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

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement

"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 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. 
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.

Blog Posts

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.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 9:03am | 1 comment
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 8:38am | 0 comments

Access SOF News HERE.

by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 05/09/2021 - 12:52pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 05/09/2021 - 12:52pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 05/08/2021 - 9:37am | 0 comments
An interview with General (Retired) Robert Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps and the deputy commanding general I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Anbar Province in 2005–2007, and Dr. Carter Malkasian, former advisor to US military leadership in Iraq, State Department political officer in Afghanistan, and senior advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 05/07/2021 - 10:09am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 05/07/2021 - 9:52am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
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.