Small Wars Journal
  • "We will ensure Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon -- ever."
    -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • “1,500 to 2,000 - The U.S. estimate for the number of Islamic State fighters currently operating in Afghanistan, believed to be half the level it was 18 months ago.”
    -- Wall Street Journal
  • “You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.”
    -- Leon Trotsky
  • “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
    -- President Trump’s Letter to Kim Jong Un
  • “Without a sound strategy, the most brilliant generals, the most well-equipped troops, the most high-tech equipment, fine tactics - none of that works unless your strategy, your framework for what you’re doing, can actually tie ways and means together.”
    -- Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis

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A member of the Army 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, pauses to honor a fallen soldier during the annual Flags In ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, 24 May 2018. Photo: Cliff Owen/Associated Press.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

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by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 12:23am | 0 comments
Mexico’s General Election will be held on 1 July 2018. This year’s election will include the Presidential election for the new Sexenio as well as for 128 members of the Senate and 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies. State and local elections are also being held for 8 governors, the head of government for Mexico City, and a variety of municipal officials, including mayors, municipal judges, and council members. A significant number of politicians and candidates have been killed in election-related attacks from organized crime groups in the build up to the election.
by Donald C. Bolduc | Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:31am | 0 comments
This article is in response to feedback on my previous “Small Wars Journal” article “Going Back to the Future: It is Time for Change in Afghanistan”. I want to thank all that took the time to comment and for their insightful thoughts and feedback.
by Douglas A. Livermore | Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:21am | 0 comments
Currently, USG strategy addresses Salafi jihadists primarily as a terrorist threat and is predominantly reliant on military and law enforcement efforts to kill or capture combatants. As a result, the Salafi jihadist threat has only grown worse as jihadists now control more territory and have experienced an exponential growth in the number of devoted adherents.
by Robert C. Hodges | Thu, 05/24/2018 - 9:26am | 2 comments
This paper evaluates the current and growing Islamic terrorist threat in North Africa and related concerns for U.S. National Security and U.S. interests in the region. By first assessing the history, capabilities, and goals of these foreign terrorist organizations in North Africa, the focus of the paper will include a broad look into the spread of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda into North Africa.
by Robert Muggah | Wed, 05/23/2018 - 4:50pm | 0 comments
Paraphrasing the Greek dramatist Aeschylus, in war, terrorism and crime, truth is the first casualty. While a proper accounting of the human toll of organized violence is critical to achieving justice and stability, it is a tricky endeavor. Part of the problem is that there are few people or institutions actually keeping track of the dead. In some of the most conflict-, terrorist- and crime-prone countries and cities, there may be no data collection systems in place at all.
by Richard H. Gross | Wed, 05/23/2018 - 6:52am | 0 comments
Debate regarding the nature of American involvement in Afghanistan has been a constant since 9/11. I have watched with more than usual interest since making 3 trips to the Afghan-Pak border in the late 1980’s. My purpose for making those trips was twofold. As a pediatric orthopaedist, I wished to help with the care of children in that region, and wanted to increase my understanding of “what’s going on”.
by Allyson Christy | Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:26am | 0 comments
This assessment emphasises diplomatic posturing and dubious foreign policies that have overlapped with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s incremental authoritarianism. The analysis begins with a review of earlier contexts.
by Jeff Goodson | Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:23pm | 1 comment
Only a few countries still rely principally on foreign aid to generate economic growth. Afghanistan is one, but it too will have to increasingly rely on its ability to attract investment and generate internal capital flows. Because promoting foreign investment is an essential element of economic growth strategies, the new lessons learned report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)—"Private Sector Development and Economic Growth: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan"—is important.
by Keith Benedict, by William Folinusz | Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:30am | 0 comments
Cadet Command provides the preeminent holistic developmental experience for mid-grade officers and senior non-commissioned officers. Away from the “flagpole”, and in an unfamiliar and public environment, leaders arise. More importantly, mentors are forged. The Army benefitted from a chance encounter (resulting in a lifelong relationship) between Fox Conner and Dwight Eisenhower. Over the course of three years, they discussed military history, the future of warfare, and challenges inherent with coalition warfare.
by John Dreyer | Sun, 05/20/2018 - 9:55am | 1 comment
Advising is a duty that has few set factors in what makes success or failure. Above all, effective advisors need to know what has worked in the past though there is little guarantee that past methods will work on future missions. Advisors need to be able to improvise to drive towards a successful mission. This is not to say that sending undertrained advisors is acceptable. Indeed, advisors need a solid bedrock of training with language, culture and history of their host states. The newly created Army Security Force Assistance Brigades is a very solid start to address these issues.

Blog Posts

by CTC Sentinel | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 2:00am | 0 comments
Continue on for a link to the May issue's articles.
by Voice of America | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 12:16am | 0 comments
U.S. efforts to combat terrorists based on the African continent are running into a myriad of problems, perhaps none so vexing, or dangerous, as the constantly shifting alliances and aims of the terrorist fighters themselves. No longer beholden to one group or ideology, or even to the highest bidder, these terror operatives are steadily blurring the lines dividing one group from another.
by The New York Times | Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:54am | 0 comments
"The details of the Feb. 7 firefight were gleaned from interviews and documents newly obtained by The New York Times. They provide the Pentagon’s first public on-the-ground accounting of one of the single bloodiest battles the American military has faced in Syria since deploying to fight the Islamic State."
by Keith Nightingale | Thu, 05/24/2018 - 9:45pm | 0 comments
Who are we and what are we all about?
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 05/24/2018 - 9:38pm | 0 comments
by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction | Thu, 05/24/2018 - 10:36am | 0 comments
Today, SIGAR released its fourth lessons learned report, entitled "Stabilization: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan," examining the U.S. government's efforts to stabilize Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017. At 9:30am EST, Inspector General John F. Sopko spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. to mark the report's launch. Following the address, General John R. Allen facilitated a discussion.
by | Thu, 05/24/2018 - 8:26am | 0 comments
“The head of Army Training and Doctrine Command said recently that the service will have to depend on high-tech simulations to prepare soldiers and leaders for the challenges they will face in complex, megacity warfare. Army leaders are certain that future conflicts will occur in large urban areas, known as megacities -- a reality that is forcing senior leaders to rethink how the service will prepare for this new type of warfare.”
by DoD News | Tue, 05/22/2018 - 5:55pm | 0 comments
The coalition training effort in Iraq is all about “making a good force better,” said Italian army Brig. Gen. Roberto Vannacci, the deputy commanding general for training for Operation Inherent Resolve's Joint Forces Land Component Command in Iraq.
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 05/22/2018 - 2:42pm | 0 comments
"FARAH, Afghanistan—The weekend visit by a high-level delegation from Kabul to this now calm provincial capital in western Afghanistan promised to be a victory lap of sorts, after the Taliban were driven from the city following two days of fierce fighting last week."
by Associated Press | Mon, 05/21/2018 - 6:47pm | 0 comments
“The Trump administration’s revamped Afghanistan strategy has made little progress against the Taliban insurgency, leaving the country a ‘dangerous and volatile’ place nearly 17 years after the U.S. invaded, a government watchdog report said Monday.”