Small Wars Journal
  • "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
  • “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”
    -- Joseph Stalin
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
    -- Old MOUT Adage
  • “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
  • “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)

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"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.

Journal

by Michael D. Shaler | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 6:47pm | 0 comments
The United States Army has long regarded itself as a LEARNING ORGANIZATION, so, as the President noted, we should ask ourselves: “What have we learned --- both positive and negative --- from our 20 years involvement in the Afghanistan War?”
by Robert S. Burrell | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 8:51pm | 6 comments
The recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and resulting takeover of governance by the Taliban has caused significant doubt in America’s ability to conduct long-lasting and effective counterinsurgency operations. However, a historical analysis into America’s small wars (or dirty wars) over the past two centuries offers an indispensable perspective. The United States has been at war for about 226 of its 245 years, the vast majority of these conflicts have been prosecuted short of traditional war, and many came as a result of great power competition. During this same period, the United States has developed its own unique methods of addressing insurgency. This essay illuminates the evolution and adoption of America’s double-edged reward and punishment approach to addressing insurgency, from the Plains Indian Wars through the Vietnam War, the lessons of which are essential to consider before embarking upon tomorrow’s conflict.
by Gabriel Lloyd | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:50am | 0 comments
Modern Russian intelligence operations, cyber intrusions and influence operations have found both potency in the proliferation of social media technologies and a receptive target in the existing political and social divisions in the United States. Media reports, including dramatic documentaries and breathless biopics on the ten Russian “illegals” arrested in 2010, create perceptions of either a newly developed Russian playbook or a full-scale return to the Cold War era of spy-vs-spy. Neither perspective is entirely accurate.
by Peter Layton | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:43am | 2 comments
China’s gray zone activities grind remorseless on but in so doing are creating an opposing pushback. As is customary, the paradoxical nature of war applies in that those impacted by a damaging strategy will over time devise optimized countermoves.
by Alexander Smith | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:36am | 1 comment
“Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.”[1] British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, recognized the value of airpower as early as 1933 during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and his words hold to this day. The United States spent sixteen of the last twenty years and precious resources attempting to rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF) into a viable, self-sustaining military aviation component capable of supporting the democratically-elected Afghan government. The withdrawal of U.S. and Coalition forces in August of 2021, and the embarrassingly swift takeover by the Taliban, have left the AAF in shambles. Many pilots fled with their aircraft to neighboring countries, where their fate remains uncertain, while the rest are now in Taliban hands.
by Andrew Milburn | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 8:32pm | 0 comments
Watching the chaotic scenes in Kabul airport this last August, it is difficult to make sense of the manner in which Washington pulled the plug on a two-decade Coalition effort leaving our allies non-plussed and our partners to the mercy of a vengeful enemy. Less than three weeks later, these images came again to mind during the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and two of his four-star generals before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nothing in that testimony, however, brought a sense of closure. Instead, repeated attempts at justification, and ultimately – a collective refusal to take responsibility – only rubbed salt in the wound.
by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 10/01/2021 - 6:19pm | 1 comment
Book Review of James H. Lebovic,"Planning to Fail: The US Wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This text looks at the US wars in Vietnam (1965–1973), Iraq (2003–2011), and Afghanistan (2001-present [2021]) reviewing the conditions from withdrawal. In all three case, the decision-makers accepted terms of departure that their predecessors would have rejected at the start of tase respective conflicts.
by David M. Tillman | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:56am | 0 comments
Mission command dates back to the mid-19th century, when the Chief of Prussian general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, first conceptualized the decentralized operational framework known as Auftragstaktik. German doctrine adopted Auftragstaktik in 1888, which later served as the foundation for the infamous German Blitzkrieg of WWII. Today, Auftragstaktik provides the foundation for mission command, which U.S. doctrine defines as having seven key principles: competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance. These principles are compounding, with each one enhancing the efficacy of the next. This article analyzes MG Ariel Sharon’s effective employment of mission command during the Yom Kippur War, specifically through the principles of competence, mutual trust, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.
by Anthony Ippoliti | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:41am | 0 comments
Geopolitics determines the type of cell phone you carry, the car you drive, and the computer you use. The all-consuming power of nation-state actor rivalries in the international arena shapes the structural paradigm that drives trade and politics. This is the invisible hand of the global economy. And so it goes with China, microprocessors, and American national security.
by Justin Baumann | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:32am | 0 comments
In discussing the Army’s role in protecting interests against adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDO-PACOM) theater of operations, it may seem counterintuitive that an article discusses Navy and Air Force platforms, but the Army cannot operate against adversaries while conducting Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs) or Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCOs) if it is not properly supplied.[ii] In the INDO-PACOM, this means the Army relies predominantly on current Navy and Air Force resupply platforms for sustaining operations and power projection across the vast Pacific Ocean.[iii]

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 9:23am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 10/17/2021 - 12:05pm | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 10/16/2021 - 12:10pm | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 10/15/2021 - 9:21am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 10/14/2021 - 9:35am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 10/12/2021 - 12:16pm | 1 comment

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by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 10/11/2021 - 10:02am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 10/09/2021 - 11:12am | 2 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 10/07/2021 - 7:49am | 0 comments

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by SWJ Editors | Wed, 10/06/2021 - 7:43pm | 0 comments
Access The Tracker HERE. October 6, 2021 | FDD Tracker: August 28 – October 6, 2021 Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tra
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 10/06/2021 - 9:59am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 10/05/2021 - 9:37am | 0 comments

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