Small Wars Journal
  • "In 1991 the Gulf War showed everyone how not to fight us, but the 2003 invasion of Iraq showed everybody how to fight us."
    -- David Kilcullen
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt

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"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.

Journal

by Vanda Felbab-Brown | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:51pm | 0 comments
Perhaps nowhere in the world has a country and the international community faced an illicit drug economy as deeply entrenched as in Afghanistan. After toppling the Ashraf Ghani government in August of this year, the Taliban has announced its intention to rid Afghanistan of drugs. They tried to ban opium production in 2000 with limited success, This analysis by SWJ-El Centro Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown provides a retrospective view of the Taliban's opium control initiatives from the 1990s to the present. She concludes that maintaining these suppression efforts would be wickedly difficult and could internally destabilize the Taliban.
by Sandor Fabian | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 10:15pm | 0 comments
In her recent articles in Foreign Affairs and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at Modern War Institute Rachel Tecott paints a quite bleak picture about US Security Force Assistance efforts. In both of these articles the author arrives to strong conclusions by suggesting that the US approach to building foreign militaries does not deliver the expected results and even argues that recent events “exposed the rot” within these efforts.     While there are several compelling and thought-provoking points in these articles their arguments and conclusions seem to be significantly weakened by the authors` narrow definition of US security force assistance efforts` scope and objectives, and the cherry-picking of scholarly literature and cases that scream obvious confirmation bias. A more comprehensive investigation of the issue at hand reveals that the topic is much more complex than presented in these two articles and while undeniably there are several bad cases in the history of US security force assistance efforts they also have yield some great results as well.
by Adam Reitz | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 9:53pm | 2 comments
Traditionally most people think of using the stick of coercion when dealing with a foe and the carrot of persuasion with an ally, but we should amend our influence planning to include the possibility of applying both, as required, in a goal-centric model.  Friend or Foe?  As a target it makes little difference in designing the dialog of influence if we recognize that either would decide on an action only after weighing the pros and cons. Instead, distinguishing between whether you are trying to discourage an actor’s potential behavior or you are trying to encourage their current behavior offers planners more utility than focusing on your relationship with them.
by Mangesh Sawant | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 9:26pm | 0 comments
In the short Sherlock Holmes story from 1885, Mycroft Holmes, the intellectual panjandrum of the British government, tells his brother Sherlock about the plans of the Bruce-Partington submarine. Mycroft mentions to Holmes that the submarine’s importance can hardly be exaggerated. It has been the most jealously guarded of all government secrets. “You may take it from me,” Mycroft declares, “that naval warfare becomes impossible within the radius of a Bruce-Partington operation.”                          Stealth is the common feature between submarine warfare and urban warfare. Submarines are asymmetric weapon platforms in the vast oceans. Contemporary US and Russian submarines are sophisticated and powerful weapon platforms. One nuclear submarine can obliterate two to four cities with intercontinental ballistic missiles or target centers of gravity like aircraft carriers and military installations with cruise missiles by staying safe thousands of miles away from the target.
by Katherine Aguirre, by Robert Muggah | Mon, 09/13/2021 - 2:32pm | 0 comments
This article reviews the lethal violence statistics featured in the "Homicide Monitor"—a data visualization tracking international murder rates—confirms that Latin America and Caribbean countries are indeed suffering from a disproportionately high burden of lethal force by police compared to other parts of the world. Notwithstanding norms and standards urging restraint, countries like Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico report some of the highest levels of police killings on the planet.
by Andrew Milburn | Sun, 09/12/2021 - 11:10pm | 7 comments
Mission Command is a philosophy of decentralized decision making. Plans and orders are simply starting points, likely to soon become irrelevant amidst the fog and friction of war – what really matters is the intent of the higher commander which is linked to the overarching purpose of the operation. A subordinate is expected to be able to think on his feet, work out the best way to follow that intent, and adapt his actions to changing circumstances.  As a method, mission command has ample precedence as a highly evolved philosophy of command and control that can produce disproportionate combat results.  But while we understand the buzz words, we fail to understand the changes required in personnel management, education, and training in order to make it a cultural reality.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 09/10/2021 - 5:36pm | 0 comments
On 17 August 2021, the ex-Secretary of Prisons (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária – Seap), Raphael Montenegro, was arrested for corruption after meeting with a Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) leader in the Federal Prison in Catanduvas, Paraná. He was fired from his position the day of his arrest. Montenegro was offering to transfer gang members to less restrictive state prisons in Rio de Janeiro and overlook the gang’s activities and prison expansion in exchange for reducing violence in Rio.
by Philip Wasielewski | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:50pm | 0 comments
In 2014, the politico-military face of Europe changed considerably after the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and its follow-on subversion of, and incursion into, eastern Ukraine. While some decried Russia for “acting in a 19th-century fashion”, it became clear to many eastern and central European states, NATO members and non-members alike, that their 21st century security challenges now could include invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation. Nowhere in NATO was this challenge felt more acutely than in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They had regained their sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union, but unfortunately also regained the same geopolitical challenges to their security that they faced during their interwar existence – limited territory providing no strategic depth and a small population unable to generate conventional military forces that could deter a Kremlin hostile to their independence. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO took specific steps to increase Baltic security. Since 2017, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a proportionate deterrent force and to send a clear message that an attack on one would be met by troops from across the alliance. NATO has improved its security posture in the Baltics through multiple deployments and exercises and by investing in infrastructure and pre-positioned forces via the European Deterrence Initiative.
by Tamseel Aqdas | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:34pm | 0 comments
With respect to its evolving tendencies, warfare can be depicted as dynamic in nature. A discussion of the contemporary geopolitical environment discloses advancements in the philosophy and art of war. Those developments are associated with technological progression, resulting in novel strategies and implications for warfare. Contemporary evolving methods have merged with traditional understandings of warfare, marking the concept of hybrid warfare.
by Michael Ferguson | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 1:50pm | 1 comment
In 1997, between two very different wars with Iraq, military historian Williamson Murray highlighted what he saw as a disturbing trend in the US Department of Defense. A newfound obsession with supposedly revolutionary military technologies was sidelining history and strategic studies in professional military education programs. He believed this fascination was preparing the US officer corps “to repeat the Vietnam War” in the twenty-first century, only more “disastrously.”

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 09/17/2021 - 10:22am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 09/16/2021 - 10:18am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 9:34am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 8:24pm | 0 comments
A recent analytical report by Aneliese Bernard, summarized in an article for the Irregular Warfare Initiative at the Modern War Institute at West Point, details the expansion of violent extremism from West Africa's Sahel region into the Littoral states on the Gulf of Guinea
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 9:36am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 09/13/2021 - 9:24am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 09/12/2021 - 11:12am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 09/11/2021 - 11:50am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Fri, 09/10/2021 - 6:08pm | 0 comments

A 9-11 tribute to the late BG Frank Toney.

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by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 09/10/2021 - 9:35am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Thu, 09/09/2021 - 4:37pm | 0 comments
Mexico is experiencing a profound forensic crisis in terms of human identification: there are 52,000 unidentified deceased persons, according to official figures obtained by the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico (Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México).
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:16am | 1 comment

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 10:18am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 09/07/2021 - 8:31am | 0 comments

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