Small Wars Journal
  • “We’re already behind in adapting to the changed character of war today in so many ways.”
    -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - General Joseph Dunford
  • “The Joint Force must be ready and able to respond to numerous challenges across the full range of conflict including complex operations in peace and during war. This is not an easy task given the complexity of the projected operating environment.”
    -- Frank Hoffman
  • “Despite the claims of some, counterinsurgency is no more dead than is conflict. Students of the latter continue to learn, adapting lessons from post-World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”
    -- Dr. Russell Glenn
  • “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”
    -- General George S. Patton Jr.
  • “A paradox of war is that an enemy will attack a perceived weakness, so we cannot adopt a single preclusive form of warfare.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis

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A Marine stands post at Forward Operating Base Delaram in Nimruz province, Afghanistan, on 9 July 2018. The Marine is assigned to Task Force Southwest. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Luke Hoogendam.

"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 Joe Cheravitch | Mon, 07/23/2018 - 4:11am | 0 comments
The war-weary procession of Afghans who marched on Kabul in the name of peace this summer most clearly exemplifies a trend that caught many observers of the conflict in Afghanistan off guard: a level of independent civic activism that exceeds any similar movements in recent memory.
by Jon Hoffman | Sun, 07/22/2018 - 5:39pm | 0 comments
While Bahrain was expected to only remain a secondary theater for Iran within the near future (as opposed to primary theaters such as Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon), the low cost and burden of continuing such supportive action for Shi’a militant groups means the support would likely continue. Advances made by Iran and its proxies regionally could serve to increase Iranian support vis-à-vis Bahraini extremist groups, particularly as the IRGC’s influence within Iran rises.
by Doyle Quiggle | Sun, 07/22/2018 - 2:34pm | 0 comments
Above all, we need to gain access to and win the trust of local Somali moral authorities who can compel limbic complicity from poorly parented Somali teenagers who seek a warrior identity. We need to weaponize local moral authority in Somali so that we can provide Somali teenagers a legitimate means by which to fulfill a culturally appropriate and sanctioned warrior compulsion. Weaponized moral authority is the best, possibly the only feasible, means to achieve a de-clanned, professional Somali Army.
by Dash Radosti | Sun, 07/22/2018 - 1:39am | 0 comments
The episode on the southern border highlights the vulnerability of US policy to public relation disasters that involve children. In future conflicts, it is likely that our adversaries will combine the use of human shields (especially children) with a strong disinformation campaign to galvanize US public opinion against intervention.
by Adad Alan Shmuel, by Joanne Patti Munisteri | Sat, 07/21/2018 - 2:56pm | 0 comments
The May 2018 election results shocked Iraq. Officially, it was the lowest voter turnout recorded since the first freely held elections after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2005. The reasons for less than half the eligible voting population participating and the impact of these elections on Christian minority communities in Iraq, is what this article discusses.
by Matthew Blood | Sat, 07/21/2018 - 1:11am | 0 comments
In the current context, establishing a “good relationship” with Russia as American interests around the world remain under attack from an ongoing Russian campaign of hybrid warfare is flatly damaging to U.S. national security interests. Both the Bush II and Obama administrations eventually reverted to strategies aimed at punishing and deterring Russian aggression.
by Andrew Zapf | Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:42am | 4 comments
Is the US Military committing the same sins as our military predecessors of the past 200 years? Is the MRAP the modern-day equivalent to the pre-World War I mounted cavalry? Will the SFABs be useful in the attrition of urban combat against a near-peer? Even the recapture of Mosul in 2017 indicates that our own wars continue to evolve, and setting aside our innovation to solve the Improvised Explosive Device problems in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, are we paying enough attention to the wars of 2018, which are currently the testbeds for future global war?
by Gary Anderson | Thu, 07/19/2018 - 4:38pm | 3 comments
Perhaps the greatest thing that the American State Department could do for Afghanistan would be to bring members of the legislature and other key government officials to the United States and allow them to see the real impact of state and local governance in action. Showing them the effectiveness of local governance and democracy in places like Alaska and Montana might well convince them that decentralization could work better for them than the present system. Perhaps that would encourage decentralization. Tip O’Neill was right, all politics is local - and so is the heart of most insurgencies.
by Jeff Groom | Thu, 07/19/2018 - 4:24pm | 0 comments
Citing a litany of abuses ranging from election meddling to targeted assassinations, Russia’s conduct over the last several years has clearly not been up to par with Western standards of democracy, human rights, and open markets. Diplomats, intelligence agencies, and pundits provide varying degrees of explanations for Russia’s conduct, some simple, some complex. But one dimension of causation is left almost entirely unexplored: national character.
by Douglas A. Livermore | Wed, 07/18/2018 - 7:10am | 0 comments
Despite its long service history, the M-16 and its variants have suffered from several issues. With innovation and effort, most of these issues have been overcome, though some issues are inherent in the basic design of the weapon system.

Blog Posts

by USNI News | Mon, 07/23/2018 - 5:17am | 0 comments
"Despite better cooperation between the Pakistani and Afghan military in taking on the Taliban and its allies, Islamabad needs to press the Taliban harder to come to the negotiating table, the commander of U.S. Central Command said on Thursday."
by Voice of America | Sun, 07/22/2018 - 12:11am | 0 comments
The Afghan government is mulling over whether to announce another cease-fire with the Taliban during next month’s Eid holiday, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Saturday.
by Army Times | Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:34pm | 0 comments
Army senior leaders have made it clear that the Army will begin preparing for operations in dense urban areas. The chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, has said, "In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas,” and with readiness as his number one priority, Milley believes the Army “need[s] to man, organize, train and equip the force for operations in urban areas, highly dense urban areas."
by The New York Times | Fri, 07/20/2018 - 9:45pm | 0 comments
"A Pentagon investigation into the death of an American soldier in Afghanistan is looking at whether an Army brigade that is at the center of the Trump administration’s new war strategy had followed proper security procedures designed to protect United States troops from insider attacks by Afghan forces they train."
by Associated Press | Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:57am | 0 comments
“The general overseeing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan said Thursday he is taking a fresh look at the war strategy President Donald Trump announced nearly a year ago. Gen. Joseph Votel said his assessment is designed to consider adjustments that could improve prospects for achieving the goal of Afghan government peace negotiations with the Taliban”
by DoD News | Thu, 07/19/2018 - 2:45pm | 0 comments
While the fighting continues and work remains to be done in Afghanistan, progress there shows the president’s South Asia Strategy is working, the commander of U.S. Central Command told Pentagon reporters today.
by The Washington Post | Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:14pm | 0 comments
“America’s ‘violence management’ strategy relies on light ground forces, airpower and loose partnerships with local armed actors. Its aim is to degrade and disrupt militant organizations within a chaotic, fractured political landscape, not to commit large numbers of forces and resources to building robust new governments.”
by The Washington Post | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 7:51pm | 0 comments
"Syrian rebels said Tuesday that they are taking part in a new round of surrender talks in the country’s southwest after an escalating military campaign displaced more than a quarter of a million people in just two weeks."
by DoD News | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 4:33pm | 0 comments
Covering events from Dec. 1 to May 31, the report was submitted in accordance with requirements in Section 1225 of the Fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act as amended by Sections 1231 and 1531 of the fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 NDAAs.
by The Modern War Institute | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 4:17pm | 0 comments
"How can the US military harness the power of tactical economics as a tool to consolidate gains? Updated doctrine, improved leader education, and stronger relationships with civilian researchers would provide a starting point, but there is no one right answer for employing tactical economics effectively across varied operating environment."