Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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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MLB Championship Game Flyover - Air Force Staff Sgt. Kori Myers waves the American flag from the back of an aircraft during a National League championship baseball game between the L.A. Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers in Los Angeles, on 15 October 2018. Air Force Photo by Kyle Larson.

"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.


by R. Andrew Chesnut | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 8:09am | 0 comments
This essay has been written specifically for Small Wars Journal—El Centro as part of an ongoing Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán research project that will be published as a future eBook.
by William McHenry | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:33am | 0 comments
President Trump seems to have accepted that the risks of withdrawal outweigh the costs of perpetuating a military commitment to a conflict without a coherent plan to end it. It is one of his more cynical foreign policy decisions, but it has many precedents throughout US history.
by Nicholas Mercurio | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:20am | 0 comments
Once we accept the fundamentally communicative purpose of terrorism, it becomes clear that strategic communication should be the preeminent tool in the counter-terrorism toolbox. The trouble is, the U.S.-led approach to counter-ISIS strategic communication is hamstrung by reliance on a flawed paradigm that I call narrative jamming. The good news is that there is a potential solution and it comes from an unlikely place: recent research on climate change communication.
by InSight Crime | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 1:16am | 0 comments
Reports that criminal groups in Colombia are increasingly recruiting migrants from Venezuela shows how these armed actors are taking advantage of those fleeing the neighboring country’s economic crisis in order to strengthen their criminal structures.
by Todd Johnson | Tue, 10/16/2018 - 12:13pm | 0 comments
Africa’s cities are an assault on the senses. They are filled with a flow of human activity that can appear equal parts vibrant and dystopian. One need only transit Lagos’s Third Mainland Bridge or Kinshasa’s Boulevard Lumumba to get a sense of this frenetic pace and the complex ecosystem of social and economic interaction that allows African urban dwellers to survive and even thrive.
by Gregory Bishop | Mon, 10/15/2018 - 12:46am | 0 comments
Exploring the expansion of the online learning model, this article examines how this expansion has influenced the military student. Looking at the online and for profit expansion and ensuing lull, the underlying reasoning for declining enrollment, increasing attrition, and non-completion rates among these schools are explored.
by Franklin C. Annis | Mon, 10/15/2018 - 12:33am | 0 comments
Long I have searched for the true virtues of manhood. While there are a tremendous number of philosophies that provide countless list of virtues to follow, like Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues or Aristotle’s Ethics, I wanted to find those at the very heart of manhood. What are the virtues that a man cannot dare to live without? Let us strip the flesh from the bone and find the virtues are the very marrow of manhood. What are the virtues that could see a man through combat, pull him out of poverty, and ensure success in a board room?
by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Travis Howard | Sun, 10/14/2018 - 12:19am | 0 comments
What lessons could strategic warfare masters tell us about 21st century insurgent cyber warfare, where superpowers could be brought low by small cells of cyber warriors with limited funding but lots of time? This article distills the wisdom of two military strategists: Chinese General and 6th century Taoist military philosopher Sun-tzu, and Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, Prussian general and theorist of psychological and political aspects of warfare as well as revolutionary thinkers such as Mao Tse-tung, Carlos Marighella, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
by Jerritt A. Lynn, by Assad A. Raza | Fri, 10/12/2018 - 5:38am | 5 comments
For Civil Affairs forces to better support a broader operational approach, they must be able to plan population-centric operations to support all ranges of military operations and integrated USEMB strategies.
by David L. Harrell | Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:02pm | 0 comments
Public releases of smartwatch mapping data have recently been identified by the U.S. military to be a threat to operational security, resulting in changes to Department of Defense policies and restrictions on usage. Operational security lapses, like the aforementioned smart watch data release, aren't the result of a lack of training or knowledge, but rather a military mindset that's confident in superiority over "third-world countries" and seemingly not concerned by data-driven peer competitors.

Blog Posts

by The New York Times | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:56am | 0 comments
"Gen. Abdul Raziq, the powerful police chief of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, long seen as a bulwark against the Taliban, was killed on Thursday, Afghan officials confirmed. He was shot and killed as he was leaving a meeting in Kandahar City that was also attended by the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, and the rest of the provincial leadership."
by Defense News | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:42am | 0 comments
“Have you been wondering whether U.S.-Saudi arms deals can survive allegations the Saudi government killed Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi? Yeah, so are we.”
by The Washington Post | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:30am | 0 comments
“More than 2,500 candidates are running for 249 seats in Afghanistan’s parliament in Saturday’s elections, despite campaign violence that has killed 10 candidates and scores of supporters, Taliban threats to sabotage the polls, accusations of pre-election rigging, and public cynicism after years of legislative vote-buying and obstructionism.”
by The New York Times | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:29am | 0 comments
"In the past 17 years of war and crisis in Afghanistan, no one remembers a season quite like this one, with peril and hopelessness at every turn. People here struggle for words to explain how it feels."
by The Washington Post | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:27am | 0 comments
"Since declaring victory over the Islamic State late last year, Iraq has grappled with a host of issues emanating from the drawn-out war to uproot the militant group: billions of dollars in damage to cities and towns, more than a million people still displaced and millions more struggling to rebuild their lives."
by Stars & Stripes | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"U.S. national security would suffer greatly without Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and several top Pentagon leaders slated to leave their posts next year, a key senator said Wednesday."
by Reuters | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:28am | 0 comments
“When Central African Republic (CAR) pleaded for help last year to fight marauding militias, former colonial ruler France offered guns it had seized off Somalia. But Russia objected and donated its own weapons instead. By early February, Russia had sent nine planes with weapons along with dozens of contractors to train local soldiers and secure mining projects, marking the start of its highest-profile military foray in sub-Saharan Africa for decades.”
by DoD News | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 9:24am | 1 comment
“It’s not about winning the war. It’s about winning the peace,” was an expression heard often today at the Counter Violent Extremist Organizations Chiefs of Defense Conference here today. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted the gathering, which drew representatives from 83 nations, including all the U.S. combatant commanders and commanders of counter terrorism operations from around the world.
by Stars & Stripes | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:14am | 0 comments
"The U.S. military’s top general warned Tuesday that the international community must maintain its focus on the terrorism threat even as the Islamic State nears defeat on the battlefields of Syria and other security challenges rise around the world."
by Army Times | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:09am | 0 comments
“When the Army unveiled its Security Force Assistance Brigade plan in 2017, leaders laid out a program that would include five active duty brigades and one manned by the Army National Guard. The Guard, according to its website, is getting ready to fill those spots.”