Small Wars Journal

Journal

Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog.

We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

by Walter Kunkle | Fri, 11/24/2023 - 7:45pm | 0 comments
The Soviet Union’s decade-long incursion into Afghanistan has been compared to the American experience in Vietnam. Both wars bore some surface similarities to each other, though closer examination would reveal a multitude of differences behind the circumstances that brought them about, the relative commitment both great powers had to these conflicts, and the motivations for their involvement in the first place. But one striking similarity exists: both wars saw heavy use of the helicopter in an offensive role. The U.S. had taken notice of the successes the French had seen with these weapons of war in Algeria. The Bell AH-1 Cobra that the United States came to rely on in Vietnam was the first dedicated helicopter gunship ever fielded, and proved similarly instrumental to the U.S. war effort. Inspired by this design, the Soviets incorporated notable features from the AH-1 into their own flying gunship, the Mil Mi-24 helicopter, referred to by NATO observers as the “Hind.” Borrowing further characteristics from the contemporaneous UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopter, the Hind would make its international debut in the early 70s and come to prominence in the Soviet-Afghan War.
by Zachary Kallenborn , by Derrick Tin, MD, by Gregory R. Ciottone, MD | Fri, 11/17/2023 - 3:26pm | 0 comments
Terrorists, suicide bombers in particular, create chaos and bring death and destruction to the masses. Not only are innocent people hurt or killed, buildings and critical infrastructure will likely be damaged or destroyed. Police, firefighters, medics, and other first responders may struggle to respond when bridges and roads are compromised and saving lives means entering collapsing, contaminated buildings and potentially placing their own lives at risk. Drones are increasingly being used to help.
by J. “Lumpy” Lumbaca | Fri, 11/17/2023 - 10:39am | 0 comments
This paper proposes that a three-phase approach is necessary for Burma’s resistance movement to be victorious.  Phase One requires all ethnic minority groups to put differences aside and mass kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to defeat the junta.  Phase Two demands both substantial international support for the resistance we well as increased global pressure on the junta.  Phase Three involves minority groups agreeing to a common strategic vision for post-junta Myanmar.  It is critical that Phase One takes priority and reaches a certain level of success before any subsequent phases can effectively occur.  Phases Two and Three may take place simultaneously. 
by Lydia Kostopoulos, by Peter Cloutier, by Isaiah Wilson III | Mon, 11/13/2023 - 2:46pm | 0 comments
The full use and utility of special operations forces has been underappreciated in the context of food security. It is food (in)security that lies at the heart of every conflict today and yet invisible to most in its most fundamental context as a matter, and driver, of global security and defense. Special Operations Forces (SOF) offer unique capabilities that can respond best to USAID Administrator Samantha Powers’ concluding statement in the 2022-2026 U.S. Global Food Security Strategy that, “Conflict remains the single largest driver of food crises worldwide, so the Strategy also leverages investments in conflict mitigation, peacebuilding, and social cohesion.” The COVID pandemic has brought our global food systems to the public eye, and it is the Russo-Ukrainian War that has made the fragility of the food system all the more visible and hard-felt.
by J. “Lumpy” Lumbaca | Sun, 11/12/2023 - 4:00pm | 0 comments
To address the dangerous and illegal actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Indo-Pacific, the United States Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) requires a comprehensive Irregular Warfare (IW) campaign strategy. The word “campaign” is used since this is an enduring effort that requires constant assessment and refinement to ensure effectiveness. The first part of this paper outlines strategic focus areas that the IW campaign should be built upon. The second part of this paper describes specific lines of effort that may be used as building blocks toward strategic success. The emphasis on the second part of the paper is to inspire new, creative thinking toward undermining CCP malign activity.
by Sean S. Costigan | Fri, 11/10/2023 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
Book review of Mark Galeotti's "Putin's Wars: From Chechnya to Ukraine" by Professor Sean Costigan.
