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

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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.


by James King | Tue, 05/18/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
Samual Colt may have created the gun that won the West but John Browning’s guns have won everything else. From his humble beginnings in Ogden Utah to his death on the Fabrique Nationale factory floor in Belgium and beyond, Nathan Gorenstein tells a story that is long overdue, in the first major biography of the man who has been called the Thomas Edison of guns. Not even Mikhail Kalashnikov and his AK-47 can stake a claim to the level of influence in the conduct of warfare that John Browning’s inventions still have almost 100 years after his death.
by Jelle Hooiveld | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 12:37pm | 0 comments
The author recognizes another forgotten member of the OSS who contributed to the development of U.S.Special Forces.
by Daniel de Wit , by Salil Puri | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 12:31pm | 1 comment
           The Defense Department is confused. Numerous manuals and joint publications testify to the importance of information and influence in the contemporary operating environment, as do countless studies, articles, books, and official testimony. And yet despite this trend, different sectors of the military have adopted widely divergent concepts of the role of information in competition and conflict, leading to a fractured understanding of how the military should view information functions, and even what they should be called. “Information operations” has been the standard term across the military for twenty-five years, though its usage has changed significantly since it was originally employed in the context of the 1990s-era “revolution in military affairs.”
by David S. Clukey | Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:39am | 0 comments
September 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden recently called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan on this date. U.S. forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In this time, the U.S. invested over 240,000 in human capital and over $2 trillion U.S.D. From 2001 – 2010, after the immediate route of the Taliban, the U.S. orchestrated a series of disjointed campaigns and priorities shifted almost as frequently as commanders. This misalignment with a concurrent refocus of U.S. resources to Iraq in 2003, realized a deteriorated situation in Afghanistan. Conditions improved in 2009 under a series of pragmatic U.S. Army Generals who commonly advocated Special Operations Forces driven Village Stability Operations (VSO).
by Ryan N. Mannina | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 8:46pm | 0 comments
This article attempts to determine whether the Chemical Weapons Convention's prohibition of riot control agents as a method of warfare succeeds in limiting human suffering in war. I argue that the prohibition has led the U.S. military to adopt more lethal and destructive means of fighting in dense urban terrain. This results in more collateral damage and non-combatant suffering in urban warfare, instead of less. The article utilizes the case study method to compare the 1968 Battle of Hue and the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, describes the weapons and tactics used in each, and attempts to quantify the cost in terms of non-combatant deaths and collateral damage. It draws extensively from primary sources, including AARs from the units involved, published eyewitness accounts, and official histories. This article will benefit senior military leaders by informing their analysis and recommendations to policymakers regarding the use of RCAs, suggesting topics for further study, and providing recommendations for how the United States might approach modifications to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 8:41pm | 0 comments
This research note documents two recent developments in the proliferation of weaponized consumer drones (aerial improvised explosive devices) in Mexico. The first incident is an alleged attack by the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán on the morning of 4 May 2021. The second is the arrest of two suspected Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) drone weaponeers in Puebla on 22 April 2021. Both incidents follow the widely reported 20 April 2021 drone attack in Aguililla, Michoacán.
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Sun, 05/09/2021 - 7:32pm | 0 comments
El propósito principal de este artículo es explicar porqué algunos países experimentan un deterioro creciente y crónico en su desempeño institucional en la lucha contra la delincuencia organizada transnacional, incluso cuando estos mismos países cuentan con abundantes recursos humanos y recursos materiales dentro de sus Estados para combatir a delitos complejos. Este artículo también se enfoca en presentar casos de países en donde el Estado, a sabiendas o no, patrocina o fomenta a la delincuencia organizada tal como sucede en los casos de China, Mexico y Rusia. Se publicó una versión anterior de este artículo en inglés como “Antimafia Impasse: State-Driven Organized Crime & Organized Crime States.”
by Robert Muggah | Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:19am | 1 comment
Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Robert Muggah assesses the state of police practice in Rio de Janeiro in the aftermath of a civil police raid on a Comando Vermelho (Red Command) stronghold in the Jacarezinho favela in Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Muggah concludes that "A commission of inquiry and disciplinary action are mandatory, and a radical change of police culture is essential."
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:54pm | 0 comments
This article reviews the reasons why some countries experience chronic and growing deterioration in their institutional performance in fighting and preventing transnational organized crime, even when plentiful national human and material antimafia resources are readily available. This piece also focuses on country case studies where the State sponsors or fosters organized crime, such as in China and in Mexico.
by Eddie Banach | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 9:05am | 0 comments
This article seeks to answer what makes security institutions effective in poor security environments, and how these lessons can be applied in Afghanistan against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  This paper explains why only specific institutions such as the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and special Afghan units are noted successes, despite only a fraction of their parent forces’ funding and support, even though the massively better funded, more substantially supported Iraqi and Afghan army and police forces are proven failures.  The central argument is that only a few security institutions have proven to be effective security organizations, due to their mastery of their complex environments, while larger, ineffective security institutions routinely prove inadequate in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and as basic security providers.  This phenomenon seems at odds with logic as well as U.S. policy, yet almost two decades of U.S.-led counter-insurgency campaigns, multiple large-scale Middle Eastern wars, and countless U.S. and allied strategy changes, demonstrate the futility of clinging to the inherently flawed conceptualizations of the contemporary security institution model. 

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 05/18/2021 - 1:57pm | 0 comments
Access the tracker HERE May 18, 2021 | FDD Tracker: May 1–May 18, 2021 Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: Early May
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 1:05pm | 0 comments

Access SOF News HERE.

by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 10:01am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 9:41am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 05/16/2021 - 11:04am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 05/16/2021 - 10:52am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 10:11am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 9:49am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 05/13/2021 - 9:59am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 05/13/2021 - 9:45am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 05/12/2021 - 8:59am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 05/12/2021 - 8:35am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:33pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:16pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 9:14am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.