Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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
  • "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
  • “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
  • “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

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement

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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.

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Soldiers participate in live-fire gunnery qualification training at the Orchard Combat Training Center in Idaho, 14 February 2019. Photo by Army Sgt. Mason Cutrer.

"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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Journal

by Jason Rivera, by Wanda Archy | Thu, 02/21/2019 - 5:02pm | 0 comments
Warfare has always and will always continue to evolve. A recent evolution that this paper will focus on is the “Dark Web”, to include how this aspect of the Internet has affected national security over the last decade as well as how it may affect national security in the years to come. We use quotations in our initial introduction of Dark Web because it is known by many names and is often conflated with similar terms that characterize other related concepts (such as the Deep Web). Accordingly, this paper will seek to establish a conceptual framework of the Dark Web as a sort of landscape characterized by a series of threat issues and threat actors that national security professionals should be aware of. We will then build upon this framework of viewing the Dark Web as a landscape so that we may illustrate its applications to both the kinetic and digital aspects of human warfare.
by Nilofar Sakhi | Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:32am | 1 comment
Although the process toward peace in Afghanistan has been punctuated by several key junctures beginning in 2010 that continue today, much of the peace-oriented discussions have remained the same with little to no real movement on tangible issues at the negotiating table. Nevertheless, it is possible to point to some of the positive and, of course, negative aspects of the ongoing negotiation process, which must be addressed to avoid repeating past mistakes and fill existing gaps.
by W. R. Baker | Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:22am | 0 comments
Franklin C. Annis’ recent article (SWJ, February 16, 2019) “Who is to be Trusted with Military History?” is a good start, but it fails to address a number of items and takes a slap (intended or not) at Vietnam veterans.
by Gary Anderson | Wed, 02/20/2019 - 12:13am | 4 comments
It is time to reconsider the use of NLW, not as stand-alone tools to wage “kinder and gentler” conflict, but as tools in the combined arms kit. We should reinvigorate advanced NLW development and place advanced NLW in the tables of organization of our ground and air combat units.
by Tamim Asey | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 8:49am | 0 comments
With each passing day attaining a sustainable, inclusive and broad-based peace seems distant and farther away in Afghanistan primarily because of a divided political elite in Kabul, a deceptive Pakistan, an emboldened Taliban playing the long game and an impatient America in a hurry to declare victory and bring US service members back home. Nobody underestimated that the Afghan peace process will be a straight line and if history is any guide it shows that almost all of the Afghan peace negotiations have failed in the process whether it was the Geneva accords in the 1980s or the Jeddah peace deal between the warring mujahidin factions during the civil war in the 1990s.
by Kyle T. Gaines | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 7:36am | 4 comments
The defense contracting industry undeniably plays a critical role in the nation’s defense. From research and development, acquisitions, consulting, intelligence, cyber, logistics, and information technology, there are myriad ways the private sector makes valuable contributions that advance U.S. national security policy goals and keep Americans safe. But there are also many problems with how these operational support contracts are executed on the ground, which various U.S. government agencies have acknowledged for years. Unfortunately, the model the U.S.-led coalition is relying on for employing contractors in Afghanistan remains rife with poor accountability, ineffectiveness, and fundamental strategic communications issues.
by Max G. Manwaring | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:04am | 0 comments
Venezuela is basically what it always has been—only worse under Nicolas Maduro. As a consequence, Venezuela has moved into a downward spiral from an aspiring New Socialist state to failing state status.
by Said Sabir Ibrahimi | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 2:02pm | 0 comments
Pundits who urge the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan argue national security interests and point out to threats emanating from Afghanistan. Indeed, 17 years ago, it was national security that took the U.S. military to Afghanistan. To date, the presence of more than 20 transnational terrorist groups in the region continue to justify the American military involvement in the country. However, a broader question that is rarely asked is whether counterterrorism is the only issue that brings the two nations together?
by Patricia H. M. Morrissey | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 4:52am | 3 comments
In order to make a clear case that the aggregate efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (or Daesh as they are called in some countries) are showing progress towards “defeating” ISIS, we must understand the nature of this movement as a competition between its local jihadist groups and existing government leaders and institutions, at all levels, for the allegiance or submission of the population. In other words, we must address it for what it is: a networked global insurgency.
by Lydia Kostopoulos | Sun, 02/17/2019 - 1:21am | 0 comments
Technologically, the world in 2051 was even more interconnected, operating on 5G and leveraging the spatial web where augmented and virtual realities served as mediators between the real ‘touch and feel’ world and the digital world. All the while, artificial intelligence was approaching ‘general’ intelligence and scientists around the world cautioned that it was imminent and that the existing global infrastructure was not going to be able to respond to the potential risks that have been hypothesized to arise.

