Small Wars Journal
  • “In the end, left to its own dynamics, the Long War could become a Forever War. It’s time we reshape our policies to prevent that from happening.”
    -- Joseph J. Collins
  • "The essence of my message today is to say that when you look at the scale and the scope of this problem, without combating the ideology and the ideas, you will never defeat the extremism."
    -- Former UK PM Tony Blair
  • “Once you turn enough corners, you're back where you started.”
    -- Unknown
  • "War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality."
    -- Senator John McCain
  • “The American foreign policy establishment is notoriously forgiving — of itself. Rarely are policymakers held to account when they offer bad advice, such as supporting a disastrous war in Iraq or helping organize torture or assassinations.”
    -- Daniel Bessner

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Over Iraq - An Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq, 12 September 2018, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith James.

"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

Welcome. 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 John P. Sullivan | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:34am | 0 comments
Tunnel warfare is now becoming a contemporary concern as seen in its use by AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb) in Mali, and by Hamas for smuggling, terrorism, and increasingly as a means of urban warfare in Gaza, Syria, and Iraq. Among other things, underground warfare is likely to merge with urban operations and proliferate in the megacity battles of tomorrow. Richemond-Barak does an excellent job of building a foundation for addressing these tactical, operational, and strategic challenges.
by Gary Anderson | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 2:51am | 1 comment
Except for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, America has been fighting small, counterinsurgency wars since 9-11. This begs the question of whether fighting small wars inhibits or enhances our readiness to transition to large, high-intensity conflicts against peer or near peer competitors? The answer is complicated and somewhat ambiguous.
by Douglas A. Livermore | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:40am | 0 comments
Competing visions of future warfare invariably include some version of robotic fighting machines operating either alongside, or in place of, humans. Each of the world's major powers are pursuing development of such automated killers, each looking to grant their robotic minions varying degrees of autonomy. The decisions made concerning the future employment of such systems are driving today's policymaking and research / development efforts.
by B.K. Schaefer | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:44am | 2 comments
COIN strategy in the Philippines has focused on tactical, reactionary successes against insurgent groups, and failed to build the appropriate political and economic capacity to effectively address the grievances of the local population. Without a coordinated, multi-faceted COIN strategy, incidents of violence will continue to occur on Mindanao as the population drifts further away from government control and into the influence of insurgent organizations.
by Jon Cederquist, by Anne Gibbon, by Richard Lum | Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:32am | 3 comments
Special operations forces (SOF) will once again find itself out ahead of others, operating in ambiguity and uncertainty as the world’s players compete to establish new rules and new structures. One of the key challenges for SOF is that, rather than just being tactical, this time the ambiguity and uncertainty is strategic. If SOF is to continue to be effective during this time of transition, then they must rely on their collective ability to perceive weak signals and adapt more rapidly than our competitors.
by Abigail Gage | Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:12am | 1 comment
The United States’ efforts in the GWOT have, thus far, prevented major terrorist organizations from conducting a second 9/11-style attack. Pursuing a strategy that shifts away from military engagement and towards stronger domestic policy will save trillions in taxpayer dollars, prevent future terrorist attacks, and help end the GWOT.
by Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen | Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:21am | 1 comment
This summer, Australian Special Forces have been accused of War Crimes that have caused wide-spread outrage. However, although the accusations echo eerily close to those previously raised against British Special Forces, the responses of the two nations could not be more disparate.
by Sarwar J. Minar | Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:14am | 3 comments
The book contributes to the conceptual development and understanding of the idea of grand strategy. Making grand strategy practically applicable remains one of the major contributions of the book. However, in trying to assist busy people to get practical benefit, the book simplified grand strategy as ‘problem solving method’ but all the objectives sought need not necessarily be problems.
by Erik Grossman | Thu, 09/13/2018 - 12:29am | 0 comments
The inherent paradox in peace creation in such a violent and corrupt environment is that it requires violence and corruption to accomplish. The levels of which both must be employed may be unconscionable in the utopic image of liberal governance, but in such conflict-ridden states, mirroring this Western image should not be the immediate objective. Instead, measures should be directed at securing a peaceful state through all means available.
by Matt Stevens | Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:53am | 0 comments
Over the fourteen months from September 2016 to November 2017, the Iraqi Security Forces wrestled their nation from the clutches of the Islamic State in some of the fiercest and most brutal urban combat experienced since World War Two. In May 2017, the Australian Special Operations Task Group Rotation VII took over the great work of previous rotations in advising, assisting and enabling the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, our primary partners.

