Small Wars Journal


Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog.

We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

by Mark Grdovic | Tue, 08/03/2021 - 8:43pm | 0 comments
Special Operations and Joint Conventional Force HQs need to understand the specific requirements associated with planning for unconventional warfare and not expect emerging opportunities to conform with predetermined plans and scenarios.  If these unique aspects are not addressed during the conception of special operations supporting plans, at the Geographic Combatant Command level during campaign plan development, the result will likely be unconventional warfare being discounted as a viable option or subordinate headquarters (most likely to the Theater Special Operations Command or TSOC) being given tasks to conduct “unconventional warfare” that are not viable or realistic.
by Chad M. Pillai | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:57pm | 3 comments
The upcoming twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the recent passing of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld require thoughtful attention as the nation completes its final troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in U.S. history.  The war in Afghanistan and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Syria have shaped my generation's cultural image, similar to the Vietnam War's generation. In both instances, the U.S. entered the wars believing its martial superiority ensured victory and ended each war wondering what went wrong.  
by William Reber | Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:49pm | 0 comments
Paolo Gerbaudo’s Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism is a fascinating and evocative book that is based on the author’s grass-roots experiences during the January 2011 uprising against Mubarak in Egypt, the May 2011 indignados protest in Spain, and the September 2011 Occupy Wall Street movements. He uses his findings to challenge techno-optimists, pessimists, and contemporary social movement mainstream theories. Gerbaudo, Director of the Centre for Digital Culture, argues that techno-theorists do not consider how the use of technology differs based on geography and culture. He contends in his theory of “choreography of assembly” that social media aids in setting the foundations of the nature and type of movement where “soft” leaders emerge within social media communication to guide the emotional and physical nature of a social movement.  
by Natalie D. Baker , by Gabriel Leão | Mon, 07/19/2021 - 2:16pm | 0 comments
This essay examines the concept of governance-in-action from the perspective of Brazil. The country constitutes a ‘symbiosis’ of both legitimate and criminal governance, whose lines are often blurred. We examine how the government and militias operate as forms of criminal governance, and how facções criminosas (FCs or criminal factions) fill in voids left by governmental corruption. While we agree with other scholars that FCs represent ‘criminal’ insurgencies and should be approached as such, we argue they need to be understood also for some of the ‘good’ acts they engage, and why they do so, to better identify how to mitigate their violence. These lessons could also extend to identifying future explanations for how to manage government corruption from more nuanced lenses.
by Jan Havránek, by Daniel P. Bagge | Sun, 07/18/2021 - 6:08pm | 0 comments
NATO and the West are experiencing a reversed kind of revolution in military affairs (RMA). Today’s new technologies bear far-reaching implications beyond the conduct of war. In the past, revolutions in military spilled from the battlefield to the civilian sector. They had an effect either by directly impacting the result of a given conflict or through adoption of military technical advantages in non-military aspects of life. This time, however, we see an opposite trend brought by private and non-military, non-governmental actors. In their everyday lives, general publics and governments alike face military-grade technologies developed and applied by the commercial sector. And it is the private sector that enjoys exclusivity over these technologies; the military is lagging behind. This development also poses a significant challenge to NATO, namely its ability to deliver on its core tasks. If the Alliance wants to successfully continue its political-military adaptation to a world where technologies play a major role, it will need a new approach to decision-making, operational planning, and crisis management. The following article addresses some of the key issues the Alliance needs to consider as it navigates through the new kind of revolution in military affairs: 1) the changing character of warfare; 2) the domination of the private sector over the military in deployment of commercial technology with military potential; 3) and the interdependence of decision-making and modern technology.
by Carlos De Castro Pretelt | Sat, 07/17/2021 - 2:50pm | 0 comments
It is difficult to ascertain if a security cooperation initiative is effective or not. This could be in part because most of the indicators of success used by security cooperation stakeholders may not be focused on measures of effectiveness, but of performance, i.e., quantity of equipment delivered and number of units trained.  As one begins to peel back the layers of an initiative, it becomes apparent that the necessary in-depth analysis which forecasts secondary and tertiary orders of effect may have been overlooked, along with critical, measurable metrics that explain how an initiative would specifically elicit a proposed reaction.  The example utilized by Maj Croshier described the unanticipated difficulties of providing a C-208 fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft and Command and Control (C2) equipment to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.  The focus of this initiative was placed mainly on the equipment, without fully accounting for the significant personnel, doctrinal, and maintenance challenges that would ensue.
