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 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."
by DoD News | Tue, 04/17/2018 - 5:18pm | 0 comments
Iran is exploiting the situation in Yemen, arming opponents of the internationally recognized government and using the country as a "test bed" for malign activities, a top Defense Department official told lawmakers today. The United States, as Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has said, supports efforts for a United Nations-brokered settlement to the conflict, Robert S. Karem, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Yemen. The conflict, which began more than three years ago, threatens regional security and U.S. national security interests, which include the flow of commerce in the Red Sea, he said.
by The Washington Post | Tue, 04/17/2018 - 4:52pm | 0 comments
"Speaking alongside the flag-draped coffin of a police officer killed in a terrorist attack in southern France, President Emmanuel Macron last month lay blame on “underground Islamism” and those who “indoctrinate on our soil and corrupt daily.” The attack added further urgency to a project already in the works: Macron has embarked on a controversial quest to restructure Islam in France — with the goal of integration but also preventing radicalization."
by DoD News | Tue, 04/17/2018 - 4:42pm | 0 comments
Continue on for a video of today's briefing at the Pentagon.
by Voice of America | Tue, 04/17/2018 - 1:18pm | 0 comments
Some 900 National Guard troops are deploying to the U.S.-Mexico border to support Border Patrol operations, but they will not perform any law enforcement functions while on the White House-ordered assignment, Homeland Security officials said Monday. The majority of the military members who have arrived or are headed to the border are National Guard troops from Texas, with roughly 650. In Arizona, there will be approximately 250, and in New Mexico, about 60. California on Monday said it would no longer allow its National Guard troops to fulfill the mission as requested by the Department of Defense.
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 10:12pm | 0 comments
"Under plan, troops would replace American military contingent after ISIS defeat and help secure country’s north; proposal faces challenges. The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the northeastern part of the country after the defeat of Islamic State, U.S. officials said."
by DoD News | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 7:52pm | 0 comments
National Guard troops are deploying to the U.S. border with Mexico to work in support functions for the Department of Homeland Security, including in aviation, operational and infrastructure missions, officials from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security told reporters here today. The Defense Department will provide DHS with up to 4,000 National Guard troops to support the April 4 presidential memorandum authorizing the enhanced presence along the southwest border, said Robert G. Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration and defense support of civil authorities. The troops will work only in operational support missions, he said, explaining their mission will not include roles in which they would interact with migrants or other people detained by DHS.
by Defense One | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 2:48pm | 1 comment
"More nations should consider creating police-cum-military forces for hybrid stabilization missions. They are a domestic police force, but they are doing their jobs in countries hundreds and thousands of miles from home: Afghanistan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Palestine. They get so many invitations — pleas, really — from countries emerging from conflict, or descending into it, that they must turn some down. They are Italy’s Carabinieri, and their unusual mix of law-enforcement talent and military capability may often be a better answer than traditional troops to today’s not-quite-wars."
by NBC News | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 2:37pm | 0 comments
... "With their election interference and ongoing manipulation of social media platforms like Twitter, the Russians have been regularly outfoxing America in the information realm, U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge. Who turned the tables this time? Not the White House, the State Department or the CIA. The recordings were published by a U.S.-government-funded website called, whose reporter says she got them from a source close to the Kremlin. Polygraph is a relatively new fact-checking arm of an obscure, diminutive media effort by the U.S. to highlight Russian misdeeds and counter Russian propaganda...."
by Bloomberg News | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 5:19am | 0 comments
"The number of countries involved in festering Middle East conflicts most closely resembles the situation before World War I. That's frightening. Some strategic games are too complex to be readily modeled, and when we see such games in the real world that’s exactly when we should be the most worried. That’s my immediate reaction to the situation in Syria and environs."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:13am | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump deferred to his Pentagon chief’s caution and tempered his preference for a more robust attack on Syria over allegations it used deadly gas on civilians, the first hints at the direction of his revamped national-security team. The decision late last week, detailed by people familiar with the process, marked the first substantive test of the group now that John Bolton is serving as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 04/15/2018 - 8:05pm | 0 comments
"The crisis in Syria—the chemical weapons attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, followed by the limited U.S.-U.K.-France military response—creates an opportunity to develop the broader Syria strategy the West now lacks."