Blog Posts

by The New York Times | Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:38am | 0 comments
“This week, Russia and Turkey proposed a demilitarized zone to stop a military offensive that Mr. Assad had planned against Idlib Province, the last major rebel enclave in Syria. Even a delay in the rampage would buy time for the United States to help draw up new strategies for dealing with Syria if it definitively falls under Mr. Assad’s rule.”
by The New York Times | Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:27am | 0 comments
“Taliban insurgents killed so many Afghan security forces in 2016, an average of 22 a day, that by the following year the Afghan and American governments decided to keep battlefield death tolls secret. It’s much worse now. The daily fatalities among Afghan soldiers and policemen were more than double that last week: roughly 57 a day.”
by Military Times | Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:23am | 0 comments
"There is ample evidence that most troops are not comfortable with the general label of hero: if all are heroes, what remains to describe the truly heroic?"
by Foreign Policy | Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"A cocktail of criminality, extremism, and insurrection is sowing havoc in parts of Central and South America, sub-Saharan and North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, these conflicts are defying conventional international responses, such as formal cease-fire negotiations, peace agreements, and peacekeeping operations. And diplomats, military planners, and relief workers are unsure how best to respond."
by The Christian Science Monitor | Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:08am | 0 comments
"World leaders, including President Trump, gather at the United Nations next week to tackle a host of issues. Yet no issue deserves more attention than fixing the one activity that has embodied the UN’s highest ideals over seven decades: peacekeeping. The blue-helmet soldiers and police who help keep war at bay and create space for political solutions are due for a 21st-century upgrade."
by Voice of America | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:18pm | 1 comment
"Ideology is not the main reason that some people in the conflict-ridden Arab world join extremist groups. Rather, a host of other issues, including political participation, poverty, income disparity and unemployment, push people toward violence and extremism, a panel of experts said Thursday."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:20am | 0 comments
“A deal to create a demilitarized zone in Syria’s last opposition stronghold and forestall a regime offensive faces an immediate challenge from terrorist groups there who have signaled their reluctance to abide by the agreement. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, one of the most powerful armed groups in Syria’s Idlib Province, criticized the accord made this week between Russia and Turkey to avert a government offensive.”
by Stars & Stripes | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:07am | 0 comments
"The Army will convert two of its existing brigade combat teams to add firepower to the service as it prepares for a potential fight with the more advanced militaries of near-peer adversaries, service officials announced Thursday. The Army will convert a Stryker brigade based at Fort Bliss, Texas, to an armored brigade and convert an infantry brigade based at Fort Carson, Colo., into a Stryker brigade in the next two years, officials announced."
by Center for Strategic & International Studies | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:05am | 0 comments
"There are good reasons to question the report's conclusions and the way in which both the State Department main report and Annex of Statistical Information are structured. Reasons that raise serious questions about the way the U.S. is approaching the very nature of terrorism and its wars against extremism."
by The Times | Fri, 09/21/2018 - 12:03am | 0 comments
"Hezbollah’s leader boasted that the group had succeeded in acquiring high-precision missiles in Syria that would change the balance of power with Israel despite strikes aimed at preventing their transfer. Hassan Nasrallah said that Israel’s efforts to cut smuggling routes through Syria had failed to stop Hezbollah from gaining advanced weaponry and warned they would be used in a future conflict should Israel threaten its bases in Lebanon."