Small Wars Journal

Blog Posts

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 Stars & Stripes | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:04pm | 0 comments
American troops will be key in a soon-to-be re-energized campaign against remaining Islamic State fighters in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators Thursday on Capitol Hill, pledging the United States was not preparing to pull its forces from the war-torn country. “This is an ongoing fight right now,” Mattis told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’re continuing the fight, and we’re going to expand it with more regional support.”
by The Washington Post | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:26am | 0 comments
"Latin America is home to just 8 percent of the world's population, but 33 percent of its homicides. In fact, just four countries in the region — Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela — account for a quarter of all the murders on Earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities."
by George C. Marshall Center - European Center for Security Studies | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 6:17am | 0 comments
Almost 100 mid- to top-level law enforcement specialists and parliamentarians from 52 nations have a better understanding of the strategic-level approaches needed to counter transnational criminal organizations when they return home April 28. They are heading home after completing the three-plus week Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here. The Marshall Center is a German-American partnership that has produced generations of global security professionals for the past 25 years.
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:57am | 0 comments
"Poor training, complacency and a culture of excessive risk contributed to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers during an operation in Niger in October, according to a classified Pentagon report. The report, described by officials familiar with its contents, details a series of missteps and describes a disregard for military procedures and for the chain of command. Among other things, the report discloses that low-level commanders, determined to make a mark against local jihadis in the West African nation, took liberties to get operations approved through the chain of command."
by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction | Thu, 04/26/2018 - 5:45am | 0 comments
Yesterday, SIGAR released an audit of the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, one of the largest sources of funding to Afghan government operations outside the security sector.
by DoD News | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 7:31pm | 0 comments
Operationally and financially, the Defense Department has had a good year and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis urged the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee to build on this. The secretary and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in a closed hearing before the subcommittee today. DoD released the secretary’s opening statement.
by Foreign Policy | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 6:48pm | 0 comments
"Unlike ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Agency for International Development chief Mark Green has won over his workforce with his reorganization plan. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green is rolling out ambitious plans to reorganize his agency, and unlike a similar effort at the State Department, his initiative is enjoying widespread support among his workforce and lawmakers in Congress."
by The U.S. Naval Institute | Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:49am | 0 comments
"A clean sheet review of how the Navy educates sailors and Marines is now underway, with results expected to alter the way Department of the Navy training is conducted. The wide-ranging study is to explore how the Navy can upgrade its education methods in order to maintain a competitive edge at a time when adversaries are increasing their technical know-how, according to a memo released Monday by Thomas Modly, undersecretary of the Navy."
by Newsweek | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 3:39pm | 1 comment
"The spread of UAV technology to militants represents the next evolution of warfare by remote control, whereby terrorist groups can build de facto air forces. Weaponized drones are often low-tech but potentially deadly. The Islamic State military group (ISIS), for example, was able to import and construct hundreds—if not thousands—of inexpensive and portable drones, using them to terrorize their enemies on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. When ISIS’s Mosul bastion finally fell in the summer of 2017, Iraqi forces found dozens of drone factories."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 04/24/2018 - 11:36am | 0 comments
"The rumblings of an open conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria are growing louder. When President Trump launched yet another one-off missile salvo against the Syrian regime, it came on the heels of a suspected April 9 Israeli strike on an Iranian facility at a Syrian air base, which drew howls of condemnation from the regime's patrons in Moscow and Tehran."
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 | 1 comment
"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."
by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction | Thu, 04/19/2018 - 5:23pm | 0 comments
Today, SIGAR released its latest lessons learned report, “Private Sector Development and Economic Growth: Lessons from the U.S. experience in Afghanistan." Inspector General John F. Sopko spoke at a launch event hosted by the United States Institute of Peace. Continue on for a summary of the report, a link to the full report, and a link to the USIP webcast of today’s event.
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:09pm | 0 comments
The leak of the “Pentagon Papers” by RAND analyst Daniel Ellsberg and subsequent coverage by “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” forever changed how America viewed the nation’s small wars. SWJ is looking for reviews of Steven Spielberg’s new movie “The Post”. Email dave (at) if interested. I saw the movie last night – thumbs up on my part.
by The New York Times | Thu, 04/19/2018 - 1:31pm | 0 comments
A new audio series following Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul. New York Times subscribers get early access to each episode.
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 04/18/2018 - 2:23pm | 0 comments
"A new and dangerous extremist group spawned from al Qaeda is consolidating power in northwestern Syria, while the U.S. has focused on fighting remnants of Islamic State elsewhere in the country and striking the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons facilities. Since surfacing as the country’s most potent militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has battled Western-backed rebel groups to extend its control across Idlib province, enforcing its version of Shariah and raising funds by taxing flows of people and goods."
by Foreign Policy | Tue, 04/17/2018 - 6:54pm | 0 comments
"Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria. The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media."