Small Wars Journal

With Honor in Hand

Last week, I visited West Point for the first time since my graduation back in 2000.  With the anniversary of 9/11 coming up, I was meeting with some old friends to catch up, share some war stories, and let our children spend some time together playing.  So much time has passed since our hats were tossed onto Michie Stadium, and it was comforting to be back with my brothers to break bread and talk through the shared sacrifice of the last decade.  My friends are now teaching and mentoring the young cadets who will lead our Army years after we retire.

Our motto inscribed into our crest is “With Honor in Hand, Class of 2000.”  For those of us that maintained our commissions throughout a decade of war, we privately know that we stayed true to the calling.  Over the next year, I plan to reach out and share more about what they and other classmates stationed at Benning and Leavenworth are doing to shape and prepare the next generation moving past task, conditions, and standards and focusing on outcome-based training, emotional intelligence, design, and lessons learned from commanding in combat.

Budget cuts aside, these men will spend the next ten to twenty years ensuring that our Army is prepared to meet any challenges and security threats facing the nation.

But, this story is not the purpose of this post.  I have much more to share about my friend’s valor and sacrifice, but it is the anti-thesis to what comes next.  I will have to wait until another day to share the good news.

I suppose that I should start with our mission statement,

Small Wars Journal facilitates the exchange of information among practitioners, thought leaders, and students of Small Wars, in order to advance knowledge and capabilities in the field. We hope this, in turn, advances the practice and effectiveness of those forces prosecuting Small Wars in the interest of self-determination, freedom, and prosperity for the population in the area of operations.

Now, I will put it more bluntly. We volunteer hours out of our day to provide a service filling a gap between theory and practice, academia and operators, and policy-makers and practitioners. 

Why do we do it?  Collectively, we do it because it needs to be done.  Over the next year, we will pursue funding sources that will hopefully allow us to expand into a proper non-profit think tank to help pay our bills and send our kids to college, but for now, we do it because someone needs to do it.

So, what is the point of this blog post?

Don’t waste our time.

Yesterday, Carl Prine outed the NeoCon Performance Art Group known as “Courtney Messerschmidt.”

Now to be clear, Courtney Messerschmidt was never a serious candidate for publication at SWJ.  Yes, we’ve linked to their work in the past on the blog, but I specifically told them through various correspondences that their work was unsuitable for our site unless it was tightened into a more serious product other than the neo-con “love Israel hate Iran” sound bites that they traditionally produced.

But, hoaxes such as this reflect negatively on what SWJ is trying to accomplish.  One should ask why these military analysts/bloggers felt it necessary to create the titillating persona for their work in the first place? The answer is because there is an over-saturation of commentary on the web on all issues including military, foreign policy, and national security issues. The barriers to entry have been minimal and enough people have been —to donate their spare time to produce content. In order to attract some attention through all of the clutter and competition, GSGF felt the need to create a provocative wrapper to attract viewers. Others will do so in the future.

I sent a note to “Courtney” that they should be ashamed of themselves.

Small wars are not a game.

Personally, I suppose that I am disgusted by this act because I detest deception and manipulation for personal gain.   

While this hoax really doesn’t reflect on SWJ, I just wanted to send a warning to those who would pursue this option in the future.

Don’t waste our time.


As a point of full disclosure and clarification, the Small Wars Foundation (of which SWJ is a part) has received funding in the past and the two founders have managed to "pay" themselves from time to time. That said, those founders, Dave and Bill, after more than five years are seriously in the red and our funding has just managed to keep the lights on in terms of operating costs and paying for a major upgrade to our capabilities. Those two founders are also without real "day jobs" currently so we are quickly approaching critical mass at SWJ - Dave D.