by Tom Hammerle | Thu, 07/15/2021 - 1:57pm | 0 comments
The nature of American overseas military operations is once again shifting, this time away from Counterterrorism (CT) and Counter Insurgency (COIN) Operations toward an era of Strategic Competition and Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCO). After nearly two decades of major operations in the Middle East, few are taking positions against the shift or promoting costly so-called “forever-wars”. But consensus on what the U.S. will no longer do does little to inform what the U.S. ought to do. 
by Malcolm Beith | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 9:09pm | 1 comment
Book review of Noah Hurowitz's "El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord" by Malcolm Beith.
by Rudy L. Novak | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 12:43pm | 0 comments
Since the birth of the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1947, Airmen have struggled to define the universal skills or common knowledge that all Airmen share. The easy solution, and one adopted since the services’ establishment, is to instill a ground warrior’s mindset, with skills traditionally associated with the Army or Marines. While these skills have proven effective in shaping the current culture, do they mirror what Airmen will be asked to do in a 21st century near-peer conflict? While future, friendly and adversarial operations will include: stand-off munitions, unmanned vehicles, electronic & cyber-attacks, automated processes, robust sensor fusion, artificial intelligence, and supply chain interruptions, will the service be prepared to fully integrate or counter them through its own operations. When an Airman serves in a joint environment, can they contribute expertise that is unique to the force, regardless of their specialty or experience? Finally, is the service fully capitalizing on the talent that is recruited into its ranks every year? Presently, the answer to all of the above questions is an emphatic ‘no.’ To maximize the USAF’s contributions in the next conflict, it must supplement or replace current force-wide training with a cultivated universal technological skill set. This skill set must be shaped through a deliberate assessment of tomorrow’s challenges, instruction on transformational technologies, and the embracement of critical thinking. A new approach to talent management must also be adopted, focused on recruiting and capitalizing on crucial technological talent. This shift will not only alter the USAF’s identity, but it will also  significantly aid in continued air domain dominance well through the 21st-century. It was said that the “[p]en is mightier than the sword,” the future will prove that for the USAF, the computer will be mightier than the gun.
by Andy Phillips | Tue, 07/06/2021 - 11:42am | 0 comments
Encirclement, or the understanding that one is “surrounded by enemies,” can have a dramatic effect on the human psyche akin to that of a cornered animal who submits to its primal instincts in order to preserve its life. Reaction to an all-encompassing threat will almost certainly be violent. What the uncertainty is: who or what will be the target of this violence. A narrative of group disenfranchisement paired with individualistic sense of divine purpose are primary aspects of this psychological condition that can be used to understand the violence committed by religious groups such as the Nizari Ismailis sect of Islam and the Theravadin Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The theory of Fundamentalism can provide a useful lens in which to view and explain the escalation of such violence in groups with seemingly non-violent tenants.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 07/02/2021 - 5:41pm | 0 comments
Gang violence in Haiti is spiraling out of control as rival gangs fill the void in governance fueled by chronic insecurity, corruption, and violence. The resulting instability places gangs in conflict with each other and the state as they compete for territorial control. The outbreak of gang violence is exacerbating the situation, leading to a crisis disaster. This humanitarian crisis includes extreme gang violence, attacks on police stations and health care providers, while internally displaced persons converge with the Covid-19 pandemic and hurricane season to elevate insecurity. One gang leader, an ex-police officer Jimmy Chérizier, known as “Barbecue” the head of G9 Fanmi ak Alye (G9 Family and Allies) has called for ‘revolution’ to solve the situation.
by Pamela Ligouri Bunker, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 06/30/2021 - 9:03pm | 3 comments
For many years, multinational corporations have been playing revenue starved liberal-democratic states off against one-another in a ‘race to the bottom,’ driving tax rates down, leveraging tax havens, and engaging in complex transnational tax avoidance schemes. In response to these ongoing corporate profiteering excesses and attempts at achieving extra sovereign impunity, the finance ministers of the G7 states recently gathered together in London and reached an historic agreement on a global minimum corporate tax rate.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 06/28/2021 - 3:25pm | 0 comments
An outbreak of criminal attacks on police stations, schools, public spaces, and banks erupted in the aftermath of the killing of a Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) leader in a confrontation with the Polícia Militar (PM) do Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil and surrounding cities on Saturday 5 June 2021. The violence started the following day on Sunday 6 June 2021 targeting police, buses, bus stations, schools, public spaces and banks in a series of shootings and arson attacks. Attacks continued through Tuesday 8 June 2021.
