Small Wars Journal
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis
  • “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
  • “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
  • “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “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

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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.

"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 Michael Gladius | Wed, 01/23/2019 - 1:02am | 0 comments
Nation-state borders are not sacrosanct. Exchanging land for peace is always a viable option, and this could provide a solution to America’s involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although multiple solutions are available, we will focus on two: merging nations and fragmenting nations. Merging nations would entail merging Iraq with Syria, and merging Afghanistan with Pakistan. Fragmenting nations would break up the two nations into numerous smaller nations, as happened to Yugoslavia, albeit peacefully.
by Michael G. Murray II | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:17am | 1 comment
If DoD is serious about building viable partners, it must step back and reevaluate how it is currently viewing the future state of those partners and developing plans to move that partner towards the desired future state. SC is no longer a side mission, the mission in-between wars to shape, it has moved to the steady-state across the Range of Military Operations and is now a critical strategic tool that can provide us advantages over our adversaries if applied correctly.
by Stephen Tyminski | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 9:18am | 0 comments
As the U.S. Army looks forward to the next conflict, it must not lose sight of the current strategic challenges. Future adversaries will likely also adopt insurgent tactics, if not entire insurgent groups, in concert with their own modernizing forces in any conflict with the U.S.. Therefore, we must regrow the large-scale combat operations knowledge base in concert with, rather than at the expense, of COIN.
by Jonathan C. Nielsen | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 1:07am | 0 comments
It is time to address the influence and threat of non-physical communities. The aforementioned attributes reveal that physical size and composition alone does not account for overall capability. As any group, competitor, or threat continues to expand the size and reach of their non-physical communities, the criteria and means to engage the attributes mentioned above will create turbulent and challenging scenarios.
by Octavian Manea | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 5:08am | 7 comments
Elbridge Colby is Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017 to 2018, during which time he served as the lead official in the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the principal DOD representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy.
by Tamim Asey | Sat, 01/19/2019 - 4:52am | 1 comment
For years to come Afghanistan will need international and regional economic, political and military support to stand on its feet. As much as the international community need to support Afghanistan – Afghanistan will equally have to prove itself and equal and credible ally of its partners. Afghanistan will have no choice but to explore partnership and pursue one of the above options.
by Sam Read | Fri, 01/18/2019 - 3:48am | 0 comments
One of the lessons of this paper is that there is no one way an individual can be radicalized or recruited. It could be propaganda playing on misguided idealism, like Dakhlalla spoke of, hours spent studying extremist ideology online like Hasan, or being separate from and not assimilating into society, like Awlaki chose.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 1:04am | 0 comments
Since 2 January, 205 criminal attacks have occurred in 46 cities in Ceará and about 360 individuals have been arrested. Ceara’s security forces have been reinforced with the assistance of the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF or Federal Highway Police). The attacks have included bombings and arson directed against vehicles (including buses and school transportation), police stations, public buildings, bridges, businesses, and banks.
by De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory | Thu, 01/17/2019 - 12:51am | 1 comment
Russia is building strong partnerships with Sub-Saharan African nations as a strategy to displace NATO and counter western influence. Some African partnerships established during the Soviet era, were weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, others are the result of opportunities created by the departure of western alliances. Russia has since re-engaged African nations to develop economic and military partnerships.
by Spencer B. Meredith III | Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:53am | 2 comments
The United States needs to face the emerging security environment from a different vantage point than the past 20 years of counter-VEO efforts. Mattis’s departure has created the necessary cognitive opening to question our fundamental and often assumed paradigms to see more clearly the threats facing the nation.

