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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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

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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.

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Night Lights - Marines fire their weapons during low light live-fire machine gun training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on 11 March 2019. Photo by Lance Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani.

"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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Journal

by Marc J. O'Connor | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 8:41am | 0 comments
This paper explores the application and effects of locally-produced electronic warfare systems in the environment of the Fourth Generation (4GW) ‘come-as-you-are’ war in the context of a non-state actor using such systems to produce military effects for mission support and strategic influence, in order develop and facilitate competition as a peer/near-peer competitor against a state or other incumbent actor.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 7:03am | 0 comments
Officials in Guanajuato (Gto.) state have confirmed that alleged huachicolero (fuel theft) capo José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, known as “El Marro,” is believed to have eluded capture on Monday 6 March 2019 by escaping through a series of tunnels. The presence of a functional tunnel network to further fuel theft operations by the Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) illustrates the tactical complexities of underground/tunnel operations in counter-cartel operations.
by William Gawthrop | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 5:26am | 0 comments
Islam is a civilization, ideology, culture, body of law, as well as a religion. An argument can be made that no other civilization is as tightly interconnected among its five domains as is Islam. Research into one domain initiates a response from the other four domains. In many cases, critical analysis into sensitive civilizational, ideological, cultural, or legal issues results in the outcries from the religious domain sending researchers and their supervisors into retreat.
by Michael Hauben | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 12:58am | 0 comments
Flatly erroneous to the point of calumny is the currently widely held belief, even among the allegedly well-informed, that the VN conflict was lost because the US military insisted on pursuing an enemy-centric strategy, the centerpiece of which was pursuit of enemy main force units. In fact, this attrition-based strategy was responsible for the 1970-71 low point in enemy activity that some (Sorely, inter alia) have labelled the point at which the US and its allies won the war.
by Donald C. Bolduc | Wed, 03/20/2019 - 3:09pm | 0 comments
The purpose of this article is to describe the importance of empowering subordinates. It was my experience as a senior leader in the military, that success in an organization is dependent on empowerment of subordinates. The more you invest in your people the more effective you were as a leader. Unfortunately, I also observed that empowerment of subordinates is not followed consistently in military organizations. The mistake leaders make is that they talk about empowerment, but then attach a bunch of restrictions rendering it ineffective.
by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 03/19/2019 - 8:07am | 0 comments
I was blessed to be introduced to Stoic philosophy during high school. While I struggled to fully understand Stoicism as a teenager, I realized its deep value. Stoicism is a philosophy uniquely suited to Soldiers and military leaders. When I deployed to Iraq in 2009, I took a single book with me from home. The "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius was not only useful to myself but was passed around my platoon and inspired many of my Soldiers. It shouldn’t be a surprise as this text has been used by countless military leaders for millennia. If my sons ever march off to war, I will hand them the copy of the "Meditations" along with another book that might prove to be an even more powerful introduction to Stoicism. Donald Robertson recently composed a book called "How to Think Like a Roman Emperor". It is a unique book that I wish would be given to every junior leader in our ranks.
by David E. Williams, Jr. | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 6:07am | 1 comment
The Islamist worldview is in direct opposition to contemporary Western ideas about government, society, and the role of religion in everyday life. Despite this opposition, or possibly because of it, the Islamist movement is gaining popularity around the globe. The apparent failure of Western ideologies, unequal distribution of wealth for natural resources exacerbated by globalization, and on-going conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have contributed to Muslim masses to seeking solutions from more traditionally-minded leaders who promise a return to Islamic Golden Ages via rejection of secularism in favor of Islamic fundamentalist ideologies. This, however, sets many on a path of conflict with the West.
by Jay Liddick, by Thurman “Scott” Dickerson, by Linda K. Chung | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:07am | 4 comments
To remain relevant in the future operational environment, CA must counter enemy hybrid warfare in the expanded battlefield, specifically in operational and tactical support areas, as part of an integrated security team through civil reconnaissance, civil network analysis, and civil network development.
by Assad A. Raza | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 1:06am | 5 comments
