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Old 01-01-2012   #41
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Small Wars Journal/Council has been invaluable in helping me modify and codify strategies for cyber warfare. I do fear that the "lessons learned" will be lost.
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Old 01-01-2012   #42
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Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
I saw this adage just this morning before checking here, and we do stand a lot to lose if the hard-won experience isn't memorialized for others to draw from in the future, and we don't change with the changing world. I do not, however, think the future is necessarily bleak as OIF ends and OEF begins to wind down. Plenty of new challenges, but not bleak.

With the respective surges in either conflict, we also saw a surge in silliness, or rather a few people who came here with it in their head that they were going to see their avatar or name memorialized with a provocative article or string of posts that advanced their slanted agenda. I suppose we all have an agenda, but I hope that illustrates my point that there has been a signal-to-noise ratio that hopefully tilts towards more signal in the future. Down-sizing and refocus can very much be good things.

I can't remember exactly when it happened, but I made the recommendation to restructure the board to accommodate Iraq and Afghanistan (and other OEF hotspots) in greater detail, and that led to the structure you see in the Council right now. Other good restructuring came over time and across changes in servers, and I think we'll see other changes down the road as things morph and change for the better.

Specific interest will wane across some topics, and some forums may experience a virtual "death", but I'm confident there will be interest in all things small wars for as long as we fail to resolve our differences and interests through peaceful, constructive means.

To the specific question, we can keep the Council and Journal relevant by:

1) Sharing the Small Wars empire with folks may not have heard about the valuable content we have here. If we participate in other forums, linking in to content here can be the initial spark.

2) Submitting articles ourselves to add to the content. We all have our peculiar interests, and every article requires a touch of history that everyone here has a bit of insight into, sometimes in their own very unique way.

3) Supporting the SWJ/SWC financially. I have fired off a paypal donation or two in the past, and I certainly do not offer enough financial support to compensate for the brilliant content that I get to enjoy. I will pick up a Foreign Affairs or Foreign Policy magazine on occasion, but I rarely do so nowadays because there is already excellent content to rummage through here. The writing competition of 2009 drew some excellent and insightful articles, and I hope another can be supported soon. I'd contribute to the next one in a heartbeat, if that support would allow for prizes that draw the best writers out there. I believe I'd also be quick to contribute towards the kitty if it resulted a specific anthology of articles surrounding a theme or two. If that strikes a chord with anyone reading this, make those thoughts known and I'm sure the SWJ team would consider the concept.

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Old 01-01-2012   #43
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I have yet to see an article from a Thailand security force that discusses their small war in Southern Thailand, or their successful COIN operation against a communist insurgency in the 70s. There is amble room for African authors to contribute.
Bill, here is an article from a Journal past about Thai Village Security Teams.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...or-afghanistan

I thought it was very good and pointed out a possible way to help things in Afghanistan.
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Old 01-01-2012   #44
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Posted by Carl,

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Bill, here is an article from a Journal past about Thai Village Security Teams.
Thanks. I do recall this article and it is good, but what I was trying to get across is I haven't seen an article from a Thai soldier or police officer on the conflict, so we can see it through their eyes. I suspect Jeff Moore isn't Thai

The reality is many cultures tend to prohibit independent thinking and views, and writing an article truly could be detrimental to their careers or worse. In that case we'll have to rely on other sources, but in those cases we miss an important point of view. I would love to see more Afghans write articles that are critical of our strategy in their country and explain why.

Listening to one another is important, but listening to voices from other countries is critical if we're serious about learning.
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Old 01-02-2012   #45
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Bill:

I wonder if we could take advantage of the huge immigrant community in the US. There are people from everywhere and I'll bet a surprising number have relevant experience or have relatives back in the old country who do. If somehow we could reach out to them, we could get around the reluctance to publish. What the heck would a guy who owns a sandwich shop and has a green card care about what the guys in the old country's HQ think.

For example, there are very large numbers of Vietnamese in the US, people from both sides of the line. I don't know if there are Vietnamese veterans associations around but if there are they could be contacted and asked if any of their people would like to submit material dealing with their experiences. The submissions wouldn't have to be in English if arrangements could be made for translation. That would be one of the keys to getting submissions, not having to write in English.
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Last edited by carl; 01-02-2012 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 01-02-2012   #46
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I think we broaden the discussion and articles to include other examples of small wars- instead of being so OEF/OIF-specific- like others have said. That said, it is very difficult to get politicians and their staffs to get some deeper knowledge of those fights, much less fights that aren't in the news...

