Small Wars Journal
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
  • “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
  • “As our Afghan partners began to understand the value of 1st SFAB advisors, they asked us for more. So our teams partnered with more and more Afghan units as the deployment progressed.”
    -- BG Scott Jackson, 1st SFAB Commander
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



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.



Smoke - An Army paratrooper runs to get into position during live-fire training as part of Exercise Swift Response in Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, 22 June 2019. The U.S.-led multinational exercise prepares NATO allies to deploy high-readiness forces and advances airborne interoperability. Photo by Army Spc. Jordan W. Stafford.

"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.

Small Wars Journal just reopened its Amazon Associates account and can receive a percentage of each purchase you make through this portal: Shop Amazon and Support SWJ - thank you very much!


by Kiril Avramov, by Ellery Cushman | Wed, 06/26/2019 - 1:01am | 0 comments
The deployment of these “cognitive munitions” in the current “hot” stage of political warfare confrontation between Russia and the West should serve as a stark reminder that multiple “defusing” initiatives should be actively developed and implemented, aiming at raising the cognitive protection levels at military and civilian institutions alike.
by Daniel Koehler, by Peter Popella | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 11:33am | 0 comments
One essential aspect affecting individual risk is mental health, such as for example the role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that has been found to significantly increase the threat posed by returning foreign fighters. Furthermore, as it happened throughout history when fighting forces were facing superior opponents and ultimate defeat on the battlefield during “final stands”, the use of drugs to enhance fanaticism, physical strength and to prevent fatigue, hunger, thirst and exhaustion was also reportedly present among IS’s fighters. The substance of choice for IS, Captagon or fenethylline, was so famous among the group’s fighters, that it was used even during terror attacks, for example in the November 2015 Paris attacks.
by Brandon Quintin | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 9:58am | 0 comments
After the Massacre at the Wabash in 1791, George Washington and Henry Knox reformed the U.S. Army as the Legion of the United States. The Legion was a self-contained modular army composed of four identical combined-arms units. During the Fallen Timbers campaign, the Legion proved itself the ideal force structure for use in small wars. The Brigade Combat Team is the closest the U.S. Army has ever come to reviving the legionary structure.
by Nicholas J. Lorusso | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 7:25am | 0 comments
Author’s Note - This paper is a modified version of a submission to the Joint and Combined Warfighting School - Hybrid faculty in partial satisfaction of the requirements for Joint Professional Military Education Phase II. The contents of this submission reflect my original views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Joint Forces Staff College or the Department of Defense.
by Franklin C. Annis | Sun, 06/23/2019 - 8:14pm | 0 comments
Flipping through the pages of this little book, I quickly realized that there was likely little there. Inside this 5”x8” book you will find 1”+ margins with the text more than single spaced. With maybe 100 words per page, the content of this entire book is probably a ~10 page “academic” article.
by Celia Belt | Sun, 06/23/2019 - 1:15am | 0 comments
I’d been walking the floors of the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center since 1998. At the onset of the war, things truly heated up. I no longer had the time to visit with each patient and their families; there were far too many. I was the only volunteer actively visiting patients and I was also heading up a nonprofit for burn survivors, the Moonlight Fund, that consumed much of my time. With so many new burn survivors entering the fold due to the war, I was frantically working to raise the funds to meet the mounting needs of so many wounded military members and also continue to care for civilians who had suffered burn injuries.
by Andrew Fox | Sat, 06/22/2019 - 12:46pm | 0 comments
This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.
by Mario Hoffmann | Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:33am | 2 comments
Strategic competitors like Russia and China are using old technologies in new ways while also employing new advanced technology to fight their enemies in all domains (space, cyber, air, sea, and land). This required the U.S. Army to evolve and adapt the way it wants to fight by publishing “Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) 2028” as the cornerstone for the Joint force to militarily compete, penetrate, dis-integrate, and exploit future adversaries. While air, land, and sea domains have been prevalent since World War II, the relative new-comers of Cyber and Space are still establishing their doctrinal foundation in modern warfare.
by John Turner | Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:54am | 0 comments
If Washington is serious about dismantling TCOs and disrupting cocaine trafficking into the United States it must prioritize more assets to support Admiral Faller’s efforts so that his command is better resourced to interdict and reduce the flow of dangerous, illicit drugs from entering the United States. If not, Washington should lower its expectations and rethink its regional objectives.
