Small Wars Journal
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
  • “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)
  • "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
  • “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
  • “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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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.


Alaska Aurora - Marine Corps Humvees are staged at Fort Greely, Alaska, Feb. 20, 2020, in preparation for Arctic Edge, a biennial homeland defense exercise providing training in the extreme cold-weather conditions. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Elias E. Pimentel III.

"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

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by Chris Bosley | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 1:05am | 0 comments
Governments and communities worldwide are facing the increasingly daunting challenge of what to do when citizens who participated in violent extremist conflicts return home. With ISIS’s territorial caliphate extinguished, more than 100 countries could face the task of not only having to reintegrate their citizens, but also preparing their communities for a future with them living next door. This is a society-wide challenge that will engage a cross-cutting spectrum of stakeholders deploying a range of peacebuilding and other tools to build communities and individuals who are more resilient to violent extremism.
by Robert S. Ehlers, Jr, by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:17am | 0 comments
There is still disagreement and outright confusion about what the IE is, why it matters, how to operate within it, and how to develop a terms and definitions relating to it. While terms and definitions comprise the primary focus of this article, it is most useful to discuss them in the context of interactions between information, competition, and strategy.
by Larry Kay | Sun, 02/23/2020 - 5:33am | 0 comments
Why are conspiracies so prevalent? Why are facts and truth so elusive to so many today? Why are people so susceptible to disinformation? Why is the current political climate so peculiar, turbulent, and divided? It is clear that there is a relationship between the disinformation that people ingest and the vitriol that some seem to spit out. These puzzling circumstances may be the result of a growing trend of postmodern thought in the United States and the world.
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 as 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.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 1:01am | 0 comments
"Turkish forces have suffered more casualties in the latest round of fighting in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. But despite Russia backing Syrian government forces in the ongoing attacks on Turkish forces, Ankara has refrained from confronting Moscow — a sign, analysts suggest, of the considerable economic leverage Russia retains over Turkey."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:59am | 0 comments
"Afghan officials say at least six people have been killed in a Taliban attack in the northern Balkh Province, amid a weeklong 'reduction of violence' agreed between the United States and the Taliban."
by Military Times | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:57am | 0 comments
"Battles with characteristics of near-peer combat are raging in Africa — especially in Libya, where high-tech precision strike weapons are flooding the battlefield. And at a time when the U.S. is considering drawing down troops, the conflict in Libya is providing Pentagon planners with an opportunity to better prepare for any future conflict with China or Russia."
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:40am | 0 comments
"Julian Assange put lives in danger when he published a decade ago thousands of classified documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a lawyer representing the U.S. government said at the opening day of a court hearing to determine whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial."
by The Washington Examiner | Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:18am | 0 comments
"The Taliban is lying. That's my response to Sirajuddin Haqqani's 'New York Times' opinion article on Thursday, 'What We, the Taliban, Want.'"
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:14am | 0 comments
"In October, dozens of armed Russian mercenaries fanned out across two Libyan oil ports. Brought in by a renegade Libyan general, they helped rebel forces wrest control of the oil-rich region from the Libyan government."
by The Hill | Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:12am | 0 comments
"The United States and the Taliban are on the verge of signing what would be a historic agreement aimed at winding down America's longest war, potentially fulfilling one of President Trump's key promises."
by Voice of America | Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:06am | 0 comments
"U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday a seven-day partial truce with the Afghan Taliban has 'been holding up' and it could eventually lead to his signing of a peace deal with the insurgent group scheduled for this week."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 02/23/2020 - 8:16am | 0 comments
"At war with each other in the Middle East, groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are working together to take control of territory across a vast stretch of West Africa."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sun, 02/23/2020 - 6:45am | 0 comments
"The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has reported that 3,404 civilians were killed and 6,989 were injured in violence there in 2019. According to the report issued on February 22 by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 2019 was the sixth consecutive year that civilian casualties have topped 10,000."
by Voice of America | Sun, 02/23/2020 - 6:22am | 0 comments
"Idlib is home to nearly 3 million people, almost half of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria during the country’s civil war. Since December 2019, the governorate has come under intensifying attacks by forces loyal to the Syrian regime aiming to seize the remaining rebel-held areas."
by Associated Press | Sun, 02/23/2020 - 6:05am | 0 comments
"Yemen's Houthi rebels have blocked half of the United Nations' aid delivery programs in the war-torn country, a strong-arm tactic to force the agency to give them greater control over the massive humanitarian campaign, along with a cut of billions of dollars in foreign assistance, according to aid officials and internal documents obtained by The Associated Press."
by Associated Press | Sat, 02/22/2020 - 11:53am | 0 comments
"Crouching in the sparse brush, maneuvering into formations through a divide, and then shooting at a target, about 10 soldiers from Burkina Faso are among a select group of African soldiers being trained to battle West Africa's fast-growing extremist threat."
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."