
"Before he spent five years in prison for murdering a suspected al-Qaeda detainee, Michael Behenna was a rising military officer from a prominent law enforcement family."
by Military Times | Wed, 04/24/2019 - 12:45am | 0 comments
"Ever since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and sponsored separatists in the Donbas, Eastern Europe has collectively wondered: 'Where will the Kremlin strike next?'"
by Voice of America | Tue, 04/23/2019 - 11:26am | 0 comments
"People in Sri Lanka are experiencing a second day without access to some of the most popular social media sites within the country, after the government shut down the services in the wake of a terror attack that killed nearly 300 people and injured hundreds on Easter Sunday."
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 04/23/2019 - 6:38am | 0 comments
"Authorities here said an international terror group likely supported an obscure local Islamist group in carrying out a series of bombings that killed at least 321 people on Easter Sunday, weeks after the government had received warnings from the U.S. and India about a possible attack."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 04/23/2019 - 5:34am | 0 comments
"Sri Lanka on Tuesday described the devastating string of bombings on Easter that killed 321 people as a response to the attack on two mosques in New Zealand last month."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 04/22/2019 - 4:47pm | 0 comments
"Eight separate bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday left 290 people dead and another 500 injured. A day after the coordinated explosions, which mostly targeted Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo, the names and stories of those who died are beginning to trickle out."
by The Wall Street Journal, by The Washington Post, by The New York Times | Mon, 04/22/2019 - 1:34am | 0 comments
Continue on for an update concerning the terror bombings in Sri Lanka.
by The Washington Post | Sun, 04/21/2019 - 12:23pm | 0 comments
"The White House said Friday that President Trump, in a phone call with renegade Libyan general Khalifa Hifter, praised Hifter for fighting terrorism and protecting Libya’s oil, comments that were far afield from the administration’s stated policy on Libya."