by Ryan Shaw | Thu, 11/09/2023 - 8:01pm | 0 comments
A tree fell in the Pentagon forest and, judging by the response, no one was around to hear it. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs signed the Joint Concept for Competing (JCC) in February and it was published without any formal announcement. Its release was noted in Small Wars Journal; only a few news outlets and analysts offered commentary. The muted response is surprising, because it is a serious and thoughtful document that aims to revolutionize the United States’ approach to employing military power in strategic competition—it is a big tree, indeed.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 11/08/2023 - 9:51am | 0 comments
The wars in Ukraine and Israel both promise to be nasty, brutish, and … long. They also represent the new normal in the willingness and ability of U.S. competitors to use “irregular” means to undermine U.S. allies, partners, and friends in a bid to displace the U.S.-led international order. In Ukraine, it is Russian proxies and mercenaries in addition to conventional forces. And in Israel, it is Iranian surrogate terrorist groups. It is likely there is the invisible hand of China’s unrestricted warfare operating in the background throughout the world. (Editor's Note: Today (8 November 2023) the Special Forces Regiment is conducting its annual ceremony to honor President John F. Kennedy for his leadership and for championing the Green Berets)
by Daniel Rice | Sun, 10/29/2023 - 8:11am | 0 comments
The United States can help Ukraine win the war with one final decision:   Send the short to mid-range HIMARS cluster rockets in large quantities.   We have tens of thousands of these rockets, and they are all being scheduled for destruction. They are obsolete. But they remain lethally effective.   
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Thu, 10/26/2023 - 5:04pm | 0 comments
A milícia (militia) in the Western Zone of Rio de Janeiro, known as the Bonde de Zinho (Zinho’s Band), conducted arson attacks against ~35 buses, four trucks, and one rapid transit train on Monday, 23 October 2023. The series of attacks were in retaliation for the killing of a senior militia leader Matheus da Silva Rezende, also known as the ‘Senhor de Guerra’ (Lord of War).
by Charles T. Pinck | Mon, 10/23/2023 - 7:29am | 0 comments
On 21 October 2023, The OSS Society held its annual William J. Donovan Award Dinner to honor the Office of Strategic Services and recognize historical and contemporary figures who embody the spirit of the OSS and national service. The following are the remarks from the president of The OSS Society.
by Winston G. Favor | Fri, 10/20/2023 - 11:13am | 0 comments
In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi expressed his displeasure with the UN peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO. He said it is to be deplored that peacekeeping missions deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo have failed to confront the rebellions and armed conflicts tearing the country apart, nor have they protected the civilian populations. President Tshisekedi announced that he has instructed the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to begin discussions with UN authorities to accelerate the withdrawal of MONUSCO peacekeepers from December 2024 to December 2023.
by Russ Howard | Mon, 10/16/2023 - 9:51am | 0 comments
The word “if” is a conjunction and a noun. Its brevity belies its importance as a forecaster of important events. As a result of the Hamas invasion of Israel, several "ifs" must be weighing on the minds of US security professionals, including government officials and military leaders, particularly those in the special operations community.
by Daniel Rice | Fri, 10/13/2023 - 9:57pm | 0 comments
Accounting seldom plays a role in the outcomes of wars, but in this instance, an accounting error became an unexpected boon for Ukraine during a tumultuous Congressional period. With the removal of the Speaker of the House in October, there was potential for a temporary gridlock of Congressional budget approval. This raised concerns among Ukraine supporters that military aid might be interrupted. However, an unforeseen Department of Defense accounting discrepancy, which reconciled aid for the war's first year, emerged as a significant asset for the President of the United States at a critical juncture in this Congressional chaos.
by Raúl Benitez-Manaut, by Josué Ángel González Torres | Sat, 09/30/2023 - 8:50pm | 0 comments
This essay argues that the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) is currently the most powerful criminal organization in Mexico. This is due to two factors: first, due to the blows that the Mexican government, supported by the United States and its intelligence systems, has dealt to the main dominant cartel in Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel, capturing Joaquín Guzmán, (aka) “El Chapo,” his sons and members of the leadership structure. Secondly, the CJNG has managed to control a significant part of fentanyl production and has managed to penetrate the distribution networks of this drug to the United States. For the authors, the war on drugs and the fight against fentanyl has become one of the main security problems between the two countries.
