Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • "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
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
  • “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)

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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 David M. Tillman | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:56am | 0 comments
Mission command dates back to the mid-19th century, when the Chief of Prussian general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, first conceptualized the decentralized operational framework known as Auftragstaktik. German doctrine adopted Auftragstaktik in 1888, which later served as the foundation for the infamous German Blitzkrieg of WWII. Today, Auftragstaktik provides the foundation for mission command, which U.S. doctrine defines as having seven key principles: competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance. These principles are compounding, with each one enhancing the efficacy of the next. This article analyzes MG Ariel Sharon’s effective employment of mission command during the Yom Kippur War, specifically through the principles of competence, mutual trust, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.
by Anthony Ippoliti | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:41am | 0 comments
Geopolitics determines the type of cell phone you carry, the car you drive, and the computer you use. The all-consuming power of nation-state actor rivalries in the international arena shapes the structural paradigm that drives trade and politics. This is the invisible hand of the global economy. And so it goes with China, microprocessors, and American national security.
by Justin Baumann | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:32am | 0 comments
In discussing the Army’s role in protecting interests against adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDO-PACOM) theater of operations, it may seem counterintuitive that an article discusses Navy and Air Force platforms, but the Army cannot operate against adversaries while conducting Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs) or Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCOs) if it is not properly supplied.[ii] In the INDO-PACOM, this means the Army relies predominantly on current Navy and Air Force resupply platforms for sustaining operations and power projection across the vast Pacific Ocean.[iii]
by Bruce Hoffman, by Jacob Ware | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 7:49pm | 0 comments
Terrorism and national security scholars Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware weigh in on the consequences of the Biden Administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan
by Kate Kingsbury | Sun, 09/26/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
On 6 May 2021, three heavily armed men stormed into the Santa Muerte temple known as Santa Muerte Internacional Tultitlán (SMI Tultitlán), firing off shots into the air. The men, who had previously attacked the home of Enriqueta Vargas, the former leader of the temple, looted the shrine for items of worth and beat up staff members. This paper looks at the background of SMI Tultitlán and the new religious movement (NRM) surrounding Santa Muerte with a discussion of the roles of Jonathan Legaria Vargas "Comandante Pantera" and Enriqueta Vargas "La Madrina" culminating in a discussion of the future of SMI Tultitlán.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Fri, 09/24/2021 - 1:59am | 0 comments
Article 5 of NATO’s foundational 1949 North Atlantic Treaty demands that if an “armed attack” is carried out against even just one member state, all other member states “shall” consider that attack (and any armed attack) on a member state “an attack against them all” and “will assist,” up to and “including the use of armed force.”  This bedrock is the centerpiece for over seven decades of the Pax Americana: the U.S.-led global system of military power, alliances, collective defense, and ability to project combined strength anywhere on the planet.  For it to continue in these roles, NATO must adapt to current and future threats by adding cyberwarfare—including information warfare—to Article 5.
by Frank Sobchak | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 6:27am | 2 comments
Since the disastrous fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, there have been a continuous series of reports that announce far-reaching observations and conclusions from the conflict. Two popular narratives are that cowardly Afghan forces collapsed with barely a shot fired and that the U.S. military is incapable of building an effective foreign partner force. On its face, each judgement would seem to have some threads of truth given the considerable debacle that played out over August 2021. But the reality is much more complex and requires nuance, something that is challenging in the current American political environment.
by Alex Richards | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:21am | 0 comments
In 1989, a team of American analysts presented an argument that the next generation of war would have blurred lines between war and politics, and civilians and combatants. This has become increasingly true as corporations now have major stakes in global conflict and are able to influence outcomes of global politics and war. The Russo-Georgian War further blurred those lines when the Georgian government transferred Internet capabilities that were under attack to TSHost servers in the United States. Private cybersecurity firms and non-state sponsored hackers can influence diplomacy on a global scale due to the deep penetration of the internet into the military, critical infrastructure, and everyday society. This penetration has increased the effectiveness of information warfare and cyber espionage.
by Richard McManamon | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:15am | 0 comments
With the election of a new U.S. president comes a new foreign policy strategy. While the U.S. continues to manage the recent evacuation of forces and allies from Afghanistan, monitors the volatile situation between Israel and Hamas, and carefully listens to North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, it must not lose focus on Russia and China. At a time when both countries continue to expand their presence in eastern Europe, it becomes evident that the U.S. must have a focused strategy within the Balkans. The recent build-up of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border in April 2021 reinforces the idea that Russia will continue to destabilize the region while China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has found its way into eastern Europe, specifically to the Balkan countries. China’s dangerous lending practices and infrastructure projects can put Balkan countries at increased risk and provide China a backdoor into Europe. The U.S. benefits from a strong E.U. and NATO as well as sustainable stability throughout Europe. Targeted support for European allies is a strong incentive for U.S. involvement in the region as the U.S. can benefit from increased stability and stronger trading partners. This was highlighted by President Biden’s recent signing of an Executive Order on June 8, 2021, that provided additional sanction authority, efforts to combat corruption, and promote accountability within the Balkans and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Lastly, the Balkans present a unique challenge for western allies as this region simultaneously displays global competition from both Russia and China, which will require a comprehensive approach to counter their expansion effectively. 
by Ernest John C. Jadloc | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:06am | 0 comments
In 1952, U.S. officials approved the establishment of an international anticommunist movement for rural reconstruction in the Philippines. Central to this project was the issue of land reform. After a perceived success of development programs and subsequent surrender of the Hukbalahap insurgents, the U.S. abandoned its commitment to land reform.[1] However, land reform and its security implications have not been forgotten and are at work today.

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 9:59am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 4:49pm | 0 comments
"The waves of terrorism and the insurgencies of the future (Las olas del terrorismo y las insurgencias del futuro)" is the theme explored by Jesús M. Pérez Triana, the author of "Guerras Posmodernas," in a three part series in Spanish at "The Political Room."
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 9:47am | 0 comments

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