Blog Posts

by The Modern War Institute | Sat, 02/23/2019 - 9:21am | 0 comments
"It was May 23, 2017, and the general was the same officer I had worked with on my first deployment to the Philippines as a Special Forces officer seven years earlier. When he hung up, he explained that an important mission was occurring at that moment, and he was simply getting updates. The call reminded me of how we used to talk during that first deployment to the country. What I didn’t know was that the mission he was tracking was particularly significant: the first engagement in what would become the Battle of Marawi. That siege would rage in the southern city for five months."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sat, 02/23/2019 - 8:20am | 0 comments
"Three members of the Venezuelan national guard have left their posts ahead of an opposition-led effort to to bring aid into the country, Colombia's migration agency said."
by National Defense University Press | Sat, 02/23/2019 - 12:17am | 1 comment
"If one accepts that the American military is the most powerful armed force in human history, why does it have a mixed record when it comes to building up foreign armies in weak states?"
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 02/23/2019 - 12:11am | 0 comments
"The U.S. military on Friday began to revamp its strategy in Syria, after President Trump decided to shift course and keep several hundred American troops in the country."
by The Los Angeles Times | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 10:31pm | 0 comments
"The fragile security in Nigeria, set to become the world’s third-most populous country by 2050, has been a central theme in the run-up to national elections scheduled for Feb. 23 after a weeklong delay. President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani former military leader who was elected in 2015, has failed to stop the violence in Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt, a swath of states riven by the long-simmering conflict between farmers and herders."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 10:15pm | 0 comments
"Food and medicine for Venezuela’s sick and famished citizens lie just beyond their reach in warehouses across the country’s borders and on islands off its coast, as a showdown approaches for getting the aid into their hands. The United States has promised $20 million in humanitarian relief for Venezuelans."
by Military Times | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 9:33pm | 0 comments
"Military communities whose local construction projects weren’t scheduled to begin until later this year are among the most likely to be cut to fund the border wall, two U.S. officials who briefed reporters at the Pentagon said Friday."
by Voice of America | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 8:43pm | 0 comments
The six things you should know about this historic controversy...
by The Los Angeles Times | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 7:58pm | 0 comments
"As Islamic State’s once-large physical domain shrinks to nothing, its media presence is no longer the mighty propaganda powerhouse that, at its height, flooded social media with nearly 40 statements, videos and other media items a day, according to a 2015 report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, a London think tank."
by The New York Times | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 7:18pm | 0 comments
"The dilemma of what to do with citizens of Western countries who threw in their lot with the Islamic State before it was largely ousted from Syria has set off a debate over citizenship and the statelessness that might result from stripping some of them of their nationality."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 5:58pm | 0 comments
"Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians attempting to keep open a segment of the southern border with Brazil for deliveries of humanitarian aid, causing multiple injuries and the first fatalities of a massive opposition operation meant to deliver international relief to this devastated South American country, according to eyewitnesses and community leaders."
by Associated Press | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 4:20pm | 0 comments
"Islamic State fighters facing defeat in Syria are slipping across the border into Iraq, where they are destabilizing the country’s fragile security, U.S. and Iraqi officials say."
by Voice of America | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 1:43am | 0 comments
"Coalition warplanes launched new airstrikes against the last remaining enclave of the Islamic State terror group's self-declared caliphate after efforts to evacuate additional civilians stalled. The strikes, accompanied by artillery fire, targeted the outskirts of the final piece of IS-held territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz on Thursday, a day after 2,000 civilians were evacuated from the area."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 1:32am | 0 comments
"The U.S. will maintain a small peacekeeping force of about 200 troops in Syria despite President Trump’s earlier decision to remove all American troops, the White House said Thursday, illustrating the complications of a hastily announced withdrawal."
by The Washington Post | Fri, 02/22/2019 - 1:21am | 2 comments
"The U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant spent hours on end planning a wide-scale domestic terrorist attack, even logging in at his work computer on the job at headquarters to study the manifestos and heinous paths of mass shooters, prosecutors say. He researched how to carry out sniper attacks, they contend, and whether rifle scopes were illegal. And all the while, investigators assert, he was amassing a cache of weapons as he ruminated about attacks on politicians and journalists."