by Diego Ramírez Sánchez | Sat, 09/30/2023 - 6:24pm | 0 comments
Book Review of "Mientras llega la alegría: transición inconclusa en las relaciones cívico-policiales (Chile, 1990-1994)." This review in English recounts the evolution of policing in Chile from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet to the first democratic government of Patricio Aylwin.
by Raúl Benitez-Manaut, by Josué Ángel González Torres | Sat, 09/30/2023 - 4:32pm | 0 comments
El presente ensayo sostiene la tesis de que el Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) es actualmente la organización criminal más poderosa de México. Ello se debe a dos factores: en primer lugar, debido a los golpes que el gobierno mexicano, apoyado por Estados Unidos y sus sistemas de inteligencia, le ha dado al principal Cártel dominante en México, el de Sinaloa, capturando a Joaquín Guzmán, (a) El Chapo, sus hijos y miembros de la estructura de liderazgo. En segundo lugar, a que el CJNG ha logrado controlar parte importante de la producción de fentanilo y ha logrado penetrar las redes de distribución de esta droga hacia los Estados Unidos. Para los autores, la guerra a las drogas y el combate al fentanilo se ha convertido en uno de los principales problemas de seguridad entre ambos países.
by Diego Ramírez Sánchez | Sat, 09/30/2023 - 3:59pm | 0 comments
Book Review of "Mientras llega la alegría: transición inconclusa en las relaciones cívico-policiales (Chile, 1990-1994)." This review in Spanish recounts the evolution of policing in Chile from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet to the first democratic government of Patricio Aylwin. Reseña del libro "Mientras llega la alegría: transición inconclusa en las relaciones cívico-policiales (Chile, 1990-1994)". Esta reseña en español relata la evolución de las relaciones cívico-policiales en Chile desde la dictadura de Augusto Pinochet hasta el primer gobierno democrático de Patricio Aylwin.
by Atlas Vanguard | Tue, 09/26/2023 - 4:28pm | 0 comments
The purpose of this article is to offer for discussion the changing landscape of the Army’s Civilian Career Management. Huge civilian management decisions are currently underway with no inputs from Army senior leadership. These changes, done in a void, lack a clearly defined problem to solve and no in-depth studies have been completed. This will potentially cause serious long term negative effects. The loss of the SES led Functional Advisor (FA) team undermines the value proposition of our civilian workforce. The lack of strategic processes and Army process driven guidance is leading the Army Civilian Career Management Activity (ACCMA) down a path of irrelevance and a potential return to the status quo ante of 2010. Strategic discourse offers an opportunity to for Army Senior Leaders to add their voices and help shape what needs Army Civilian professionals require to transform into the Army of 2040. First the article will overview strategic documents and highlight the difference between those documents and a research study. It will then walk through the current decision process and the removal of the SES functional advisor from ACCMAs decisions and discuss the tertiary effects of those decisions.
by Vanda Felbab-Brown | Tue, 09/19/2023 - 10:20pm | 0 comments
This article explores the sources of urban insecurity and violence in Karachi, Pakistan since the 1990s. Based on fieldwork, the article also examines and assesses the effects and effectiveness of a wide-range of anti-crime measures, including the deployments of national military and paramilitary forces, the role of national and local police forces as well as of politicians, the business community, and civil society in responding to violent crime and a broad set of local illicit economies. As Pakistan’s key transportation and manufacturing hub and economic engine, Karachi is also deeply intermeshed in global smuggling networks. Moreover, in Karachi, crime and violence, including, but beyond terrorism, are also deeply intertwined with ethnic politics.
by Keaton O.K. Bunker | Thu, 09/14/2023 - 3:49pm | 0 comments
Book Review of David C. Rapoport's "Waves of Global Terrorism" by SWJ−El Centro Intern Keaton O.K. Bunker.