by James P. Micciche | Fri, 06/25/2021 - 10:46am | 1 comment
In the paradigm of strategic competition the United States should increase the use of strategic deception to impede competitor’s decision-making processes, increase rival competition costs, and better protect U.S. interests. Security Cooperation is an instrument that enables the generation of strategic deception by potentially confusing rival nations about what the U.S. interests and objectives are or even causing that rival to expend unnecessary resources. The United States Army is the service best postured to support combatant commanders to develop and execute strategic deception through cooperation. Executing any form of strategic deception entails a level of risk to reputation but provides the United States an invaluable tool in a geopolitical environment in which competition below levels of conflict has become the norm. 
by Bayasgalan Lkhagvasuren | Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:12am | 0 comments
A Mongolian Special Forces officer reviews Otto C. Fiala's "Resistance Operating Concept"
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Sun, 06/20/2021 - 8:07pm | 1 comment
At least five persons were killed and another 39 injured in a prison riot between Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The riot—which involved deployment of grenades and AK-47s—began at approximately 0800 hours (8:00 AM) in the ‘La Tolva’ maximum security prison in Morecelí, El Paraiso near Tegucigalpa in eastern Honduras.
by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 06/19/2021 - 11:40pm | 0 comments
A book review of North Korea in a Nutshell: A Contemporary Overview By Kongdan Oh and Ralph Hassig 
by Preston McLaughlin | Fri, 06/18/2021 - 3:28pm | 1 comment
Book review of The Changing of the Guard: The British Army Since 9/11 by Simon Akam. It is an unofficial oral history. Created by hundreds of interviews as well as documents and personal observations by the author. It will be recognized over time as the definitive cultural history of the British Army from 2001-2021.
by Michael F. Masters Jr. | Thu, 06/17/2021 - 9:16am | 0 comments
  The USMC's contributions to the future pacific fight are outlined in the recently released tri-service maritime strategy. However, the document only vaguely mentions Naval SOF's unique skill sets and ability to prepare the operating environment for maritime force access without delineating clear lines of effort or aligning resources. To visualize the possibilities of future USMC-SOF I3D, it is helpful to consider a continuum of conventional force and SOF cooperation from deconfliction measures on the low end to opportunities for Integration, Interdependence, and Interoperability on the high-end. 
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 06/16/2021 - 7:42pm | 0 comments
On Friday 11 June 2021, two gunmen attacked beach vendors on a tourist beach in Cancún, killing two vendors and injuring an American tourist. The attackers accessed the beach from the sea via personal watercraft and then left the scene after the assault on the same craft. Similar incidents have taken at Mexican beaches over the past five years.
by Nick Kramer | Wed, 06/16/2021 - 4:23pm | 0 comments
The United States occupied Haiti and ran many of its critical governmental functions between 1915-1934 in one of America’s most protracted conflicts and occupations. During this occupation, multiple internal conflicts arose that required the small garrison of American Marines and the Marine-led Haitian Gendarmerie to execute brief but generally effective counterinsurgency campaigns. An examination of these campaigns will illuminate what lessons can be drawn for contemporary and future use. 
by Daniel Weisz | Tue, 06/15/2021 - 1:53pm | 1 comment
This review essay is a long-form review and commentary on Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán and Luis Jorge Garay-Salamanca, "Super Network of Corruption in Venezuela: Kleptocracy, Human Rights Violation." Tampa: Vortex, 2021. The text provides a detailed social network analysis of the complex corruption situation in Venezuela.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 06/14/2021 - 1:03pm | 0 comments
In honor of the Army's 246th Birthday
by Barnett S. Koven | Mon, 06/07/2021 - 1:38pm | 0 comments
U.S. defense planning is hampered by a binary conception of peace and war. An effective response will require a more nuanced approach. Specifically, it will require the U.S. and its allies and partners to better equip Ukrainian forces for both kinetic and non-kinetic operations. The latter must focus on denying the opposition force, in this case Russia, the ability to remain in the Gray Zone.