The 2018 National Defense Strategy states that China is a strategic competitor and the United States must restore its competitive advantage in the international arena. However, power competition is more complicated now compared to the Cold War Era. Today, states are hyper-connected through technology and economic cooperation which increases complexity for projecting power. A good example is China’s use of economic power through its Belt and Road Initiative to expand its regional influence all over Euro-Asia.
by Michael Gladius | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 11:19am | 0 comments
As America’s Army prepares for a conventional war and develops multidomain doctrine, new technologies will be developed. However, there are several places where existing technology can be used to fill gaps that have appeared as the Army transitions. This is especially true for urban combat and drone warfare. Here, I propose 2 new platforms that can be adapted from existing technology to answer the changes brought about by the mass introduction of drones onto the modern battlefield. In Part 2, I will address urban combat separately.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 10:15am | 0 comments
"Insurgency remains a threat in the region and beyond; officials warn a U.S. pullout from Syria could let fighters regroup."
by Fox News | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 9:32am | 0 comments
"A whopping 87 percent of information security specialists believe we're in the middle of a global cyber war. That comes from Venafi, a firm that provides technologies to large companies to protect their networks against cybercrime. Venafi got opinions expressing this sentiment from over 500 security professionals at the recent RSA conference in San Francisco."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 9:06am | 0 comments
"The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) says the Islamic State group's five-year "caliphate" is over after the militants were defeated in Syria."
by Voice of America | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 7:52am | 0 comments
"World leaders are criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 7:50am | 0 comments
"President Trump on Friday again announced the Islamic State’s nearly five-year territorial grip in Syria had ended, even as Pentagon officials and U.S.-backed ground forces said they were still fighting."
by Associated Press | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 7:50pm | 0 comments
The military has warned in a series of reports under past administrations that climate change is a security threat on many fronts. That includes "through direct impacts on U.S. military infrastructure and by affecting factors, including food and water availability, that can exacerbate conflict outside U.S. borders," the federal government's grim climate report said last year.
by Real Clear Defense | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 8:18am | 0 comments
"After the 'money for nothing' years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is approaching post-conflict stabilization in a way that reduces the upfront cost to the taxpayer and provides an off-ramp if the stabilization effort is not bearing fruit within five years. This will give Congress the opportunity to demand proof that local political actors are making real progress before it appropriates funds for large-scale (and expensive) reconstruction"
by The Washington Examiner | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:11am | 0 comments
Over at The American Conservative, Michael Horton highlights Somaliland as “a success story without billions and bombs.”
by Associated Press | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:08am | 0 comments
"In a campaign that spanned five years and two U.S. presidencies, unleashed more than 100,000 bombs and killed untold numbers of civilians, the U.S. military engineered the destruction of the Islamic State group’s self-proclaimed empire in Iraq and Syria. That’s a military success, but not necessarily one that will last. The Islamic State group is down, but it is not done."
by DoD News | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:06am | 0 comments
Allegations by a human rights group that U.S. Africa Command is responsible for civilian casualties in Somalia are not correct, Defense Department officials said. Amnesty International released a report alleging that five Africom-directed airstrikes in 2017 and 2018 resulted in civilian casualties.
by The Los Angeles Times | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:03am | 0 comments
"The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president's emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed 'unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.'"
by The New York Times | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 10:59pm | 0 comments
"Today even the smallest countries can buy digital espionage services, enabling them to conduct sophisticated operations like electronic eavesdropping or influence campaigns that were once the preserve of major powers like the United States and Russia. Corporations that want to scrutinize competitors’ secrets, or a wealthy individual with a beef against a rival, can also command intelligence operations for a price, akin to purchasing off-the-shelf elements of the National Security Agency or the Mossad."
by Foreign Affairs | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:05pm | 0 comments
"The United States’ longest war may finally be coming to an end. But in practice, the peace negotiations are unlikely to achieve Washington’s main national security objective in Afghanistan—preventing the formation of a terrorist safe haven—if they do not include a plan to directly address the country’s opium problem."
by The New York Times | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 1:39pm | 0 comments
"President Trump said on Thursday that the United States should recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights, one of the world’s most disputed territories, in a significant shift of decades-long American policy."
by Combating Terrorism Center at West Point | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 12:45pm | 0 comments
Continue on for a summary and links to each of the new articles.