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
  • "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
  • “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)
  • “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

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.


Marines drive mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles during a tactical vehicle driving course in Kuwait, Dec. 21, 2019.

"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 Hesham Youssef | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 6:06am | 0 comments
Despite tremendous effort exerted since the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution, peace has been elusive. Today, there is a growing feeling among Palestinians, Israelis and the international community that the two-state paradigm may no longer be viable. USIP’s Ambassador Hesham Youssef examines the potential scenarios facing Israelis, Palestinians and the region as the stalemated conflict continues without progress toward two states.
by Euan Findlater | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 4:59am | 0 comments
Iran’s strategic culture and national security outlook is at a critical juncture, where historical nationalism, religion and political ideology are being challenged by modernisation, moderation and pragmatism. As a result, current Iranian national security policies can be analysed as working like a pendulum between supranationalist and realist tendencies.
by Alexandra Phelan | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:19am | 0 comments
The internal split leadership within FARC presents the organisation with a significant crisis, particularly amongst a fragile and precarious peace agreement. Given the Colombian conflict’s transformation after the 2016 peace agreement with FARC that resulted in the opening of both territorial vacuums and resources for other armed groups, it remains precarious as to how FARC II will merge or compete given its current resources.
by Garrett Nada, by Maria J. Stephan | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:15am | 0 comments
Recent regime missteps have triggered successive waves of popular discontent over longstanding grievances. USIP’s Garrett Nada and Maria Stephan explain how the protests have evolved over time and how demonstrators could use nonviolent tactics against the repressive regime.
by Karl Umbrasas | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:09am | 0 comments
The need for servicemembers may necessitate prioritization of able-bodied males and females to operational billets and combat specialties. This prioritization must naturally draw capable personnel away from non-combat roles. Maladapted servicemembers, who at one time were considered candidates for expeditious involuntary separation, must be recycled to rear missions to allow the maximum number of mission-capable servicemembers closer proximity to the fight.
by John P. Sullivan | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 8:40am | 0 comments
Criminal cartels and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) rely on corruption to enable their pursuit of criminal profit and power. Indeed, Mexico’s cartels emerged from the seeds of corrupt police profiting from the narcotics trade. While violence is the public face of criminal cartels and transnational gangs, corruption is the core threat to public trust and state legitimacy and capacity.
by Jessica ‘Zhanna’ Malekos Smith | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 8:03am | 0 comments
Drawing inspiration from da Vinci’s observations on force, power, and movement – elements in which “all the works of mortals have their beginning and their end” – this article suggests four cyberspace operations principles.
by Daniel J. O’Connor | Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:39am | 0 comments
Several major actions taken by the United States and coalition in the last 18 years share much in common with the efforts of the Soviet Union during its combat operations in the country (1979-1989).
by Marc Chua | Wed, 01/15/2020 - 5:23am | 0 comments
Mozambique presents a complex scenario of great opportunities and serious challenges. Decades of civil war between the ruling FRELIMO party and the opposition RENAMO, has driven the country into economic turmoil causing over a million deaths with even more displaced people between 1977 and 1992. The conflict finally ended with both parties signing a ceasefire in Rome that ended the worst of the bloodshed and the fabrication of a new political party, RENAMO. But after years of peace, in October 2013, RENAMO annulled the peace agreement due to a military raid on one of their camps. The following year, RENAMO challenged the results of the election accusing FRELIMO of altering the polls in favor of themselves which further exacerbated political tensions.
by Ian Li | Tue, 01/14/2020 - 1:04am | 0 comments
Ever since Russia’s rapid annexation of Crimea in 2014 during the height of the Ukraine Crisis thrust the term “hybrid warfare” into mainstream consciousness, predictions of its imminent spread westward have been fervently propagated. The perceived threat of hybrid warfare has however since evolved into something more universal and far-reaching, and in recent years it would seem as if the tendrils of this virulent threat have finally traversed the vast expanse of the globe to arrive in the Asia-Pacific.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 8:58am | 0 comments
Iranian state media have given a distorted view of Western news coverage of a rare public sermon by Iran’s supreme leader, ignoring how Western outlets highlighted perceived shortcomings in his responses to domestic problems.
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 5:47am | 0 comments
A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 01/18/2020 - 4:51am | 0 comments
"With few vital American interests still at stake there, the U.S. should finally set aside its grandiose ambitions for the chaotic region."
by National Defense University Press | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 5:20pm | 0 comments
The latest issue of the National Defense University Press "Prism" is now online. Continue on for links to all the new articles.
by Defense News | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 2:54pm | 0 comments
"The House Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat and Republican joined a growing chorus of lawmakers warning Defense Secretary Mark Esper to reconsider plans to reduce military forces in Africa."
by Voice of America | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 2:25pm | 0 comments
The cease-fire in Syria's Idlib apparently broke down before it even began. High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet's spokesman, Jeremy Laurence, told VOA that immediately following the supposed cease-fire declared nearly a week ago, ground-based strikes were being lobbed by both the Syrian government and rebel forces. Soon after, he said, Syria and its Russian allies resumed airstrikes, increasing the threat to civilians.
by Associated Press | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:08am | 0 comments
"Documents compiled by a U.S.-based Syrian rights group reveal how Islamic State militants used one of their most powerful bureaucratic bodies to regulate daily life and impose and execute penalties."
by Army Times | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:06am | 0 comments
"The Army is looking to make good on its promise to align its Security Force Assistance Brigades to geographic combatant commands, the service secretary confirmed this week."
by Military Times | Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:04am | 0 comments
"U.S. Africa Command officials believe that al-Shabab militants from Somalia crossed the border into Kenya to conduct an attack on U.S. and Kenyan forces earlier this month in Manda Bay — with the assistance of facilitators within Kenya."
by Politico | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 2:14pm | 0 comments
"U.S. forces have restarted military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, The New York Times reports, 10 days after U.S. troops hit pause on the mission to focus on protecting bases from Iran."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 11:09am | 0 comments
"Washington punishes South Sudan after giving it billions, as political deadlock prolongs conflict and raises famine risk."
by Bloomberg News | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 8:01am | 0 comments
Khalifa Haftar was expecting the Kremlin red carpet. Instead he was cooped up in a Russian Foreign Ministry reception building hoping for an audience with Vladimir Putin. In the end, the Libyan military commander lost patience and stormed out. Hours later, he left Moscow in his Dassault Falcon corporate jet bound for the Jordanian capital, Amman.
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 7:58am | 0 comments
It was in the late 1980s when Ismail Qaani -- then a local commander in Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) -- first became active in Afghanistan. It was to be the start of Qaani's decades-long involvement in Iran’s eastern neighbor, where Tehran has carved up influence by arming and offering political and economic backing mostly to the Shi'ite and Persian-speaking communities.
by Voice of America | Thu, 01/16/2020 - 7:57am | 0 comments
Days of protests against Iranian leaders over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner appear to indicate public anger has been redirected away from America's targeted killing of a top Iranian general. But foreign policy analysts say it is too early to tell if this is the beginning of a broader popular movement.
by Defense One | Wed, 01/15/2020 - 1:01pm | 0 comments
"In two recent memos, the SecDef reveals his intention to change how the Pentagon uses its money, people, and time."