Small Wars Journal

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SWJ Blog is a multi-author blog publishing news and commentary on the various goings on across the broad community of practice.  We gladly accept guest posts from serious voices in the community.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/21/2010 - 5:58am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/21/2010 - 5:52am | 0 comments
Army's Future Looks a Lot Like the Present by Shaun Waterman of The Washington Times. Article covers the new "Army Operating Concept" developed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the "false choice" between combined arms maneuver and security operations.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 09/20/2010 - 7:12am | 2 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/19/2010 - 6:01pm | 0 comments
Observers Debate Legitimacy of Afghanistan Election

19 September 2010

Voice of America

Observers of Afghanistan's parliamentary election on Saturday are debating whether or not the result will be legitimate. The Afghan Election Complaints Commission says it has received reports of alleged irregularities, but as ballots continue to pour in from remote provinces, officials say the final outcome is weeks away.

The main Afghan election observer group says the legitimacy of the balloting in Saturday's parliamentary election is questionable.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan says it has "serious concerns about the quality" of the elections, given the insecurity and numerous complaints of fraud.

Ahmad Nader Nadery is the organization's head. He said there are many serious questions about the quality of the election. He says his group is insisting the integrity of peoples' votes is protected, because Afghans made a lot of sacrifices to participate.

Alessandro Parziale is the country head of Democracy International, which also monitored the vote Saturday. He says they are still collecting information from the group's teams of observers from around the country.

Parziale says that a day after the voting, he believes it is very difficult to judge the success of the election. "For the moment for us, it is very difficult to say if there was or not any fraud. It would be irresponsible saying something today," he said.

Preliminary election results are expected next month, with final results likely announced at the end of October after any complaints of fraud or misconduct are resolved.

The Afghan Election Complaints Commission says it has received reports of alleged irregularities, including late-opening polling centers, ballot shortages and voter registration fraud.

The NATO-led international security force also says it recorded more than 300 incidents of election-related violence.

The Afghan interior minister reports at least 22 people died in election-related violence across the country.

On Sunday, the Independent Election Commission said the bodies of three elections workers kidnapped Saturday in northern Afghanistan have been found.

Despite this, IEC chairman Fazal Ahmad Mainawi says the election was a success. He said that he accepts there were some shortcomings. He says that was to be expected because of Afghanistan's situation. He promises his organization will investigate all complaints.

Afghan election officials are estimating 3.6-million people voted Saturday, much lower than the nearly six-million people who voted in last year's presidential election.

More than 2,500 candidates were running for 249 seats in the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament. Nearly 300,000 Afghan troops and police, backed by 150,000 international troops, provided security during the vote.


Light Turnout in Parliamentary Election, Violence Deters Voters - New York Times

Attacks and Threats Deter Afghan Voters - Wall Street Journal

Afghan Observers Question Election as Tally Starts - Associated Press

U.N. Says Premature to Call Afghan Poll a Success - Reuters

Fraud Casts Doubt Over Afghan Election - BBC News

Afghan Poll Figures Fiddled 'to Cover Fall in Voting' - Daily Telegraph

Afghanistan Counts Votes From Parliamentary Election - Bloomberg

Fraud Could Delay Result for Months, Observers Warn - The Guardian

Discrepancy Calls Afghan Voter Turnout Into Question - CNN News

Fraud and Turnout Weigh on "Miracle" Afghan Poll - Reuters

Why the Next Parliament Won't Check Karzai - Christian Science Monitor

Karzai Abandons Plan to Visit Kandahar, Disappointing Election - Globe and Mail

Afghanistan: Bullets and Ballots - Sydney Morning Herald

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/19/2010 - 8:43am | 1 comment
Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels and U.S. National Security

Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

CNAS report launch and discussion on the growing national security threat of organized crime in the Western Hemisphere.

Date and Time:

September 30, 2010

4:30: Guest check-in and registration

5:00-6:30: Event

6:30-7:30: Reception


Willard Intercontinental Hotel's Crystal Room

1401 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20004

To RSVP for this event, click here.

Last month, the Mexican government announced that the drug wars have claimed 28,000 lives since 2006. These drug trafficking groups have evolved to pose significant challenges not only to Mexico and the United States, but to governments and societies across the Western Hemisphere.

