Small Wars Journal
  • “Once Europe existed in a Dark Age and Islam carried the torch of learning. Now we Muslims live in a Dark Age.”
    -- Mahmud Tarzi
  • "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)
  • “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)
  • “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
  • “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

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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.


Twilight Training - Army paratroopers fire artillery rounds with an M119A3 howitzer during Exercise Saber Junction at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, on 11 Sept. 2019. Saber Junction is designed to promote readiness and interoperability with partner nations. Photo by Army Sgt. Henry Villarama.

"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 Brandon Brooks | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:38am | 0 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.
by Michael Gladius | Wed, 09/11/2019 - 12:08am | 2 comments
In order to see how the Artillery Army fits into Multidomain Operations, we must look at its doctrinal and organizational logic. Firstly, the doctrinal: Western culture and mindset is based on trinities, and doctrine contains three components. The first component involves the differences between firepower warfare, guerrilla/ranger warfare, and mobile warfare (a trinity within a trinity, no less!).
by Riley Murray | Mon, 09/09/2019 - 5:10am | 2 comments
Andrew Krepinevich’s “Army Concept” provides a useful model for understanding the mindset military organizations take towards advising operations, which subsequently shapes outcomes, including the U.S. Air Force’s advising efforts in small wars. Efforts to advise the South Vietnamese Air Force and Afghan Air Force demonstrate that U.S. Air Force advising concepts have been poorly suited towards irregular conflicts, creating counterproductive effects.
by Pedro Cardoso | Fri, 09/06/2019 - 1:39am | 0 comments
Corruption, money laundering and alliances with national and Brazilians’ drug dealers and with the Russian mafia. Mexico’s “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel is in Portugal and has set up a cocaine transhipment base for central and northern Europe. The Mexican drug dealer sons control the cocaine shipment to Portugal. This article was originally published as “A cor do cartel” at the Portuguese magazine Expresso (Lisbon) on 17 August 2019.
by David S. Maxwell | Thu, 09/05/2019 - 5:42pm | 0 comments
Continue on for a short review of the new book on leadership by Jim Mattis and Bing West.
by Mathew Daniels | Thu, 09/05/2019 - 12:27am | 2 comments
As the Global War on Terror continues to expand, the U.S. believes it is important to maintain sound strategy and policy in order to bring about success and avoid costly foreign policy and militaristic commitments. This is especially true in Somalia, where the U.S. is engaged in a small war which currently has a light footprint approach, but risks of increased involvement are possible.
by Alex Wilson | Wed, 09/04/2019 - 1:11pm | 5 comments
What if you never had to go to war because your strategy in peace was so effective that the carnage of a future war could be avoided? In other words, are we in the UK, right now, maximising our strategy in peacetime? Much of this rests on our understanding of Soft Power, but Soft Power seems to be treading so softly in any of the current defence and security debates that it is virtually absent.

Blog Posts

by Voice of America | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 1:34am | 0 comments
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said Saturday that drone attacks on two Aramco oil facilities by a Yemen Houthi militia group have cut the kingdom’s oil production in half.
by Al-Monitor | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:11am | 0 comments
"Preemptively targeting Iran and its proxies in Syria, or 'mowing the grass,' as the Israelis say, remains the centerpiece of the strategy to deny Iran a 'land bridge' to its proxies in Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria. Such a route would pose an abiding threat to Israel. Read more:
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:10am | 0 comments
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani says the Afghan government will only consider making a "legitimate" peace with the Taliban after a national election in September, despite political uncertainty following the recent collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks.
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 09/14/2019 - 2:59pm | 0 comments
"Taliban negotiators have held talks with Russian officials in Moscow, in an apparent effort to restart discussions with the U.S. just days after President Trump killed a nearly completed deal to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan and declared negotiations with the insurgent group dead."
by Voice of America | Sat, 09/14/2019 - 2:18pm | 0 comments
Saudi Arabia's interior ministry says that fires from an apparent early morning drone strike at Aramco oil facilities in the eastern town of Abqaiq have been extinguished and that no one was killed in the attacks.
by Associated Press | Sat, 09/14/2019 - 1:50pm | 0 comments
"The White House says Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late al-Qaida leader who had become an increasingly prominent figure in the jihadi organization, has been killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region."
by The Wall Street Journal | Sat, 09/14/2019 - 1:37pm | 0 comments
"A coordinated drone strike hit at the heart of Saudi oil production on Saturday, sparking an enormous blaze and forcing the kingdom to shut down about half of its crude output, according to people familiar with matter."
by Fox News | Sat, 09/14/2019 - 12:34am | 1 comment
"A Taliban negotiating team arrived in Russia on Friday, less than a week after President Trump announced that peace talks with the Islamic militant group in Afghanistan were essentially 'dead.'"
by Voice of America | Fri, 09/13/2019 - 4:04pm | 0 comments
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told an election rally Friday that more than 2,000 Taliban fighters have been killed over the past week and insisted his elected office is where the insurgent group must come to seek a decisive political settlement to the conflict.
by Military Times | Fri, 09/13/2019 - 12:49am | 1 comment
"As the U.S. contemplates the would-be terms of a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, the State Department is mulling its training and equipping relationship not only with Afghan security forces, but with surrounding countries that will play a role in the region’s stability long-term."
by Associated Press | Fri, 09/13/2019 - 12:14am | 0 comments
"Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders agreed they wanted a deal with the United States, but some were in more of a hurry than others. Taliban negotiators were at odds with their Council of Leaders, or shura, about whether to travel to Camp David even before President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the high-stakes meeting planned for last weekend."
by Al-Monitor | Thu, 09/12/2019 - 3:45pm | 0 comments
"A series of alleged Israeli strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have sent shockwaves across the region and beyond. The attacks on Iraq in particular are unprecedented, with long-term effects yet to be revealed."
by The Washington Post | Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:26pm | 0 comments
"This city’s subway system — spotless, efficient, cheap to ride — has been a source of civic pride since it began operating four decades ago, and it is often held up as a benchmark for public transportation everywhere."
by USNI News | Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:59am | 0 comments
"ISIS might have lost control of its last territorial stronghold in March, but the retired Marine Corps general who led American efforts to defeat the terrorist organization five years ago says the group remains much alive."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Thu, 09/12/2019 - 6:01am | 0 comments
U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to hit the Taliban "harder" than ever, as the United States marked the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that ushered in the war in Afghanistan.