Small Wars Journal
  • “The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other. As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas — and we will always win — let us find the courage to heal our divisions within.”
    -- President Donald J. Trump
  • “Once Europe existed in a Dark Age and Islam carried the torch of learning. Now we Muslims live in a Dark Age.”
    -- Mahmud Tarzi
  • “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
  • “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)

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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Recovery Exercise - Marines in assault amphibious vehicles during a vehicle recovery exercise near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 19 August 2019, as part of Unitas, an annual multinational maritime exercise. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Booker Thomas.

"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 Stephen B. Young | Wed, 08/21/2019 - 6:09am | 0 comments
Unlike conventional wars, which in Vietnam we called the “War of the Big Battalions”, small wars, or what back then we called “the other war”, integrate the military with the cultural and the political. Thus, small wars are hard to win with kinetic engagements and firepower alone. The complex reality of small wars also implies that they can be lost for cultural or political reasons even if single military engagements are won handily again and again.
by Michael Gladius | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 4:28pm | 0 comments
In the aftermath of WWI, the question of Air Power’s role in the military as an institution arose. Two competing theories arose: The first treated air power as another branch of the Army and Navy, while the second treated Air power as a separate form of war that would be super-dominant. America’s Military has tried both forms, using the former during WWII and the latter post-1947. In recent decades, many critics of an independent Air Force have called for its abolition and a return to the first model.
by H. K. Roy | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 4:33am | 0 comments
Over the years, on the many flights I’ve taken, I’ve had several “celebrity sightings” and even had the opportunity to meet one or two of them in the process. I sat in front of a beret-wearing Samuel L. Jackson on a night flight to London, and across the aisle from late, great US Marine and Full Metal Jacket actor R. Lee Ermey on a flight to DC.
by H. K. Roy | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:40am | 0 comments
This story could have been included in the previous chapter [“Ignore My Intelligence at Your Peril (I Am Not As Stupid As I Look)”], but as you will read, this premeditated intelligence failure in Iraq is so mind-boggling in nature that it deserves a chapter all its own. Technically it was not an intelligence failure; it was a spectacular tactical intelligence success story, followed by an unconscionable bureaucratic failure to properly manage an invaluable ongoing counterterrorism intelligence operation.
by Ray K. Ragan | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:14am | 0 comments
Currently Civil Information Management (CIM) systems employed by the U.S. Military are not keeping pace with the current revolution seen in civilian next-generation knowledge management systems (KMS). These KMS are possible through the convergence of modern computing, predictive analytics, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML). This CIM limitation is unnecessary and self-imposed as a KMS offers persistent and progressing inputs to the common operating picture. This assessment explores how civilian business harnessed this revolution and how to apply it to CIM.
by Thomas Doherty | Fri, 08/16/2019 - 1:13pm | 1 comment
In the era of great power competition, the United States can ill afford to ignore nonviolent resistance as an offensive strategy employable by ourselves, our allies, and also our enemies. The ability to achieve UW end states using strategic nonviolence will increase the options and capabilities available to policymakers and allow us to understand it when utilized against U.S. interests.
by Robert Bunker, by Pamela Ligouri Bunker | Thu, 08/15/2019 - 4:20pm | 0 comments
New eBook out by Robert J. Bunker and Pamela Ligouri Bunker, "The Islamic State English-Language Online Magazine Rumiyah (Rome): Research Guide, Narrative & Threat Analysis and U.S. Policy Response". Reston, VA: Terrorism Research Center, August 2019, 130 pp.
by Mark D. Robinson, by Cori E. Dauber | Thu, 08/15/2019 - 3:30pm | 0 comments
Despite the fact that there is a robust conversation regarding “terrorism and technology,” that discussion is – as near as we can tell – uniformly about the back end, that is to say exclusively addressing the dissemination of what terrorists have already produced. We have found virtually nothing in the popular press and nothing at all in the academic literature about the technology involved in the production of the materials that are being distributed.
by Benjamin Runkle | Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:41am | 1 comment
Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower justifiably have become legends for their accomplishments while commander World War II’s Pacific and Northern European campaigns. Yet even with renewed focus on great power conflicts, future commanders are more likely to face missions similar to what these officers faced in the Philippines prior to the war than the continent-wide conventional campaigns they are better known far.
by Michael Keen | Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:20am | 0 comments
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to the situation in northern Mali. The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation still provides a blueprint for a more just, inclusive, and peaceful social contract to regulate relations between the government and the people and between different communities in the area.

