Small Wars Journal
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  • “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.”
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    -- 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.


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. 
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 04/28/2021 - 9:17pm | 0 comments
Two police officers in Aguililla, Michoacán were injured in a weaponized drone attack at approximately 0100 hours, (01:00 AM) Tuesday morning, 20 April 2021 on the highway between Aguililla and Apatzingán. The attack involving drones artillados (armed or ’gun’ drones) is the fifth documented incident involving aerial improvised explosive devices utilized by the cartels in Mexico and the first one in which injuries have resulted.
by Daniel Weisz | Sat, 04/24/2021 - 5:01pm | 0 comments
Este ensayo del asociado de SWJ-El Centro, Daniel Weisz, examina la Guerra de Propaganda que se libra entre el Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) y el presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Este "concurso de información" destaca la importancia de las "operaciones de información" para ambas partes en el contexto de las guerras del crimen en México.
by Connor Hirsch | Fri, 04/23/2021 - 7:29am | 1 comment
Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War braced the regime during its nadir and helped reestablish President Bashar al-Assad’s political dominance over much of Syria just two years later. Despite its importance, Russian intervention did not change the character of the counterinsurgency campaign. Rather, the similarities in Russian and Syrian approaches to counterinsurgency preserved Assad’s strategy and optimized Russian intervention, integrating formidable capabilities into an already brutal campaign. Leaders in Moscow and Damascus were aligned in their approaches. Effective patron-client politics facilitated strategic and tactical cooperation and enabled counterinsurgent forces to strike the insurgencies’ center of gravity by targeting Syrian civilians.
by Daniel Weisz | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 11:34pm | 0 comments
This essay by SWJ-El Centro Associate Daniel Weisz examines the Propaganda War being waged among the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and Mexico's President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). This "information contest" highlights the importance of "information operations" to both parties within the context of Mexico's crime wars.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 4:11pm | 0 comments
Michael Noonan provides us with the best contemporary treatment of unconventional warfare (UW) and foreign internal defense (FID) I have read.  I begin this review with this statement at great risk because I know many people will not read further because of the antibodies surrounding UW and FID, but especially UW.  If you do not want to read this review, fine.  But I urge you to read the book because it goes well beyond UW and FID.
by Robert Coombs | Wed, 04/21/2021 - 12:15pm | 0 comments
The US demand signal for psychological warfare and influence-based operations is indicating exponential growth, unseen since the 1950s. A thorough analysis of the influence-based profession indicates a crucial need to develop an overarching set of principles, especially during the era of Great Power Competition (GPC). Many US policy makers are unknowingly replicating the discussions of the 1940s and the 1950s without taking into account the successes and failures of our psychological warfare forefathers. This analysis provides a set of psychological warfare principles based on historical analysis and returns psychological warfare back to the forefront of discussions in the era of GPC. The US must use psychological warfare as the arrow of initial penetration if we are to compete with nations that maintain parity or overmatch in the influence fields.
by Anthony Wertz , by Stuart Gallagher | Sun, 04/18/2021 - 9:22pm | 1 comment
To achieve its theater-strategic goals and counter Russian aggression despite ongoing fiscal constraints, the United States Government (USG) must consciously increase its U.S. interagency and whole-of-government efforts specifically by augmenting U.S. Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) and Department of State (DoS) collaboration in the European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility. Both European Union (EU) and U.S. leadership recognize Russia as the greatest security threat confronting Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  In response, NATO countries and the U.S. have increased defense spending, but capacity gaps will continue to remain in the near future.  These gaps relate to both fiscal austerity and Russia’s recent unconventional approaches to warfare. 
by Robert Bunker | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 7:28pm | 0 comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has both exacerbated and accelerated the ‘hollowing out’ of the American liberal democratic state’s ability to provide public goods to its citizens while at the same time greatly benefiting its richest families and the multinational corporations under their ownership and control. With the pendulum shifting in the recent presidential and congressional elections from one major political party to another, US federal governmental (and the governed’s) economic interests are now in a direct collision course with plutocratic privilege and prerogative. While the state now seeks to revitalize the public infrastructure—for the American people—family dynastic and plutocratic interests seek to increasingly maximize their economic profits and, in the process, further defund and commoditize such public goods.

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 05/06/2021 - 9:58am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 05/06/2021 - 9:57am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 05/05/2021 - 9:29am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 05/05/2021 - 9:18am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 8:55am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 8:40am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/03/2021 - 9:22am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/03/2021 - 9:10am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 05/03/2021 - 6:19am | 0 comments

Access SOF News Update HERE.

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 05/02/2021 - 10:01am | 0 comments

Access the Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Vol 12, No 1. 2021. HERE

Table of Contents:

by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 05/01/2021 - 3:04pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 05/01/2021 - 2:34pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Fri, 04/30/2021 - 4:24pm | 1 comment
April 30, 2021 | FDD Tracker-Late April Trends

Access the tracker HERE