Small Wars Journal
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein
  • “With no other security forces on hand, U.S. military was left to confront, almost alone, an Iraqi insurgency and a crime rate that grew worse throughout the year, waged in part by soldiers of the disbanded army and in part by criminals who were released from prison.”
    -- John Spratt
  • “Tunnel systems and irregular urban warfare are essentially advanced methods of cover and concealment. Given that the mission of the infantry is to “locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver,” if the enemy can prevent us from locating him or closing with him, it will be nearly impossible for us to destroy him.”
    -- William Birdzell
  • "It is easier to get permission to put a hellfire on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put a message between his ears."
    -- Anonymous PSYOP Officer (H/T Dave Maxwell)
  • “For Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle, founders and editors of Small Wars Journal. They gave the counterguerrilla underground a home, at a time when misguided leaders banned even the word ‘insurgency,’ though busily losing to one. Scholars, warriors, and agitators, Dave and Bill laid the foundation for battlefield success: our generation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
    -- David Kilcullen ('Counterinsugency' Dedication)

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement

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Now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.

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A US Soldier wearing the Syrian Kurdish Women's Protection Units badge sits on top of a U.S. military vehicle on a road in the town of Tal Tamr, on 20 October 2019, after pulling out of their largest base in northern Syria.

"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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Journal