Blog Posts

by Breaking Defense | Wed, 08/21/2019 - 5:24am | 0 comments
"The Army wants to expand its fledgling cyber branch into an information warfare force that can do everything from jamming insurgent radio stations to fighting Chinese cyber espionage and to protecting US elections from online subversion."
by Voice of America | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 6:25pm | 0 comments
The fate of a much-anticipated peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is hanging in the balance after both adversaries in Afghanistan's 18-year-old war said they still have “some details” to discuss.
by Military Times | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 5:51pm | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump vowed he will bring home some — but not all — of the U.S. military force currently deployed to Afghanistan, amid reports of ongoing negotiations with Taliban leaders on an end to the nearly 18-year-old war."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 3:36am | 0 comments
"The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 63 and wounded nearly 200 people at a wedding in Kabul over the weekend, signaling the group’s enduring reach and underscoring one of the challenges to a U.S. and Taliban peace negotiation."
by Foreign Policy | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 2:30am | 0 comments
"A United Nations program passes on rebel coordinates to Russia. Its bombs do the rest."
by Associated Press | Tue, 08/20/2019 - 2:11am | 1 comment
"The head of U.S. Southern Command says military officials are focusing on preparing for 'the day after' once 'isolated' Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro leaves power."
by Associated Press | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 4:09pm | 0 comments
"A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 3:15pm | 0 comments
The fate of a much-anticipated peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is hanging in the balance after both adversaries in Afghanistan's 18-year-old war said they still have “some details” to discuss.
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 2:04pm | 0 comments
"A Syrian government air strike aiming to stop a Turkish convoy reaching a rebel-held town in northern Syria has killed three civilians, Turkey alleges."
by Voice of America | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 1:19pm | 0 comments
Ashraf Ghani's comments Monday, on Afghanistan's centennial Independence Day, come as the South Asian country is still recovering from the shock of a bombing at a wedding late Saturday that killed at least 63 people, including children, and wounded 183.
by Long War Journal | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:40am | 0 comments
"As the US government pushes for a deal with the Taliban that will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban continues to promote the training of its fighters and attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces."
by Center for Strategic & International Studies | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:37am | 1 comment
"For all the furor over Iran and the Gulf, or Britain and Brexit, the most important foreign news of the month is what would normally be a relatively obscure Chinese official document: China’s National Defense in the New Era. This White Paper was issued on July 22nd in both Chinese and English. Unlike China’s previous defense white papers — the most recent of which came out in 2015 and was blandly reassuring to the point of being vacuous — the new White Paper picks up the gauntlet that the U.S. threw down in its 2017 National Security Strategy and in 2018 National Defense Strategy."
by Associated Press | Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:29am | 0 comments
"The U.S. has opened up secret communications with Venezuela's socialist party boss as members of President Nicolas Maduro's inner circle seek guarantees they won't face retribution if they cede to growing demands to remove him, a senior administration official has told The Associated Press."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 1:18am | 0 comments
"A bomb has exploded in a wedding hall in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 63 people and wounding more than 180. Witnesses told the BBC a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a wedding ceremony."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 08/18/2019 - 1:02am | 0 comments
"For months, Afghans have been waiting anxiously to see whether negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban insurgents will lead to a lasting peace and a solid path to power-sharing or leave them bereft, facing revived conflict and a possible Taliban takeover."