Small Wars Journal
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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



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.



Final Farewell - Soldiers place an American flag over the casket of Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence Dickson at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., 22 March 2019. Dickson was a Tuskegee Airman who went missing in December 1944; his remains were officially accounted for in July 2018. Photo by Elizabeth Fraser.

"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 Donald C. Bolduc | Tue, 03/26/2019 - 1:04am | 0 comments
The beauty of writing this article on leadership is that anyone who reads it can agree with it or not. This article affords the writer an opportunity to create a body of thought that encourages careful consideration and opportunity to the reader to look at the subject of leadership development and education differently.
by John Harrison, by Matthew Kawas, by Chase Sargeant | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:58am | 1 comment
After a 20-year hiatus since the fall of the Soviet Union, the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) and 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) identify a new great power competition as the priority security threat to the United States. Although focused on Europe with Russia, and Asia with China, this great power competition is just as applicable in Latin America where China is aggressively using the economic instrument of power.
by Franklin C. Annis | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:43am | 0 comments
We will begin our examination of talent management by first examining the philosophy behind this program and how talent management might be best applied to AMEDD Officers of the Army National Guard. Once we gain understanding of the appropriate talent management philosophy, we can further explore how this philosophy could be put into practice.
by Mike Karlson | Sun, 03/24/2019 - 12:02am | 1 comment
The Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide Crimes is a stark reminder to the world of the human cost of war. It stands shoulder to shoulder in time with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, inscribed with the names of the over 58,000 American servicemembers that gave their lives during the Vietnam War. This former school in Cambodia, and the black granite wall in Washington, D.C., can serve as metaphors for how history can both present or hinder opportunities in the future.
by David Retherford | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 11:39am | 0 comments
Myke Cole has written a new book covering ancient Hellenistic phalanx and Roman legion warriors. The author’s work focused on Hellenistic and Roman military unit formations with a tactical analysis. Cole’s work spans a time period from approximately the 3rd through the 2nd century BC battlefields with a discipline focus. Cole’s main argument focuses on the tactical success and failure of the phalanx and legion military units.
by Marc J. O'Connor | Sat, 03/23/2019 - 8:41am | 0 comments
This paper explores the application and effects of locally-produced electronic warfare systems in the environment of the Fourth Generation (4GW) ‘come-as-you-are’ war in the context of a non-state actor using such systems to produce military effects for mission support and strategic influence, in order develop and facilitate competition as a peer/near-peer competitor against a state or other incumbent actor.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 7:03am | 0 comments
Officials in Guanajuato (Gto.) state have confirmed that alleged huachicolero (fuel theft) capo José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, known as “El Marro,” is believed to have eluded capture on Monday 6 March 2019 by escaping through a series of tunnels. The presence of a functional tunnel network to further fuel theft operations by the Cártel Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) illustrates the tactical complexities of underground/tunnel operations in counter-cartel operations.
by William Gawthrop | Fri, 03/22/2019 - 5:26am | 1 comment
Islam is a civilization, ideology, culture, body of law, as well as a religion. An argument can be made that no other civilization is as tightly interconnected among its five domains as is Islam. Research into one domain initiates a response from the other four domains. In many cases, critical analysis into sensitive civilizational, ideological, cultural, or legal issues results in the outcries from the religious domain sending researchers and their supervisors into retreat.
by Michael Hauben | Thu, 03/21/2019 - 12:58am | 0 comments
Flatly erroneous to the point of calumny is the currently widely held belief, even among the allegedly well-informed, that the VN conflict was lost because the US military insisted on pursuing an enemy-centric strategy, the centerpiece of which was pursuit of enemy main force units. In fact, this attrition-based strategy was responsible for the 1970-71 low point in enemy activity that some (Sorely, inter alia) have labelled the point at which the US and its allies won the war.
by Donald C. Bolduc | Wed, 03/20/2019 - 3:09pm | 0 comments
The purpose of this article is to describe the importance of empowering subordinates. It was my experience as a senior leader in the military, that success in an organization is dependent on empowerment of subordinates. The more you invest in your people the more effective you were as a leader. Unfortunately, I also observed that empowerment of subordinates is not followed consistently in military organizations. The mistake leaders make is that they talk about empowerment, but then attach a bunch of restrictions rendering it ineffective.

Blog Posts

by The New York Times | Tue, 03/26/2019 - 2:41am | 0 comments
"Israel and Hamas exchanged blows on Monday after a rocket launched from Gaza struck a house in central Israel, wounding seven people."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 03/26/2019 - 2:17am | 0 comments
"Syrians who remained loyal to President Bashar al-Assad throughout the past eight years of war are increasingly expressing discontent with his government as living standards in the country continue to deteriorate even as the conflict winds down."
by Military Times | Tue, 03/26/2019 - 1:29am | 0 comments
"The strength of the United States is reflected by its values, diversity and what we can offer the world as a collective whole."
by Jerusalem Post | Tue, 03/26/2019 - 12:15am | 0 comments
"The reported cease-fire between Israel and Hamas did not go into effect Monday night as a new barrage of rockets hit the south."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 1:59pm | 0 comments
"Israeli military jets began striking targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave, just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting at the White House with President Trump."
by Associated Press | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 11:17am | 0 comments
"A long-range rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people early Monday, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a high-profile visit to Washington and prompting the military to deploy troops along Israel's southern border."
by Jerusalem Post | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 10:15am | 0 comments
"It was the third long-range rocket fired towards central Israel from the Gaza Strip in two weeks, catching Israel by total surprise and this time striking its target – a civilian home."
by The Atlantic | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 9:52am | 0 comments
"The United States and its allies are nowhere close to bringing down the terrorist organization’s economic empire."
by Voice of America | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:24am | 0 comments
"On Saturday, after five years of fighting, the militants lost their last sliver of land, a bombed out camp in Syria. What was once a self-proclaimed 'Caliphate,' occupying vast territories in Iraq and Syria and bent on the destruction, is now once again an elusive insurgency."
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:22am | 0 comments
Via Kurdistan 24 - "The US-led coalition on Saturday congratulated the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on eliminating the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate and stated that it would continue to work with the SDF to prevent a resurgence of the extremist group that terrorized large portions of Syria and Iraq for years."
by Associated Press | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"U.S.-backed Syrian fighters cleared explosives in the last area retaken from the Islamic State group on Sunday and arrested a number of militants hiding in tunnels, a day after declaring military victory and the end of the extremists’ self-styled caliphate."
by Lawfare | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"The Islamic State seeks to project an image of strength, and that image has attracted many followers. In the past few years, the above-ground caliphate has collapsed and infighting is growing, but the group still stresses its prowess and leadership in its propaganda."
by The National Interest | Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:15am | 1 comment
"America's top brass can no longer operate under the assumption that every problem is the responsibility of the U.S. military."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 03/24/2019 - 3:30pm | 0 comments
"The collapse of Islamic State’s caliphate has delivered a crushing blow to the extremist group, but the conditions that nourished that insurgency and others in war-shattered Syria and Iraq remain perilously in place."
by Agence France-Presse | Sun, 03/24/2019 - 12:03pm | 0 comments
"Five years after the Islamic State group swept across Iraq, Baghdad is bidding to reclaim its role as a regional player while walking a tightrope between rival backers the US and Iran.'