Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis
  • “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
  • “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

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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.

"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 Octavian Manea | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 5:08am | 3 comments
Elbridge Colby is Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017 to 2018, during which time he served as the lead official in the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the principal DOD representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy.
by Tamim Asey | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:52am | 1 comment
For years to come Afghanistan will need international and regional economic, political and military support to stand on its feet. As much as the international community need to support Afghanistan – Afghanistan will equally have to prove itself and equal and credible ally of its partners. Afghanistan will have no choice but to explore partnership and pursue one of the above options.
by Sam Read | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 3:48am | 0 comments
One of the lessons of this paper is that there is no one way an individual can be radicalized or recruited. It could be propaganda playing on misguided idealism, like Dakhlalla spoke of, hours spent studying extremist ideology online like Hasan, or being separate from and not assimilating into society, like Awlaki chose.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 1:04am | 0 comments
Since 2 January, 205 criminal attacks have occurred in 46 cities in Ceará and about 360 individuals have been arrested. Ceara’s security forces have been reinforced with the assistance of the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF or Federal Highway Police). The attacks have included bombings and arson directed against vehicles (including buses and school transportation), police stations, public buildings, bridges, businesses, and banks.
by De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 12:51am | 1 comment
Russia is building strong partnerships with Sub-Saharan African nations as a strategy to displace NATO and counter western influence. Some African partnerships established during the Soviet era, were weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, others are the result of opportunities created by the departure of western alliances. Russia has since re-engaged African nations to develop economic and military partnerships.
by Spencer B. Meredith III | Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:53am | 2 comments
The United States needs to face the emerging security environment from a different vantage point than the past 20 years of counter-VEO efforts. Mattis’s departure has created the necessary cognitive opening to question our fundamental and often assumed paradigms to see more clearly the threats facing the nation.
by Javier Flores Mares, by Mauricio D. Aceves | Wed, 01/16/2019 - 12:39am | 2 comments
All criminal organizations in the world share similarities, but, at the same time exhibit particularities related to the places, times and cultures that gives rise to and surround them. Consequentially, organized crime in Mexico has a sui generis composition—the result of historical factors that have allowed the formation of criminal structures linked to high levels of violence, a cultural acceptance of criminal life and links with high political figures, causing the collapse of governability in certain territories, some of them near the northern border.
by Gary Anderson | Tue, 01/15/2019 - 1:11am | 0 comments
Before he resigned, former Defense Secretary James Mattis was reportedly working in conjunction with the Department of State to revise US policy in the Middle East. Whatever vision Mr. Mattis had will have likely died when he left office - but he had the right idea in undertaking a review.
by Bill Dahl | Tue, 01/15/2019 - 12:29am | 0 comments
During my investigative journalism series regarding public health and environmental hazards in Jalisco, Mexico, one question that continued to rise to the top was corruption. In my research, I identified a superb expert: Dr. Jose Ivan Rodriguez-Sanchez. He is currently in residence at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy – Mexico Center.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 01/14/2019 - 3:35pm | 0 comments
Just released - "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.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 6:09am | 0 comments
"U.S. and Somali military officials said Saturday that scores of al-Qaida-affiliated fighters had been killed during an attack on a government military base near Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo. The militants launched a surprise dawn attack Saturday at the base near Bula Gudud village, 50 kilometers north of Kismayo, starting with triple suicide blasts. Scores of heavily armed militants then stormed the base from all directions, Somali officials told VOA."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 5:44am | 0 comments
"The Taliban has denied reports that it is prepared to resume talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on ending Afghanistan’s 17-year war."
by Voice of America | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 5:37am | 0 comments
"The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) Friday denied it was blocked by Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) from conducting a military inspection in Iraq's Anbar province near the Syrian border."
by Reuters | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 4:58am | 0 comments
"A former warlord accused of historic war crimes entered Afghanistan’s presidential race on Saturday in a new challenge to President Ashraf Ghani who allowed him to return from exile two decades he was forced out by the Taliban. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose fighters killed thousands in Kabul during the bloody civil war of the 1990s, has remained a divisive figure since his return from exile in 2016."
by Voice of America | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:38am | 0 comments
"The U.S. withdrawal from Syria may bring to a close an open-ended and strategically unclear military commitment and likely put at risk vital national security interests, according to some analysts."
by Army Times | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:34am | 0 comments
"A two-volume Army study of the Iraq war is a deep examination of the mistakes and success of the war effort that also takes aim at critics who would slough off the conflict as they shift to near-peer threats."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:22am | 0 comments
"Stepping in front of the cameras in the wake of this week’s deadly siege of a Nairobi hotel and office complex, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to finally root out the Somalia-based militants who had claimed the attack."
by The Los Angeles Times | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 7:23am | 0 comments
"The Colombian rebel group known as the National Liberation Army delivered an unwelcome new year message, exploding two bombs on the Caño Limon-to-Coveñas oil pipeline in the eastern province of Arauca."
by Voice of America | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 5:44am | 0 comments
"With a single deadly blast Wednesday, the Islamic State group did more than rattle the calm in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. The terror group also rekindled the debate over its much-heralded demise."
by The Strategic Studies Institute | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 5:24am | 1 comment
The Iraq War has been the costliest U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War. To date, few official studies have been conducted to review what happened, why it happened, and what lessons should be drawn. The U.S. Army in the Iraq War is the Army’s initial operational level analysis of this conflict, written in narrative format, with assessments and lessons embedded throughout the work. This study reviews the conflict from a Landpower perspective and includes the contributions of coalition allies, the U.S. Marine Corps, and special operations forces.
by Associated Press | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 4:50am | 0 comments
"U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan on Thursday, the last leg of a regional tour aimed at finding a negotiated conclusion to Afghanistan’s 17-year war, which would end the U.S.'s longest military engagement."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 3:29am | 0 comments
"Islamic State is reverting to the guerrilla-style tactics it employed in its early days to strike targets, including a suicide bombing it claimed in northern Syria this week, as it stands to lose the last sliver of territory it controls."
by Military Times | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 3:24am | 0 comments
"The Trump administration has been contemplating a massive change in the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan, as the war there enters a new year. In late December, U.S. defense officials confirmed reports that they were planning for the possibility of bringing home up to 7,000 of the roughly 14,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Afghanistan."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 4:52pm | 0 comments
"Somalia is one in a series of American wars unleashed by the Sept. 11 attacks, from Afghanistan and Syria to Niger and Yemen. On any given day, across a swath of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, hundreds of U.S. troops might find themselves dropping bombs on or exchanging gunfire with any number of armed Islamist organizations—al-Shabaab, Islamic State, the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda’s branches in the Maghreb or the Arabian Peninsula."
by Voice of America | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 10:39am | 0 comments
"Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track, but official sources in Islamabad maintain the responsibility for the 'success or failure' of the fledgling peace process rests 'exclusively' with the two negotiating sides."