Small Wars Journal
  • “A paradox of war is that an enemy will attack a perceived weakness, so we cannot adopt a single preclusive form of warfare.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”
    -- General George S. Patton Jr.
  • “Despite the claims of some, counterinsurgency is no more dead than is conflict. Students of the latter continue to learn, adapting lessons from post-World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”
    -- Dr. Russell Glenn
  • “We’re already behind in adapting to the changed character of war today in so many ways.”
    -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - General Joseph Dunford
  • “The Joint Force must be ready and able to respond to numerous challenges across the full range of conflict including complex operations in peace and during war. This is not an easy task given the complexity of the projected operating environment.”
    -- Frank Hoffman

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Drop Zone - A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter departs from the drop zone after dropping service members into the ocean during helicopter casting training as part of the Rim of the Pacific exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on 9 July 2018. Canadian Armed Forces photo by Ordinary Seaman Justin Spinello.

"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 James Torrence | Mon, 07/16/2018 - 4:55am | 0 comments
The strengths of the current national security strategy in comparison to its two predecessors are: the comprehensive understanding of how the United States fits into the structure of the international system and the recognition that developing culture-specific solutions for state actors in the international system is better than forcing systems to conform to U.S. standards and values.
by Christopher Flaherty | Fri, 07/06/2018 - 10:42am | 0 comments
A dynamic field of weapons options available to terrorist, extremist or violent attackers, represent a spectrum. The use of highly complex weapons to the use of simple weaponization of common, and everyday items. The defence against these varied threats needs to follow an elastic set of options rather than a lineal progression from the simple to the complex external hardening of inner-city massed public events.
by Dustin E. Lawrence | Thu, 07/05/2018 - 7:35am | 0 comments
Last year, the author of this article participated in Operation Persistent Venture, a bilateral exchange program between the British and US Armies, during which he observed one class-cycle at the Platoon Commanders’ Division. He acted as a guest instructor throughout the PCBC, observing, assessing, and evaluating newly commissioned Second Lieutenants recently graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
by Reinier Bergema, by Lucie Kattenbroek | Wed, 07/04/2018 - 6:48am | 0 comments
There is a lack of clear causation between the holy month and terrorist attacks. Although individual months of Ramadan have been especially violent, the fact that they are rarely the most violent months of the year shows that to claim a clear causation is inaccurate.
by David Campbell, by Jesse McIntyre III | Wed, 07/04/2018 - 6:31am | 0 comments
This work intends to assess how the German military achieved in six and half weeks in 1940 what it could not accomplish in over four years of fighting a generation earlier.
by Claudia ElDib | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 5:50am | 0 comments
As of 2018, over half the world now lives in Dense Urban Areas (DUAs). DUAs are exactly what the label suggests; areas of high human population density that may or may not achieve megacity levels but share urban morphology characteristics such as GDP levels per capita, rate of demographic growth, and historical origins.
by Max Erdemandi | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 5:40am | 0 comments
The elections showed a fundamental intellectual flaw in the Turkish center and left parties that if they believed hard enough, if they traveled to more cities and drew larger crowds than Erdogan, and if they complained about how hard it is to run against a leader who utilizes all state resources to ensure his victory, they will be victorious at the end.
by James Torrence | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 5:12am | 2 comments
"Change by Design" and "Cad Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People" are two examples of creative thinking literature developed outside the Army that can inform Army leaders how to create a culture of innovation and develop unique approaches to solving problems. The Army must develop a professional reading list that includes diverse creative thinking resources if it wants leaders capable of adapting to and succeeding in complex operational environments.
by Spencer Phillips | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 3:20am | 0 comments
As the U.S. faces an increasingly complex and perilous security environment, it must be careful not to become too fixated on traditional threats like state actors, WMDs, and terrorism, while failing to acknowledge the dangers posed by global climate change.
by Jim Golby | Sun, 07/01/2018 - 3:19pm | 0 comments
Throughout most of human history, societies and governments have failed to maintain the balance between liberty and security. It is not something we should take for granted. If we do, we once again will have realized the worst fears of the Framers and that would be a “dire” consequence indeed.

Blog Posts

by The Washington Post | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 7:51pm | 0 comments
"Syrian rebels said Tuesday that they are taking part in a new round of surrender talks in the country’s southwest after an escalating military campaign displaced more than a quarter of a million people in just two weeks."
by DoD News | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 4:33pm | 0 comments
Covering events from Dec. 1 to May 31, the report was submitted in accordance with requirements in Section 1225 of the Fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act as amended by Sections 1231 and 1531 of the fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 NDAAs.
by The Modern War Institute | Tue, 07/03/2018 - 4:17pm | 0 comments
"How can the US military harness the power of tactical economics as a tool to consolidate gains? Updated doctrine, improved leader education, and stronger relationships with civilian researchers would provide a starting point, but there is no one right answer for employing tactical economics effectively across varied operating environment."
by The Modern War Institute | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 7:12am | 0 comments
"Both international and US law take as a basic premise the notion that it is possible, important, and reasonably straightforward to distinguish between war and peace, emergencies and normality, foreign and domestic, public and private, and so on."
by Politico | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 6:44am | 0 comments
"American special operations teams are playing a more direct role in military actions against suspected terrorists in Africa than the Pentagon has publicly acknowledged, planning and participating in combat raids by African troops in multiple countries including Somalia, Kenya, Tunisia and Niger, under a set of classified programs."
by The Times | Mon, 07/02/2018 - 6:24am | 0 comments
"Hundreds of Taliban fighters are receiving advanced training from special forces at military academies in Iran as part of a significant escalation of support for the insurgents, Taliban and Afghan officials have told The Times."
by Lawfare | Sun, 07/01/2018 - 4:04pm | 0 comments
"The definitive work on emerging technology and insurgency has yet be written, but two recent books offer suggestions for how the era of big data and AI will affect the United States’ modern conflicts."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 07/01/2018 - 12:32pm | 0 comments
"Members of the Army’s new 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade had traveled by mine-resistant vehicle to meet with Afghan forces on the southwestern outskirts of the country’s capital. In the face of repeated attacks, Afghan officials last year installed a hulking, door-frame-shaped scanner to search for bombs in passing trucks. But U.S. soldiers arrived to find the scanner broken and a line of frustrated truckers waiting with dozens of vehicles."
by Stars & Stripes | Sat, 06/30/2018 - 11:56am | 0 comments
“U.S. forces in Afghanistan conducted more than 20 airstrikes against the Taliban on Saturday after an unprecedented unilateral cease-fire ended. The strikes took place in Ghazni, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.”
by Voice of America | Sat, 06/30/2018 - 9:40am | 0 comments
"Afghan President Ashraf Ghani allowed national security forces Saturday to resume counterinsurgency operations, marking the end of an 18-day cease-fire with the Taliban. The government had unilaterally halted anti-Taliban operations in the country for a week, beginning two days before the June 15 annual Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr."