Small Wars Journal

The Starfish Irregular Warfare Education and Training Portal

I'd like to share a site I've been poking around lately (and adding material to its library) with SWJ readership -- as well as encourage our community of interest and practice to help grow this relatively new joint initiative.

The Starfish Irregular Warfare Education and Training portal is a globally accessible, web-based community of interest maintained by U.S. Joint Forces Command. It was founded on principles followed by other successful COIs such as Intellipedia. Small Wars Journal / Council was also used as a model and provided advice.

Getting started is a two step process -- registration at ("Request Membership" or sign in if already a member) and then registration (via Joint Knowledge Online) at the Starfish Irregular Warfare Education and Training portal. The second step is not instantaneous as it requires approval from the site's administrator -- in my case (requested during normal working hours) it took less than a couple of hours before my approval e-mail with password was received.

Information from the Starfish factsheet follows:

Starfish seeks to create a collaborative and leaderless education and training platform that fosters cross-community sharing of IW best practices, lessons learned, research, lesson plans and curricula. Starfish encourages active participation from multinational partners, the interagency community and academia, realizing that it, like many other successful web-based COIs, will require the cooperation from professional military education institutions, the combatant commands, the services and individual warfighters with past and recent IW experience.

Three active worksites reside within the Starfish portal:

Education worksite: A collaborative forum for developing IW learning and for challenging doctrine, best ideas and processes from inside and outside the Department of Defense establishment.

Training worksite: A collaborative forum for IW training development to support operations and programmatic training initiatives.

Irregular Warfare Training Community of Interest (IW TCOI) worksite: An organizational point for the IW TCOI's monthly meetings, which provide a venue for collaboration and coordination among the training community on relevant IW training related issues pertaining to the execution of current and future military operations.

Current technical capabilities include: Document libraries, internal resource library, discussion forums, blog, teleconferencing and chat, and key links.


The design series would be a good addition to Starfish. One of the functions I like about their IW library is that in order to maintain copyright compliance a provide link function is available in addition to the upload document function, the later for non-copyright material.

Dave D.

The Pap

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 12:34pm


Will do. I think "design philosophy" is essential to prosecuting IW. So far have not seen the idea yet in the library, but I'll keep checking.

I continue to write a series in SWJ and others have also contributed in SWJ. Unfortunately, I thin the US Army and joint ocmmunity have distorted the original intent of design philosophy (hence my motivation for writing the series).


Dave Bridges (not verified)

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 10:10am


Thanks for the input. When you typed "design" in the top search block, it searched all of HarmonieWeb, not just our site. We are hosted on a HarmonieWeb SharePoint server and we have no control over the access requirements of their other COIs.

Thanks to your feedback, we will be working on our global search parameters to hopefully avoid that headache in the future.

I invite you to visit our IW Library page and enter your term in the search block within that page, you should get a more pleasing result.

Very well. Perhaps a crossover partnership is in order or something like that. Will refrain from being hard on them as they adjust.

I do admire SWJs commitment to openness and ease of use. I think the google search you have at SWJ works pretty well for researchers.

Thanks Dave and much obliged to the staff there at SWJ.

One saved round: Also in regards to SWJ, we've been at it for quite some time now and most of our real progress was (and is) the direct result of our community of interest and practice (our site visitors) engagement - everything from volunteering (editors, peer reviewers, board moderators) to article and library submissions, to just plain e-mail suggestions on how to improve.

One issue that has bothered me much is our lack of a viable library as a repository of Small Wars-related material. I took down our old "flat page" library as it had become unwieldy and basically useless to serious researchers. My vision on what I want our SWJ library to look like and do is exactly what Starfish did with their IW library. All the bells and whistles are in place to make it happen - only thing left is for site members to populate the library. That library and the COIN Library (another private site) are my models for our future SWJ efforts.

Dave D.

Just a couple of comments to hopefully put things in perspective. Starfish is relatively new and is (as it should be forever) a work in progress so I think construction commentary on improvement is welcomed and encouraged. It has been my experience that the Starfish folks are very open and responsive to suggestions. It is only when people use the site and provide feedback does improvement happen. On the SWJ issue, we at SWJ have the luxury of being a private entity with all the freedom that entails and most importantly we are not in the business of running other web sites. That said, we have advised and we encourage and support all such efforts and do what we can to help those initiatives along.

Dave D.


I typed in "design" in search. Got many hits. When I clicked on a design link, I was required to request another permission.

I then received an email from STRATCOM telling me I was not a member of "Nimrod sonethingoranother" and so would not be authorized.

Bottom line is, why can I make comments at will here on SWJ and you guys require so much just to read the very few blogs there? Why don't you model after the SWJ site or contract out to SWJ to run it for you? They seem to know what they are doing.

Dave Bridges (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 1:03pm

Chris, what is this third layer? All you should need is a harmonieweb account and request access to become a member. This is required due to the file sharing capabilities.

There is nothing hidden on the site. It is an internet public site, not part of the CAC-enabled world of AKO/DKO/JKO.

If you tried to access something you think you should be able to and were denied, send an email to and I will look into it.

Scott Swanson (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 12:19pm

Chris, you are exactly correct. The initial vision of starfish (about two years back) was to reach out to the external non mil/intel communities to leverage their expertiese and networks. Academia, businesses, social groups, etc. were not only to be the intended resources but core participants, as well. A concept model was proposed for an external site ( / was initially used as a prototype concept example---now they are not affiliated with the starfish program. I know this because I procured the URLs for the concept implementation. We had it set so any search enginge inquiry about irregular warfare or unconventional warfare, and the like would go to Starfish).

Soon, however, it was rolled up under JFCOM and put in an AKO/DKO/JKO site where the community it was to engage would not even have access. Therefore, the initial concept execution was changed, and that's all I have to say about that...

The Pap

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:50am

I was not happy. After getting through two layers of acceptance, I tried to go "deeper" and lo and behold there's another (third) "acceptance" requirement. This site seems "anti-starfish" in being open. It is VERY controlled. Seems like it's antithetical to its purpose.

Scott Shaw

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:51am

And I went to PT, came back, and voila, c'est fini! (Or at least I now have access!)

Dave Bridges (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:04am

I will double check with JKO, but as far as I've been told you do not need to "know someone". We're required to use that registration form because we are part of the JKO subdomain and it is a default field on their form.

If you already have a HarmonieWeb account, you will not need to create another, just click request access.

Dave Bridges
Starfish Technical Lead

Scott Shaw

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:06am

@ Douglas and My evil twin,

No. I put my security manager (my Bn S2) in as the "individual that can verify your access request" and I know he doesn't have access.


Myeviltwindidit (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:09am

I have the same query as Douglas above.

Do you need to know someone who is already a Harmoneweb member? Part of the registration asks for the contact information of an "individual that can verify your access request".