Small Wars Journal
  • “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)
  • “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
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    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • "In 1991 the Gulf War showed everyone how not to fight us, but the 2003 invasion of Iraq showed everybody how to fight us."
    -- David Kilcullen
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin

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"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

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 Alma Keshavarz | Mon, 09/14/2020 - 5:55pm | 0 comments
There are a variety of definitions for hybrid warfare. Some are using the concept more haphazardly while others are applying a number of classifications. In 2005, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis identified hybrid wars as a blending of modes of warfare.  This SWJ Book Review assesses Orenstein's analysis and Mattis's construct of hybrid war.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Tue, 09/08/2020 - 7:40pm | 0 comments
An MS-13 leader in El Salvador—Armando Eliú Melgar Díaz (a.k.a. “Blue” or “Clipper”)—has been indicted on terrorism charges for his role as the Corredor (Leader) of the gang’s United States East Coast Program. The indictment, by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ), represents the first ever charging of an MS-13 member for ‘material support to terrorists’ along with other terrorism related offenses in addition to the more traditional racketeering (RICO) and narcotics trafficking charges. It also provides detailed information about the East Coast Program’s command and control (C2) structure and links to El Salvadoran elements of the gang while describing identified US MS-13 cliques and their geographic distribution.
by H I Sutton | Mon, 08/31/2020 - 7:38pm | 0 comments
This open source intelligence (OSINT) report documents the development of narco-submarines in Spanish waters. These vessels, known as LPVs (Low Profile Vessels) or alternatively SPSS (Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible) vessels, are proliferating globally. These 'narco-submarines' now include three types: Fully Submersible Vessels (FSVs), Low Profile Vessels (LPVs), and hybrid Low Profile Vessels/Go-Fast Vessels (LPV/GFVs).
by Anibal Serrano | Sun, 08/30/2020 - 10:29pm | 1 comment
Eighteenth Street (18th Street) is a gang originating in the Pico-Union District of Los Angeles. It is one of the gangs frequently mentioned in a transnational context and often referred to as a mara—a type of sophisticated gang—due to its presence in El Salvador and other parts of Central America. Eighteenth Street is known as 18th Street, Barrio 18, Calle 18, Mara 18, and M-18 in its various locations. This article summarizes its origins and national and transnational migration/diffusion.
by Nathan P. Jones, by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 08/17/2020 - 10:30pm | 0 comments
José Antonio Yépez Ortiz (aka “El Marro”) was arrested by elements of the Mexican Army (Sedena) in Guanajuato on Sunday, 2 August 2020. “El Marro,” which means the sledgehammer or mallet, is the leader of the Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL). The CSRL are widely known for their role as ‘huachicoleros’ or participants in the illicit fuel trade. The CSRL has been embattled for the past year as government forces sought its leader’s arrest and it fought against its rival the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) for control of Guanajuato’s illicit economy.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Tue, 08/04/2020 - 9:16pm | 0 comments
A facção (drug trafficking faction) in Rio de Janeiro led by Álvaro Malaquias Santa Rosa, known as Peixão (Big Fish), is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to consolidate control over a group of favelas (slums) in the Northern Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The result is a complex of five favelas: Cidade Alta, Vigário Geral, Parada de Lucas, Cinco Bocas, and Pica-Pau known as the "Complexo de Israel" (Israel Complex or Network of Israel). The favelas comprising the “Complexo de Israel” have a combined population of about 134,000 inhabitants. Peixão’s gang employs a mix of religious imagery and targeted confessional violence to exert territorial control and dominate the illicit market.
by Tim Nichols | Sun, 08/02/2020 - 5:53pm | 3 comments
This paper discusses how our special operations professionals should transition from two decades of counter-terrorist operations to emerging great-power threats. Nichols argues that there are some significant areas of mis-alignment in terms of training and resources, and that senior leaders should address this.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by Juan Ricardo Gómez Hecht | Fri, 07/31/2020 - 6:40pm | 0 comments
On Monday, 20 July 2020, suspected members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) attacked a military police guards at a prison—la Peniteciaría Nacional de Támara—north of Tegucigalpa, according to the Instituto Nacional Penitenciaro (INP – National Penitentiary Institute). The attack, by prison inmates, involved firearms (assault rifles and pistols, as well as grenades). One sergeant received firearms injuries.
by Elina Driscoll | Sun, 07/26/2020 - 12:37pm | 1 comment
This paper explores the 1994-1996 Chechen War, which was the first large-scale military conflict involving post-Soviet Russia and played a crucial role in reshaping Russia's military and political strategy. The war, also known as the First Chechen War, resulted in the unexpected victory of Chechen insurgents, who managed to defeat the better equipped Russians due to their skillful use of guerrilla tactics, clever use of geography and urban warfare, and deep understanding of Russia's political and military vulnerabilities.
by Daniel Harris | Sat, 07/25/2020 - 10:06am | 0 comments
Although since 2009 the Pakistani military has partially shifted from its conventional force posture to a modern COIN approach in its conflict with the TTP insurgency, coercive tactics are still employed today. As a result of their initial tactics and current human rights abuses, the military succeeded in routing TTP strongholds but failed to address the insurgency’s root-grievances, alienating the population and ensuring post-conflict regional insecurity.

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 10/01/2020 - 10:24am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 10/01/2020 - 8:23am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 09/30/2020 - 12:59pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 09/30/2020 - 12:58pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 09/29/2020 - 10:41am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 09/29/2020 - 9:31am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 09/28/2020 - 11:15am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 09/28/2020 - 10:41am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 09/27/2020 - 12:02pm | 1 comment
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 09/26/2020 - 11:29am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 09/26/2020 - 11:12am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 09/25/2020 - 11:33am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 09/25/2020 - 10:16am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 09/24/2020 - 10:35am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 09/24/2020 - 10:33am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.