by Philip Schrooten, by Jolan Silkens | Sat, 06/05/2021 - 3:11pm | 0 comments
As leaders of the Sahel convened in Chad’s capital N'djamena to discuss flaring jihadist violence, Chadian President Déby announced on 15 February 2021 the deployment of an additional 1,200 soldiers to the border zone between Niger, Mali and Burkino Faso.[i][ii] French President Macron also ruled out a withdrawal of forces despite dwindling domestic support for French operations in the region.[iii] Crisis Group expert Hannah Armstrong says one year after France stepped up its military presence in the region, it is as clear as ever that conventional military engagement has failed to deliver a knockout blow to armed jihadist groups.[iv]
by César Pintado | Sat, 06/05/2021 - 3:03pm | 1 comment
Chinese investments in Africa have multiplied in recent years, especially since the 2013 launch of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). But China has realized that it is a mistake to entrust security and development to trade alone. A new generation of Chinese private security companies sees the BRI as an opportunity for lucrative contracts and international expansion, but its shortcomings are evident on the ground. Currently, the few properly certified Chinese private security companies in Africa appear to be operating semi-autonomously, oriented towards niche markets. And so far not as an extension of the state, but these companies may be the tool Beijing needs to prevent the defense of its citizens and assets from forcing it into military interventions that, for the time being, remain beyond its reach.
by Octavian Manea | Thu, 06/03/2021 - 7:27am | 0 comments
SWJ Q&A with Admiral (Ret.) James Foggo, a distinguished Fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Over the last decade in Naples, Italy, he served in multiple major commands as Commander, Naval Forces Europe/Africa; Commander Allied Joint Force Command, Naples; Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet; Commander, Submarine Group 8; and Commander, Submarines, Allied Naval Forces South. 
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Tue, 06/01/2021 - 4:19pm | 0 comments
Paramedics in Cape Town (Western Cape), South Africa are allegedly victims of extortion gangs that seek ‘protection’ money to allow them to provide emergency medical care.  This incidence of extortion is exacerbated by a recent upswing in violent attacks against Emergency Medical Service (EMS) staff and the influence of Covid-19 lockdowns on public [in]security.  
by Miron Lakomy | Sun, 05/30/2021 - 12:58am | 2 comments
The emergence of the dark web at the beginning of the 21st century is considered to be one of the most significant developments in the history of the digital revolution. What was initially perceived as an experimental and legitimate response to the increased government control over the Internet in time has become a source of a broad spectrum of computer-related crimes. This was mostly caused by the fact that the Onion Router (TOR), Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet or—more recently—ZeroNet provide users with a set of tools enabling anonymous and safe communication. Cybercriminal underground quickly realized that these technologies substantially facilitate the exchange of illicit goods, services, and content. Effectively, the dark web has become an online communication layer known not for the freedom of speech but rather for popular drug markets, firearm vendors, leaked databases, or illegal pornography.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Sat, 05/29/2021 - 11:53am | 0 comments
The Localization Strategy: Local Logic and Energy in Belgium’s Advising Mission to Niger
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 05/28/2021 - 1:07pm | 0 comments
Criminal Factions (Facções criminosas) in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) are extorting telecommunications and utility operators and attacking telecommunications infrastructure to bolster criminal protection rackets. The rackets obstruct free access to telephone, internet, cable, television, natural gas, and electricity. The criminal exploitation extends beyond the favelas throughout the region. Theft, vandalism, and sabotage, as well as threats to infrastructure personnel, impede service provision.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 10:02pm | 1 comment
El nuevo libro "La Guerra Improvisada: Los años de Calderón y sus consecuencias" de Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera y Tony Payan busca explicar el proceso de toma de decisiones de la “guerra contra las drogas” (de aquí en adelante se denominará solo como la guerra) iniciada e implementada por elpresidente Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) en colaboración con EE.UU. El libro explora preguntas claves como ¿por qué inició Calderón la guerra? ¿Quién la diseñó e implementó y cómo? ¿Quién determinó la estrategia? ¿Qué papel desempeñó EE.UU.?  Y ¿por qué se utilizó a las fuerzas armadas? 
by Teun Voeten | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 7:00pm | 0 comments
This field report looks at the drugs trade in the Netherlands. It draws from SWJ-El Centro Fellow Teun Voeten’s journalistic experience and updates the discussion contained in “Chapter 6, The Netherlands as a narco-state, and Antwerp as its principle cocaine hub” in his SWJ-El Centro book "Mexican Drug Violence: Hybrid Warfare, Predatory Capitalism and the Logic of Cruelty" (2020).