Blog Posts

by The Cove | Wed, 01/23/2019 - 12:58am | 0 comments
"The aim of this paper is to describe the key tactical lessons the Australian Army can learn from the AFoP’s urban siege of Marawi City. Consideration of these lessons may inform and improve the Australian Army’s current approach to the force generation of close combat, combined-arms capabilities. It will identify the key tactical lessons learned by the AFoP fighting an intelligent, determined, disciplined and well-equipped terrorist threat in the extraordinarily difficult, intense and complicated terrain."
by Voice of America | Wed, 01/23/2019 - 12:47am | 0 comments
"U.S. intelligence agencies trying to plot their course for the next four years are facing an ever more chaotic world, complicated by rapidly changing technology, a weakening of the Western-led international order and persistent worries over uncertain funding."
by SWJ Editors | Wed, 01/23/2019 - 12:31am | 0 comments
Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats unveiled the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) today. The NIS is the guiding strategy for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and will drive the strategic direction for the Nation's 17 IC elements for the next four years.
by U.S. Army War College War Room | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:48am | 0 comments
"Thus, only two general officers have returned to government to serve as Secretary of Defense, Army General George C. Marshall and Marine Corps General James N. Mattis. Both Marshall and Mattis received congressional waivers, after which they were confirmed by the Senate. However, in approving their appointments, Congress reaffirmed the law’s intent."
by Voice of America | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 12:29am | 0 comments
"Afghanistan's Taliban opened a new round of peace talks Monday in Qatar with the United States, the insurgent group said. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the two-day meeting in Doha will continue on Tuesday."
by The New York Times | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"The Taliban infiltrated an Afghan intelligence base on Monday, killing dozens of people in what Afghan officials said was one of the deadliest attacks against the intelligence service in the 17-year war with the Taliban."
by The Washington Post | Tue, 01/22/2019 - 12:07am | 0 comments
"In the weeks after his city fell to the Islamic State, Iraqi scientist Suleiman al-Afari sat in his deserted government office and waited for the day when the terrorists would show up. The black-clad militants who had seized Mosul in 2014 were making their way through each of its bureaucracies, rounding up workers and managers who had not yet fled the city and pressing them into service."
by The New York Times | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 1:07pm | 1 comment
"The Taliban infiltrated an Afghan intelligence base on Monday killing dozens who worked for the agency in what officials said was one of the single deadliest attacks against the intelligence service in the 17-year war with the Taliban."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 11:18am | 0 comments
"Scores of Afghan security forces were killed Monday when a suicide bomber in a Humvee rammed a training compound of the national intelligence agency in Wardak Province, officials there said. Taliban insurgents immediately claimed responsibility for the attack."
by Jerusalem Post | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 1:55am | 0 comments
"Israeli policy for attacking targets in Syria has changed and is intensifying, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz revealed Monday morning in an interview with Army Radio."
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:38am | 0 comments
"Israel has been conducting military operations against Iran on Syrian soil for more than two years. Many missions have been shrouded in secrecy, but this week the Israelis offered rare confirmation of an airstrike on an Iranian weapons cache located near Damascus' international airport."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:37am | 0 comments
"Voters in a Muslim-majority region in the Philippines will decide today on a proposal for greater self determination, a pivotal attempt at peace that tests the fragile relationship between Muslims and a Roman Catholic minority concerned about creeping Islamic authority."
by Voice of America | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"An influential Unites States senator who is considered to be close to President Donald Trump cast doubts on reports that half of the United States troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn soon."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:12am | 0 comments
"A confident and relaxed President Ashraf Ghani launched his reelection campaign on Sunday, registering as a candidate at the national election commission and then delivering a lengthy speech on peace, poverty and the need for a strong government to unite Afghans and end 17 years of war in a “just and honorable” way."
by Voice of America | Sun, 01/20/2019 - 6:09am | 0 comments
"U.S. and Somali military officials said Saturday that scores of al-Qaida-affiliated fighters had been killed during an attack on a government military base near Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo. The militants launched a surprise dawn attack Saturday at the base near Bula Gudud village, 50 kilometers north of Kismayo, starting with triple suicide blasts. Scores of heavily armed militants then stormed the base from all directions, Somali officials told VOA."