Small Wars Journal
  • "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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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



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.


Formation Flow – US Navy ships sail in formation with Japanese, Australian and Canadian ships in the Philippine Sea, 11 November 2019, during an annual exercise that develops coordination and interoperability. US Navy photograph.

"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 Morgan Smiley | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 4:55am | 0 comments
Many of the troopers and leaders who were part of the early deployments of the “Global War on Terrorism” have since departed the military. But I know many remain, though for a lot of them, I suspect their experiences consist of deployments involving security force assistance or limited patrols with limited goals as host-nation forces were pushed to take on more responsibility. Despite this, the troopers who are still in our military have valuable lessons that should be passed on to those with less experience.
by Chayathip Weerakajorn | Sun, 11/17/2019 - 11:44am | 0 comments
All actions have consequences, and all circumstances come after certain root causes; so does the ongoing insurgency in the southernmost provinces of Thailand, or what also known as the Deep South. The Thai ways of counterinsurgency are arguably flawed in several aspects, including the security and civil pillars of counterinsurgency. Moreover, the unstable domestic politics continues to distract the country leaders from conflicts in the south, as they are forced to focus on securing political power in Bangkok instead.
by Louis René Beres | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 10:52am | 0 comments
At the outset, world leaders will need to plan rationally, self-consciously and (above all) collaboratively for global survival. More than anything else, this would signify a refreshingly new willingness to realign traditionally narrow judgments of national self-interest with the much wider interests of humankind. Although meeting this complex requirement will at first appear unrealistic, nothing could be less pragmatic than staying stubbornly on our present collision course.
by Matthew Aaron Richmond | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:57am | 0 comments
Violence resulting from conflicts between criminal groups and police has risen steadily across much of Latin America in recent years. The effects tend to be most felt in marginalised urban neighbourhoods, where widespread poverty and weak provision of essential services create opportunities for drug trafficking factions, street gangs, and militias to entrench local influence.
by Daniel Riggs | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 2:58am | 0 comments
No support to resistance will ever be perfect. But identifying groups who pose the best means for not only success, but stability as well is crucial. Decision makers and planners should not be content with finding a group to just achieve strategic ends. In world affairs, nothing appears to provoke as much ill will and long-term disdain towards a foreign country after they have provided less than intelligent support to a resistance movements that turn totalitarian or towards carnage.
by Boglarka Bozsogi | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:27pm | 0 comments
They know the drill. Emerging threats, foreign intervention, local alliances, and historic letdowns. Abandonment should not come as a surprise. Great powers have instrumentalized Kurdish nationalism for grand strategy, but cooptation implies agency from the proxy—a willingness to offer its strategic advantages for support or protection. U.S. withdrawal in face of the Turkish incursion in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria shines a light on the challenges of proxy warfare.
by Samiullah Doorandesh | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:55pm | 1 comment
Every U.S. airstrike resulting in civilian casualties nullifies the eighteen-year long endeavors of reconstruction and nation building aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Afghans in the perpetual War on Terror. The airstrikes have alarmingly augmented the xenophobia of Afghans towards the foreign troops and especially those of the United States.
by Brandon Kasubaski | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:41am | 0 comments
MDO’s success depends on technological developments, capabilities available, and leaders and planners’ insight in seeing how such developments and capabilities can affect the ideal relationships between operating elements. A great deal of success also depends on the nature of the enemy, their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities.
by Sarhang Hamasaeed | Tue, 11/12/2019 - 4:32am | 0 comments
ImageTens of thousands of Iraqis have been protesting in Baghdad and southern provinces against the failure of the Iraqi government and the political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption, and more. Iraqi security forces and armed groups reportedly linked to Iran have used lethal force in response to the protests, leaving over 260 dead and over 10,000 injured. As the protests have progressed, demands have expanded to include calls for regime change, the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, early elections, pushing back against Iranian influence, and accountability for killing peaceful protesters.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 11/11/2019 - 1:28pm | 0 comments
Many years have passed since the last uniformed American left Vietnam. Those of us that were there have many mixed feelings and emotions on the subject. There is sufficient distance that historians have time to dissect actions ranging from Presidential decisions to the amount of mixed-race babies left behind to the quality of c rations.

Blog Posts

by Associated Press | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 8:56am | 0 comments
"The New York Times and The Intercept say they have reviewed hundreds of pages of purported Iranian intelligence documents that detail Iran’s massive influence in neighboring Iraq."
by Jerusalem Post | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 7:32am | 0 comments
"Iran’s role became so connected to abuses in some cases that locals said they would prefer Israel to Iran."
by Voice of America | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 6:18am | 0 comments
Protesters in Lebanon came out en masse on Sunday, marking a full month of demonstrations against corruption and a host of other grievances.
by Voice of America | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 6:09am | 0 comments
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed "thugs" for damaging property in protests that left at least two people dead. His comments come as the government shut off internet across Iran in an attempt to quell protests over the raising of government-set gasoline prices by 50%.
by Voice of America | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 5:17am | 0 comments
One Iraqi protester was killed and more than 30 others were wounded Sunday amid renewed clashes on a key bridge in Baghdad. The protesters now have control of three bridges crossing the Tigris River toward the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government.
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 3:18pm | 0 comments
"The Afghan government said Saturday it was reassessing its decision to free three imprisoned senior Taliban fighters, following a failed prisoner swap this week aimed at helping resuscitate negotiations on a political settlement of the 18-year Afghan war."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 9:19am | 0 comments
"Leaders of France, Russia, Ukraine and Germany to meet in December; new report into 2014 downing of Malaysian passenger jet further implicates Russia."
by Time Magazine | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:55am | 0 comments
"The modern Middle East was formed exactly 100 years ago when, in the wake of World War I, the victors began creating new countries. Among the populations deemed deserving of nationhood — along with Armenians and Azeris — were the Kurds."
by Associated Press | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:22am | 0 comments
"President Donald Trump has pardoned a former U.S. Army commando set to stand trial next year in the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker and for a former Army lieutenant who had been convicted of murder after he ordered his men to fire upon three Afghans, killing two, the White House announced late Friday."
by Associated Press | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 3:53pm | 0 comments
"A senior U.S. coalition commander said Friday the partnership with Syrian Kurdish forces remains strong and focused on fighting the Islamic State group, despite an expanding Turkish incursion into areas under Kurdish control."
by Breaking Defense | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 2:53pm | 0 comments
"The Israeli Air Force just wrapped up a 'Blue Flag' wargame with the US & European allies and a real war with Islamic Jihad in Gaza."
by Associated Press | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 4:35am | 0 comments
"European and other members of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group must take back and prosecute their nationals detained in Iraq and Syria to help keep ISIS from regaining territory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday."
by Military Times | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 1:04am | 0 comments
"U.S. Africa Command on Nov. 1 announced that the new base in Agadez, Niger — designed to house armed drones and other aircraft that have been operating out of an international airport in Niamey, Niger’s capital — had begun flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions that week."
by The Wall Street Journal | Thu, 11/14/2019 - 2:53pm | 0 comments
"The move comes a day after President Trump met with Turkish President Erdogan at the White House."
by Military Times | Thu, 11/14/2019 - 1:44pm | 0 comments
"U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters in Libya in September knocked out nearly one-third of the group’s fighters, but U.S. officials aren’t sweating over a massive ISIS resurgence in the country."