by Mike Sweeney | Wed, 06/19/2019 - 2:06pm | 1 comment
Failed dreams of a U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East were very much on my mind while reading a pair of excellent – if flawed – articles in 'War on the Rocks' by Anand Toprani. In the first essay, published in January, Toprani provides one of the best explanations you’ll find on the vagaries of oil pricing and supply, as well as a cogent case for why oil is unlikely to be “just another commodity” anytime soon. In his second essay, published in May, he further underscores that the Persian Gulf remains an irreplaceable source of oil production and argues, to this end, that the United States needs to continue its Cold War role as the region’s strategic guarantor.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 06/26/2019 - 3:17am | 0 comments
"A raid on June 3 used U.S. intelligence to seize group’s leaders and weapons."
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 06/26/2019 - 2:39am | 0 comments
"In an unannounced visit to the Afghan capital for talks with Afghan officials, Mr. Pompeo said on Tuesday that progress has been made in reaching a comprehensive settlement of the nearly 18-year war and that neighboring Pakistan has an important role to play. 'I hope we have a peace deal before Sept. 1,' Mr. Pompeo said."
by The Wall Street Journal | Wed, 06/26/2019 - 12:13am | 0 comments
"President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran shifted back to a sharply confrontational footing on Tuesday, trading accusations while U.S. officials and international leaders worked toward expected talks aimed at defusing the conflict at a global summit at the end of the week."
by Military Times | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 3:26pm | 0 comments
"War is often filled with its share of mistakes and errors in judgment. It’s the nature of this lethal business. Some are the result of changing circumstances on the ground, while others are more systemic. The United States has committed more than a few during its 18 years in Afghanistan."
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 3:19pm | 0 comments
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hopes for a peace deal with the Taliban "before September 1,” as he spoke to reporters in Kabul during an unannounced visit to the Afghan capital on June 25. Pompeo met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other high-level Afghan officials as well as General Scott Miller, who leads NATO's Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.
by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 2:57pm | 0 comments
Iran and the United States have traded insults, with Tehran accusing Washington of "lying" about its willingness to hold talks to steer the two nations away from military conflict, a statement President Donald Trump called “very ignorant and insulting.”
by Military Times | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 2:04pm | 0 comments
"The U.S. is prepared to wipe out areas of Iran if the country decides to attack ‘anything American,' President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday morning on Twitter."
by Fifth Domain | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 11:06am | 0 comments
"Experts said that the operation signals U.S. government leaders are becoming increasingly comfortable with cyberwarfare as a tool in the arsenal and, in some cases, now view cyber operations as a half-step removed from a kinetic conflict."
by The British Broadcasting Corporation | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:38am | 0 comments
"The UN says tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters and family members being held in Iraq and Syria must be tried or released."
by The Telegraph | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:33am | 0 comments
A major who served in Afghanistan with the Coldstream Guards, Mr Hennessy-Barrett wondered if the counterinsurgency techniques adopted by the British army in Taliban strongholds could somehow be repurposed to make the poor richer.
by Voice of America | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:25am | 0 comments
U.S. President Donald Trump imposed what he described as "hard-hitting" new financial sanctions on Iran Monday, specifically targeting the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
by The Washington Post | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 11:21am | 0 comments
"Iran’s navy chief warned the United States on Monday that Iranian forces could shoot down more surveillance drones if they violate the country’s airspace, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf."
by Defense One | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 8:38am | 0 comments
"Homeland Security is looking for innovative robots that can navigate underground tunnels and communicate with headquarters."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 6:57am | 0 comments
"The U.S. plans to impose major new sanctions on Iran, signaling it won’t ease pressure despite a diplomatic push by European leaders to persuade Washington and Tehran to show restraint."
by SWJ Editors | Sun, 06/23/2019 - 9:43pm | 0 comments
Via Yahoo News - "... U.S. Cyber Command launched a retaliatory digital strike against an Iranian spy group that supported last week’s limpet mine attacks on commercial ships, according to two former intelligence officials."