Small Wars Journal
  • “The American foreign policy establishment is notoriously forgiving — of itself. Rarely are policymakers held to account when they offer bad advice, such as supporting a disastrous war in Iraq or helping organize torture or assassinations.”
    -- Daniel Bessner
  • "The essence of my message today is to say that when you look at the scale and the scope of this problem, without combating the ideology and the ideas, you will never defeat the extremism."
    -- Former UK PM Tony Blair
  • "War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality."
    -- Senator John McCain
  • “Once you turn enough corners, you're back where you started.”
    -- Unknown
  • “In the end, left to its own dynamics, the Long War could become a Forever War. It’s time we reshape our policies to prevent that from happening.”
    -- Joseph J. Collins

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Standing Watch - Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ivan Naranjo stands watch aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in the Mediterranean Sea on 10 October 2018. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan M. Breeden.

"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

Welcome. Small Wars Journal publishes original works from authentic voices across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We also link you to relevant goings on elsewhere.  Login with your SWJ Username to comment, or Register, it's free. You can start your own threads in the Small Wars Council discussion board, but note that the board requires a separate Council Username. Follow SWJ on Twitter @smallwars.


by Teun Voeten, by Maaike Engels | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 6:30am | 0 comments
This interview of “Edgar” was conducted by Voeten and Engels, CeReSo, Ciudad Juárez, October 2016. It is an excerpt from the PhD thesis from Teun Voeten, titled: The Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty. 274-276. See also: Maaike Engels and Teun Voeten, Sacrifice. Belgian Canvas TV, 2017.
by W. R. Baker | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 7:52am | 0 comments
The Easter Offensive of 1972, coming at the end of the Vietnam War, is usually an afterthought in most histories of the conflict, primarily because most U.S. troops had already left the country. This does a great disservice to the American and South Vietnamese militaries who remained, particularly to those killed or wounded in-action.
by R. Andrew Chesnut | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 8:09am | 0 comments
This essay has been written specifically for Small Wars Journal—El Centro as part of an ongoing Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán research project that will be published as a future eBook.
by William McHenry | Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:33am | 0 comments
President Trump seems to have accepted that the risks of withdrawal outweigh the costs of perpetuating a military commitment to a conflict without a coherent plan to end it. It is one of his more cynical foreign policy decisions, but it has many precedents throughout US history.
by Nicholas Mercurio | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:20am | 1 comment
Once we accept the fundamentally communicative purpose of terrorism, it becomes clear that strategic communication should be the preeminent tool in the counter-terrorism toolbox. The trouble is, the U.S.-led approach to counter-ISIS strategic communication is hamstrung by reliance on a flawed paradigm that I call narrative jamming. The good news is that there is a potential solution and it comes from an unlikely place: recent research on climate change communication.
by InSight Crime | Wed, 10/17/2018 - 1:16am | 0 comments
Reports that criminal groups in Colombia are increasingly recruiting migrants from Venezuela shows how these armed actors are taking advantage of those fleeing the neighboring country’s economic crisis in order to strengthen their criminal structures.
by Todd Johnson | Tue, 10/16/2018 - 12:13pm | 1 comment
Africa’s cities are an assault on the senses. They are filled with a flow of human activity that can appear equal parts vibrant and dystopian. One need only transit Lagos’s Third Mainland Bridge or Kinshasa’s Boulevard Lumumba to get a sense of this frenetic pace and the complex ecosystem of social and economic interaction that allows African urban dwellers to survive and even thrive.
by Gregory Bishop | Mon, 10/15/2018 - 12:46am | 0 comments
Exploring the expansion of the online learning model, this article examines how this expansion has influenced the military student. Looking at the online and for profit expansion and ensuing lull, the underlying reasoning for declining enrollment, increasing attrition, and non-completion rates among these schools are explored.
by Franklin C. Annis | Mon, 10/15/2018 - 12:33am | 0 comments
Long I have searched for the true virtues of manhood. While there are a tremendous number of philosophies that provide countless list of virtues to follow, like Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues or Aristotle’s Ethics, I wanted to find those at the very heart of manhood. What are the virtues that a man cannot dare to live without? Let us strip the flesh from the bone and find the virtues are the very marrow of manhood. What are the virtues that could see a man through combat, pull him out of poverty, and ensure success in a board room?
by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Travis Howard | Sun, 10/14/2018 - 12:19am | 0 comments
What lessons could strategic warfare masters tell us about 21st century insurgent cyber warfare, where superpowers could be brought low by small cells of cyber warriors with limited funding but lots of time? This article distills the wisdom of two military strategists: Chinese General and 6th century Taoist military philosopher Sun-tzu, and Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, Prussian general and theorist of psychological and political aspects of warfare as well as revolutionary thinkers such as Mao Tse-tung, Carlos Marighella, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Blog Posts

by The New York Times | Sun, 10/21/2018 - 12:08am | 0 comments
“The Khashoggi crisis has called attention to a largely overlooked Saudi-led war in Yemen. On a rare trip to the front line, we found Yemenis fighting and dying in a war that has gone nowhere.”
by Voice of America | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 12:00pm | 0 comments
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley strongly condemned Iran for its alleged recruitment and use of child soldiers in battlefields across the Middle East.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 9:24am | 1 comment
Bloody Week in Afghanistan Brings Back Memories of Never-Ending War by Amb. Jonathan S. Addleton at Global Atlanta - "Striking such a high-level security forum among senior military officials sent a strong message, both to the Afghan government and to the international community: We can strike anywhere and even the most senior of your military leaders cannot escape our reac"
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 6:24am | 0 comments
General Abdul Raziq, known to sport traditional garb and a mischievous smile, was nominally the police chief of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. But the charismatic 39-year-old was also one of the most powerful security and political figures in Afghanistan, and a formidable adversary to the Taliban in the militant group’s southern heartland.
by Associated Press | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 6:12am | 0 comments
“U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the killing of a powerful police chief in southern Afghanistan just days before national elections is unlikely to fundamentally weaken the security situation. Mattis commented on the attack in Kandahar during a break in meetings at an Asian security conference in Singapore.”
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 10/20/2018 - 5:54am | 0 comments
The run-up to Afghanistan’s October 20 parliamentary elections is taking its toll on the field. Ten candidates have been slain, two abducted, and four wounded -- both before and after the 20-day campaign period started on September 28, according to Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission.
by Stars & Stripes | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 9:37am | 0 comments
"Because of their importance in the war effort, Afghan pilots are targeted for assassination and often struggle to keep themselves and their families safe. Threats bring the war from the skies, where Kabul and the West have technological superiority, to the ground, where the Taliban and other militants use guerrilla tactics like ambush and murder."
by Voice of America | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 6:49am | 1 comment
U.S. officials said Tuesday they will keep working to stabilize areas they helped liberate from Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. With IS's so-called caliphate crumbled, the U.S. and its allies now seek long-term solutions for the region, emphasizing that the next phase will focus on providing local partners the means to ensure sustained stability in areas previously held by the terror group.
by The Modern War Institute | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 5:59am | 1 comment
"A consideration of partner nation incentives is central to the success of future advisory efforts, but to change these incentives advisers need the ability to provide and withhold resources in the field."
by The United States Institute of Peace | Fri, 10/19/2018 - 5:58am | 0 comments
"The stakes for this election are high. Not because parliament matters so much in a country where much of the political power is held by the executive branch. But they are a test run for the more critical presidential elections scheduled to be held six months later. If the parliamentary elections are plagued by major controversy the presidential election date could slip, and with it the fragile political stability that is needed to pursue an acceptable political settlement with the Taliban that the Trump administration’s South Asia strategy envisions."