Small Wars Journal
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



New and 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.



Three Time’s a Charm - Marines provide simulated suppressive fire during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, on 9 February 2019. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colton Brownlee.

"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.

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by Michael van Ginkel | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 5:15am | 1 comment
The long-term deployment and regenerative capabilities of SFABs creates an opportunity to capitalize on situations short of conflict. According to USAID, premature attempts at democratization resulted mainly from failures to “develop the political and social infrastructure to a level that could absorb (manage, resolve or transform) the conflicts that arose” prior to hosting elections.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:09am | 0 comments
This incident highlights the traditional rivalry between the two LA-born gangs and demonstrates that this rivalry and violent competition continues among their NYC affiliates. Gang graffiti related to both gangs has been reported in neighborhoods near the subway shooting incident. Such graffiti has been targeted by the local NYPD precincts (110th PCT and 115th PCT) in neighborhood graffiti removal project.
by Samuel Casey | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 1:03am | 1 comment
The ACFT is a bold step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough in the areas of pragmatism and its use as a cultural node for the US Army. This event ties each of us in uniform together and serves to showcase that each of us deserve to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest. It is important that we use the lessons learned in the last decade plus of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq to better prepare ourselves for the next war. If we do not, then we risk being in the same position as the Army was in when we entered the war in Korea with Task Force Smith.
by Gary Anderson | Wed, 02/13/2019 - 1:36am | 0 comments
It is too early to draw conclusions about an agreement that has not yet been reached, but it is not too early to think about how to wage war by other means against the Taliban once some kind of peace agreement has been reached. Helping the Afghan government win the peace should be our next role in that troubled nation.
by Mohammad Shafiq Hamdam | Wed, 02/13/2019 - 1:02am | 0 comments
Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. and its allies have overthrown the totalitarian regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan and replaced it with a democratic government. Al-Qaida leader, Osama Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. Overall, Afghanistan is more prosperous than ever and there has not been a major terrorist attack in the U.S. So, does that mean the mission in Afghanistan is accomplished?
by Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. | Mon, 02/11/2019 - 9:31am | 1 comment
Despite the dangers of the current dynamic, observers say, retired officers should be free to express their views and policy ideas in a way that is respectful of the commander in chief. "Americans want and, really, need to be able to consider the views of those who served, along with others with expertise," Mr. Dunlap said. "It should be the brightness of their ideas, not that of the stars they previously wore, that should carry the day."
by W. A. Rivera, by Arnel P. David | Mon, 02/11/2019 - 5:41am | 5 comments
This article argues that a more comprehensive understanding of lethality is necessary to improve US strategic performance in present and future wars. We argue that central to lethality at the strategic level is influence. LtGen (ret) James Dubik emphasized foreign influence operations as the #1 strategic-level preparation civilian and military leaders must make for the next war. To view lethality only through a physical lens limits its full potential. Take the example of the Vietnam War.
by Tamim Asey | Sun, 02/10/2019 - 1:37pm | 1 comment
The United States is actively exploring options to end its engagement in Afghanistan and withdraw its troops from the country and at best keep a residual counter terrorism force. To this end, it has engaged with its seventeen-year adversary, the Taliban movement, to explore a peace deal - often termed by historians and experts as a troop withdrawal plan – in the absence of its partner and ally, the Afghan Government, undermining its legitimacy and further polarizing the Afghan polity.
by Barry Scott, by Naluahi Kaahaaina, by Christopher Stock | Sun, 02/10/2019 - 11:38am | 1 comment
Four concepts about innovation in the military are introduced in this paper. The first is called the Military Innovation Framework. It is used to determine what kind of innovation is desired, and why. The second tool is called the Military Innovation Engine, which describes who needs to participate for innovation to catch fire. The third concept is the Military Innovation Pathway. It is one way—not the only way—to let innovation happen organically in the military unit. Finally, the fourth concept describes special considerations needed for disruptive innovation to survive in the military environment.
by Joshua Eaton | Sun, 02/10/2019 - 12:58am | 0 comments
Military planning is become increasingly complex with the inclusion of advanced technologies, unmanned and autonomous systems, the cyber domain, new, emerging, and unknown threats, and the mercurial nature of the battlefield. AI and machine learning can help streamline military planning along several dimensions.

Blog Posts

by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:51pm | 0 comments
"The head of MI6 has warned that the Islamic State group is reorganising for more attacks despite its military defeat in Syria."
by Stars & Stripes | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:05pm | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency along the U.S-Mexico border, part of an overall effort that uses roughly $6 billion in military funds and personnel to build a wall to curtail illegal immigration."
by The New York Times | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 9:26am | 0 comments
"Nearly everyone addresses Ms. Haidari, 39, as “Nana,” or “Mom,” and her supporters describe her as the “mother of a thousand children,” after the number of Afghan addicts she has reportedly saved. Now, Ms. Haidari plans to start a popular uprising against the continuing peace talks with the Taliban."
by The United States Institute of Peace | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 8:15am | 0 comments
"Special Rep. Khalilzad emphasizes centrality of intra-Afghan dialogue to achieving inclusive peace."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 8:02am | 0 comments
"India has said it will ensure the "complete isolation" of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir."
by SWJ Editors | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 7:46am | 0 comments
Via C4ISRNET - "UAVs have grown from a niche intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to “a favored tool of the non-state actor, initially for ISR, but increasingly for weapons delivery,” according to a newly released assessment of military capabilities and defense economics by the International Institute for Strategic Studies."
by Defense News | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 7:29am | 0 comments
"Acting U.S. defense chief Patrick Shanahan on Friday called on allies to expand efforts against the Islamic State globally, even as the U.S. plans to withdraw its troops from Syria."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 7:11am | 0 comments
"Senators from both political parties on Thursday praised the military’s cyber force for helping secure last year’s midterm elections, with one suggesting it was largely due to U.S. Cyber Command that the Russians failed to affect the 2018 vote."
by The Los Angeles Times | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 6:24am | 0 comments
"The militias have transformed themselves into a potent government institution, political entity and economic player whose strong ties to Iran are likely to complicate U.S. foreign policy in the region."
by Military Times | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:05am | 0 comments
The Islamic State’s physical territory has dwindled to a ramshackle camp only a few square kilometers wide in eastern Syria’s Deir Ez Zor province. But as the so-called caliphate’s end nears, questions remain about what will become of the roughly 1,000 ISIS fighters who have been detained by U.S. troops and local allies.
by Voice of America | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:02am | 0 comments
Tensions appear to be surfacing between Russia and Turkey just hours into a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict being hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. According to Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Russia has told Turkey it lacked authorization to create a "safe zone" inside Syria without the express consent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 6:03pm | 0 comments
"President Trump plans to sign the spending bill that Congress was set to pass later Thursday and will then declare a national emergency to get more funding for border barriers, the White House said."
by The Washington Post | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 11:05am | 0 comments
"A massive bomb exploded on a highway in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday, killing more than 30 Indian security personnel, according to police. The death toll makes it the worst militant attack in the restive region since the conflict began in 1989."
by The Washington Post | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:15am | 0 comments
"Hundreds of people have trudged out of the Islamic State’s last stronghold since Tuesday, surrendering to U.S.-backed forces before their final assault to capture the only village still in the militants’ hands.
by Military Times | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:14am | 0 comments
"House lawmakers approved a measure to block all U.S. forces and equipment from involvement in the ongoing civil war in Yemen, in an effort to stop American forces from assisting Saudi Arabia in the hostilities there."