by Nicholas Underwood | Wed, 05/26/2021 - 4:24pm | 0 comments
A review of David Kilcullen's new book on how U.S. adversaries (state and non-state) have adapted to be more effective at competition with the U.S.-led international system
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz | Tue, 05/25/2021 - 8:59pm | 0 comments
On 6 May 2021, at approximately 0600 hours (6 AM), Rio de Janeiro’s civil police (Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – PCERJ) entered the Jacarezinho favela (slum) to perform a raid—Operação Exceptis(Operation Exception)—against members of the Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command).  As the PCERJ entered the favela, they encountered small arms fire.  A PCERJ officer was killed in the initial exchange and a sustained battle continued through the day.  At least 28 persons were killed, including the police officer and 27 residents. The incident was the deadliest in Rio de Janeiro’s history and provoked widespread globalcriticism.
by Max G. Manwaring | Sat, 05/22/2021 - 2:36pm | 1 comment
The traditional distinctions between crime, terrorism, subversion, and insurgency are blurred.  This new dynamic involves the migration of the monopoly of political power (i.e., the authoritative allocation of the values in a society) from the traditional nation-state to unconventional actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), transnational criminal organizations, Leninist-Maoist insurgents, tribal militias, mafia organizations, private armies, cartel enforcers, third generation gangs (3GEN Gangs), and other modern mercenaries and entrepreneurs. These actors conduct some form or level of war against various state and non-state adversaries and promulgate their own rule of law—within alternatively governed spaces—within the societies they control.  That activity creates an ambiguous bazaar of violence where criminal entrepreneurs fuel the convergence of crime and war.
by Keith Nightingale | Sat, 05/22/2021 - 1:01pm | 0 comments
A tribute to Medal of Honor recipient COL(RET) Ralph Puckett.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm | Thu, 05/20/2021 - 12:16am | 0 comments
Review essay on Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Tony Payan,  "La guerra improvisada: Los años de Calderón y sus consecuencias." The book "La Guerra Improvisada" (in Spanish) sheds light on the decision-making process of the so-called “war on drugs” (from here on referred to as war) launched and implemented in Mexico by President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) in collaboration with the United States. It explores key questions like why launch the war? Who designed and implemented it and how? Who determined the strategy? What was the US role? And why use military forces? Undoubtedly, the role of the military has been one of the most persistent and controversial issues about the war. 
by Christopher D. Booth | Wed, 05/19/2021 - 8:47pm | 0 comments
Considered by many to be an anachronism is this technological age, there are grounds to reconsider their use for future conflict. Pack-animals can carry up to a third of their bodyweight in cargo. Pack-train logistics could not only play a role in supporting U.S. special operations units engaged in irregular warfare, but would be well suited for the U.S. Marine Corps’ expeditionary advanced base operations concept. They provide mobility with a limited logistical tail, as they do not require fuel, lubricants, or spare parts; and in the case of mules require little forage (and often can subsist off of indigenous plants) – ideal for dispersed units who may be cut-off or irregularly supplied in a great-power conflict. Furthermore, they are not susceptible to many of the counters China is expected to employ to blunt U.S. technology. At a minimum, the Marine Corps’ new Marine Littoral Regiment could serve as a test-bed for an experimental unit equipped with pack-animals as the Corps engages in force design. A review of the history of military pack-trains helps highlight their continued relevance.
by James King | Tue, 05/18/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
Samual Colt may have created the gun that won the West but John Browning’s guns have won everything else. From his humble beginnings in Ogden Utah to his death on the Fabrique Nationale factory floor in Belgium and beyond, Nathan Gorenstein tells a story that is long overdue, in the first major biography of the man who has been called the Thomas Edison of guns. Not even Mikhail Kalashnikov and his AK-47 can stake a claim to the level of influence in the conduct of warfare that John Browning’s inventions still have almost 100 years after his death.
by Jelle Hooiveld | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 12:37pm | 0 comments
The author recognizes another forgotten member of the OSS who contributed to the development of U.S.Special Forces.
by Daniel de Wit , by Salil Puri | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 12:31pm | 4 comments
           The Defense Department is confused. Numerous manuals and joint publications testify to the importance of information and influence in the contemporary operating environment, as do countless studies, articles, books, and official testimony. And yet despite this trend, different sectors of the military have adopted widely divergent concepts of the role of information in competition and conflict, leading to a fractured understanding of how the military should view information functions, and even what they should be called. “Information operations” has been the standard term across the military for twenty-five years, though its usage has changed significantly since it was originally employed in the context of the 1990s-era “revolution in military affairs.”
