To the valued members of the small wars journal community.
i am currently in my third year studying war in Swansea, Wales, and am writing my dissertation. the title that i have chosen is: 'How Does the Culture of the American Military Prevent Them From Waging Small Wars Effectively?'
I was wondering if anyone would care to help me with ideas / book proposals/ suggestions. anything would help! i need particular help in relation to how the american military is changing to deal with the increasing prevalence of small wars - i have read ALOT about everything else, but can find very little about the current policies (force modularity?).
here is my basic outline:

The thesis of my dissertation is that the culture of the American military prevents it from fighting small wars effectively. The overarching focus of the essay will be upon how the U.S. Army’s preference for conventional warfare weakens significantly both their capacity to fight small wars, and their willingness to do so. The dissertation will show how this preference is a result of cultural biases and will extrapolate the various themes that feed these biases.
The essay will centre upon how the American military’s preferred paradigm of conventional war is incompatible with the context of a small war and begin with a summary of why this is so. It will also look at the history of the American Army, and so will comment on the traditional division between the civilian sector and the military. It will outline this split and will look at how it came to exist, with particular reference to Upton’s ‘reforms’ of the Army in the wake of the civil war. It will also look at the Jominian basis for the army over a Clausewitzian ‘politics by other means’ stance, and discuss how this influences the United States’ ‘Big War’ paradigm, although this description and analysis will be kept to a minimum for reasons of brevity.
Of major importance to this work will be the concept and ramifications of the so called ‘Vietnam Syndrome’. In itself the syndrome is incredibly significant in regard to the Big War paradigm, however the changes in doctrine that followed it, namely the ‘Never Again’ school, the Weinberger and Powell doctrines and the more recent ‘Decisive Force’ concept have damaged the U.S. Army’s small war fighting capability by codifying the idea that the expenditure of huge amounts of firepower can create a quick resolution to a conflict. This discussion will feature an analysis of the real impact of the Vietnam Syndrome, which Cassidy believes to effect the military’s willingness to fight wars far more than it effects the populations support of them: a paradoxical issue which may prove useful in discussing how cultural issues within the military may actually reinforce each other. The essay will widen this subject to include the ‘CNN’ and ‘bodybag’ effects in order to give a true account of the Vietnam Syndromes causes and strength as a concept, while referencing instances such as the withdrawal from Somalia and non-involvement in the Balkans to illustrate its impact. The war in Vietnam itself will be looked at of course, both to partially explain the Syndrome but also as a useful case study of how conventional warfare is inapplicable in a small war context. The war is again useful because the extensive amount of material regarding it has thrown up a number of cultural analyses which have exposed the Army’s cultural dedication to ‘Big War’ at the time.
As part of the essays investigation into the American Army’s devotion to conventional warfare the issue of doctrinal forgetfulness will be reviewed, with particular reference to the small wars that the U.S. has fought, such as the Indian wars, the war of independence and obviously Vietnam itself. It will draw the conclusion that because of this cultural devotion to a big war paradigm, small wars are not accepted as pertinent, and so the lessons that are learned while fighting them are forgotten as soon as the war ends. One of the instances linked to this is that even during the irregularity of the Indian wars, the American Army was developing itself as a reflection of the Prussian (conventional) model of organisation. This section may also include reference to the power of the military industrial complex and interest groups in rejecting the change required to fight small wars.
As with any work regarding unconventional warfare, the essay will give an overview of what is required of a military to win a small war, such as force limitation, the use of native forces, the importance of legitimacy (Kaldor’s book: New and Old Wars is particularly useful in this regard) and the relevancy of the political campaign. It will also talk about the currently changing nature of small wars, with reference to Al Qaeda and in particular its religious motivation. The essay will talk about these changes only where they effect the chances of American success, such as how the increasingly religious nature of such conflicts is making the political aspect of the campaign harder to win. It will also talk about the paradox of a large power fighting a small one, and so will discuss the relevancy of support, means and aims in relation to each side of the conflict. The main area of this will be a discussion of the asymmetry of will which is inherent in every small war engaged in by a large power and its relevancy in regard to the Vietnam Syndrome and conventional warfighting in general. This will conclude, in short, that small wars are long term affairs which often take decades to complete and that a conventional war stance is unprepared for such a time frame. It will also state that the unprofessional and inexperienced U.S. Army is unable to fight such protracted campaigns because of issues with public backing, a statement which will obviously refer back to both the American preferred paradigm of big war and the Vietnam Syndrome / bodybag effect.
In explaining how American small war fighting methods can be improved, the essay shall feature an analysis of British examples of success in this field and why the British model is so effective. This will include an assessment of historical reasons for this effectiveness which will centre on the regimental system. The conclusion that will be drawn will be that the close nit nature of the regimental system serves as a home-away-from-home and as the support that American forces usually get from the public. It will also show how the colonial history of the British Army means that the public is more accepting of unclear missions and of casualties that occur in faraway places. An analysis of successful British unconventional missions will echo the tenets of the previous paragraph regarding what is required to win small wars, and will emphasise the minimal force emphasis of the Northern Ireland and Malaya campaigns. It will also look at how the British have traditionally taken a Fabian approach to warfare, with the Napoleonic wars and, again the colonial campaigns as the main instances of this. This approach, while lessening the Army’s effectiveness in conventional wars has made it more affective in unconventional confrontations.
An investigation into the problems that big powers face while fighting small wars shall be carried out by looking into the Soviet and Russian experiences of unconventional warfare in Afghanistan and Chechnya. This section shall serve as a summary of many of the points that have already been made in the essay, but shall serve to show the similarities between the American problems and those of other large powers, and so shall support the asymmetry of will and paradoxes inherent within such confrontations. This section will be useful again because it will compare the cultures of each military and extrapolate relevant information from it, with particular relevance regarding the problems of big war when instigated in the wrong context.

rest to be added in a second....