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
  • “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
  • "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

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Sea-Air Formation - The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan leads a formation of ships assigned to Carrier Strike Group 5 as Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and Navy F/A-18 Hornets pass overhead for a photo exercise in the Philippine Sea, 17 September 2018, as part of Valiant Shield 2018. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erwin Miciano.

"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 Gary Anderson | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 2:51am | 0 comments
Except for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, America has been fighting small, counterinsurgency wars since 9-11. This begs the question of whether fighting small wars inhibits or enhances our readiness to transition to large, high-intensity conflicts against peer or near peer competitors? The answer is complicated and somewhat ambiguous.
by Douglas A. Livermore | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:40am | 0 comments
Competing visions of future warfare invariably include some version of robotic fighting machines operating either alongside, or in place of, humans. Each of the world's major powers are pursuing development of such automated killers, each looking to grant their robotic minions varying degrees of autonomy. The decisions made concerning the future employment of such systems are driving today's policymaking and research / development efforts.
by B.K. Schaefer | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:44am | 2 comments
COIN strategy in the Philippines has focused on tactical, reactionary successes against insurgent groups, and failed to build the appropriate political and economic capacity to effectively address the grievances of the local population. Without a coordinated, multi-faceted COIN strategy, incidents of violence will continue to occur on Mindanao as the population drifts further away from government control and into the influence of insurgent organizations.
by Jon Cederquist, by Anne Gibbon, by Richard Lum | Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:32am | 3 comments
Special operations forces (SOF) will once again find itself out ahead of others, operating in ambiguity and uncertainty as the world’s players compete to establish new rules and new structures. One of the key challenges for SOF is that, rather than just being tactical, this time the ambiguity and uncertainty is strategic. If SOF is to continue to be effective during this time of transition, then they must rely on their collective ability to perceive weak signals and adapt more rapidly than our competitors.
by Abigail Gage | Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:12am | 1 comment
The United States’ efforts in the GWOT have, thus far, prevented major terrorist organizations from conducting a second 9/11-style attack. Pursuing a strategy that shifts away from military engagement and towards stronger domestic policy will save trillions in taxpayer dollars, prevent future terrorist attacks, and help end the GWOT.
by Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen | Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:21am | 1 comment
This summer, Australian Special Forces have been accused of War Crimes that have caused wide-spread outrage. However, although the accusations echo eerily close to those previously raised against British Special Forces, the responses of the two nations could not be more disparate.
by Sarwar J. Minar | Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:14am | 3 comments
The book contributes to the conceptual development and understanding of the idea of grand strategy. Making grand strategy practically applicable remains one of the major contributions of the book. However, in trying to assist busy people to get practical benefit, the book simplified grand strategy as ‘problem solving method’ but all the objectives sought need not necessarily be problems.
by Erik Grossman | Thu, 09/13/2018 - 12:29am | 0 comments
The inherent paradox in peace creation in such a violent and corrupt environment is that it requires violence and corruption to accomplish. The levels of which both must be employed may be unconscionable in the utopic image of liberal governance, but in such conflict-ridden states, mirroring this Western image should not be the immediate objective. Instead, measures should be directed at securing a peaceful state through all means available.
by Matt Stevens | Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:53am | 0 comments
Over the fourteen months from September 2016 to November 2017, the Iraqi Security Forces wrestled their nation from the clutches of the Islamic State in some of the fiercest and most brutal urban combat experienced since World War Two. In May 2017, the Australian Special Operations Task Group Rotation VII took over the great work of previous rotations in advising, assisting and enabling the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, our primary partners.
by Ronald Sprang | Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:09am | 3 comments
This case study for analysis focuses on Russian operations in Ukraine from 2013-2016. Russian decision-making in Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to use cyber and information warfare to influence operations to support military and political objectives, and continued preparation of the cyber environment to create a range of options for future action.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:36am | 0 comments
U.S. counterterrorism officials say despite major strides in combating and regaining territory from terror groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida, the terror landscape has grown more complex. "ISIS, al-Qaida, and their affiliates have proven to be determined, resilient and adaptable," U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said Wednesday, using an acronym for Islamic State. "They have adjusted to heightened counterterrorism pressure in Iraq, Syria, Somalia and elsewhere."
by DoD News | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:34am | 0 comments
"The Close Combat Lethality Task Force is gathering information from the services, industry and allies before making recommendations to Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, the senior Army enlisted representative to the task force said Wednesday. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Army Sgt. Maj. Jason Wilson explained the process for the task force, which Mattis set up in March."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:31am | 0 comments
"Afghanistan will hold two crucial elections in the next seven months: a parliamentary vote in October and a presidential election in April. The outcomes could help sustain a steady course for the teenage democracy, and jockeying is under way among political factions. But a rise in organized political violence threatens to taint the elections and derail the nation’s progress toward stable governance."
| Wed, 09/19/2018 - 11:23am | 0 comments
Federal News Radio Interview - "The Army is debating whether to kill off a unit at the Army War College known as the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. Army Secretary Mark Esper wants it gone because the service is composed of warriors, not peacekeepers, but Army brass want to keep it. Tammy Schultz, professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College, argues for keeping it because it protects American interests and saves service members’ lives."
by The Washington Post | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 2:16am | 0 comments
"Now it is the Islamic month of Muharram, a sacred time for the Shiites that peaks Thursday with Ashura, marking the death of revered Shiite martyr Hussein in 680 A.D. It is also a date favored by the extremist Islamic State group to unleash terrorist attacks against a community it sees as heretical."
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 1:51am | 0 comments
“The United Nations said leaders of Myanmar’s military should be prosecuted for genocide of the Rohingya minority in a landmark report Tuesday that criticized the world body’s own agencies for not doing enough to confront the government over human rights. The 444-page report provides the most detailed and haunting look yet at the massacres and other actions taken against the Rohingya.”
by The Washington Post | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:36am | 0 comments
“Syrians disagreed Tuesday about what a new Russia-Turkey deal means, casting into doubt whether it will ultimately prevent a potentially devastating war for control of the Syrian province of Idlib. The deal announced Monday has been broadly welcomed as an opportunity to forestall the full-scale Syrian government offensive against Idlib that has been widely feared, averting the humanitarian catastrophe it was expected to trigger.”
by The New York Times | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:32am | 0 comments
"The peace accords signed in 2016 by then-President Juan Manuel Santos and the rebels were meant to bring an end to five decades of fighting that left at least 220,000 dead and nearly 6 million people displaced from their homes. Behind the agreement, though, loomed a fear: That many of the thousands of fighters granted amnesty under the pact might sour on civilian life and pick up arms again."
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:30am | 0 comments
“Islamic State is staging a resurgence in chaotic Libya, claiming more than a dozen attacks in the North African country this year and threatening to disrupt the flow of oil from one of the world’s most significant suppliers. The group’s re-emergence comes two years after Libyan forces backed by U.S. air power dislodged the extremist group from its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte, and it erodes one of the signature victories in the yearslong U.S.-led military campaign against the militants.”
by The Times | Tue, 09/18/2018 - 10:03am | 0 comments
“President Putin and President Erdogan have struck an eleventh-hour deal to avert an imminent assault and bloodbath in Idlib, the last major rebel territory in Syria. The two leaders hammered out a deal to create a demilitarised buffer zone between rebel and regime forces in the northwestern Syrian province during nearly two hours of talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi yesterday.”