Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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.

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Sunset Parade on the Mall - Marines march in formation during the Sunset Parade at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on 17 July 2018. The Marines are assigned to Marine Barracks Washington. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. John A. Martinez Jr.

"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 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.
by Mike Matson | Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:55pm | 0 comments
This article is the latest addition to the U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative’s Future of Warfare 2030-2050 project at Small Wars Journal. Set in 2035, it's an innovative look at combat between Angolan and Namibian forces and their respective Russian and South African advisors, both of whom employ autonomous combat systems.
by James Torrence | Mon, 07/16/2018 - 4:55am | 1 comment
The strengths of the current national security strategy in comparison to its two predecessors are: the comprehensive understanding of how the United States fits into the structure of the international system and the recognition that developing culture-specific solutions for state actors in the international system is better than forcing systems to conform to U.S. standards and values.
by Christopher Flaherty | Fri, 07/06/2018 - 10:42am | 0 comments
A dynamic field of weapons options available to terrorist, extremist or violent attackers, represent a spectrum. The use of highly complex weapons to the use of simple weaponization of common, and everyday items. The defence against these varied threats needs to follow an elastic set of options rather than a lineal progression from the simple to the complex external hardening of inner-city massed public events.
by Dustin E. Lawrence | Thu, 07/05/2018 - 7:35am | 0 comments
Last year, the author of this article participated in Operation Persistent Venture, a bilateral exchange program between the British and US Armies, during which he observed one class-cycle at the Platoon Commanders’ Division. He acted as a guest instructor throughout the PCBC, observing, assessing, and evaluating newly commissioned Second Lieutenants recently graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Blog Posts

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."
by The Modern War Institute | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 7:12am | 0 comments
"Both international and US law take as a basic premise the notion that it is possible, important, and reasonably straightforward to distinguish between war and peace, emergencies and normality, foreign and domestic, public and private, and so on."
by Politico | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 6:44am | 0 comments
"American special operations teams are playing a more direct role in military actions against suspected terrorists in Africa than the Pentagon has publicly acknowledged, planning and participating in combat raids by African troops in multiple countries including Somalia, Kenya, Tunisia and Niger, under a set of classified programs."