I'd echo getting funding up in order to sponsor writing competitions and also conferences- either unilateral or co-hosting or just participating in somehow. I personally haven't been involved in them- but I know there are some IW, etc. conferences held annually- and getting involved with those, maybe SWJ sponsoring a contributor or two or an editor participation/involvement/attendance might be beneficial.
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Old 01-03-2012   #47
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In many places it's difficult for serving members of a military (or those employed in government) to publish anything that deviates in any way from the official line, and in some places that might apply even to those in retirement. Not all military/political cultures are tolerant of dissent. It still might be possible to attract input from other stakeholders in conflict areas, who might have more freedom to express original views.

I've always wanted to see participation from current or past insurgents, though it's easier to talk about than to arrange.

For the journal it might be worth putting out groups of articles focused on specific regions or issues, asking experts to contribute and discuss varying viewpoints.

I think there may be a perception in some quarters that the site is primarily by and for Americans and those in the military, and that participants form outside those parameters are not as easily accepted. I don't think that perception is accurate at all, but as with so many perceptions it can have an impact even if it's not accurate. I'm not sure how that could be overcome, but it might help to have roundtable discussions on specific issues and invite or actively solicit participation from serious, informed foreign critics of US policy.

For the Council... I wouldn't say quality has declined, but I do notice that some of the people who were active participants when I joined, and whose posts made me want to join, are no longer active. That's probably inevitable; participants will always come and go. The question of how to build the participant base while maintaining quality will always be here, I suppose.
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Old 01-03-2012   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
In many places it's difficult for serving members of a military (or those employed in government) to publish anything that deviates in any way from the official line, and in some places that might apply even to those in retirement.
The Armor and IIRC Infantry Journal appeared to be platforms for occasional dissenting opinions during the 90's, but according to my observation / memory this largely ceased to be true when the top forced the "we need to be quickly deployable for relevance = bureaucratical budget retainment" Stryker hysteria on the armor and infantry branches.
By that time the journals turned into propaganda outlets.
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Old 01-03-2012   #49
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It would be nice if the guys who keep the lights on here, Bill and Dave, could weigh in.

Where this place is, relative to where it was when things started out, and their vision of where they think it needs to go, it pretty important.

It's also important to define relevancy. For whom? Academics, practitioners, hobbyists...everyone? That sets the context as well.
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Old 01-03-2012   #50
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Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
It would be nice if the guys who keep the lights on here, Bill and Dave, could weigh in.

Where this place is, relative to where it was when things started out, and their vision of where they think it needs to go, it pretty important.

It's also important to define relevancy. For whom? Academics, practitioners, hobbyists...everyone? That sets the context as well.
Concur, but we should also remember that this same sort of thing happened after Vietnam. No more limited wars was the cry then, and we're seeing the same sort of thing now. We're also seeing a bit of rehash of "any good soldier can deal with guerrillas." Maybe yes, maybe no, but it's always helpful to have reminders of what can work and what is a really bad idea floating around somewhere.
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Old 01-04-2012   #51
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Winding down the "big small wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan might be an opportunity to devote more attention to smaller small wars around the world, including those in which the US is not an active participant. It might also be an opportunity to advance discussion of the policy issues surrounding the decisions to enter small wars or assist the combatants. There's no shortage of material for discussion there, and there will certainly be useful observations of Iraq and Afghanistan long after we leave.
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Old 02-02-2012   #52
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Sheesh. The world is on fire. If global financial situations don't take an upturn, there will be a ton of small wars. There is so much going on everywhere that just doesn't receive conveniently viewable coverage here. I like anything on here from someone who is actually doing things, although it is hard to tell, people don't really put their C.V. On every post. I was surprised to see this subject after a long absence, I was thinking that asymmetric warfare was the new norm, and SWJ in a great position to be right on it.
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Old 02-03-2012   #53
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Default A point of view to ponder

I had this comment via a PM and have the author's consent to use this. It reflects their long-time membership and long absences from posting.

Quote:
In my opinion, the vast majority of posts could be grouped into 3 bins: 1. submission of ideas and articles rejected by other publications, 2. retired mil folks with an axe to grind, 3. trigger pullers arguing over low tactical issues. While those discussions are interesting, I would rather see a discussion of more operational/strategic level items and issues. I have always appreciated the ability of members of the SWC to answer RFIs that no one else seem to be able to answer. I see SWC as a forum to try out ideas on an educated audience, thus tolerate responses that are predictable in order to get the one or two that are true gems. I would love to see discussions on what our options are regarding NATO, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, etc. I would like to see more historical analysis of past small wars and what the true lessons are/were, and of what utility they are to us today. Just a few thoughts.
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Old 02-04-2012   #54
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I had this comment via a PM and have the author's consent to use this. It reflects their long-time membership and long absences from posting.
I am often amazed at the clarity of 'non-participants'!

