Small Wars Journal
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis
  • “All I can say to the American people: Welcome to your military. It’s on duty.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus

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Soldiers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade conduct a movement to a site over 8,500 feet where they will dig temporary snow shelters to face a frigid night during training in Passo del Tonale, Italy, 11 December 2018. Photo by Spc. Henry Villarama.

"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 Jamie Schwandt | Wed, 12/19/2018 - 8:58am | 0 comments
A short paper on the Kobayashi Maru training exercise employed in the fictional Star Trek universe. A discussion of 3 key takeaways.
by Nathan Jennings | Wed, 12/19/2018 - 7:28am | 0 comments
Since the close of the Second World War the United States has retained a significant ground force presence in Europe to defend against Russian aggression. While laudable during the halcyon days of the Soviet Empire, it is past time for this anachronistic policy to end.
by Arin Kumar Ghosh | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 8:54pm | 0 comments
As Iraq works to create an efficient armed force in post ISIS Iraq, it must reconsider the traditional defense template of weapons systems that need to be purchased with its own needs.
by Chris Telley | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 6:41pm | 0 comments
Mapping the Cartel de los Soles in order to identify individuals that were entrenched in the network but untargeted by U.S. sanctions, as well as discover subgroups and seams which could be influenced as a means to provide opportunity to the opposition.
by Donald C. Bolduc | Mon, 12/17/2018 - 12:51pm | 2 comments
This paper addresses my concerns about issues raised by news media publicity surrounding the 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four Americans - members of U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF) Team OUALLAM - and the perceived mishandling of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) investigation results by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 12/17/2018 - 12:45am | 0 comments
While grenade use by cartels and gangs in Mexico isn’t novel, this attack nevertheless represents a strategic progression by once again demonstrating the willingness of criminal cartels to attack US targets in Mexico and wage information operations in order to influence enforcement initiatives by both the United States and Mexico.
by Patricia Murphy Minch | Sat, 12/15/2018 - 1:47pm | 0 comments
"The Luckiest Guerrilla: A True Tale of Love, War and the Army" by Patricia Murphy Minch was recently published by First Steps Publishing, a small traditional publisher in Oregon The book is available in several formats through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others.
by David L. Harrell | Sat, 12/15/2018 - 12:38am | 0 comments
Through extensive social media use, groups revolt, leadership falls, and countries change. Civil Affairs as a branch needs to continue to evolve within the civil environment by formally adding a social media analysis function.
by Tamim Asey | Fri, 12/14/2018 - 3:34am | 0 comments
The new Afghan President, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, has the chance to clean up the Afghan foreign policy machinery from corruption political cronyism and bring competent, loyal and patriotic diplomats and formulate a clear foreign policy to manage its crucial relations with the world and its neighbors.
by John M. Gillette | Wed, 12/12/2018 - 6:35pm | 10 comments
The purpose of this paper is to offer some thoughts and, hopefully, stimulate debate about the Department of Defense’s collective advising efforts over the last fifty plus years; of which I have been a witness from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

Blog Posts

by The Washington Post | Wed, 12/19/2018 - 10:30am | 0 comments
"The Trump administration is planning to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a defense official said on Wednesday, as President Trump declared victory against the Islamic State. The president, in a message on Twitter, said the United States had "defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.""
by Proceedings | Wed, 12/19/2018 - 10:09am | 0 comments
In a nutshell: Army leadership wants to do away with PKSOI. Options are, at least, being discussed. I think this option would not work. SWJ (me) wants to hear from you. Shoot me a well-written and logical paper on this issue – why this option is good or bad – what other options might work, or not (USMC comes to mind) – anything else that addresses this issue. Send to – I can publish within a day – most likely hours – would like to keep this discussion fresh and rolling.
by Jerusalem Post | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 9:50pm | 0 comments
"Just as the US has had to contend with terrorist tunnels, Israel and all countries facing terrorism are increasingly forced to fight an underground war. The complex of caves and tunnels is one of many in Afghanistan used by terrorist groups. ISIS, like many terrorist groups, has become expert in tunneling. ISIS didn’t invent this on its own. The group expanded on technology that other terrorist groups have used."
by The New York Times | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 4:51pm | 0 comments
"Outrage over civilian deaths in Yemen has focused on airstrikes. But at sea, the Saudi-led coalition is suspected of attacking many fishing boats, killing dozens of people."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:53pm | 0 comments
"Fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Houthi rebels in the city of Hudaydah has reportedly subsided, after a ceasefire came into effect overnight."
by | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 11:52am | 0 comments
"The U.S.-backed and -trained Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) claimed over the weekend to have taken the small town of Hajin on the Syria-Iraq border in heavy fighting, ousting the Islamic State from its last urban enclave in Syria."
by Associated Press | Tue, 12/18/2018 - 9:08am | 0 comments
"Turkey’s leader said Monday he received “positive answers” from President Donald Trump on the situation in northeastern Syria, where Turkey has threatened to launch a new operation against American-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters."
by Al-Monitor | Mon, 12/17/2018 - 7:32pm | 1 comment
"The first Security Force Assistance Brigade, a Milley-led invention to pick US military trainers from the regular Army instead of the elite Special Forces, wrapped up its first Afghan deployment in the fall. Now, as President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Milley will take the top job in the military with a chance to expand his experiment to North Africa and the Middle East, where the US Army is focusing on training instead of combat missions to fight terrorism."
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 12/17/2018 - 12:23am | 0 comments
Via The National - "It is 15 years since Saddam Hussein was captured by US troops. Given the numerous inquiries that have taken place, and the flood of histories, analyses and op-eds that have been written about the second Iraq War, one might well ask if we really need any more books on the subject. Yes, is the answer, at least after reading Patrick Porter’s well-researched, elegant and succinctly written “J’accuse”"
by The New York Times | Sun, 12/16/2018 - 11:04pm | 1 comment
"The long and winding case of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn had all the elements of a story that would seize President Trump’s attention. A Green Beret charged by the Army in the killing of a man linked to the Taliban. Thorny questions about America’s longstanding entanglement in Afghanistan. And a Fox News program that lauded the officer as a war hero."