by Tom Ordeman, Jr. | Sun, 09/03/2023 - 5:05pm | 0 comments
In August of 2021, coalition forces - centered on a persistent NATO task force - orchestrated a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Before the international community could clear the last of their troops, administrators, and aid workers, the Taliban reclaimed de facto control of Afghanistan, signaling the unequivocal failure of a twenty-year-long engagement. The coalition's intervention began as a near-flawless unconventional warfare (UW) campaign, and escalated into a conventional campaign before devolving into a disunited mixture of nation-building and counterinsurgency. As NATO divided Afghanistan into a series of fiefdoms overseen by individual member countries, the Taliban re-organized and re-infiltrated. By exploiting continuous missteps by the coalition, international community, and Afghan government, the Taliban managed to turn the coalition's scheduled evacuation into a rout. This largely mirrored other recent campaigns in Iraq, and later Syria and Libya. This mixture of partial and outright failures contributes to a series of inevitable conclusions.
by Martin Stanton | Sat, 09/02/2023 - 9:43pm | 0 comments
          Since early June the Ukrainian’s summer offensive has enmeshed itself in the Russian’s defensive belts and has made little headway.  Observing the scene from afar, if I had to guess as to whether the Ukrainians will (a) be able to break through all the Russians defensive belts and conduct grand sweeping maneuver warfare that will reach Melitipol and eventually liberate Crimea. Or (b) they will continue to be stymied like General Model’s forces were in their attack on the Russian defensive belts in the northern part of the Kursk salient eighty years ago, my money would be on the latter, with the Russians being able to contain the Ukrainian’s offensive. The issue is that while the Russians may be able to hold off the Ukrainians, that’s not the same thing as defeating them.  The Russian army has been savaged in the Ukraine with much of its offensive capability wasted in badly conceived and executed operations during the first few months of the war.  So don’t look for any far-ranging Operational Maneuver Groups of Red Army lore from them either.  Instead, what we find is a high-tech version of the Western front in the first world war.  An eastern European Passchendaele – with drones.
by Tom Ordeman, Jr. | Sat, 08/26/2023 - 8:30pm | 0 comments
Following an aborted Thanksgiving 2021 attempt that mostly involved me falling asleep, I recently made a concerted effort to plough through David Albright and Andrea Stricker's 2018 volume, Taiwan's Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons On-Demand. While Albright and Stricker's volume adds to the corpus of cold war case studies, its contents leave a great deal to be desired, and arguably neglect many of the most important questions raised by their subject matter.
by Daniel Rice | Fri, 08/18/2023 - 12:56pm | 0 comments
Note: The first Demining conference by the American University in Kyiv was held in May with some 500 participants from all sectors Ukraine society as well as the international community.  There 8 expert panel members , 4 from Ukraine, and 4 international experts. The American University Kyiv is powered by Arizona State University and is the 1st American style university in Ukraine with the mission to transform advanced education in Ukraine.   The American University in Kyiv plans to have a second conference at West Point to bring the key decision makers from Ukraine, who need resources, to the United States, to be introduced to those who have the resources, from various US military units as well as US government agencies.   
by Paul Burton | Wed, 08/16/2023 - 10:06pm | 0 comments
Policy, in its relation to traditional warfare, is arguably most influential at the beginning of and near the end of the conflict, but what about an Irregular War (IW) that is protracted? Policy and its relationship to IW, sometimes called Political Warfare, blurs the lines, both in its relationship to strategy and its weight during campaign execution. Options for Irregular Warfare policy present challenges as well as opportunities, and framing the problem properly is vital. Military planners are successful when they can match means to objective, and end states are clearly defined. In this current peer conflict, the policy of containment will not be sufficient, and that is why a policy of flexible “constrainment” is needed.
by Mahmut Cengiz | Tue, 08/15/2023 - 7:55pm | 0 comments
It has been a trend in Latin America to see how terrorist groups have evolved into criminal groups involved in the cocaine trade. Revolutionary and leftist organizations have generated revenue from the cocaine trade when they have pursued ideological goals. Moreover, they ended up in the cocaine trade when they were defeated by the military or negotiated with the local governments. The groups in Colombia have followed suit. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or FARC) were involved in the cocaine trade long years and became one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine in the region. After the FARC ended due to negotiations, the group has created dissident groups that has followed the FARC’s ideology or become involved in the cocaine trade. This article analyzes revolutionary and paramilitary groups and how they evolve into cocaine groups. After examining the FARC’s negotiations with the government, it concentrates on the FARC dissident groups and discusses the likely results of successful talks with the ELN.
