Small Wars Journal
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt
  • "It is easier to get permission to put a hellfire on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put a message between his ears."
    -- Anonymous PSYOP Officer (H/T Dave Maxwell)
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • “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

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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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Camo Paint - Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Giordiano applies camouflage face paint on a Colombian Marine during jungle warfare training in Coveñas, Colombia, 7 October 2019. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Stanley Moy.

"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 Daniel Moriarty, by Kevin Peckenpaugh | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 4:45am | 1 comment
This paper will begin by establishing definitions for key terms used throughout it; with a subject matter steeped in both Army and Navy terminology, it is critical to ensure shared understanding. Next, we will discuss first-hand experience with the challenges of maritime CAA, through several examples that have been conducted by A/83d. Following this review, we will discuss a proposed role for CA forces conducting CAA in a maritime environment. Using existing doctrine and academic research as a foundation, our analysis seeks to provide meaningful recommendations on how CA can support maritime forces through targeted CAA in both littoral and maritime environments. Lastly, we will review our analysis and summarize recommendations for the force. This paper is not intended to demand what maritime CAA should or shouldn’t be. Instead, we seek to offer ideas of what maritime CAA could be and hope to generate further discussion on a topic that is increasingly relevant.
by Alexander Boroff | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 3:27am | 0 comments
Utilizing a future fictional war against a near-peer adversary, reconnaissance and security fundamentals are presented in the manner of “The Defence of Duffer’s Drift.” Unique in addressing both the interconnectedness of reconnaissance and security and tying them to concrete examples of failure, this paper attempts to present plausible ways to integrate said concepts into an iterative tactical decision-making exercise.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 10/16/2019 - 3:56pm | 0 comments
Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) has been increasingly targeted from 2014 onwards by fuel thieves (ladrões de combustível). The gangs (gangues) involved include the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC or First Capital Command) and milícias (militias). A similar pattern of large-scale petroleum theft has been taking place in Mexico since at least 2006.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 7:28pm | 3 comments
China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.
by Matthew E. Miller | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:43pm | 0 comments
Offensive cyber, EW, and counterspace operations against sustainment enterprise could create a ‘shockwave’ across the theater of operations. The TSC G-2 sections need to emphasize analysis and collection against these multi-domain threats to the sustainment forces from both inside and outside of theater.
by Robert Boudreau, by Don Newberry Jr., by Richard Phillips | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:34am | 1 comment
For the last hundred years, where diplomacy has failed and warfare has resulted, CA has repeatedly been revitalized and integrated with military operations during wartime. However, on the present-day battlefield, where open conflict is decreasing but “gray zone” activities are increasing, CA personnel should be utilized to undermine U.S. competitors’ attempts to build military, diplomatic, economic, and informational advantages in regions of U.S. interest.
by Keith Nightingale | Sun, 10/13/2019 - 2:45pm | 0 comments
With each generation, its soldiers are issued the new cutting-edge weapons to defend or destroy as required. From rocks to spears to nuclear weapons, mankind has progressed in the technology of killing. It has permitted its users to evolve from the highly personal closeup application to the most distant and dispassionate destruction from afar. However, one combatant tool always remains resident regardless of the evolution of time and generations and that is the power of thought.
by Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury | Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:14pm | 0 comments
The Indian Ocean has gained geostrategic importance due to the volume of trade that passes through it. At the same time, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is increasing Chinese influence in numerous countries in Asia and across the globe. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to examine how the growing Chinese footprint in Sri Lanka and the Maldives can have implications for India’s national security and how the Chinese expansion is of strategic importance to New Delhi.
by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 10/08/2019 - 8:57pm | 0 comments
Currently the development of Combat Medics is too heavily focused within the Institutional domain and needs the immediate introduction of the Operational domain to improve the abilities of Army medics. Offering supporting materials for Self-Development could further optimize the performance of Combat Medics on the modern battlefield.
