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
  • “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
  • “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 is always dangerous for soldiers, sailors or airmen to play at politics. They enter a sphere in which values are quite different from those to which they have hitherto been accustomed"
    -- Winston Churchill
  • “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

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



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.


A Navy air-cushioned landing craft returns to the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan in the Red Sea, Jan. 12, 2020. Photo by MCSA Darren Newell.

"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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by Joseph J. Collins | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 8:51am | 0 comments
The war in Afghanistan is at an impasse. The current and next U.S. administrations will have to grapple with the aftereffects of an 18-year campaign in a country that has been at war for over 40 years. The war in the field is a stalemate. Neither side seems able to win. At home and abroad, among friends and even some enemies, war weariness and a desire for peace is very much in evidence, even as the fighting continues. Neither side has been able to find a path to a negotiated settlement.
by Sadaf Lakhani, by Rahmatullah Amiri | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 8:20am | 0 comments
Forced displacement affects over 70 million people worldwide and is among the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges today. This report attempts to ascertain whether a relationship exists between displacement in Afghanistan and vulnerability to recruitment to violence by militant organizations.
by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 3:55am | 0 comments
One of the most impressive things about this book is its readability. Reading government reports is dry stuff. Yet here, Klare has carefully gleaned the Pentagon’s view of Climate Change from abstruse and difficult to come by reports to give us a highly readable 20,000-foot view of the literature. I read it leisurely in just over two days in my free time.
by Arin Kumar Ghosh | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 3:01am | 0 comments
Even if Iran is able to procure modern aerial munitions and fighter jets, perhaps in October of 2020 if Russia sells such systems to Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei likely realizes he will still likely never procure symmetric munitions that will effectively counter Iran’s enemies. The continuing development of the IRGCAF’s offensive drone and cruise missile capabilities, however, give him a limited aerial capability window he and Iran so desperately need.
by Jason Payne | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:32am | 2 comments
Is it ethical for the country’s intelligence agencies to exploit nearly every known wireless communication modality in favor of U.S. policies and interests even though it could potentially involve spying on countless American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment? Edward Snowden utilized principles of ethical decision making, but faulty logic resulted in a treasonous act with longstanding damage to U.S. intelligence operations and foreign diplomacy.
by Nate Wilson, by Thomas M. Hill | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 11:44am | 0 comments
The conference was another international attempt to end Libya’s conflict, but it remains to be seen if any progress was made.
by Carter F. Smith | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 7:35am | 0 comments
This note reviews the current state of military-trained gang members (MTGMs) in the United States military. MTGMs, whether from Street Gangs, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), or Domestic Terrorist Extremist (DTE) groups, have endangered U.S. communities since before the birth of the country.
by Kathleen Brush | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 5:28am | 0 comments
It seems like Iran’s propaganda war against the United States and Israel is winning. Iran has brought incredible havoc to the MENA region since 1979, including precipitating the never-ending Iran-Saudi proxy wars, provoking Saddam Hussein and the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), and involvement in numerous atrocities in the past ten years, sometimes with the support of Russia and China. Still, within its base, it generates sympathy as a victim of American aggression.
by Jessica Ojala | Tue, 01/21/2020 - 12:11am | 0 comments
The United States faces an organizational dilemma when it comes to the cyber domain, as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Community, and the private sector all are stakeholders in the domain and the security. Uniting the stakeholders under one security domain, specifically quantum encryption, would strengthen the United States cyber defense against their adversaries.
by Allyson Christy | Mon, 01/20/2020 - 9:31am | 2 comments
President Trump may epitomize the kid who unabashedly challenges the menace of the schoolyard bully. Most kids? They tiptoe around bullies, nervously looking away. Most hope the bully will not take notice and simply move on without inflicting harm. Yet most kids understand these dynamics as irksome risks undermining the very sense of order, calm, and security.

Blog Posts

by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 7:03am | 0 comments
As the United States is poised to sign a peace agreement with the Islamist Taliban movement in Afghanistan, there are signs that a lasting settlement between the insurgents and Afghan society might prove more of a challenge than an accord between Washington and the Taliban.
by Lawfare | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 6:03am | 0 comments
"Although some journalists were quick to embrace the Washington Post’s characterization of its reporting as 'new Pentagon papers,' like New Year’s Eve fireworks, after a bright flare, everything was as it had been by the following day. It seems clear, more than a month after they were first published, that the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers were a resounding dud."
by Defense News | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 5:33am | 0 comments
"Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has begun a review of U.S. Southern Command, which could lead to cuts to the regional combatant command — or perhaps increased resources at a time that China and Russia are ramping up activity in the region."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 5:00am | 0 comments
The United States and Israeli used the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp to assail Iran, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it "the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet."
by Voice of America | Fri, 01/24/2020 - 3:23am | 0 comments
U.S. President Donald Trump says he plans to release his long delayed Middle East peace plan before hosting Israeli leaders at the White House next Tuesday.
by Combating Terrorism Center at West Point | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 3:22pm | 0 comments
The January 2020 issue of the Combatting Terrorism Center's “Sentinel” is now online. Continue on for links to all the latest articles.
by Army Times | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 2:20pm | 0 comments
"Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya on Jan. 5, according to Army officials."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 11:00am | 0 comments
"The United Nations’ main court said Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable and ordered the country to take urgent steps to protect the minority group while a broader case on whether it committed genocide is heard."
by Associated Press | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 10:21am | 0 comments
"Even as destroyed U.S. military aircraft smoldered from an al-Shabab attack that killed three Americans this month in Kenya, the al-Qaida-linked group issued a taunting message to African troops: The U.S. will abandon you just as it did the Kurds."
by Voice of America | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 1:29am | 0 comments
A growing number of fighters and followers captured during the final battles to defeat the Islamic State terror group’s self-declared caliphate are being released in Syria, with some facing justice and others being given a chance to restart their lives.
by Defense News | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:17am | 0 comments
"Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is not backing down on potentially shifting U.S. forces out of Africa despite a week of negative reactions from members of Congress — but the secretary did say that 'no decisions' have been finalized on a potential shifting of forces."
by Marine Corps Times | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:15am | 0 comments
"A team of Marine Raiders led the response against al-Shabab militants who raided the Kenya Defense Force Military Base at Manda Bay, Kenya, in early January, killing three Americans, multiple sources told Marine Corps Times."
by The Washington Post | Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:12am | 0 comments
"If there is one cause common to the governments of the U.S., Turkey, Iraq and Iran, it’s the continued suppression of Islamic State, the most destructive Islamist militant organization the world has seen."
by The Washington Times | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 9:50am | 0 comments
"Escalating U.S.-Iran tensions mean Afghanistan, which shares a border with Iran, could be the next proxy battleground between Washington and Tehran, a clash that threatens to undermine the Trump administration’s pursuit of a peace deal with the Taliban and eventual drawdown of American troops."
by Long War Journal | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 9:23am | 0 comments
"The Taliban admitted this week that current negotiations with the 'arrogant' U.S. – often billed as 'peace talks' that will purportedly end the fighting in Afghanistan – are merely being conducted to facilitate 'the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.'"