by David S. Clukey | Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:39am | 1 comment
September 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden recently called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan on this date. U.S. forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In this time, the U.S. invested over 240,000 in human capital and over $2 trillion U.S.D. From 2001 – 2010, after the immediate route of the Taliban, the U.S. orchestrated a series of disjointed campaigns and priorities shifted almost as frequently as commanders. This misalignment with a concurrent refocus of U.S. resources to Iraq in 2003, realized a deteriorated situation in Afghanistan. Conditions improved in 2009 under a series of pragmatic U.S. Army Generals who commonly advocated Special Operations Forces driven Village Stability Operations (VSO).
by Ryan N. Mannina | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 8:46pm | 0 comments
This article attempts to determine whether the Chemical Weapons Convention's prohibition of riot control agents as a method of warfare succeeds in limiting human suffering in war. I argue that the prohibition has led the U.S. military to adopt more lethal and destructive means of fighting in dense urban terrain. This results in more collateral damage and non-combatant suffering in urban warfare, instead of less. The article utilizes the case study method to compare the 1968 Battle of Hue and the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, describes the weapons and tactics used in each, and attempts to quantify the cost in terms of non-combatant deaths and collateral damage. It draws extensively from primary sources, including AARs from the units involved, published eyewitness accounts, and official histories. This article will benefit senior military leaders by informing their analysis and recommendations to policymakers regarding the use of RCAs, suggesting topics for further study, and providing recommendations for how the United States might approach modifications to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 8:41pm | 0 comments
This research note documents two recent developments in the proliferation of weaponized consumer drones (aerial improvised explosive devices) in Mexico. The first incident is an alleged attack by the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán on the morning of 4 May 2021. The second is the arrest of two suspected Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) drone weaponeers in Puebla on 22 April 2021. Both incidents follow the widely reported 20 April 2021 drone attack in Aguililla, Michoacán.
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Sun, 05/09/2021 - 7:32pm | 0 comments
El propósito principal de este artículo es explicar porqué algunos países experimentan un deterioro creciente y crónico en su desempeño institucional en la lucha contra la delincuencia organizada transnacional, incluso cuando estos mismos países cuentan con abundantes recursos humanos y recursos materiales dentro de sus Estados para combatir a delitos complejos. Este artículo también se enfoca en presentar casos de países en donde el Estado, a sabiendas o no, patrocina o fomenta a la delincuencia organizada tal como sucede en los casos de China, Mexico y Rusia. Se publicó una versión anterior de este artículo en inglés como “Antimafia Impasse: State-Driven Organized Crime & Organized Crime States.”
by Robert Muggah | Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:19am | 2 comments
Small Wars Journal-El Centro Fellow Robert Muggah assesses the state of police practice in Rio de Janeiro in the aftermath of a civil police raid on a Comando Vermelho (Red Command) stronghold in the Jacarezinho favela in Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Muggah concludes that "A commission of inquiry and disciplinary action are mandatory, and a radical change of police culture is essential."
by Edgardo Buscaglia | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:54pm | 0 comments
This article reviews the reasons why some countries experience chronic and growing deterioration in their institutional performance in fighting and preventing transnational organized crime, even when plentiful national human and material antimafia resources are readily available. This piece also focuses on country case studies where the State sponsors or fosters organized crime, such as in China and in Mexico.
by Eddie Banach | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 9:05am | 0 comments
This article seeks to answer what makes security institutions effective in poor security environments, and how these lessons can be applied in Afghanistan against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  This paper explains why only specific institutions such as the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and special Afghan units are noted successes, despite only a fraction of their parent forces’ funding and support, even though the massively better funded, more substantially supported Iraqi and Afghan army and police forces are proven failures.  The central argument is that only a few security institutions have proven to be effective security organizations, due to their mastery of their complex environments, while larger, ineffective security institutions routinely prove inadequate in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and as basic security providers.  This phenomenon seems at odds with logic as well as U.S. policy, yet almost two decades of U.S.-led counter-insurgency campaigns, multiple large-scale Middle Eastern wars, and countless U.S. and allied strategy changes, demonstrate the futility of clinging to the inherently flawed conceptualizations of the contemporary security institution model. 
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 04/28/2021 - 9:17pm | 0 comments
Two police officers in Aguililla, Michoacán were injured in a weaponized drone attack at approximately 0100 hours, (01:00 AM) Tuesday morning, 20 April 2021 on the highway between Aguililla and Apatzingán. The attack involving drones artillados (armed or ’gun’ drones) is the fifth documented incident involving aerial improvised explosive devices utilized by the cartels in Mexico and the first one in which injuries have resulted.