Small Wars Journal
  • “They’ve got to look over their shoulder and be worried that we’re looking at them, and we’ll have the ability to strike them again.”
    -- Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie on Syria
  • “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
    -- U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley
  • "The requirement to adapt quickly to unforeseen conditions means that commanders will need additional forces and resources that can be committed with little notice. For efficiency in all forms of warfare, including counterinsurgency, means barely winning. And in war, barely winning can be an ugly proposition."
    -- Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster
  • “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
    -- Heraclitus
  • “The dangers of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Syria are severe: Iran and Russia would entrench themselves militarily, our partners in Syria would conclude we abandoned them, U.S. credibility would suffer, and regional allies would look elsewhere for leadership. It’s highly likely that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would continue his mass atrocities, and it’s within the realm of possibility that the Islamic State could reemerge.”
    -- Josh Rogin

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Para and Airborne Training


The British Army's 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (A Coy, 2 PARA) and Soldiers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division participate in a combined-arms live-fire helicopter assault exercise. ‘Cracking picture’ via the British Army Sergeant Major Glenn Haughton Twitter feed.

"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

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by Joanne Patti Munisteri | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:17am | 0 comments
Violent extremist groups are using all methods possible to wage a successful long-term campaign using children. These groups infiltrate existing systems, threaten and radicalize important players, use extreme forms of violence to attack those they perceive as non-compliant. No foundation of society is off limits be it: hospitals, schools, religious organizations, legal institutions, law enforcement, orphanages, charities, sports, businesses, transportation, recreation or communication sites. Every means is justified for their stated aim of a worldwide Islamic caliphate under Sharia law. The scope of this phenomenon has increased in the past decade, however the methods implemented were developed and refined during and after World War II. No child is left behind if they can be exploited.
by S.A. Cavanagh | Mon, 04/23/2018 - 3:31pm | 0 comments
China’s Aggressive Move to Occupy the Spratly regional waters through Reclamation has proved an effective stratagem, for projection of political, economic and military power. The Hague has ruled China has no traditional claims to the disputed region and the Spratlys are “rocks not islands.” China continues to reclaim and militarize several strategic islands (reefs) and occupies them. The United States, French and British navies exercise freedom of navigation near the new islands, as China warns it will use military force to defend new territorial claims. China has tactically and strategically extended its military “range and influence” with navel bases, airstrips, radar, communications, missile installations and shelters. China has bet on reclamation and occupation and won.
by Chad M. Pillai | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 5:42pm | 1 comment
Afghanistan as another Vietnam conjures images of defeat as U.S. helicopters take the last American off the roof from the embassy. While the Vietnam War was a near-term strategic defeat, in retrospect, it may yet prove to have been a geo-strategic win in the long-run. The same may prove true for Afghanistan in the long-run after a U.S. withdrawal. Like a bad business investment, there are times when you must accept one’s losses and move on.
by Jo Patti | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 12:11am | 0 comments
Every generation needs to be cognizant of those who fought for the foundation of democratic principles which they may presently enjoy. There are many different forms of fighting. How these battles are waged makes for essential historical reporting and often for gripping stories for the public. The divergent types of confrontation and strategies used for victory have been transformed into entertainment in a construct the United States is world famous for…Hollywood movies.
by Jeff Goodson | Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:55am | 0 comments
Expeditionary economics is an important line of effort in all five kinds of irregular warfare. RAND argues, for example, that the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) model could play a major role in future foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency and stability operations, as well as serve as an enabler for counter-terrorism actions that are nested with stability ops. Post and Peterson go further, proposing an applied framework for understanding and planning for the economic terrain in unconventional warfare. Although designed for military effect, expeditionary economics nests easily within the larger economic development objectives pursued by civilian organizations.
by Lee Ferran | Fri, 04/20/2018 - 12:06am | 0 comments
The Oscars are long-over, but you're one of those people who still likes to catch up on all the top nominees, right? Well, among that select group are "The Post" and "Darkest Hour," which are both fine movies but, to me, incomplete.
by David Lewton | Thu, 04/19/2018 - 4:23am | 0 comments
The battlefield is messy, and success often appears ephemeral. U.S. Special Forces deploy to austere and remote locations to confront terrorists that pose no existential threat to the United States. They continue to defend against human suffering at the hands of depraved terrorists and Islamist militants while strengthening defense relationships at a time when revisionist states are actively working to undermine the United States. Two Special Operations Imperatives are helpful concerning the future employment of U.S. Special Forces: understand the operational environment, and consider long-term effects. It is up to U.S. Special Forces senior leaders to ensure Army Green Berets are employed accurately in this complex security environment.
by Michael Senft | Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:23am | 0 comments
“Why did the lessons of Stuxnet, Wannacry, Heartbleed and Shamoon go unheeded?” asked the inquisitive student to the doleful professor, whose withered, prematurely-aged face bore witness to the shattering of a hyperconnected world. Today students ask the same questions about the Russo-Japanese War and the Spanish Civil War. Voluminous accounts detailed the terrible lethality of modern weaponry at the Siege of Port Arthur and the Battle of Mukden, which foretold the unimaginable bloodshed of the First World War. Likewise, the Spanish Civil War was a harbinger of blitzkrieg warfare and the unspeakable carnage unleashed during the Second World War. Despite insightful analysis and almost clairvoyant assessments, the lessons from both conflicts were largely ignored as they ran counter to prevailing views, established organizational structures and pre-ordained plans. Are we any different today?
by Elizabeth Chalecki | Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:22pm | 0 comments
This article is the latest addition to the U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative’s Science Fiction: Visioning the Future of Warfare 2030-2050 project. These stories allow readers to place themselves in a world where familiar meets unfamiliar. This world features a myriad of future technologies forcing paradigm shifts away from current, conventional thinking. The future world is hyper-connected, extremely dynamic, and at times uncertain. Writings portray an environment in which humans, and especially Soldiers, are confronted with complex, rapidly-changing situations outside of the known operational environment of today.
by Carter F. Smith | Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:19am | 0 comments
Military-trained gang members (MTGMs) have been identified in every wartime period for the United States—from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts. Active duty MTGMs threaten the cohesiveness of military units and undermine the authority of military leadership, using the military to further their criminal organization’s goals. They are a clear threat to military discipline, bringing corrupt influences, an increase in criminal activity, and a threat to military family members on military installations. MTGMs increase the level of dangerousness to the community with their warfighter training and share their ability to remain undetected by law enforcement or members of the community, which allows their organization to thrive and grow unchecked. Members of 3GEN Gangs benefit from military training in positions like leadership, intelligence analysis, electronic warfare, psychological operations, and finance.

