Small Wars Journal
  • "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
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • “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)
  • “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

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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.


by Dan Pace | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 9:45pm | 2 comments
In the wake of the recent analysis on SOF misconduct, a bumper sticker has emerged that claims SOF doesn’t have an ethics problem, it has a leadership problem.  While this is partially true – the strain on the force created by rapid, frequent deployment has stretched SOF leadership’s ability to build and maintain discipline – the slogan doesn’t tell the whole story.  SOF does have an ethics problem, and it stems from a dissonance the community breeds into its operators.  SOF operators are selected for a willingness and aptitude to conduct traditionally immoral acts, trained to be proficient at the conduct of those acts, but then expected to refrain from those acts outside of approved operational circumstances.
by Daniel Weisz | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 3:53pm | 0 comments
Review of Gema Kloppe-Santamaría, "In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico" by Daniel Weisz.
by James King | Tue, 02/23/2021 - 3:23pm | 0 comments
Book Review: Ms. Donati follows several different Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alphas (ODAs) from 2015, when President Obama announced the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, throughout the presidency of Donald Trump.  Unlike most books of this type Donati does not focus solely on the tactical fight.  She instead shifts focus from members of an individual team, to their families at home, to the generals overseeing operations, to the policy makers in Washington DC directing strategy. This interconnected narrative attempts to give the reader an understanding of how decisions made in the Pentagon and the White House touch an individual family through the actions required of their loved ones in the fight. 
by Ian McConnell | Mon, 02/22/2021 - 5:11pm | 1 comment
Small Wars Journal is always seeking original material to communicate to a broad community of interest. Supporting crucial conversations and adding to the body of knowledge is our aim, it’s especially rewarding when we get readers who not only want to contribute to discussion but sharpen each other and the community. The following paper is in response to a Small Wars Journal article published in September, 2019 "Passing the Paramilitary Torch". In this paper, the author provides an opposing view to the original article’s stance that paramilitary operations would be better executed by USSOCOM as opposed to the CIA. But this author doesn’t stop there, he goes on to present what he asserts is the real issue as to why either the CIA or USSOCOM paramilitary or clandestine missions, respectively, don’t produce the desired outcome: whether or not the original policy aims were correct or attainable. This is especially timely as a new administration has begun and intense policy reviews are under way.
by Lucas Webber | Sun, 02/21/2021 - 6:30pm | 0 comments
China’s domestic security policy and its growing international influence are fuelling jihadist animosity throughout Asia and beyond. Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang is the most commonly cited China-related grievance within global jihadist discourse and has gained traction in recent years, but there are additional narratives emerging about China’s foreign policy and its increasing presence in the Islamic world. Beijing is becoming markedly more assertive in pursuing its geopolitical ambitions and in securing its growing international interests.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 02/20/2021 - 9:38pm | 0 comments
Honduran police investigators dismantled a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) operations center on Friday, 19 February 2021. MS-13 members were arrested in the compound, which also included a narcolaboratorio (drug laboratory). The camp was located in a mountainous region on the highway from Tegulcigalpa to Olancho, Honduras. Drugs and small arms were seized during the raid—Operación DeI Impacto (Operation Impact).
by Anna Simons | Tue, 02/16/2021 - 8:44pm | 1 comment
Are today’s career officers more cynical than officers of previous eras, and how much more corrosive is their cynicism?  It turns out these are impossible questions to answer.  They are also irrelevant.  No cynic cares whether things were equally or even more screwed up in the past.  Cynics live in the present.  What matters to them is what is problematic now – and today’s post-command and command-select career officers are cynical.
by Carter F. Smith | Mon, 02/15/2021 - 11:44pm | 0 comments
Review of D. Darell Dones, "Terrorist Recruitment of U.S. Gangs: Global Criminal Alliances and Biological Weapons" by Carter F. Smith.
by Inho Lee | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 5:29pm | 2 comments
We live in a veritable age of misinformation and false news often totally obscuring the true picture of reality.  Nothing shows this more starkly than the coverage South Korea is getting in the press abroad in the recent few years.  Korea was played up as a model country to emulate in its success in coping with the coronavirus pandemic and that success is often assumed to reflect a robust state of democracy, which brings together the Moon Jae-in government and its people. In certain quarters president Moon Jae-in is adulated not only as a democratic leader but also as a staunch champion of peace with North Korea. The Newsweek recently featured an article on progressive women’s organizations in the United States petitioning the Congress to have the American government declare peace with North Korea, seemingly seconding similar efforts being made by president Moon’s governing circle.  Korea’s image as a prosperous soft power seems to stand at a new high.
by R.K. Lembke | Sun, 02/14/2021 - 4:34pm | 0 comments
Peace is possible in Afghanistan, but it has to be by the terms of the average, rural, Muslim, Afghan tribesman. They represent the majority of the Afghan population. Taliban, U.S., and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) empathy and accommodation of the average Afghan is the only door to peace. Thanks to the U.S. and international involvement in Afghanistan, for right or wrong, Afghanistan has become the poster child of what happens when western-inspired Progressive, Post- Modernist, Critical Theory meets Islamic Tribalism – and it's not working out very well for the average Afghan. Thanks to the Taliban, Afghanistan has also become the poster child of when the execution of 7th Century Islamic jurisprudence meets the modern world – also not working out very well for the average Afghan. Unfortunately, it appears the desires of the average rural farmer population doesn't matter to anyone at the peace table.

Blog Posts

by SWJ Editors | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 9:29pm | 0 comments
Small Wars Journal-El Centro (SWJ-El Centro) is pleased to announce the Class of Fellows and Associates for 2021. Fellows have already made significant and distinguished contributions to the field through the course of their career. Associates are actively engaged in research or practice in the region and in transnational organized crime or insurgency.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 11:17am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 10:59am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 02/28/2021 - 12:16pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 02/28/2021 - 11:59am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 02/27/2021 - 12:18pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 02/27/2021 - 12:16pm | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 02/27/2021 - 9:14am | 0 comments
A discussion with members of the Civila Affairs Regiment on the role of tactical level civil affairs in great power competition.
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 02/27/2021 - 9:04am | 0 comments
A discussion with Juan Zarate and Dr. Gary Shiffman on using social science to understand why illicit violence occurs.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 02/26/2021 - 10:36am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 02/26/2021 - 10:34am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 10:11am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 02/25/2021 - 10:09am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:07am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 02/24/2021 - 8:39am | 0 comments
A roundup of the day’s news.