Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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)
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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 Frank Sobchak | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:41pm | 6 comments
Was the Capitol Riot America’s equivalent of the Reichstag Fire?  Or were the shots fired there more akin to those of Fort Sumter, presaging a second Civil War?  Making a comparison to other singular micro events in history is often problematic due to the many differences in each case.  But exploring the causes behind the revolt, especially the macro events that shaped the environment in which dissent, anger, and frustration have festered, is far easier.  The insurrection that played out across the offices and hallways of the U.S. Capitol was not just a reflection of the anger and seditious behavior of some  Americans, it was a symptom of the fissures wrought by the information revolution which has been tearing the fabric of global society apart for the last few decades. 
by Justin H. Leopold-Cohen  | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:17pm | 0 comments
   There has been considerable analysis on the competition between the United States, Russia, and China, and potential military conflict. These pieces tend to examine respective militaries’ firepower, troop numbers, hybrid capabilities, and other conventional measures, however, strategists ought to consider how these militaries are preparing for the consequences of climate change. The environment can shape matters at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels just as much as more traditional measures. Be it Napoleon choosing to retreat out of Russia rather than endure the harsh winter, World War II’s delayed D-Day Invasion and effects on allied airpower during the Battle of the Bulge, or visual challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan from sand and dust storms, which were even known to cause lung disease to servicemen after prolonged exposure.
by Ali Ozdogan | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:13pm | 0 comments
Several experts of terrorism including Daniel Byman and Hassan Hassan recently reported al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death . The last time he appeared in media was on September 11, when he published a video message about the nineteenth anniversary of the historic attack. If al-Zawahiri’s death is true, it inevitably arises the question about how his death impacts al-Qaeda.
by Paul Bailey | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:04pm | 0 comments
            The U.S. military continues to face terrorist threats from al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but is increasingly reorienting on great power competition (GPC), heralded by the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF), and the wider military, assert success in counter terrorism but also claim the need to better adapt for GPC, particularly against Russia and China. Although USSOF have successfully learned how to hunt down and kill terrorist leaders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden and others, a more comprehensive look at the U.S. fight against irregular-terrorist organizations reveals a bleak global strategic picture.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 11:08am | 0 comments
The National Security and National Defense Strategies prioritize great power competition and conflict.  The United States faces two revisionist powers, China and Russia, and two rogue powers, Iran and North Korea, and the enduring threat of global violent extremism.  These threats are likely to persist for decades to come and it will be up to the U.S. national security apparatus to deter, contain, cope, manage, and where possible, defeat these threats.
by Scott Fisher | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:45am | 0 comments
Traditionally, IO (Information Operations) doctrine would hold that a such a tweet is a measure of performance (MOP): criteria used to assess friendly actions that are tied to measuring task accomplishment (FM 3-13, pg. 8-4) – in other words, something we did, not an effect we created. Other common examples of MOPs include: the number of leaflets or handbills disseminated, number of broadcasts, the number of photos or videos taken or disseminated – all observable and measurable activities, but none that reflect a change in behavior by the target or target audience. Basically, we did something, but we’re not sure if it mattered.
by Alex Teynor | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:40am | 0 comments
Unilateral military actions by a state actor in the era of globalization and numerous international institutions receive harsh criticism and subject to strict moral, ethical, and legal review by the international community. The basis for this is that under the United Nations (UN) Charter, Chapter 1, all member states are, in theory, guaranteed “sovereign equality” and the right to “self-determination." When a member state commits forces against or within the borders of another member state, questions concerning the violation of a state’s sovereignty and the legitimacy to act surface, which will be discussed later in this paper.
by Campbell German | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:34am | 0 comments
The War on Terror ushered in a new era of warfare for the United States and the Marine Corps. Gone are the days of Desert Storm-like conflicts when the United States could simply flex its muscle and use its technological advantages to bring an enemy to its knees. This muscle has now turned into the country’s Achilles heel, exposing it to devastating attacks from insurgents, cyber warriors, and the like. These enemies are not caught on a battlefield, but rather attack from the shadows, costing the country dollars and blood it cannot continue to pay. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the widespread adoption of counterinsurgency (COIN) tactics by both Army and Marine Corps units in order to mitigate this weakness.
by Amos C. Fox | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:22am | 0 comments
The United States Army currently has a problem. The face of modern war, and what that portends, are not adequately expressed in concepts and doctrine. The problem is that the US Army’s concepts and doctrine, as part of that of the larger Joint Force, are rife with ideas that are out of step with trends in contemporary armed conflict and projections about future war. To be sure, concept development is currently focused on large-scale combat operations (LSCO) and multi-domain operations (MDO), or joint all-domain operations (JADO), and while lacking an appreciation for applied dominance. All the while, today’s trend line suggests urban warfare, and its reciprocal siege, coupled with great and regional powers competing indirectly through a variety of proxies, are war’s moderating features.
by Matt Begert | Thu, 12/31/2020 - 7:54pm | 0 comments
Review of Charles "Sid" Heal, "Concepts of Nonlethal Force." 

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Sat, 01/16/2021 - 12:49pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 01/16/2021 - 12:38pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day's news.
by SWJ Editors | Fri, 01/15/2021 - 8:09pm | 0 comments

By Leo Blanken, Romulo G. Dimayuga II, and Kristen Tsolis 

An interesting proposal to mix "maker-space" innovation and fabrication workshops with Building Partner Capacity efforts for low cost solutions.

by SWJ Editors | Fri, 01/15/2021 - 7:58pm | 0 comments

The Global Terrorism Index points to the need for better data and local insights to inform policy to counter extremism.

By Alastair Reed and Kateira Aryaeinejad

by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:19am | 0 comments

FDD | North Korea

by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:12am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 01/15/2021 - 10:10am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 01/14/2021 - 6:26pm | 0 comments



by SWJ Editors | Thu, 01/14/2021 - 6:17pm | 0 comments

by Diane M. Zorri, Houman A. Sadri, and David C. Ellis


by SWJ Editors | Thu, 01/14/2021 - 1:12pm | 0 comments

From the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The monograph can be accessed online here.

by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 01/14/2021 - 11:07am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 01/14/2021 - 10:03am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news
by SWJ Editors | Tue, 01/12/2021 - 10:16pm | 0 comments
CSM (Ret) Lamb is a former Ranger and Green Beret. In this episode he discusses the Iranian Hostage Rescue, operations along the DMZ, the Invasion of Panama, Operation Gothic Serpant (Black Hawk Down) in Somalia, and serving in Haiti. (SOFcast is the offical U.S. Special Operations Command podcast)
by SWJ Editors | Tue, 01/12/2021 - 10:07pm | 0 comments

Full Article:

By John Spencer