Small Wars Journal

Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS)

Sun, 03/10/2013 - 8:25pm

For anyone interested in studying unconventional warfare please see this web site.

We owe a great debt to Paul Tompkins and USASOC for reviving and updating this seminal (but long dormant) work begun by the Special Operations Research Office (SORO).  It sure would be nice to re-establish the office.  Perhaps JSOU should become the new SORO.


  • Casebook on Insurgency and Revolutionary Warfare, Vol. 1: 1933-1962
  • Casebook on Insurgency and Revolutionary Warfare, Vol. II: 1962-2009
  • Irregular Warfare Annotated Bibliography
  • Human Factors Considerations of Underground in Insurgencies
  • Undergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary and Resistance Warfare

The Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) series consists of a set of case studies and research conducted for the US Army Special Operations Command by the National Security Analysis Department of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The purpose of the ARIS series is to produce a collection of academically rigorous yet operationally relevant research materials to develop and illustrate a common understanding of insurgency and revolution. This research, intended to form a bedrock body of knowledge for members of the Special Forces, will allow users to distill vast amounts of material from a wide array of campaigns and extract relevant lessons, thereby enabling the development of future doctrine, professional education, and training.

From its inception, ARIS has been focused on exploring historical and current revolutions and insurgencies for the purpose of identifying emerging trends in operational designs and patterns. ARIS encompasses research and studies on the general characteristics of revolutionary movements and insurgencies and examines unique adaptations by specific organizations or groups to overcome various environmental and contextual challenges.

The ARIS series follows in the tradition of research conducted by the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) of American University in the 1950s and 1960s, by adding new research to that body of work and in several instances releasing updated editions of original SORO studies.


Dave Maxwell

Tue, 08/06/2013 - 1:03pm

In reply to by GBNT73

I would certainly like to JSOU take on work like SORO. JSOU was certainly free to take on this project but they did not. The field and the schoolhouses (e.g., SWCS) needed an update to the ARIS project and because of the vision and hard work of Paul Tompkins USASOC ad JHU/APL were able to get it done. We need a SORO like organization but I have not seen JSOU focus to that effect on something like ARIS, thus my comment.

How is JSOU not the new SORO? They have a research arm, and they belong to USSOCOM. They have not been valued enough to truly meet that mission, but I do believe that is the entire reason for its existence. To reinforce, the ARIS projects, and things directly related, should be 80% of their entire budget. Then it should be staffed and funded to attract the brightest minds to tackle their hardest projects and run its own show. And there ought not be a uniformed guy in charge. Preferably not even a retired guy -- that way the "military-ness" doesn't screw it up and make it another cog in the machine.

SJP Oneill

Sun, 03/10/2013 - 9:36pm

Great news and very timely as I am preparing a university course on irregular warfare for the second semester this year. Hope to see this body of work develop and expand.