Small Wars Journal


The Cobra and the Mongoose: the Legacy Of The Mi-24 and the Stinger Missile in The Soviet-Afghan War

Fri, 11/24/2023 - 7:45pm
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.

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The CIA in Tibet, 1957 -1969

Tue, 11/09/2021 - 2:50am
As tensions rise between mainland China and Taiwan once again, it is worth remembering a vic-tim of China’s previous expansionist actions. Tibet, labeled as “the orphan of the Cold War,” has repeatedly been forgotten on the world stage since its annexation in 1950. Similarly forgotten are the United States’ contributions to the Tibetan resistance against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

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Passing the Paramilitary Torch from the CIA to Special Operations Command

Mon, 09/02/2019 - 1:07am
The CIA’s primacy in matters of paramilitary activities is well-established through existing Congressional legislation and presidential executive orders. However, today the United States faces serious threats from near-peer state adversaries, terrorist groups, and other sub-state actors that should lead its leaders to rethink its organizational and operational approaches to paramilitary activities to optimize both its capabilities and capacity to meet these threats.

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“American Spy” Chapter Excerpt: Sitting Next to a Rock Star

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 4:33am
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.

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“American Spy” Chapter Excerpt: Iraq Intelligence Failure

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 12:40am
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.

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