Small Wars Journal
  • “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)
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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 always dangerous for soldiers, sailors or airmen to play at politics. They enter a sphere in which values are quite different from those to which they have hitherto been accustomed"
    -- Winston Churchill

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



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.


Setting Sail - A sailor raises the battle flag aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Carney after getting underway from Naval Station Rota, Spain, Jan. 7, 2020. Carney is supporting regional allies and partners as well as U.S. security interests in Europe and Africa. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Fred Gray.

"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 Jessica Ojala | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 12:11am | 0 comments
The United States faces an organizational dilemma when it comes to the cyber domain, as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Community, and the private sector all are stakeholders in the domain and the security. Uniting the stakeholders under one security domain, specifically quantum encryption, would strengthen the United States cyber defense against their adversaries.
by Allyson Christy | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 9:31am | 2 comments
President Trump may epitomize the kid who unabashedly challenges the menace of the schoolyard bully. Most kids? They tiptoe around bullies, nervously looking away. Most hope the bully will not take notice and simply move on without inflicting harm. Yet most kids understand these dynamics as irksome risks undermining the very sense of order, calm, and security.
by Magdalena Defort, by William Preston McLaughlin | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 1:01am | 0 comments
This essay explores why Latin America is of paramount strategic importance for Iran, and what factors or events gave Iran access to the region so it could pursue its classic rampant penetration of other nations’ governments and cultural institutions.
by Fouad Pervez, by Chris Bosley | Sun, 01/19/2020 - 12:30am | 0 comments
In many ways, peacebuilding and public health are kindred disciplines in that they both require whole-of-society approaches to succeed. But while both disciplines share similar traits, the relationship between peacebuilding and public health is often overlooked.
by Hesham Youssef | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 6:06am | 0 comments
Despite tremendous effort exerted since the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution, peace has been elusive. Today, there is a growing feeling among Palestinians, Israelis and the international community that the two-state paradigm may no longer be viable. USIP’s Ambassador Hesham Youssef examines the potential scenarios facing Israelis, Palestinians and the region as the stalemated conflict continues without progress toward two states.
by Euan Findlater | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 4:59am | 0 comments
Iran’s strategic culture and national security outlook is at a critical juncture, where historical nationalism, religion and political ideology are being challenged by modernisation, moderation and pragmatism. As a result, current Iranian national security policies can be analysed as working like a pendulum between supranationalist and realist tendencies.
by Alexandra Phelan | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:19am | 0 comments
The internal split leadership within FARC presents the organisation with a significant crisis, particularly amongst a fragile and precarious peace agreement. Given the Colombian conflict’s transformation after the 2016 peace agreement with FARC that resulted in the opening of both territorial vacuums and resources for other armed groups, it remains precarious as to how FARC II will merge or compete given its current resources.
by Garrett Nada, by Maria J. Stephan | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:15am | 0 comments
Recent regime missteps have triggered successive waves of popular discontent over longstanding grievances. USIP’s Garrett Nada and Maria Stephan explain how the protests have evolved over time and how demonstrators could use nonviolent tactics against the repressive regime.
by Karl Umbrasas | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:09am | 0 comments
The need for servicemembers may necessitate prioritization of able-bodied males and females to operational billets and combat specialties. This prioritization must naturally draw capable personnel away from non-combat roles. Maladapted servicemembers, who at one time were considered candidates for expeditious involuntary separation, must be recycled to rear missions to allow the maximum number of mission-capable servicemembers closer proximity to the fight.
by John P. Sullivan | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 8:40am | 0 comments
Criminal cartels and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) rely on corruption to enable their pursuit of criminal profit and power. Indeed, Mexico’s cartels emerged from the seeds of corrupt police profiting from the narcotics trade. While violence is the public face of criminal cartels and transnational gangs, corruption is the core threat to public trust and state legitimacy and capacity.

Blog Posts

by The Telegraph | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 2:32pm | 0 comments
"The Western troop presence in Iraq is to be scaled down under a plan to defuse regional tensions over America's killing of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani."
by Military Times | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 2:06pm | 0 comments
"West African leaders aren’t on board with the possibility of U.S. troops vacating the region, according to a new report. U.S. Africa Command says that there are approximately 6,000 Department of Defense personnel in Africa, but those numbers could go down following a review the Pentagon is executing to reexamine U.S. troop presence in multiple areas of operations."
by National Public Radio | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 10:50am | 0 comments
"Hackers linked to Iran are probing American companies for vulnerabilities, cybersecurity researchers and U.S. government officials say. The warnings suggest that the next phase of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, following the Jan. 3 killing of a top Iranian general in an American drone strike, is likely to play out in cyberspace."
by Stars & Stripes | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 10:40am | 0 comments
"An Islamic State group official who oversaw oil and gas operations and helped finance sleeper cells was killed last week in a joint coalition special operations raid with Syrian partner forces, the military said."
by Voice of America | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 12:09am | 0 comments
Pakistan hosted high-level talks with the United States on Monday to review steps Islamabad has taken to choke funding sources to terrorist groups. The two sides, officials say, also discussed ways to increase bilateral trade.
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 2:29pm | 0 comments
"As world powers back a cease-fire in Libya to end months of fighting, a recent injection of mercenaries by rival foreign backers threatens to unravel efforts to establish a long-term truce in the oil-rich North African country."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 1:48pm | 0 comments
"With open hostilities between Iran and the U.S. subsiding for now, the Trump administration is seeking to keep pressure on Iran without pushing the region into a volatile new confrontation, U.S. and regional officials said."
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 11:58am | 0 comments
Via the Miami Herald: "The United States is concerned about the presence of Hezbollah, the terrorist group supported by Iran, in Venezuela, an issue that will be raised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting on counterterrorism efforts that will gather several ministers from the region in Bogota on Monday."
by Associated Press | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 11:27am | 0 comments
"The death toll from a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a government military camp climbed to at least 111 troops, a military spokesman said Monday, making it one of the deadliest rebel assaults since the beginning of the country's bloody civil war."
by Military Times | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 9:06am | 0 comments
"U.S. Africa Command officials have long cautioned that Russia and China are trying to expand their control in Africa. But the command believes the U.S. can foil that influence by developing strong relationships with African states and becoming their partner of choice."
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 12:52am | 0 comments
Fierce clashes continued Sunday between Syrian government forces and rebel fighters in the northwestern province of Idlib, despite a cease-fire brokered last week by Russia and Turkey.
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 12:49am | 0 comments
World leaders agreed Sunday to respect an arms embargo and back off from interfering in Libya, where forces from two rival governments are fighting for power.
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sun, 01/19/2020 - 4:54pm | 0 comments
A missile attack on a military training camp in Yemen has killed at least 80 soldiers. Dozens of others were wounded in the strike in the central province of Marib on Saturday, officials say.
by Associated Press | Sun, 01/19/2020 - 3:29pm | 0 comments
"Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Sunday to bolster his country’s role under its security pact with the U.S. in “outer space and cyberspace,” as the allies marked the 60th anniversary of a treaty that has been the basis for their postwar defense alliance."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 01/19/2020 - 12:39pm | 0 comments
"Senior leaders of Turkey, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, along with the U.S., Italy, China and France attended Sunday’s conference. The leaders of the two main Libyan camps battling for control of the capital aren’t expected to meet with each other."