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
  • “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
  • “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the twentieth century. That is indeed a grim distinction in a span that included two world wars, the assassinations of two presidents and the resignation of another, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial unrest, and the drug and crime waves.”
    -- Donald M. Goldstein
  • “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)
  • "It is always dangerous for soldiers, sailors or airmen to play at politics. They enter a sphere in which values are quite different from those to which they have hitherto been accustomed"
    -- Winston Churchill

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



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.


SOUTHCOM AOR - The USS Little Rock travels in the Caribbean Sea, Feb. 16, 2020. The littoral combat ship is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Campaign Martillo, an effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along Central America. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Marianne Guemo.

"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 John S. Turner | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 8:16am | 0 comments
Last Wednesday, the Pentagon announced the Army’s 1st SFAB (SFAB—Security Force Assistance Brigade) would deploy within the coming weeks to conduct train, advise, and assist missions in select African countries. This is a good move as it sustains U.S. military presence, and reinforces U.S. commitment to regional security partners at they work to beat back violent extremist and strategic competitor gains for influence.
by Adam Gallagher | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 8:51am | 0 comments
After a year and a half of negotiations, the U.S. and Taliban have reached an interim agreement to reduce violence for a period of seven days. If that agreement holds, the two sides will formalize a pact that would lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a phased U.S. troop withdrawal. Although the reduction in violence is an important achievement, it is but one step on a long, rocky road to peace, noted current and former senior U.S. officials on February 18 at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
by Cooper Strand | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:38am | 0 comments
While the termination of the VFA does not necessarily mean a complete end to cooperation between the Philippines and the United States, it does set a precedent that makes continued cooperation more doubtful. Certainly, the Philippines has the right to self-determination. But withdrawing from the VFA could have overwhelmingly negative consequences for the country itself as it grapples with insurgent forces. Additionally, these repercussions could be felt in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole by emboldening Chinese military activity in the region.
by Scott Smith | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:51pm | 0 comments
The agreement offers an opportunity to start a process to end the war—but there is much to be done to get there. USIP’s Scott Smith examines the U.S.-Taliban deal and what comes next.
by Franklin C. Annis | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 8:52am | 0 comments
The technological advancements that has allowed for the use of drones, has largely sharpened the existing ethical concerns of military conflicts. As the longer loiter times of drones have allowed for more positive identification of targets, so has the demand to ensure targets are appropriately identified. As drones have allowed for minimizing collateral damage, so has the demand for less collateral damaged has increased. In this way, many of the legal and ethical concerns surrounding drones are simply a re-examination of the classical ethical concerns of armed conflict heightened by advanced technology.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:43am | 0 comments
On Wednesday, 12 February 2020, elements of SEDENA, the Secretariat of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional), assigned to the Eighth Military Zone (Octava Zona Militar), in Colonia Vista Hermosa near Reynosa, Tamaulipas discovered an underground bunker used as a cartel support facility. It is suspected that the underground warren has been operated by ‘Los Escorpiones’ (The Scorpions) a Gulf Cartel (Cártel del Golfo – CDG) enforcer cell.
by Daniel J. O’Connor | Wed, 02/19/2020 - 10:58am | 0 comments
Several major actions taken by the United States and coalition in the last 18 years share much in common with the efforts of the Soviet Union during its combat operations in the country (1979-1989). It is therefore incumbent upon any student of the current conflict to firmly understand the Soviet conflict, its doctrine, execution, and most importantly, the Soviet methods of counterinsurgency.
by Tom McCarthy | Wed, 02/19/2020 - 1:11am | 0 comments
Newfound breathing room has emboldened ISIS to release the name of its new leader and increase the pace and audacity of insurgent attacks against Kurdish, Syrian government, and Iraqi targets, pointing to the conclusion that this aspect of the Syrian Civil War has merely transformed into a new phase.
by Jonathan Bradley | Tue, 02/18/2020 - 9:45am | 0 comments
Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Doctrine was initially developed in the midst of the Iraq War as the military struggled to accept the situation it found itself in and struggled to create a strategy to address it. Initially published in 2004 as an interim doctrine, and then in 2006 as a completed publication, the Army and Marine Corps’ primary counterinsurgency doctrine has only been updated once since then.
by Michael A. Marra, by Douglas W. Bennett | Tue, 02/18/2020 - 8:02am | 1 comment
The United States has intervened repeatedly in the southern hemisphere for a myriad of reasons, but primarily to address growing problems metastasizing at the “Southern strategic approaches” to American territory. While today’s problem of 2015-2020 is one of human mass migration, the previous crisis of 2000 to 2010 stemmed from of an epidemic of illicit drugs. This threat was so pernicious at that period, the United States felt compelled to act with our partner nation of Colombia. With a combination of all instruments of national power, a holistic strategy with a small but powerful military theme emerged.