Blog Posts

by The Jamestown Foundation | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:06am | 0 comments
Continue on for short summaries and links to all the briefs and articles in the latest issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor.
by Military Times | Mon, 04/23/2018 - 6:06pm | 0 comments
"ISIS and al-Qaida are regrouping in war-torn Libya as reports indicate Russians are pushing a military presence into the years-long civil war and some members of Congress want to know what the United States is doing about it. Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the status of Libya last week, on the same day that militants detonated a car bomb on the convoy of the chief of staff to the general who heads one of the two major armies vying for control of the country."
by Agence France-Presse | Mon, 04/23/2018 - 4:30am | 0 comments
"Hundreds of grieving Afghans buried their loved ones in Kabul on Monday amid growing anger over a suicide attack on a voter registration centre that killed 57 people including children and wounded over 100. The bomber blew himself up on Sunday morning in a large crowd queueing to collect national ID certificates so they could register to vote in long-delayed legislative elections scheduled for October."
by Australian Army Research Papers | Mon, 04/23/2018 - 2:52am | 0 comments
"As the Peloponnesian Wars demonstrated, the projection of power onto mainland coastlines or islands is not a new concept. This type of operation combining land forces launched from the sea would later be codified and developed into the concept of amphibious operations. Likewise, the need to besiege, capture or reduce cities has long been a staple of warfare, as cities were recognised as prized hubs of wealth, population or political prestige. Yet, if the political and strategic benefits of both types of operations were recognised by strategists and decision-makers, the associated difficulties and costs in planning and executing such operations were also recognised by those tasked to conduct them. Hence, through military history, two truisms have come to the fore: that amphibious operations are the most complicated operations to resource and plan and that urban operations are meat grinder affairs exacting a terrible toll in time, blood and treasure. Many military thinkers suggest that amphibious operations, difficult at the best of times, are no longer feasible in the modern age, while others have long warned that fighting in the cities must be avoided at all cost."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 04/22/2018 - 2:22pm | 0 comments
"Junrey Manlicayan, a member of the Banwaon tribe, voted for President Rodrigo Duterte. He believed that Duterte, a fellow native of Mindanao island, understood the plight of indigenous communities like his, and that he could deliver on his promise to negotiate an end to the war with communist insurgents that has dragged on for 49 years. But after Duterte declared martial law on Mindanao last year and peace talks fell apart, Manlicayan and many other indigenous Filipinos in this region bitterly regret giving him their support in the 2016 election.'
by The New York Times | Sun, 04/22/2018 - 12:19pm | 0 comments
"Rising from a barren stretch of African scrubland, a half-finished drone base represents the newest front line in America’s global shadow war. At its center, hundreds of Air Force personnel are feverishly working to complete a $110 million airfield that, when finished in the coming months, will be used to stalk or strike extremists deep into West and North Africa, a region where most Americans have no idea the country is fighting."
by Stars & Stripes | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
"Since 2005, U.S. special operations forces have been conducting the Flintlock exercise in western Africa. Yet this is the first year when the effort has focused on developing higher level command and control capabilities of the militaries in the region, where local forces are involved in a battle against militant groups that commanders say has gained momentum in recent years. The transition from training centered on small unit combat skills to advising higher level teams coincides with shifts in how missions involving U.S. troops in Niger will be conducted."
by The New York Times | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 1:14pm | 0 comments
"We came to this house to try to understand the forces of social disruption that have followed Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world, whose markets represent the company’s financial future. For months, we had been tracking riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions."
by Association of the United States Army | Sat, 04/21/2018 - 12:23pm | 0 comments
The following quickly scans Operation Inherent Resolve’s Battle of Mosul and looks at how the allure of precision warfare, the physical embodiment of the vampire fallacy, resulted in a pulverized city and discredits the idea of precision warfare in urban environments.
by Voice of America | Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:30pm | 0 comments
"As Iraq approaches an important election to choose a new parliament and government, the Islamic State terror group has vowed to carry out attacks against candidates running for office. Referencing the Jordanian radical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's 2005 call for a 'bitter war' on Iraq's parliamentary elections at the time, the group said Friday that candidates and voters who participated in the elections would be considered infidels and outside Islam."