by Daniel Rice | Sun, 08/13/2023 - 8:10pm | 0 comments
In the face of mounting global challenges, Congress stands at a crossroads with the M26 HIMARS Cluster Rockets. The question is simple: Why destroy these potent weapons when they can be transferred to Ukraine at no cost to the American taxpayer?
by Alejandro Duran | Mon, 07/31/2023 - 10:07pm | 0 comments
Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or FARC have their origin in a period of continuous and widespread political, social, and economic unrest that is commonly known as “La Violencia” in contemporary Colombian History. Identifying the underlying causes behind this important historical period is crucial to our understanding of the motivation behind the rise of the longest-lived insurgency in the western hemisphere.
by Sean Fiorella, by Tony Payan, by Daniel Potter, by Rodrigo Montes de Oca Arboleya | Sun, 07/23/2023 - 7:54pm | 0 comments
This study focuses on the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and criminal activity in Mexico. It looks at data over twenty-four months prior to and during the public health crisis. The study examines both national-level and state-by-state COVID-19 infection rates data and their relationship to four types of crime—two closely related to organized crime in the general literature, homicide and vehicle theft, and two more conventional criminal activities, muggings and domestic violence. Regarding time, it examines four different time periods—two six-month periods before and two six-month periods during the pandemic to enable comparisons by type of crime at the national level, at the individual state level, and over time. The COVID-19 infection rate appears to have had practically no influence on any of the four types of criminal activity examined in the study. Even so, different crimes did respond differently over time. At the national level, homicide rates stayed at the same levels throughout. Domestic violence rates were lower in the first period but increased in the second period analyzed. Muggings and vehicle, however, theft rates were down for both periods of analysis. The results of the study at the subnational or state level, however, show much more variation, with some states showing higher or lower level of crime depending on the type of crime, the individual state, and the period. The general conclusion is that COVID-19 seems to have had little impact on the country’s criminal landscape and other variables may explain the variation observed at the state level.
by Justin Baumann | Sun, 07/23/2023 - 7:49pm | 0 comments
This article argues that the US Army’s pursuit of Divisions as Units of Action is a mistake. It instead proposes shifting the Army force structure to Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs) as Units of Action, and Battalions as Units of Replacement, enabling more efficient logistics and sustainment across the force. It also highlights how these new unit formations align with joint expeditionary warfare that will frequently take place in urban areas and incur high casualties and resource consumption.
by Michael R. Hetzler | Wed, 07/19/2023 - 10:43am | 0 comments
Security and defense medicine is about to shift into high gear, or instead, it should. Two new and identified security policies are now past the conceptual phase and are being implemented across Western nations, democracies, and alliances.1 Strategic competition (SC) and irregular warfare (IW) will now shape international affairs, diplomatic engagement, and crisis management for at least two decades. Both policies are based on principles of competition, influence, and deterrence below the threshold of war while still preparing for war.
by Charles Davis | Tue, 07/18/2023 - 8:06pm | 0 comments
Much has been said about the global phenomena surrounding TikTok in America since President Trump’s August 2020 Executive Order 13943 was issued, then put on hold, and then altogether discarded with the change of presidential administrations. With roughly 87 million users in the United States there is a large support base for this entertaining social media platform. It is amazing what privacies we will willingly give away if the request is packaged right. Here is free entertainment and a way to engage with friends and like-minded people, just let us monitor what you like and give you more of it.
by Paul Burton | Mon, 07/17/2023 - 10:55pm | 0 comments
Checker games are short, and although they do require a strategy the complexity in contrast with chess is incomparable. The complication of nine games of chess is significant, but if your peer competitor plays “Go” (Henry Kissinger), we now have game board disconnect.  How does the Department of Defense prepare strategic and operational level thinkers to link these board games and win? Can policy makers even define what winning is? The education process to enable successful Irregular Warfare (IW) campaigning is lengthy and does not fit into the traditional professional military education model, it is an iterative lifelong learning process that combines several pillars: a unique pedagogy, didactic, methodology, a form of classical liberal arts education, self-study, and experience. Those fundamentals foundations provide the skills to think, plan, and execute in the realm of IW campaigning.