by Louis René Beres | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 6:36pm | 0 comments
At first glance, the main argument here may appear counter-intuitive. It suggests that the United States should become less concerned about achieving any future military victories than optimizing its overall national security. Such a sensible argument would already have appeared orthodox to Carl von Clausewitz. After all, this foundational military strategist's "On War" assessed every international conflict from the irreducible standpoint of maximizing a determinative "political object."
by Dave Dilegge | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:33am | 1 comment
ICYMI item from 2003. General Anthony Zinni (USMC Ret); experienced in the theory, planning, and conduct of Military Operations Other Than War as well as a leading proponent of cultural intelligence; developed the following considerations for humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement operations.
by Cody Mattern | Sun, 10/20/2019 - 5:41am | 0 comments
While still brutal, the Irish War of Independence ended with relatively little loss of life (some estimate that less than 2,000 lives were lost during the conflict) in order to secure the independence of three million people. In order to understand the result of this war and its enduring nature, it becomes incumbent upon us to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants in order to understand the factors that led to its conclusion.
by Daniel Moriarty, by Kevin Peckenpaugh | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 4:45am | 1 comment
This paper will begin by establishing definitions for key terms used throughout it; with a subject matter steeped in both Army and Navy terminology, it is critical to ensure shared understanding. Next, we will discuss first-hand experience with the challenges of maritime CAA, through several examples that have been conducted by A/83d. Following this review, we will discuss a proposed role for CA forces conducting CAA in a maritime environment. Using existing doctrine and academic research as a foundation, our analysis seeks to provide meaningful recommendations on how CA can support maritime forces through targeted CAA in both littoral and maritime environments. Lastly, we will review our analysis and summarize recommendations for the force. This paper is not intended to demand what maritime CAA should or shouldn’t be. Instead, we seek to offer ideas of what maritime CAA could be and hope to generate further discussion on a topic that is increasingly relevant.
by Alexander Boroff | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 3:27am | 0 comments
Utilizing a future fictional war against a near-peer adversary, reconnaissance and security fundamentals are presented in the manner of “The Defence of Duffer’s Drift.” Unique in addressing both the interconnectedness of reconnaissance and security and tying them to concrete examples of failure, this paper attempts to present plausible ways to integrate said concepts into an iterative tactical decision-making exercise.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 10/16/2019 - 3:56pm | 0 comments
Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) has been increasingly targeted from 2014 onwards by fuel thieves (ladrões de combustível). The gangs (gangues) involved include the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC or First Capital Command) and milícias (militias). A similar pattern of large-scale petroleum theft has been taking place in Mexico since at least 2006.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 7:28pm | 3 comments
China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.
by Matthew E. Miller | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:43pm | 0 comments
Offensive cyber, EW, and counterspace operations against sustainment enterprise could create a ‘shockwave’ across the theater of operations. The TSC G-2 sections need to emphasize analysis and collection against these multi-domain threats to the sustainment forces from both inside and outside of theater.
by Robert Boudreau, by Don Newberry Jr., by Richard Phillips | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:34am | 1 comment
For the last hundred years, where diplomacy has failed and warfare has resulted, CA has repeatedly been revitalized and integrated with military operations during wartime. However, on the present-day battlefield, where open conflict is decreasing but “gray zone” activities are increasing, CA personnel should be utilized to undermine U.S. competitors’ attempts to build military, diplomatic, economic, and informational advantages in regions of U.S. interest.
by Keith Nightingale | Sun, 10/13/2019 - 2:45pm | 0 comments
With each generation, its soldiers are issued the new cutting-edge weapons to defend or destroy as required. From rocks to spears to nuclear weapons, mankind has progressed in the technology of killing. It has permitted its users to evolve from the highly personal closeup application to the most distant and dispassionate destruction from afar. However, one combatant tool always remains resident regardless of the evolution of time and generations and that is the power of thought.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Tue, 10/22/2019 - 2:14am | 0 comments
The United States is keeping some troops near oil fields in northeastern Syria to protect them from being captured by Islamic State, defense chief Mark Esper said Monday.
by Associated Press | Tue, 10/22/2019 - 2:06am | 0 comments
"Turkey’s president is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in talks crucial to the outcome of Turkey’s latest incursion into northern Syria, and to the broader Syrian war."
by Military Times | Tue, 10/22/2019 - 2:04am | 0 comments
"Preserving the Syrian Democratic Forces is key to preventing an Islamic State resurgence after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, according to the former special envoy to the counter-ISIS coalition."
by Voice of America | Tue, 10/22/2019 - 2:01am | 0 comments
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ramping up pressure on his Western allies, as the end of a U.S.-brokered cease-fire approaches with Syrian Kurdish rebels. Erdogan's escalating rhetoric comes ahead of a pivotal meeting Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
by Military Times | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:46pm | 0 comments
"... the U.S. partnership with the SDF has been a success story beyond all expectation. Due largely to the SDF’s efforts, the U.S. was able to expunge the physical caliphate from Syria at an incredibly low cost in casualties, and — until two weeks ago — maintain a tenuous stability along the border region with Turkey. At every step the SDF has aligned their actions with U.S. objectives by avoiding where possible confrontation with either the Syrian Regime or Turkey, and by advancing on Raqqa, at a time when their own rear lines were threatened by both armies."
by Voice of America | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 1:43pm | 0 comments
The top American commander in Afghanistan revealed Monday the size of U.S. troop force in the country has quietly been reduced by 2,000 over the last year, insisting remaining military personnel are still capable of reaching their stated objectives.
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 1:32pm | 0 comments
"Civilians in Kurdish areas hurled rotten fruit and insults at a convoy of U.S. military vehicles that crossed from northern Syria into Iraq early Monday, marking a dramatic drawdown to an American presence in Syria to combat Islamic State."
by Al-Monitor | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 1:49am | 0 comments
"A convoy of US troops and equipment departed northeast Syria today, a spokesman for the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS) said, further winnowing the American presence in the war-torn country as a White House-brokered cease-fire appeared to be on shaky ground."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters withdrew from a key border town in northeastern Syria, fulfilling a part of the cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the U.S., as a large convoy of American troops also prepared to pull out of the country and its protracted conflict."
by Associated Press | Sun, 10/20/2019 - 3:22pm | 0 comments
"Kurdish fighters and civilians began evacuating from a besieged Syrian town on Sunday, the first pullback under the U.S.-brokered cease-fire deal, opening the way to a broader withdrawal of the Kurdish-led forces from parts of the Turkish border."
by Associated Press | Sun, 10/20/2019 - 2:17pm | 0 comments
"U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived Sunday in Afghanistan, where stalled peace talks with the Taliban and persistent violent attacks by the insurgent group and Islamic State militants have complicated the Trump administration’s pledge to withdraw more than 5,000 American troops."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 10/20/2019 - 4:08am | 0 comments
"All of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops ordered to leave northeastern Syria will move to western Iraq and will conduct U.S. operations against the Islamic State extremist group from there, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said."
by The New York Times | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 6:36pm | 0 comments
"Sporadic fighting continued in northern Syria on Friday, casting uncertainty over a U.S.-brokered truce, as conflicting reports emerged about whether Kurdish forces were retreating or hunkering down and whether Turkish troops were advancing or holding fire."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 4:44pm | 0 comments
"Turkey shelled Ras al-Ain in northeastern Syria in violation of its cease-fire, Kurdish forces said, preventing evacuations from the border town at the center of a fight testing the viability of a pact negotiated with the U.S."
by Voice of America | Sat, 10/19/2019 - 4:24pm | 0 comments
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) confirmed Saturday it had delayed the planned release of preliminary results of the Sept. 28 presidential polls. The commission's chief, Hawa Alam Nuristani, made the widely anticipated announcement at a late evening news conference in Kabul on the day the commission was supposed to officially deliver first results.