On September 30, 2010, from 5:00-6:30 p.m., the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) will host an event to launch Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels, and U.S. National Security, a groundbreaking CNAS report that surveys organized crime throughout the Western Hemisphere, analyzes the challenges it poses for the region and recommends the United States replace the "war on drugs" paradigm with comprehensive domestic and foreign policies to confront the interrelated challenges of drug trafficking and violence ranging from the Andean Ridge to American streets.

At the event on September 30, a diverse panel of experts will discuss this multi-layered national security challenge including:

Roberta Jacobson

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Michael Shifter

President of the Inter-American Dialogue

Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown

Foreign Policy Fellow for The Brookings Institution 21st Century Defense Initiative

Author of Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs

Colonel Robert Killebrew, USA (ret.).

CNAS Senior Fellow

Stay tuned in the coming days for the release of Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels, and U.S. National Security. This event will also be webcast live at Webcast viewers can submit questions to panelists via Twitter @CNASdc.

by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/19/2010 - 8:24am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Sat, 09/18/2010 - 7:44pm | 0 comments
Afghan Polls Close, Scattered Violence Kills 14

Sean Maroney

18 September 2010

Voice of America

Afghans cast their ballots for a new parliament Saturday, despite rocket and bomb attacks during elections seen as a key test of the government's fight against the Taliban and corruption. As the polls officially closed, the Interior Ministry said at least 11 civilians and three policeman were killed and dozens more injured.

Afghans across much of the country voted Saturday in the face of Taliban threats and scattered acts of violence that marred - but did not seriously disrupt - the parliamentary election.

United Nations Special Envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura visited polling stations in the capital Kabul as part of the international contingent of observers making sure the election is free and fair.

He told reporters a number of procedures are in place to combat voter fraud, including identifying voters, using special ink to mark those who have voted and keeping track of all ballot boxes. "Today is a crucial day. Security is a concern and fraud is a concern. That is why we are not here to observe; we are here to encourage that those procedures continue," he said.

Andy Campbell is the country director for the National Democratic Institute, which is helping to monitor the vote. Campbell spoke to VOA at a polling station in Kabul. "We've had reports come in from around the country that in some places it has worked well and in other places it has not. That is to be expected. The largest exercise that a country undertakes in peace time is an election or a census, and we're doing it in an active insurgency environment. But, procedures are generally being followed," he said.

Campbell is no stranger to elections in Afghanistan; Saturday's vote is his fourth in the country. He says generally, each election has gotten better in terms of fighting voter fraud. However, he did call last year's fraud-marred presidential election an "anomaly."

Despite being in the relatively secure capital, Campbell was conspicuous with his large bulletproof vest under his suit jacket and plainclothes security team keeping watch.

The Taliban has vowed to disrupt the election and has urged voters to stay home. Insurgents have claimed responsibility for abducting a candidate and 18 election workers in the run up to the vote.

But U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura says the statistic of 18 people kidnapped out of the total 86,000 election workers shows progress for the vote in terms of security. "Last year there were 272 serious incidents, so we have to look at it again in context," he said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry says nearly 300,000 Afghan police and soldiers, backed by 150,000 international troops, are providing security during the election.

Preliminary results are not expected before October 8. Officials likely will announce final results at the end of next month, following the resolution of any complaints of fraud or misconduct.

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 09/18/2010 - 9:07am | 3 comments
Innovation in War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005--2007 (scroll down for download link) - James A. Russell, Journal of Strategic Studies, Volume 33 Issue 4 2010. This article analyzes operations by three battalions conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq over the period from July 2005 through March 2007: the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (1--7) along the Iraq--Syrian border in the first half of 2006; the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment (1--37) battalion operating in south-central Ramadi in the fall of 2006; and the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, or 2-1, operating in eastern Mosul in 2005--06. The article argues that empirical evidence presented in these cases suggest, contrary to popular perceptions, these units successfully innovated in war -- a process largely executed organically within the units themselves.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 09/18/2010 - 8:30am | 0 comments
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by Robert Haddick | Fri, 09/17/2010 - 6:59pm | 1 comment
Did this week's confrontation at sea with China signal a more aggressive stance from Tokyo?

Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

Topics include:

1) Japan and China go fishing for trouble

2) How to pay for a new Air Force bomber

Japan and China go fishing for trouble

A seemingly minor maritime incident last week -- a collision between a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese coast guard vessels -- is quickly turning into a significant diplomatic crisis. What remains to be seen is whether the ensuing diplomatic standoff will add to the region's growing concerns over China and whether Japan's surprising obstinacy over this incident foreshadows a more hawkish Japanese defense policy.

On Sept. 9, during a seasonal uptick in the number of Chinese fishing boats near the disputed, uninhabited, and Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, a Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese patrol boats. According to officials in Tokyo, the fishing boat refused orders to submit to an inspection and to leave the area. After an initial investigation, the Japanese government released the boat and the crew. But it retained custody of the boat's captain, turning him over to prosecutors for trial. A Japanese judge has given prosecutors until Sept. 19 to file charges against him.

What started as a a minor scuffle has escalated. Over the past week, the Chinese government has summoned Japan's ambassador five times. China delayed a senior parliamentarian's visit to Japan and postponed talks over natural gas exploration in the East China Sea. The customary annual meeting between the Chinese premier and the Japanese prime minister at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week has not been scheduled. Meanwhile, Japan's transport minister appeared at the nearby coast guard base to praise the crews for their capture of the captain. The Japanese embassy in Beijing warned Japanese citizens in China to lay low. Finally, anti-Japanese activists from both China and Taiwan -- which both claim the Senkaku Islands -- formed flotillas to sail to the barren rocks.

Just as the fishing boat incident began to boil, Japan's defense ministry released its annual white paper on defense policy. This year's report included a particularly detailed accounting of recent Chinese air and naval incursions near Japan-claimed territory. The white paper follows the recent diplomatic clash at the July ASEAN meeting in Hanoi over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

In spite of the white paper's much more explicit description of China's growing military assertiveness, the report did not call for any material changes in Japan's defense program. The report made note of continuing declines in Japan's defense spending and manpower levels.

It is hard to imagine a worse time for Japan's government to contemplate a controversial change to its defense policy. Its fiscal outlook and floundering economy are as bad as any in the developed world. Recent prime ministers have been lucky to last a year in office. And Japan's dispute with the United States over bases on Okinawa remains unresolved.

All of which makes the Japanese government's refusal to release the Chinese fishing captain all the more remarkable. Against all expectations, someone in Tokyo has decided to stand up to Beijing. Could the Japanese government be making a case to the public for a more hawkish defense policy? Policymakers in the region are no doubt wondering what the consequences of this standoff will be.

Click through to read more ...

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 09/17/2010 - 4:57am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Thu, 09/16/2010 - 1:47pm | 59 comments
The War Over COIN by Max Boot at Commentary's Contentions. Boot discusses the importance of using counterinsurgency principles in operations and the backlash against COIN in a debate often seen here on the pages of Small Wars Journal. This blog entry cites Dr. Nadia Schadlow's recent Armed Forces Journal article "A False Dichotomy". Boot concludes that the COIN debate is a debate well worth having but that we'd better get ready for these types of conflicts because guerrillas and terrorists aren't going away.

Update: And from "on the scene" at an U.S. Army Unified Quest pre-wargame event, Spencer Ackerman of Wired's Danger Room writes Army Brains: Kill PowerPoint, 'Counterinsurgency'. Also by Ackerman on UQ: Army Asks Itself: Shouldn't We Be Diplomats?

by SWJ Editors | Thu, 09/16/2010 - 4:30am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:31pm | 0 comments

Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics

A discussion with the author Michael C. Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania; and with panelists Frank Hoffman, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute; Clark Murdock, Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Williamson "Wick" Murray, Senior Fellow, Institute for Defense Analyses

Monday, October 4, 2010

5:00 -- 7:00 pm (Panel begins at 5:30pm)

B1 Conference Room, CSIS, 1800 K St. NW, Washington, DC

In his new book, The Diffusion of Military Power, Michael C. Horowitz examines how the financial and organizational challenges of adopting new methods of warfighting can influence the international balance of power. Horowitz argues that a state or actor wishing to adopt a military innovation must possess both the financial resources to buy or build the technology and the internal organizational capacity to accommodate any necessary changes in recruiting, training, or operations. From battleships to aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons to suicide terrorism, how countries react to new innovations has profound implications for the global order and the likelihood of war.