by Larry P. Goodson, by Marzena Żakowska  | Mon, 07/17/2023 - 5:19pm | 0 comments
This article argues that Russia's approach to hybrid warfare has undergone a shift, moving away from primarily relying on nonconventional measures and tactics towards a greater emphasis on conventional methods. The framework of the argument is constructed through an analysis of Russia's experiences in hybrid warfare across various conflicts such as the Afghan War, Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine. Methodologically, the analysis is based on the non-linear concept of hybrid warfare, commonly referred to as the “Gerasimov doctrine.” This concept acknowledges the utilization of both conventional military tactics and nonconventional tactics, emphasizing the use of nonconventional as primary measures. The evidence suggests that (i) the Georgia War of 2008 and the Ukraine War of 2014-2021 serve as the most prominent examples of Russia's approach to hybrid warfare; (ii) the comparison with the Ukraine War since February 2022 indicates that certain hybrid warfare measures may be transitioning towards a greater reliance on conventional means. This shift raises doubts about the effectiveness of implementing the hybrid warfare concept by Russia. It provides an opportunity to identify the determinants that may play a crucial role in this transformation. Consequently, the article highlights problems for further discussion to explore the evolving nature of Russia's approach to hybrid warfare and measures used for achieving national interests to preserve state security.
by Martin Stanton | Sun, 07/16/2023 - 7:46pm | 0 comments
If the war in the Ukraine has shown us one thing it’s that high intensity conflict over a prolonged period is still possible and it still produces large numbers of casualties.  The US Army has not had to deal with sustained high casualty operations since the Vietnam war.  Critically, the US has no experience replacing sustained casualties in high intensity combat since the advent of the All- Volunteer Force in 1972.  Every conflict since Vietnam has either been too brief to stress the replacement system or of sufficiently low intensity that the volunteer force could still cope with the casualties incurred.
by Justin Baumann | Sun, 07/16/2023 - 7:32pm | 0 comments
This article discusses modern war developments and their theoretical relationship to the historical concept of Grand Tactics. It argues that US army doctrine should incorporate lessons learned from Napoleonic era warfare which includes focusing on Army capabilities in Mobility, Intelligence, Communications, and Leadership.
by Martin Stanton | Fri, 06/30/2023 - 11:00pm | 0 comments
Putin may not have begun the war understanding that he was playing for existential stakes (his own survival in power), but he knows that he is now.  His conventional forces have shown themselves to be surprisingly incapable and aren’t getting better fast enough.  The impact of the war on Russia’s home front is increasing with Ukrainian strikes on Russian border towns like Belgorad.  Additionally, Putin has just seen the first shots in what promises to become a drone “War-of-the-cities” like the Scud exchanges on population centers during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.  Even with government control of the media it’s getting harder to convince the Russian man-in-the-street the war is going well.  The recent “Wagner” mutiny led by Prigozhin with its abortive march on Moscow is another clear indicator that many of Russia’s power elite are becoming increasingly restive under Putin’s leadership.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 06/30/2023 - 8:52pm | 0 comments
A prison riot broke out in the Women’s Prison (Centro Femenino de Adaptación Social, Támara), in Támara, Honduras on 20 June 2023. The riot, which ultimately resulted in a massacre of at least 41 inmates, started as a brawl between members of the rival Pandilla 18 (Eighteenth Street) and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs. The part of the prison where the riot occurred burned down and was fully destroyed. An additional five persons subsequently succumbed to their wounds. In the aftermath of the incident, which has caused a national governmental crisis, the Honduran military assumed control of prisons throughout Honduras.
by Martin Stanton | Fri, 06/23/2023 - 11:43am | 0 comments
In 1988 the Soviet Union began withdrawing from Afghanistan with the last troops leaving the country in January of 1989.  The Army of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) they left behind continued to receive resourcing and material from the Soviets.  A small number of Soviet soldiers remained in Afghanistan after the withdrawal in 1989 but they were overwhelmingly logisticians and technicians.  The DRA Army in the field faced the Mujaheddin alone.  They achieved some notable victories (Jalalabad in 1989) and suffered some notable defeats (Khost in 1991) but did not completely collapse until the Russians (not the Soviets – under new management) cut off funding and resourcing in early 1992.  Prior to the loss of Russian resourcing, the DRA Army, with all its imperfections, maintained a degree of combat efficacy.