Blog Posts

by Bloomberg News | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 10:53am | 0 comments
"Libya’s security chief called on the U.S. to set up a base in the North African country to counter Russia’s expanding influence in Africa."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 8:50am | 0 comments
"As the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban started Saturday a seven-day partial truce ahead of a possible peace deal to end more than 18 years of war, the United Nations provided evidence of the conflict’s massive toll on civilians."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 12:15am | 0 comments
"The deal due to be signed on February 29 will trigger the phased withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and kick off talks among warring Afghan factions over a power-sharing arrangement."
by Military Times | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 12:13am | 0 comments
"As a peace deal looms between the Taliban and the U.S. warring parties in the 18-year long conflict are calling on their forces to be prepared to use self-defense, signaling a potential partial cessation of offensive operations across Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 12:11am | 0 comments
"A global agency leading the fight against the financing of terrorism and money laundering has kept Pakistan on its “gray list” of nations with inadequate mechanisms to curb funding sources to terrorist groups."
by Associated Press | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:45pm | 0 comments
"The countdown to the signing of a peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States on Feb. 29 to end the 18 years of war in Afghanistan will begin at midnight Friday, when a seven-day 'reduction of violence' promised by the Taliban goes into effect, an Afghan official said."
by Fox News | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 11:27am | 0 comments
"The New York Times is being criticized by many, including its own Afghanistan correspondent, after publishing an opinion piece Thursday by the deputy leader of the Taliban, who is wanted by the U.S. government."
by Voice of America | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 11:00am | 0 comments
"In simultaneously issued statements, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the Taliban announced Friday that a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban will be signed February 29, paving the way toward ending the longest American war in history."
by Military Times | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:31am | 0 comments
"A recent UN report said that record breaking airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants in Somalia is forcing the group to move from rural areas to urban centers to mitigate American air power."
by Military Times | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:25am | 0 comments
"The Taliban is still angling for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s deputy leader said — comments that come as the U.S. and the Taliban are on the brink of a 7-day agreement to reduce violence."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"A global terror-finance watchdog agency is set to blacklist Iran, broadening a U.S. effort to isolate Tehran financially and potentially straining the already sanctions-battered Iranian economy."
by Voice of America | Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:15am | 0 comments
"Tensions between Turkey and Russia escalated Thursday with the killing of the two Turkish soldiers in a Syrian airstrike. Moscow, which backs the Damascus government, accused Ankara of supporting terrorists in Syria."
by Voice of America | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 11:05am | 0 comments
"The Taliban’s deputy chief, in a rare newspaper opinion piece published Thursday, has said that despite mutual mistrust, the insurgent group is 'fully committed' to upholding a peace deal it is about to sign with the United States to end the war in Afghanistan."
by Voice of America | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:26am | 0 comments
"As the number of civilians fleeing Syrian and Russian bombardments in northwestern Syria approaches the one million mark, the United Nations warned Wednesday that if fighting follows them, the result will be catastrophic."
by SWJ Editors | Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:24am | 0 comments
Via 'The National' - "In the end, Aleppo fell with a whimper. On Sunday and Monday, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad secured the whole perimeter of the city, seizing towns and villages that had withstood nearly a decade of assaults. The battle for Syria’s greatest city and its once industrial capital is officially over."