Small Wars Journal

COIN

Doomed from the Skies, Damned on the Ground SWJED Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:55pm
Every U.S. airstrike resulting in civilian casualties nullifies the eighteen-year long endeavors of reconstruction and nation building aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Afghans in the perpetual War on Terror. The airstrikes have alarmingly augmented the xenophobia of Afghans towards the foreign troops and especially those of the United States.

Was it All Just a Dream? Revisiting “The Defense of Jisr Al-Doreaa” Ten Years Later

Counterinsurgency isn’t dead no matter how much the U.S. military may want it to be. Ten years ago, we wrote a short parable designed to quickly inform junior leaders on the basic concepts of counterinsurgency called The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa. It seems appropriate to take this anniversary to revisit the book and the concept of counterinsurgency.

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Targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Pertinent Issues of Law and Strategy

The US targeted killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on 26 October 2019 raises both tactical and legal questions. Although it is by no means certain that such "decapitation" tactics can tangibly diminish Jihadist terrorist threats to the United States, there is little reason to doubt their permissibility under pertinent international law. In the final analysis, such permissibility derives from our world's still-decentralized legal structure.

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SWJ Book Excerpt – “War Amongst the People: Critical Assessments” - Conclusion: War, the People, and Politics

"War Amongst the People: Critical Assessments" - Edited by David Brown, Donette Murray, Malte Riemann, Norma Rossi and Martin A. Smith, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Published by Howgate Publishing, May 2019.

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“Strange Creatures We Are, Even to Ourselves”: Understanding Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Efforts in the Irish War of Independence

While still brutal, the Irish War of Independence ended with relatively little loss of life (some estimate that less than 2,000 lives were lost during the conflict) in order to secure the independence of three million people. In order to understand the result of this war and its enduring nature, it becomes incumbent upon us to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants in order to understand the factors that led to its conclusion.

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Western COIN: The Rise of “Soft” Counterinsurgency Doctrine

This paper examines the major shifts in irregular warfare, defined here in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Concept as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over [a designated] population.” While there have been several noteworthy evolutions in the ways in which insurgents wage war, this paper argues that the most consequential developments in irregular warfare have occurred on the state-side, reasoning that Western democracies’ embrace of “soft” COIN approaches has spread worldwide.

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MacArthur, Eisenhower, and the Lost Lessons of Building Partnership Capacity

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.

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Assessment of French Intervention in the Sahel Region, 2013-2019

Despite the initial success of Operation Serval in 2013, French intervention in the Sahel region has now reached impasse. The already intricate situation is further complicated by France’s status as a former colonizer operating in the region. Understanding how France’s former colonial status translates into relationships between local communities, French troops, and armed terrorist groups will influence long term engagement.

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Making Headway Against the Sinai Insurgency

Countering this insurgency has been at the forefront of Egyptian president Abdelfattah al-Sisi’s agenda since he assumed office in 2013. Roughly 1,000 security personnel have been killed in the region during this period. However, despite brutal methods and substantial military effort, the Egyptian government has little to show from the past five-plus years of counterinsurgency operations in the Sinai aside from hundreds of military and civilian casualties and an undeterred adversary.

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“Malice in Blunderland” - J. P. Cross and the Royal Lao Army - 1972-75

There are many reasons (political/diplomatic/financial) why Laos was taken over by the Pathet Lao in 1975. Perhaps the overriding reason was the state of its military. The Royal Lao Army was one of the most ineffective forces of modern times. Despite being funded by a near inexhaustible American bankroll, it was a very poor shadow of its model, the ARVN.

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