The basic structure around here is good - Journal, blog and council. They have each developed a character of their own and as such should attract a different group of readers/contributors. The web stats would be the guide as to which attracts how much attention.

Within the council there should be a place for discussions on 'low level tactics' and individual weapons (for those interested) as well as opportunities to discuss or just read (lurk) stuff on different subjects.

Why are there so few contributers on the council? Perhaps the first is that people tend to post as themselves and (in true military fashion) are not prepared to speak out against the official line in open forum. There can't be a discussion where everyone agrees. Perhaps some want to use their presence here to boost their reputation (in some way). Then my favourite beef about moderators. Moderating online discussions is a skill - it is more guiding and setting a direction for the discussion than merely playing the quick-draw sheriff.

Finally, let and encourage people to find a home here for information of their personal interest (remembering this is not some preparation for a promotion exam where the stuff here is required reading). Let people enjoy themselves.

Last edited by JMA; 02-04-2012 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012   #55
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I hope the content stays around. Ive been using this site as reading since becoming part of the military and as I progress towards my first career goal, this site has given me resources and places to look for information on current conflicts, history and non us perspectives. Most everything we focus on is at the tactical level, even the "uw" stuff. For me personally, the debates help me frame much of what I've been exposed to in the mil more effectively.

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Old 06-05-2012   #56
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I do hope that the SWJ/SWC continues to have the excellent article and posts that are current.

It is a treasure trove of opinions and commentaries as also links to other articles of import.

I don't think SWJ/ SWC can fade out.
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Old 10-25-2012   #57
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Default One of the more popular posts...

One of the more popular posts on the Small War Council asks, "What can we do to keep the SWJ relevant?" Maybe the answer for the SWJ council is, "Quit insulting each other."

I stopped posting on here because people like Bill Moore and "Of the Troops" immediately descend to calling me an idiot or the author of "highly naive articles and this is just another one to add to the compost pile." As a result, I only check the council side when someone links to my article. As usual, most of the "discussion" chooses to personally attack me and avoid the argument.

You gentlemen stay classy.
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-25-2012 at 11:36 PM. Reason: Copied from a thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=16826
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Old 10-26-2012   #58
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You're right Michael, I did have a knee jerk reaction to your article or blog post, so I removed the personal attack and apologize for making it. I actually agree with the last paragraph of your article, but strongly disagree with most of it. Not sure why it elicted such a visceral reaction, it was probably just the straw that broke the camel's back that day. We had several generals that were highly incompetent in this war, but still isn't the reason we're struggling in Astan, the reason we're struggling is there isn't military solution that we're willing to pursue. We could have any number of great GOs in charge and it wouldn't change much, and the same is true for Iraq. Why do you think we did so well during Desert Storm and in Panama? Clearly defined and feasible military objectives. In OIF and OEF-A the military did well initially, but we started social engineering we understandably got off track.

If SWJ is going to stay relevant I think it will have to move past population centric COIN. There are a lot of ways for us to achieve our objectives without willingly stepping into guagmires.
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Old 07-28-2013   #59
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Question Still relevant today

I came across this thread by accident, but what Rob Thornton posted nearly six years ago remains relevant today.

From my position in the UK and being an "armchair" warrior I sense SWC is in the doldrums currently. As Ken White has posted perhaps the USA, where the vast majority of members come from, is "war weary" after two gruelling wars and no prospect of 'small wars' ending.

SWC appears of late to have a group of mainly retirees or civilians posting regularly. With the DoD plus undergoing cuts, perhaps there is an in-service perception it is best to have a low profile.

With the benefit of an exchange with an American member SWJ is still going strong, as a recognised quality outlet for articles. Note many SWJ articles are written - my perception - by non-members, which is not a problem.

Added later:There is no requirement for SWC members to announce who they are, some do so voluntarily and anonymity is an option.
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Old 07-28-2013   #60
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I was thinking of doldrums as well David. I've also taken note of the topics "guests" tend to view, and they are as broad and wide as is the issue of small wars.

Then we get to the Journal, where we see a very broad range of input and the authors are very happy to defend their work against critique and comment--in the comments section mostly. I read that as a belief that there is simply more personal value (to these guests) to have an article published in the Journal. That, or the current lack of peer review allows for a lower standard of critical thought and the investment of personal time is viewed as somehow worth effort, as compared to discussing said topic across 8 pages of SWC comments.

I instigated a remodel of the Council around 2007 if I remember correctly, and activity exploded as a result. Perhaps SWC is simply in a natural recession of sorts that has to compete with people's creative spare time in the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram realms. I only use one of those formats (IG), and I can how that consumes time if I am not careful.
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