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
  • “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)
  • "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
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
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    -- Old MOUT Adage

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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 Chad M. Pillai | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:57pm | 1 comment
The upcoming twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the recent passing of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld require thoughtful attention as the nation completes its final troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in U.S. history.  The war in Afghanistan and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Syria have shaped my generation's cultural image, similar to the Vietnam War's generation. In both instances, the U.S. entered the wars believing its martial superiority ensured victory and ended each war wondering what went wrong.  
by William Reber | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:49pm | 0 comments
Paolo Gerbaudo’s Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism is a fascinating and evocative book that is based on the author’s grass-roots experiences during the January 2011 uprising against Mubarak in Egypt, the May 2011 indignados protest in Spain, and the September 2011 Occupy Wall Street movements. He uses his findings to challenge techno-optimists, pessimists, and contemporary social movement mainstream theories. Gerbaudo, Director of the Centre for Digital Culture, argues that techno-theorists do not consider how the use of technology differs based on geography and culture. He contends in his theory of “choreography of assembly” that social media aids in setting the foundations of the nature and type of movement where “soft” leaders emerge within social media communication to guide the emotional and physical nature of a social movement.  
by Natalie D. Baker , by Gabriel Leão | Mon, 07/19/2021 - 2:16pm | 0 comments
This essay examines the concept of governance-in-action from the perspective of Brazil. The country constitutes a ‘symbiosis’ of both legitimate and criminal governance, whose lines are often blurred. We examine how the government and militias operate as forms of criminal governance, and how facções criminosas (FCs or criminal factions) fill in voids left by governmental corruption. While we agree with other scholars that FCs represent ‘criminal’ insurgencies and should be approached as such, we argue they need to be understood also for some of the ‘good’ acts they engage, and why they do so, to better identify how to mitigate their violence. These lessons could also extend to identifying future explanations for how to manage government corruption from more nuanced lenses.
by Jan Havránek, by Daniel P. Bagge | Sun, 07/18/2021 - 6:08pm | 0 comments
NATO and the West are experiencing a reversed kind of revolution in military affairs (RMA). Today’s new technologies bear far-reaching implications beyond the conduct of war. In the past, revolutions in military spilled from the battlefield to the civilian sector. They had an effect either by directly impacting the result of a given conflict or through adoption of military technical advantages in non-military aspects of life. This time, however, we see an opposite trend brought by private and non-military, non-governmental actors. In their everyday lives, general publics and governments alike face military-grade technologies developed and applied by the commercial sector. And it is the private sector that enjoys exclusivity over these technologies; the military is lagging behind. This development also poses a significant challenge to NATO, namely its ability to deliver on its core tasks. If the Alliance wants to successfully continue its political-military adaptation to a world where technologies play a major role, it will need a new approach to decision-making, operational planning, and crisis management. The following article addresses some of the key issues the Alliance needs to consider as it navigates through the new kind of revolution in military affairs: 1) the changing character of warfare; 2) the domination of the private sector over the military in deployment of commercial technology with military potential; 3) and the interdependence of decision-making and modern technology.
by Carlos De Castro Pretelt | Sat, 07/17/2021 - 2:50pm | 0 comments
It is difficult to ascertain if a security cooperation initiative is effective or not. This could be in part because most of the indicators of success used by security cooperation stakeholders may not be focused on measures of effectiveness, but of performance, i.e., quantity of equipment delivered and number of units trained.  As one begins to peel back the layers of an initiative, it becomes apparent that the necessary in-depth analysis which forecasts secondary and tertiary orders of effect may have been overlooked, along with critical, measurable metrics that explain how an initiative would specifically elicit a proposed reaction.  The example utilized by Maj Croshier described the unanticipated difficulties of providing a C-208 fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft and Command and Control (C2) equipment to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.  The focus of this initiative was placed mainly on the equipment, without fully accounting for the significant personnel, doctrinal, and maintenance challenges that would ensue.
by Tom Hammerle | Thu, 07/15/2021 - 1:57pm | 0 comments
