Small Wars Journal
  • "It is easier to get permission to put a hellfire on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put a message between his ears."
    -- Anonymous PSYOP Officer (H/T Dave Maxwell)
  • “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
  • “Once Europe existed in a Dark Age and Islam carried the torch of learning. Now we Muslims live in a Dark Age.”
    -- Mahmud Tarzi
  • “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)

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement

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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.

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Repatriation Ceremony - U.S. service members drape a casket with the American flag during a repatriation ceremony in Da Nang City, Vietnam, 17 September 2019. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Claire Farin.

"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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Journal

by Nathan Jones | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 5:30pm | 0 comments
Unlike many University Press books, Jeremy Slack’s Deported to Death is informative, methodologically rigorous, and an entertaining read. It is a masterful account based upon years of deep ethnographic fieldwork that will be of interest to those studying transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) given it supplies incredible detail on the modus operandi or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of illicit networks from the perspective of their victims along the US-Mexico border.
by Phil Walter | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 3:03am | 1 comment
Continue on for a list of all the winners! Congrats to all who entered, job well done. - Dave D.
by Rafael Loss | Thu, 09/19/2019 - 7:45am | 1 comment
Following the Franco-Prussian war and its unification in 1871, the German Empire was a latecomer to the “Scramble for Africa.” Only in 1890 did it adopt Weltpolitik, seeking possessions abroad and equal status among the European imperial powers.
by Kevin Butler | Wed, 09/18/2019 - 4:06am | 0 comments
Less than a decade after weathering massive geo-political upheavals from the Arab Springs, the Middle East is on the verge of yet another crisis; the plummeting price of crude oil. “Rentier states” in the Middle East, have for several decades, secured their status-quo by building an overwhelming portion of their economy dedicated to the sale of crude oil. While the rentier system has been successful in propping up Middle Eastern governments for decades, the downside to this system is the economic and political uncertainty created by the rapidly changing value in a single commodity.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:34pm | 1 comment
As a follow-on to "The US National Security Strategy Needs Combined Effects", this paper shows how combinations of US National Security Strategy (NSS) effects can integrate US National Defense Strategy (NDS) objectives to create strategically significant advantages.
by Travis Prendergast | Mon, 09/16/2019 - 12:33am | 1 comment
During the American occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, the United States Marines officered a native constabulary called the Gendarmerie d’Haiti. Throughout the occupation, the Gendarmerie built infrastructure and assisted in the administration of the country. The success of the Gendarmerie can be compared with the failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority during the occupation of Iraq.
by Brandon Brooks | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:38am | 4 comments
This paper examines the major shifts in irregular warfare, defined here in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Concept as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over [a designated] population.” While there have been several noteworthy evolutions in the ways in which insurgents wage war, this paper argues that the most consequential developments in irregular warfare have occurred on the state-side, reasoning that Western democracies’ embrace of “soft” COIN approaches has spread worldwide.
by Cameron Evers | Fri, 09/13/2019 - 7:31pm | 0 comments
Sudan has begun to send thousands of soldiers next door to Libya to shore up renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s failing siege of Tripoli. The move, believed to be bankrolled by United Arab Emirates (UAE), marks a new phase in Sudan’s post-Bashir foreign policy that further defines the feared mercenary paramilitary, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as a bartering chip and proxy army for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, first in Yemen, and now Libya.
by James King | Thu, 09/12/2019 - 1:29pm | 4 comments
Advising foreign forces is hard, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it. Since the inception of the Military Transition Team (MiTT) early in the Iraq war people who were disgruntled by the fact they had to serve on one or didn’t understand how they worked would rail against their existence.
by Katherine Voyles | Wed, 09/11/2019 - 9:14am | 0 comments
What follows here sketches some of the currents, undercurrents and crosscurrents of Mattis’s re-emergence before zeroing in on the themes, issues and concerns that dominate his writing. Hearing from people talking about Mattis is an important prelude to hearing from him on his own terms, and the current runs in the other direction too, hearing from Mattis himself is an important rejoinder to hearing other people talk about him. The Mattis that emerges in his own writing is a different Mattis than the one argued over.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Sun, 09/22/2019 - 12:42am | 0 comments
"Key FARC drug smugglers renew the guerrilla war.... It’s doubtful there was ever a FARC commitment to peace."
by SWJ Editors | Sun, 09/22/2019 - 12:21am | 0 comments
On the fifth anniversary of the Houthis' takeover of Sanna, Al Jazeera provides an overview of the five-year conflict.
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 7:33pm | 0 comments
Riyadh has taken a "wait-and-see" response to the announcement by Huthi militants in Yemen that they are halting all drone and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 7:21pm | 0 comments
"The information has been passed along to the Saudis and the U.S., according to people briefed on the warnings."
by Voice of America | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 1:55am | 0 comments
As the world waited for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to decide what to do next in response to last weekend's drone and missile attack on two major Saudi oil fields, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the most bellicose statement yet on the attacks, unambiguously accusing Iran of launching them and declaring the attacks an "act of war."
by The Wall Street Journal, by Military Times | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 12:25am | 0 comments
"The U.S. said it would send military forces and hardware to Gulf allies and moved to sever some of Iran’s last ties to world markets on Friday, while preparing to outline a case for international action next week when world leaders gather at the United Nations."
by Marine Corps Times | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 1:49pm | 0 comments
"As the Marine Corps and its sister services shift focus to near peer battles and the range of ways to meet that fight, some experts think they may be losing sight of ways in which other threats could emerge both separate from peers and from them through other means."
by Military Times | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 1:07pm | 0 comments
"Reintegrating the Taliban and other combatants in a cornerstone to securing sustainable peace in Afghanistan, according to John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan."
by The Wall Street Journal | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 2:50am | 0 comments
"U.S. may send more antimissile batteries and jet fighters to region in wake of attacks on Saudi Arabia."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 2:29am | 0 comments
A series of attacks on Saudi oil facilities has escalated tensions in the region and put Iran's ties with Yemen's Huthi rebels in the spotlight.
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:13am | 1 comment
"Saudi Arabia says it has evidence showing Iran sponsored Saturday's drone and missile attacks on two of its oil facilities, and called on the international community to take action. The question is whether there could be a war."
by Voice of America | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:12am | 0 comments
A car bomb attack claimed by the Taliban near a compound used by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province in southern Afghanistan, left at least 15 dead and more than 90 wounded Thursday morning.
by Voice of America | Thu, 09/19/2019 - 12:47pm | 1 comment
Prospects for peace in Afghanistan appeared more remote Thursday after an early morning Taliban suicide car bomb attack on a government building in southern Afghanistan killed at least 15 people, bringing to more than 70 the death toll in such attacks this week. The violence is expected to increase further as Taliban insurgents have warned of attacks on polling centers just days ahead of the country’s planned presidential elections.
by Associated Press | Thu, 09/19/2019 - 12:04pm | 0 comments
"Iran's foreign minister warned Thursday that any attack on his country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia's oil industry will result in 'all-out war,' further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Thu, 09/19/2019 - 10:03am | 0 comments
"Twenty people have died after a truck packed with explosives was detonated by Taliban militants outside a hospital in southern Afghanistan."