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A Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams main battle tank fires its main gun during a pre-deployment training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, on 9 November 2018. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck.

"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 Colette Rausch, by Tina Luu | Fri, 11/16/2018 - 6:18am | 2 comments
If we want to increase the chances of our missions succeeding, we must first understand the complexity of what we are dealing with and plan accordingly. Moreover, we need to treat planning not as a one-time activity but as an ongoing, iterative affair that is responsive to the continual and multifaceted changes characteristic of complex crises.
by Franklin C. Annis | Wed, 11/14/2018 - 5:36am | 2 comments
Via The Cove - The good news is that the rise of the independent producers of PME might be the solution to “fill the gap” between the credentialed “official” military training and the educational opportunities that soldiers really need.
by Falko Ernst | Tue, 11/13/2018 - 8:28am | 0 comments
This essay is an excerpt from a longer field investigation conducted by Falko Ernst in Michoacán in 2015. The author met with this sicario four times to interview him about his life story. The full story was originally published as “The Life and Death of a Mexican Hitman” on 17 October 2018 by the International Crisis Group.
by Salem Solomon | Mon, 11/12/2018 - 4:29am | 2 comments
The Central African Republic might seem like an unusual venue for Russia’s evolving strategy in Africa. The CAR doesn’t boast Ethiopia’s booming economy or Angola’s deep oil reserves. It lacks a developed mining industry like Zambia or a strategic location like Djibouti.
by Alma Keshavarz | Sun, 11/11/2018 - 5:16pm | 0 comments
Mexico’s cartels have become a global problem. From the manufacture and sale of drugs, to human trafficking, turf wars, among other criminal acts, narcos have an international footprint. Ioan Grillo’s "El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency", is an account of how Mexico’s cartels were once drug smugglers who later radically transformed into “paramilitary death squads”
by Marc W.D. Tyrrell | Fri, 11/09/2018 - 4:49pm | 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 Army News Service | Thu, 11/08/2018 - 11:23am | 0 comments
Now based at the New Kabul Compound in the middle of the country's capital city, SGT Zabi Abraham is one of the most impactful advisors within the brigade's 5th Battalion. Often, he is at the battalion commander's side, translating conversations between him and senior Afghan leaders.
by Karl Umbrasas | Thu, 11/08/2018 - 10:40am | 2 comments
Mass hysteria may occur within cohesive groups that share information. The nature of twenty-first century media, coupled with frank information manipulation, may create conditions favorable for mass hysterical reactions.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Wed, 11/07/2018 - 11:34am | 2 comments
Trump and his enablers do enough damage in America and to their direct targets, but the indirect effects are also quite serious, not least of all in the Middle East. Two very current, sad examples are Saudi Arabia and Israel.
by Larry Kay | Tue, 11/06/2018 - 12:02pm | 1 comment
Some would consider it incredulous to believe that thoughts could possibly be the cause of so much pain and grief in the world. Disappointingly, they are not trying hard enough to solve the problem and fail to recognize that the history of the world is indeed a history of thoughts, shaped by ideas before it is even shaped by events.

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 11/19/2018 - 8:08am | 0 comments
ML Cavanaugh for the Salt Lake Tribune - "Why go 'over there'? We should first note the vast, impersonal forces that drove Taylor to Afghanistan. Over time, American political consensus has led us into both a commitment in Afghanistan and avoidance of conscription. We also face a post-9/11 global resource-to-requirements challenge that has led us to make operational use of the reserve components. That demand is what pulled a major from the Utah Army National Guard to Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Sun, 11/18/2018 - 5:06pm | 0 comments
The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation says despite challenges and difficulties he is “cautiously optimistic or hopeful” about facilitating an inter-Afghan peace dialogue to end the 17-year war.
by Associated Press | Sun, 11/18/2018 - 1:04pm | 0 comments
“The Taliban have held three days of talks with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Afghan insurgent group has a political office, a Taliban official and another individual close to the group said Sunday.”
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 11/17/2018 - 8:26pm | 0 comments
Afghanistan Times - "The National Security Council (NSC) has directed the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) to accelerated counter-insurgency operations across the country to curb civilian and ANDSF causalities. The instruction has made when the Taliban insurgents intensified attacking security forces, in which civilians suffered as well."
by Voice of America | Sat, 11/17/2018 - 7:55pm | 0 comments
"In A Private War, Oscar-nominated actress Rosamund Pike transforms herself into Colvin, a gritty, fierce, inquisitive American journalist who dedicated her life to reporting on atrocities around the world."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 11/16/2018 - 7:30am | 0 comments
"An important upcoming milestone for Afghanistan’s Western-backed democracy and a separate, crucial chance to settle the country’s 17-year war appear to be crashing into each other."
by Military Times, by Voice of America | Fri, 11/16/2018 - 6:16am | 1 comment
"U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is cutting hundreds of U.S. troops from Africa so he can use those resources for potential future conflicts with Russia and China. Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Candice Tresch told VOA the move will cut roughly 700 counterterrorism troops and their enablers from West Africa. That is about 10 percent of U.S. Africa Command's presence on the continent."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 11/16/2018 - 6:14am | 0 comments
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described the deployment to the border as “great training” and told active-duty soldiers in Texas not to pay attention to the news coverage of the operation because they would “go nuts.”
by The New York Times | Fri, 11/16/2018 - 6:08am | 0 comments
"It’s a freezing, snowy day on the border between Estonia and Russia. Soldiers from the two nations are on routine border patrol, each side accompanied by an autonomous weapon system, a tracked robot armed with a machine gun and an optical system that can identify threats, like people or vehicles."
by The Hoover Institution | Thu, 11/15/2018 - 2:48pm | 0 comments
Continue on for a Hoover Institution Interview with Former National Security Advisor H.R, McMaster and Former Afghan Ambassador to China Janan Mosazai.