Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “As our Afghan partners began to understand the value of 1st SFAB advisors, they asked us for more. So our teams partnered with more and more Afghan units as the deployment progressed.”
    -- BG Scott Jackson, 1st SFAB Commander
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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

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.



Big Sea, Small Boat - Sailors assigned to the USS Gravely (DDG 107) perform small boat operations in the Baltic Sea on 5 June 2019. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Hay.

"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 Jim Davitch | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:58am | 1 comment
This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.
by Chris Telley | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:31am | 0 comments
The institutions of the U.S. national security community have recognized, but just begun to remedy, a gap in how they interact with conflict environments: the failure to understand how gender and warfare intertwine. The 2017 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act provides a clarion call for operationalizing a gender perspective at each command level and in nearly all activities in the environment.
by James P. Micciche | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:27pm | 3 comments
This article is published as part of the Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options Writing Contest which ran from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019. More information about the writing contest can be found here.
by Vylius Leskys | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 1:15am | 0 comments
Russian decision-makers might be tempted to gamble that NATO would not react to a land grab or—perhaps more likely—an operation designed to come in under a threshold that would trigger a collective security response. Considering this, Baltic decision-makers should explore a wide array of options to help enhance deterrence; but they must do so with deliberation.
by Chris O’Connor | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 2:56pm | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Andrew J. Bibb | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 3:44am | 1 comment
This paper aims to show the value of CA to both the statesman and general as they are understood by Winston Churchill in Dr. Larry P. Arnn’s scholarly work Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government. Although Churchill uses the term “general” to refer to commanders, CA’s value is by no means limited to flag officers. The CA team, the lowest-echelon CA element, is a battalion-level asset and can inform tactical decisions as well as operational and strategic ones. Similarly, CA support to statesmen is not limited to elected officials, as fostering partnerships within and supporting the various branches of government fall directly within the purview of Civil Affairs.
by Joel Aud | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 2:20am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 06/14/2019 - 7:15am | 0 comments
Over the last few months, Colombian army and police have discovered factories operated by the Clan del Golfo engaged in producing and stockpiling antipersonnel mines and explosive devices. In addition, cases of Colombian soldiers sustaining injuries from antipersonnel mines have been documented. These cases illustrate the ongoing, and apparently growing, threat—initially disclosed in an alert made by the Colombian Army in May 2013—of antipersonnel mines employed by criminal organizations or bandes criminals (criminal bands or bacrim).
by J. David Thompson | Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:47am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is the final article in a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by J. David Thompson | Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:43am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Blog Posts

by Military Times | Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:26am | 0 comments
"For the second time in six months, President Donald Trump is searching for his next defense secretary."
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:42pm | 0 comments
"As the U.S. seeks an exit from the Afghan war, Central Asia is on the cusp of a new era, with Russia and China vying for influence in a region that will no longer be dominated by America’s post-9/11 undertaking to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan."
by Politico | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:42pm | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump said acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan will not move forward with the confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family."
by Foreign Policy | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:52am | 0 comments
"The trial of a senior operative reveals the extent of the terrorist organization’s reach in the United States and Canada."
by The Washington Times | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:39am | 0 comments
"The Chinese military is guilty of “irresponsible actions” toward American forces stationed at Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier on the Horn of Africa, a senior U.S. military intelligence officer said."
by The New York Times, by The Washington Post, by The British Broadcasting Corporation, by Associated Press | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 12:11am | 0 comments
Continue on for updates on the developments in the US-Iran crisis, from the NYT, WaPo, AP and BBC News.
by The Washington Post | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 12:06am | 0 comments
"President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities."
by Voice of America | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 2:10pm | 0 comments
"The United States is reopening its permanent U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Somalia, 28 years since its closing on January 5, 1991. Although the U.S. never formally severed diplomatic relations with Somalia, the U.S. Embassy in Somalia was closed in 1991, when the civil war in the 1980s led to the collapse of the country's central government in 1991."
by U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Mad Scientist Initiative | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 1:20pm | 0 comments
At the conclusion of another successful Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest, we had received over 75 highly imaginative short stories. In addition to listing and linking you to the contest’s winning submission (as well as those of our finalists), today’s post reports back on the major cross-cutting themes we were able to distill from your collective creativity and provides effective writing tips from Dr. David Brin, our contest’s senior judge and multiple award-winning science fiction author. Enjoy!
by The Washington Examiner | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:24am | 0 comments
"The United Kingdom is deploying a contingent of Royal Marines to protect their warships in the Persian Gulf as tensions rise between the United States and Iran."
by Stars & Stripes | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 1:48am | 0 comments
"Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone at an altitude that U.S. Central Command said Sunday shows improved capability and likely assistance by Iran."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:25am | 0 comments
"The country’s top paramilitary force is maintaining support for armed groups in the Middle East and finding new sources of funding, defying U.S. efforts to curb its activities abroad as tensions between Washington and Tehran soar following fresh attacks in the Gulf of Oman."
by Voice of America | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:12am | 0 comments
Libya's internationally-recognized prime minister says he is refusing to hold talks with his rival for power." I will not sit down again with this person because of what he has done in past years shows he won’t be a partner in the political process," Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj told Reuters.
by The Washington Post | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:10am | 0 comments
WaPo op-ed by Major General (Ret.) Robert Scales
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 4:46pm | 0 comments
"Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill, despite the bill having been suspended."