by The New York Times | Sun, 04/15/2018 - 5:37pm | 0 comments
"Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Syria is going to explode. I know, you have heard that one before, but this time I mean really explode. Because the U.S., British and French attack on Syria to punish its regime for its vile use of chemical weapons — and Russia’s vow to respond — is actually just the second-most dangerous confrontation unfolding in that country. Even more dangerous is that Israel and Iran, at the exact same time, seem to be heading for a High Noon shootout in Syria over Iran’s attempts to turn Syria into a forward air base against Israel, something Israel is vowing to never let happen."
by Haaretz | Sat, 04/14/2018 - 2:01am | 0 comments
"The recent airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel has brought to the forefront Iran’s intentions of establishing a network of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) in that country. The project could expand the Islamic Republic’s capabilities of gathering intelligence and prepare the groundwork for possible attacks. Iran began producing drones in the 1980s, building dozens of them, mainly for spying and aerial photography. In recent years, since joining the fighting in support of the Assad regime, its drones have been seen in the skies of Syria and Iraq."
by DoD News | Sat, 04/14/2018 - 1:03am | 0 comments
U.S., British and French air and naval forces launched attacks against the Syrian government’s chemical weapon arsenal in retaliation for the use of such weapons on civilians, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference tonight.
by Voice of America | Sat, 04/14/2018 - 12:39am | 0 comments
President Trump announced Friday night “a combined operation” by the U.S., France and Britain against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aimed at ending his government’s use of chemical weapons. As Trump spoke from the White House, explosions lit up the skies over Damascus, the Syrian capital. The assault is now over. Associated Press reporters saw smoke rising from east Damascus and a huge fire could be seen from a distance to the east. Syrian television said the attacks targeted a scientific research center in Barzeh, near Damascus, and an army depot near Homs.
by DoD News | Fri, 04/13/2018 - 4:02pm | 1 comment
If a nation wants to challenge the United States conventionally, that nation will lose. So, nations won’t challenge America conventionally, but look for asymmetric ways to do so, DoD’s most-senior civilian and military leaders said to the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke about the problems caused by “gray zone” warfare.
| Thu, 04/12/2018 - 9:24pm | 0 comments
"Britain, France and the U.S. united Thursday around broad plans for a military strike against Syria as they worked to bridge differences over the scope and purpose of a coordinated response to a suspected chemical weapons attack, U.S. officials said. President Donald Trump met with his national security team to weigh military options while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sought to limit the impact of an expected attack by moving warplanes under the protection of Russian air defenses."
by The New York Times | Thu, 04/12/2018 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
"Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought on Thursday to slow down an imminent strike on Syria, reflecting mounting concerns at the Pentagon that a concerted bombing campaign could escalate into a wider conflict between Russia, Iran and the West. During a closed-door White House meeting, officials said Mr. Mattis pushed for more evidence of President Bashar al-Assad’s role in a suspected chemical attack last weekend that would assure the world that military action was necessary."
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:31am | 0 comments
German Marshall Fund of the United States Report by Oytun Orhan - "Changes in the U.S. administration will largely determine the cooperation between the United States and Turkey in Syria. Mike Pompeo, who will soon replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, and John Bolton, Trump’s latest pick for national security advisor, both prioritize the containment of Iran, and both hold similar views to the Pentagon in acting unilaterally rather than using the means of diplomacy in foreign policy."
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 04/12/2018 - 12:28am | 0 comments
Part of the Small Wars Journal anthology series, Hammer of the Caliphate is a continuation of previous works on the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliate groups. The anthology title is a play on words related to the fifteenth-century treatise Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of the Witches").
by CNN News | Thu, 04/12/2018 - 12:13am | 0 comments
"Not a building in Eastern Ghouta has emerged unscathed after six years of war. The people who remained have carved out livable space within the destruction. Along the side of a road, a boy sat on a burnt barrel atop a mound of debris. Two toddlers played inside a blown-up truck. A barber went about his business inside his ravaged shop. CNN visited the shattered suburb last week in the company of the Syrian military and saw the vestiges of the Damascus suburb's double life, above and below ground."