Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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
  • “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”
    -- William Tecumseh Sherman
  • “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
    -- Douglas MacArthur
  • “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”
    -- Robert E. Lee

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100 Years - Military officials from the U.S., France and Germany have taken part in Memorial Day ceremonies at an American cemetery in northern France to mark the centennial of the Battle of Belleau Wood, a turning point in World War I and a key moment in Marine Corps history.

"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 Keith Nightingale | Sun, 05/27/2018 - 12:10pm | 1 comment
This year marks the 74th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. As time proceeds, the memories diminish and the significance ebbs into oblivion. There are occasional bursts of “remembrance” that capture a moment in time and permit some symbolic gesture for an historical event largely lost in time. This year, Presidents, Prime Ministers and the panoply of civilization will assemble on the week of the 6th of June to commemorate acts of long ago and to pledge fealty to that spirit and sacrifice.
by Nicholas Hargreaves-Heald | Sun, 05/27/2018 - 1:18am | 1 comment
Iranian unconventional warfare activities since 1982 have proved extensive. Their successes in Lebanon and Iraq came in the face of some of the world’s most significant military, economic, and political powers. In Syria, these successes culminated in a cunning (albeit simple) augmentation of their previous operational approach which allowed for a unified Expeditionary Force capable of executing complex military maneuvers.
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.

Blog Posts

by The Washington Post | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 5:51pm | 0 comments
“After seven years of war, Syrian government forces have taken full control of the area around their capital, Damascus, freeing up an overstretched military to move against the country’s few remaining rebel pockets. The battle for Damascus ended this week with an offensive against the Islamic State.”
by Military Times | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 5:23pm | 0 comments
“The Operation Inherent Resolve mission to defeat the Islamic State has picked up the tempo this month. On May 1, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, resumed major offensive operations in the middle Euphrates River valley, where ISIS holdouts are known to remain.”
by DoD News | Sat, 05/26/2018 - 1:28pm | 0 comments
"As we take time to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to reflect on how it affects me and highlight a few of the organizations that are important to veterans like me."
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.”