Small Wars Journal
  • "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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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

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.



Troop Transport - An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter transports troops across Afghanistan on 6 March 2019. Photo by Army Captain Roxana Thompson.

"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 David E. Williams, Jr. | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 6:07am | 0 comments
The Islamist worldview is in direct opposition to contemporary Western ideas about government, society, and the role of religion in everyday life. Despite this opposition, or possibly because of it, the Islamist movement is gaining popularity around the globe. The apparent failure of Western ideologies, unequal distribution of wealth for natural resources exacerbated by globalization, and on-going conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have contributed to Muslim masses to seeking solutions from more traditionally-minded leaders who promise a return to Islamic Golden Ages via rejection of secularism in favor of Islamic fundamentalist ideologies. This, however, sets many on a path of conflict with the West.
by Jay Liddick, by Thurman “Scott” Dickerson, by Linda K. Chung | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:07am | 0 comments
To remain relevant in the future operational environment, CA must counter enemy hybrid warfare in the expanded battlefield, specifically in operational and tactical support areas, as part of an integrated security team through civil reconnaissance, civil network analysis, and civil network development.
by Assad A. Raza | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 1:06am | 2 comments
The 2018 National Defense Strategy states that China is a strategic competitor and the United States must restore its competitive advantage in the international arena. However, power competition is more complicated now compared to the Cold War Era. Today, states are hyper-connected through technology and economic cooperation which increases complexity for projecting power. A good example is China’s use of economic power through its Belt and Road Initiative to expand its regional influence all over Euro-Asia.
by Michael Gladius | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 11:19am | 0 comments
As America’s Army prepares for a conventional war and develops multidomain doctrine, new technologies will be developed. However, there are several places where existing technology can be used to fill gaps that have appeared as the Army transitions. This is especially true for urban combat and drone warfare. Here, I propose 2 new platforms that can be adapted from existing technology to answer the changes brought about by the mass introduction of drones onto the modern battlefield. In Part 2, I will address urban combat separately.
by J. David Thompson | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:44am | 0 comments
This series of papers covered some serious and depressing topics: climate change, refugees and human displacement, and the politicking of national security. Hopefully, it found a glimmer of hope in such dire and serious topics. I chose these topics because they are near and dear to me. The positivity of the people impacted by such grave circumstances hits and sticks with me the hardest. This is where I found hope in the past, and I hope that through this paper the reader caught a glimmer of that hope.
by Jeremy D. Lawhorn | Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:08pm | 1 comment
Exploiting America’s openness and diversity, various state and non-state actors have encouraged large segments of the population to mobilize against one another and the government to address a wide range of social and political grievances. These efforts have increased civil unrest and created extensive polarization that now defines the American social and political landscape. Not only have they effectively chipped away at any semblance of national unity, they have created conditions that make it socially and politically unacceptable to cooperate or engage in meaningful dialogue with people who hold opposing views.
by J. David Thompson | Fri, 03/15/2019 - 7:02am | 2 comments
The United States continues to be the largest single donor to the United Nations Refugee Agency. These statements hold true through both Republican and Democratic administrations. The U.S. is currently eighth in per capita contributions to UNHCR. The chart below shows voluntary contributions from the U.S. Government to UNHCR from 2012 to 2018.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Thu, 03/14/2019 - 5:56am | 0 comments
A narcomanta (narco-banner) threatening Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador if Federal security forces are not removed from Guantajuato state was posted in Salamanca, Guanajuato (Gto), Mexico on the morning of 31 January 2019. Shortly after the narcomanta was found, a pickup truck containing explosives was discovered parked in front of a nearby oil refinery.
by J. David Thompson | Thu, 03/14/2019 - 4:42am | 2 comments
When States agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Additional Protocol, few people knew about the effects of climate change. Now that people recognize climate change, some people wonder what term should be used for those displaced by climate change. Some people argue that the term “refugee” should be broadened to all those forcibly displaced—whether from conflict, climate, or some other cause. Others argue that the word “refugee” already has a legal definition, and there are already challenges assisting this community.
by Donald C. Bolduc | Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:48am | 0 comments
The purpose of this article is to discuss effective leadership, present the importance of truth telling, and to contend that moral courage is the most critical trait for a leader. In this article I will offer a model and demonstrate that to be an effective leader, a leader must be a difference-maker. Being a difference-maker means doing the right thing and having the courage to say hard things to people that do not want to hear them.

Blog Posts

by The Hill | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 7:47am | 0 comments
"Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford denied the accuracy of a report published Sunday that the U.S. is planning to keep 1,000 troops in Syria."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 6:32am | 0 comments
"The U.S. military is crafting plans to keep nearly 1,000 forces in Syria, U.S. officials said, a shift that comes three months after President Trump ordered a complete withdrawal and is far more than the White House originally intended."
by Associated Press | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:58am | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump and his national security team had an hour-long, classified meeting on Afghanistan on Friday, a day after a top Afghan official openly complained that the Trump administration was keeping his government in the dark about its negotiations with the Taliban."
by Associated Press | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:56am | 0 comments
"U.S.-backed forces fighting to recapture the last Islamic State group outpost in Syria admitted on Sunday they were facing 'difficulties' defeating the extremists, saying they were being slowed by mines, tunnels and concerns over harming women and children among the militants."
by The New York Times | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:53am | 0 comments
"Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — more than a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign."
by Associated Press | Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:23am | 0 comments
"Years after the death of his father at the hands of a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan, Hamza bin Laden now finds himself in the crosshairs of world powers."
by The New York Times | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 11:53am | 0 comments
"The Taliban carried out the biggest known capture of Afghan soldiers of the war, taking 150 prisoners after they chased units into neighboring Turkmenistan and that country forced them back, Afghan officials said on Sunday."
by The Washington Examiner | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 9:01am | 0 comments
"Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan, has a long and often regrettable history in Afghanistan affairs. Prior to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, for example, Khalilzad worked as a consultant for a group in Boston which was in turned hired by UNOCAL which at the time was trying to build a pipeline across Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. At the time, Khalilzad worked to normalize U.S. relations with the Taliban and arranged for a senior Taliban official to come to the United States to meet with Clinton administration officials and business leader."
by Defense One | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 2:06am | 0 comments
"The debate on privatizing the war in Afghanistan is heating up yet again, with Democratic lawmakers pledging to end so-called 'forever wars.' The public is slowly recognizing the war’s hidden costs and global scale."
by Voice of America | Sun, 03/17/2019 - 12:06am | 0 comments
"The death toll in a mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques on Friday has risen to 50 after emergency workers found another body at one of the crime scenes."
by The Washington Post | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 11:56am | 0 comments
"The United States and its closest allies have spent nearly two decades building an elaborate system to share intelligence about international terrorist groups, and it has become a key pillar of a global effort to thwart attacks."
by The Los Angeles Times | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:27am | 0 comments
"The report by the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice found that five out of six of the world’s most violent municipalities were in Mexico, where homicides have risen to historic levels in recent years amid a military-led war against criminal groups."
by Military Times | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:25am | 0 comments
"Speculation about a military assault on Venezuela was also fueled by Trump’s recent appointment of a former George W. Bush administration official who was an architect of the Iraq War, Elliot Abrams, to be the new “'pecial Representative for Venezuela.'"
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is imposing visa restrictions against International Criminal Court officials, citing investigations by the ICC into the activities of Americans and their allies in Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:17am | 0 comments
"Most of the roughly 400,000 Yazidi people in Iraq are still displaced, living in crowded camps and scattered around the world. Authorities hope to identify the bodies of people in dozens of mass graves in Iraq, so their remains can be buried by their families."