The nature of American overseas military operations is once again shifting, this time away from Counterterrorism (CT) and Counter Insurgency (COIN) Operations toward an era of Strategic Competition and Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCO). After nearly two decades of major operations in the Middle East, few are taking positions against the shift or promoting costly so-called “forever-wars”. But consensus on what the U.S. will no longer do does little to inform what the U.S. ought to do. 
by Malcolm Beith | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 9:09pm | 1 comment
Book review of Noah Hurowitz's "El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord" by Malcolm Beith.
by Rudy L. Novak | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 12:43pm | 0 comments
Since the birth of the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1947, Airmen have struggled to define the universal skills or common knowledge that all Airmen share. The easy solution, and one adopted since the services’ establishment, is to instill a ground warrior’s mindset, with skills traditionally associated with the Army or Marines. While these skills have proven effective in shaping the current culture, do they mirror what Airmen will be asked to do in a 21st century near-peer conflict? While future, friendly and adversarial operations will include: stand-off munitions, unmanned vehicles, electronic & cyber-attacks, automated processes, robust sensor fusion, artificial intelligence, and supply chain interruptions, will the service be prepared to fully integrate or counter them through its own operations. When an Airman serves in a joint environment, can they contribute expertise that is unique to the force, regardless of their specialty or experience? Finally, is the service fully capitalizing on the talent that is recruited into its ranks every year? Presently, the answer to all of the above questions is an emphatic ‘no.’ To maximize the USAF’s contributions in the next conflict, it must supplement or replace current force-wide training with a cultivated universal technological skill set. This skill set must be shaped through a deliberate assessment of tomorrow’s challenges, instruction on transformational technologies, and the embracement of critical thinking. A new approach to talent management must also be adopted, focused on recruiting and capitalizing on crucial technological talent. This shift will not only alter the USAF’s identity, but it will also  significantly aid in continued air domain dominance well through the 21st-century. It was said that the “[p]en is mightier than the sword,” the future will prove that for the USAF, the computer will be mightier than the gun.
by Andy Phillips | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 11:42am | 0 comments
Encirclement, or the understanding that one is “surrounded by enemies,” can have a dramatic effect on the human psyche akin to that of a cornered animal who submits to its primal instincts in order to preserve its life. Reaction to an all-encompassing threat will almost certainly be violent. What the uncertainty is: who or what will be the target of this violence. A narrative of group disenfranchisement paired with individualistic sense of divine purpose are primary aspects of this psychological condition that can be used to understand the violence committed by religious groups such as the Nizari Ismailis sect of Islam and the Theravadin Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The theory of Fundamentalism can provide a useful lens in which to view and explain the escalation of such violence in groups with seemingly non-violent tenants.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 07/02/2021 - 5:41pm | 0 comments
Gang violence in Haiti is spiraling out of control as rival gangs fill the void in governance fueled by chronic insecurity, corruption, and violence. The resulting instability places gangs in conflict with each other and the state as they compete for territorial control. The outbreak of gang violence is exacerbating the situation, leading to a crisis disaster. This humanitarian crisis includes extreme gang violence, attacks on police stations and health care providers, while internally displaced persons converge with the Covid-19 pandemic and hurricane season to elevate insecurity. One gang leader, an ex-police officer Jimmy Chérizier, known as “Barbecue” the head of G9 Fanmi ak Alye (G9 Family and Allies) has called for ‘revolution’ to solve the situation.

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 07/28/2021 - 9:53pm | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 07/28/2021 - 11:11am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 07/27/2021 - 4:07pm | 0 comments
SWJ has released a new curated collection "Illicit Tactical Progress: Mexican Cartel Tactical Notes 2013-2020" chronicling documenting the evolution of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Mexican cartels and criminal armed groups (CAGs).
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 07/27/2021 - 7:30am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 07/26/2021 - 8:31am | 1 comment

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 07/25/2021 - 11:16am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 07/24/2021 - 11:32am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 07/23/2021 - 7:29am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 07/22/2021 - 8:10am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 07/21/2021 - 10:07am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 9:43am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 07/19/2021 - 9:10am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Mon, 07/19/2021 - 6:49am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 07/18/2021 - 10:39am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 07/17/2021 - 11:30am | 0 comments

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