At this special event, the author and a distinguished panel of experts will discuss the book's insights specifically, and the implications of military innovation generally. A reception will follow the discussion and books will be available for purchase.

Please RSVP to Chris Jones at

by SWJ Editors | Wed, 09/15/2010 - 6:22am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/14/2010 - 6:14pm | 4 comments
Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, IV, Commanding General of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, writes on literacy as a matter of life and death in Afghanistan at the Huffington Post.
by Robert Haddick | Tue, 09/14/2010 - 9:40am | 4 comments
An article in Marine Corps Times discusses a new mandatory cultural training program for U.S. Marine Corps officers and NCOs:

Fighting in any clime or place means Marines often come into close contact with people of all nationalities and cultures. An intimate understanding of those cultures can make the difference between mission success and mission failure. That's why the Marine Corps is now rolling out mandatory cultural training that will assign most Marine a specific region of specialization that they will study for the duration of their career.

The program, which will include reservists, will begin in late August with first and second lieutenants, but eventually be expanded to all enlisted Marines ranked sergeant and above, and all officers up to colonel.

The Regional, Culture, and Language Familiarization Program was created by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational and Cultural Learning at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Eventually, officers and enlisted Marines will be assigned to one of 17 global regions of study, which they will focus on for the duration of their careers, according to Marine Administrative Message 468/10.


When assigning regions, a Marine's history will be taken into account. That includes prior education, native culture or birthplace. The number of available slots for each region will be determined by three variables: requests from combatant commanders, requests from unit commanders and Corps threat assessments. More Marines will be assigned to volatile regions, as it is where they are most likely to deploy.

The 17 global regions in the program are Central Africa, Eastern Africa, North Africa, Sahel, Southern Africa, West Africa, West South Africa, Central Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Arabian Gulf, Levant, Balkans, Central America/Caribbean, South America and the Transcaucuses.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/14/2010 - 8:25am | 6 comments
In the current issue of Armed Forces Journal ("A False Dichotomy") Dr. Nadia Schadlow writes that critics of the Army's counterinsurgency focus ignore world and war realities. Dr. Schadlow is senior program officer for the Smith Richardson Foundation, where she identifies strategic issues that warrant further attention from the U.S. policy community and manages and develops programs and projects related to these issues. She was a member of the Defense Policy Board (September 2006--June 2009) and writes frequently on issues related to the U.S. Army. She is writing a book on the Army's approach to war and political stabilization.

Also in AFJ is Dan Green's take on President Hamid Karzai's exit strategy. Green writes that the Afghan president's goal is survival, not victory over the Taliban. Dan Green is a visiting fellow at Aeneas Group International. He recently completed a tour with the Navy in Afghanistan as the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy's Office of Interagency Provincial Affairs.

And more at Armed Forces Journal.

by SWJ Editors | Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:30am | 0 comments
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by Robert Haddick | Mon, 09/13/2010 - 10:28am | 2 comments
As a follow-up to my last column at Foreign Policy that discussed Mexico's narco-insurgency, I'll note Ceci Connolly's story in yesterday's Washington Post. That article discussed the double life of one U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent who just received a 20 year prison sentence for corruption.

According to the article, investigators are now working on over 1,000 corruption cases at CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This rate is up three-fold from four years ago.

The article notes that the agencies are struggling to fill thousands of open positions and in the rush to do so have lowered hiring and background check standards. Meanwhile, one investigator termed the sum of money available for corrupting U.S. border officers as "staggering."

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 09/13/2010 - 9:57am | 0 comments
COMISAF's Counterinsurgency (COIN) Contracting Guidance via Commander, International Decurity and Assistance Force - Afghanistan.

Continue on for General Petraeus' COIN Contracting Guidance...

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 09/13/2010 - 7:39am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/12/2010 - 6:23am | 0 comments
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by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/12/2010 - 12:56am | 0 comments
Here's the eighth edition of Small Wars Journal's Saturday Night Quote (SWJ SNQ). Kudos to Jason Thomas. In the commentary section of SWJ Blog entry ""Understanding Sri Lanka's Defeat of the Tamil Tigers" Jason had this to say:

"Un—to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies. Much of this is not due to the military commanders but an omnipresent media and well meaning civilian advisors with nervous domestic political leaders who want to get re-elected."

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 09/11/2010 - 7:27am | 0 comments
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