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
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- 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
  • “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)
  • “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.

Journal

by Robert Bunker | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 7:28pm | 0 comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has both exacerbated and accelerated the ‘hollowing out’ of the American liberal democratic state’s ability to provide public goods to its citizens while at the same time greatly benefiting its richest families and the multinational corporations under their ownership and control. With the pendulum shifting in the recent presidential and congressional elections from one major political party to another, US federal governmental (and the governed’s) economic interests are now in a direct collision course with plutocratic privilege and prerogative. While the state now seeks to revitalize the public infrastructure—for the American people—family dynastic and plutocratic interests seek to increasingly maximize their economic profits and, in the process, further defund and commoditize such public goods.
by Michael L. Burgoyne | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 3:49pm | 0 comments
An excerpt from "Ascensión: A Tale of the Mexican Drug War" by Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Michael L. Burgoyne. This fictional account—or FICINT (Fictional Intelligence)—describes the security situation in Mexico in an accessible manner. Here the situation in Mexico is described through the lens of fiction and intelligence to depict future conflict scenarios grounded in reality.
by Michael Schwille, by Scott Fisher | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 3:40pm | 0 comments
Constellations of low-altitude, low-latency satellites providing broadband internet access to wide swathes of the earth are an impending challenge to the information dominance enjoyed by the world’s authoritarian states. Whether Amazon’s proposed Project Kuiper, Elon Musk’s Starlink (already functional in some areas of North America), or the United Kingdom funded OneWeb, the ability to provide relatively low cost internet access outside of government control is both a challenge for authoritarian states and an opportunity for democracies.
by Sandor Fabian | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 3:31pm | 0 comments
During the last couple decades U.S. Special Forces have become champions of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. However, with the recent changes of the global strategic landscape and the increasingly multipolar world they are required once again to adapt to emerging challenges. While as many practitioners and scholars already argued the U.S. Special Forces must maintain all their hard-earned irregular warfare skills, they must also find new niche capabilities to effectively support the activities of the rest of the U.S. government during the competition. This article argues that one such capability is building urban resistance networks within allied and partner nations pre-conflict and enabling such networks during war.
by Robert Bunker, by Alma Keshavarz | Thu, 04/08/2021 - 8:30pm | 0 comments
On 11 March 2021, the Iranian-aligned Houthi insurgents unveiled a variety of so-termed ‘Made in Yemen’ weaponry. Called the "Martyr Leader Exhibition for Military Industries," Houthi leaders showcased new armaments and other munitions. According to the accompanying Yemen based news outlet Taiz News, this is a part of the broader mission to achieve certain strategic objectives by the Houthis.
by Robert Bunker | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 8:41pm | 0 comments
Review of Ioan Grillo's "Blood Gun Money: How America Arms gangs and Cartels" by Dr. Robert J. Bunker.
by Lucas Webber | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:49am | 0 comments
The global jihadist movement has grown markedly more hostile towards China as a result of the country’s domestic security policy in Xinjiang as well as its foreign policy and growing influence in the Islamic world. Uighur jihadists have traditionally spearheaded anti-China propaganda efforts, however, in recent years China-related issues have gained rhetorical traction throughout broader international militant discourse. Jihadists of disparate geographies and numerous languages have notably increased their focus on Chinese policy in their media content. Yet there are few non-Uighur militants that really stand out as being particularly ardent, outspoken, and persistent critics of China. Such figures play a role in giving anti-China narratives the added momentum to further transcend the Uighur jihadist realm and reach a more global audience.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:42am | 0 comments
The Localization Strategy (LS) is devised to assist Western expeditionary forces to navigate through the jungle of complexity with the application of local logic and energy. The name itself is a stark reminder that yesterday’s logic and success is intimately tied to yesterday’s circumstances. New eyes are needed time and again as connections keep changing the nature of things. Soldiers must learn to unlearn and military planners must learn to reset themselves to zero. The LS’ main purpose is to take as many lessons identified from inadequate Western practices in war over the past twenty years and structure them into one approach. This approach attempts to “add a pinch of spice to existing ideas and literature” and is graphically represented by the Resilience Temple. George Box famously said, ‘all models are wrong, but some are useful’. I hope the Resilience Temple provides a useful sequence of practicable ideas for overcoming the uncertainty and volatility of conflicts in the 21st Century.
by Adam Taylor | Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:37am | 1 comment
President Biden’s transition into power caps an important four-year period for the Department of Defense (DoD).  While many will debate the Trump administration’s national defense legacy for years to come, current evidence suggests that its decision to focus on great power competition has proven decidedly consequential. Both the Marine Corps and the Navy have released new future force design proposals intended to better prepare the services to compete in a great power conflict. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has also released his own guidance about how his service must meet the great power moment. Yet, the rush to bureaucratic relevancy in a great power environment shouldn’t lead the services to abandon those capabilities needed to succeed in an irregular conflict.  Specifically, the Corps must ensure its force modernization plans ensure the service can fight and win the irregular conflicts it has historically fought for the nation.  How the service balances its traditional irregular warfighting responsibilities with the need to field a force able to compete against peer adversaries will determine its utility on the future battlefield. 
by Octavian Manea | Mon, 04/05/2021 - 6:06am | 0 comments
Interview with Dr. A. Wess Mitchell, co-chair of the NATO 2030 Reflection Process. He is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. Previously, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2017 to 2019. Prior to joining the State Department, Mitchell cofounded and served as President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 04/15/2021 - 9:47am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 04/15/2021 - 9:29am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 9:32am | 2 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 9:06am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 04/13/2021 - 9:27am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 04/13/2021 - 9:01am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 4:03pm | 0 comments
Small Wars Journal is pleased to present an excerpt from "Ascensión: A Tale of the Mexican Drug War" by Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Michael L. Burgoyne. This fictional account—or FICINT (Fictional Intelligence)—describes the security situation in Mexico in an accessible manner.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 1:08pm | 0 comments
Special Publication
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 1:07pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 12:51pm | 1 comment
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 8:14am | 0 comments
An interview with Lt Gen (Ret.) Thomas Trask and Dr. James Kiras on the looming cultural changes facing airpower in irregular warfare
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 8:05am | 0 comments
Published every four years since 1997, Global Trends assesses the key trends and uncertainties that will shape the strategic environment for the United States during the next two decades.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 04/12/2021 - 8:01am | 0 comments
A roundup of stories related to the special operations community of interest
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 9:59am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 04/11/2021 - 9:46am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.