by 4Sight | Fri, 06/16/2023 - 12:15pm | 0 comments
This is the second essay in our series addressing Unrestricted Warfare.  How far we will take this series is yet to be determined.  It will likely form the basis of a 4Sight seminar or roundtable.  The previous essay stressed the need to accurately define and contextualize problems, in order to develop a common operating picture.  We provided a brief caution on mirroring and introduced the concept of the Cognitive Domain, as it relates to Irregular Warfare.  This and the previous essay are primers for understanding and responding to Unrestricted Warfare.  As we begin to examine Unrestricted Warfare, it is essential to understand what drives its application.
by Andrew ‘Buster’ Crabb | Fri, 06/16/2023 - 11:53am | 0 comments
Militaries have long utilized wargaming to gain insights into operational plans and human decision-making. The social sciences (anthropology, sociology, history, economics, political science, psychology, etc.) are generally said to study human behavior, culture, and norms at the individual and group levels. This includes armed conflict and the systematic employment of violence. Social science experiments utilize controlled and repeatable conditions to understand the effects of different variables on given outcomes. If properly constructed, utilizing wargames as a vehicle for social science experiments can provide useful data to better assess the complex problems of warfare. Beginning in August of 2022, the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) designed a social science experiment centered on operational considerations from the Department of Defense’s Women, Peace, and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan. The experiment leveraged a wargame embedded in one of JSOU’s courses to assess if gender-derived insights into the human elements of the operational environment strengthened operational planning. This article reviews three general challenges—research/gap spotting, experimental design, and certification by an Institutional Review Board—the JSOU professorate undertook while designing and implementing the wargaming social science experiment. It provides recommendations and key takeaways with the hopes of fostering the military’s use of wargames as a means for social science experimentation.
by Zachary Kallenborn | Tue, 05/30/2023 - 2:26am | 0 comments
Zachary Kallenborn assesses the challenges posed by drone swarms in amphibious operations.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/29/2023 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Adapted from remarks at the Special Forces Association Convention.
by Robert Muggah | Mon, 05/22/2023 - 5:22pm | 1 comment
SWJ−El Centro Fellow Robert Muggah weighs in on Latin America's cocaine fueled crime wave.
by Zachary Kallenborn | Fri, 05/12/2023 - 2:48am | 1 comment
WMD, drone, and threat analyst Zachary Kallenborn weighs in on the need for a US Commission on Information Warfare in this opinion piece.
by Pilar Glaser | Tue, 05/09/2023 - 3:44pm | 3 comments
Pilar Glaser reviews "The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth" by Sam Quinones.
by Tom Ordeman, Jr. | Sat, 05/06/2023 - 10:26am | 3 comments
In 2014, the U.S. Air Force began development of the B-21 Raider, its next generation stealth bomber. However, despite having socialized a set of requirements, identified a vendor, and set a per-unit price that will inevitably skyrocket, any serious discussion of whether a need for this platform actually exists has taken place - pun intended - largely under the radar.
by Paul Burton | Fri, 05/05/2023 - 11:08am | 3 comments
As the U.S. national security establishment grapples with the change of the global environment from the post-Cold War U.S.-led unipolar world to a multipolar one, much of the investment of capital – fiscal and intellectual – has been on large scale combat operations between peer nations. Yet, if the past is prologue, much of the competition, and even conflict, between great powers will likely fall into the category of Irregular Warfare.  How to approach the Irregular Warfare problem today presents significant challenges and great opportunities. In the DOD, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has much of the responsibility for the preparation of forces to conduct and execute Irregular Warfare (IW); its forces are purpose-built for this environment.
by Diego Ramírez Sánchez | Thu, 05/04/2023 - 8:43pm | 4 comments
This analysis looks at the challenge of organized crime and gangs in Chile. It originally appeared in Spanish as “El Crimen Organizado en Chile: El desafío que se avecina.”