by Andrew Narloch | Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:29pm | 0 comments
A hyper-mobile defense’s goal is to shock, not destroy, the enemy through rapid, repeated, multi-directional engagements. The fixed objectives serve to lure in vulnerable tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers along pre-planned routes, making them easy targets for the small strike teams. While this shock technique did not entirely destroy the Israeli force, it did disrupt the attacker’s central strategy of a swift, air-covered, armored penetration. The desire of achieving a quick, comprehensive strike for effect has long been the linchpin of effective urban conquest.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 2:27am | 0 comments
"A son of the infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is captured. Cartel gunmen respond with a vicious attack on soldiers and civilians across a major Mexican city, killing at least eight people. The government gives in and releases the son, a top figure in the cartel."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 1:28am | 0 comments
At least 62 people have been killed and dozens wounded in an explosion during Friday Prayers at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan, officials say. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the October 18 attack in Nangarhar Province, which came after the United Nations said the number of civilian deaths in the war-torn country had reached "unprecedented" levels over the summer.
by Voice of America | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 12:42am | 0 comments
Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Friday that Turkish forces would intensify their operation into Syria if Kurdish militias failed to comply with an agreement struck with the United States. The warning was made as sporadic fighting continued and disputes emerged over the cease-fire terms.
by SWJ Editors | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 4:42pm | 0 comments
Via the Miami Herald - "As Washington focuses on impeachment, Syria and the 2020 presidential elections, Latin America and the Caribbean, once again, seem to be falling apart."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 4:16pm | 0 comments
"America’s humiliating exit from the war in Vietnam was marked by chaotic images of people struggling to board the last helicopters leaving the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The U.S. didn’t want to leave Syria in similar fashion."
by Military Times | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 2:14pm | 0 comments
"The rapid withdrawal of American troops from Syria is stoking the concerns of Congress and former U.S. defense officials who warn the limited American presence and abandonment of an ally will stymie intelligence collection efforts."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 1:44pm | 0 comments
"Turkish forces tightened their grip around the Kurdish-held town of Ras al-Ain in northeastern Syria on Thursday, prompting local officials to plead for the evacuation of civilians from the besieged city."
by Associated Press | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 2:22am | 0 comments
"The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire in the Turks’ deadly attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, requiring the Kurds to vacate the area in an arrangement that largely solidifies Turkey’s position and aims in the weeklong conflict. The deal includes a conditional halt to American economic sanctions."
by Center for Strategic & International Studies | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 2:20am | 0 comments
"Both the Obama administration and now more acutely the Trump administration have made catastrophic mistakes in Syria that are costing the United States. Both administrations underestimated the extent to which NATO ally Turkey would go to protect its own interests, how Russia and Iran would rally behind Bashar al-Assad, and that the Assad regime’s pernicious form of governance was the central driver of conflict in Syria—of which the Islamic State is a symptom."
by Defense News | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 2:18am | 0 comments
"House and Senate lawmakers on Thursday left Pentagon briefings on the crisis in Syria frustrated with the tangle of problems that came with President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria and voicing new fears the Islamic State will regroup to wage terror."
by Voice of America | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 2:13am | 0 comments
Russian President Vladimir Putin is presenting himself as a peacemaker in the Middle East, the go-to arbiter to whom all regional leaders can turn to, secure in the knowledge that he considers incumbency a good thing and regime change bad, analysts say. When it comes to neighboring Ukraine, though, the picture is different.
by Associated Press | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 5:25pm | 0 comments
"The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a five-day cease-fire in the Turks’ attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to allow the Kurds to withdraw to roughly 20 miles away from the Turkish border. The arrangement appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey’s position in the weeklong conflict."
by Associated Press | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 6:07am | 0 comments
"Syrian forces on Wednesday night rolled into the strategic border town of Kobani, blocking one path for the Turkish military to establish a 'safe zone' free of Syrian Kurdish fighters along the frontier as part of its week-old offensive."
by USNI News | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 5:21am | 0 comments
"Kabul’s ambassador to Washington said 'passing statements' about U.S. withdrawal or peace talks with the Taliban made in American political campaigns are 'not helpful' in setting Afghanistan on the pathway to a future as functioning democratic republic."
by Voice of America | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 5:05am | 0 comments
U.S. President Donald Trump expects a “successful meeting” Thursday in Ankara as his vice president and secretary of state push Turkey to halt its offensive in northeastern Syria, while Trump continues to reject that he is responsible for the operation meant to push Kurdish fighters from the border region.