Small Wars Journal

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 Louis René Beres | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 6:36pm | 0 comments
At first glance, the main argument here may appear counter-intuitive. It suggests that the United States should become less concerned about achieving any future military victories than optimizing its overall national security. Such a sensible argument would already have appeared orthodox to Carl von Clausewitz. After all, this foundational military strategist's "On War" assessed every international conflict from the irreducible standpoint of maximizing a determinative "political object."
by Dave Dilegge | Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:33am | 1 comment
ICYMI item from 2003. General Anthony Zinni (USMC Ret); experienced in the theory, planning, and conduct of Military Operations Other Than War as well as a leading proponent of cultural intelligence; developed the following considerations for humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement operations.
by Cody Mattern | Sun, 10/20/2019 - 5:41am | 0 comments
While still brutal, the Irish War of Independence ended with relatively little loss of life (some estimate that less than 2,000 lives were lost during the conflict) in order to secure the independence of three million people. In order to understand the result of this war and its enduring nature, it becomes incumbent upon us to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants in order to understand the factors that led to its conclusion.
by Daniel Moriarty, by Kevin Peckenpaugh | Fri, 10/18/2019 - 4:45am | 1 comment
This paper will begin by establishing definitions for key terms used throughout it; with a subject matter steeped in both Army and Navy terminology, it is critical to ensure shared understanding. Next, we will discuss first-hand experience with the challenges of maritime CAA, through several examples that have been conducted by A/83d. Following this review, we will discuss a proposed role for CA forces conducting CAA in a maritime environment. Using existing doctrine and academic research as a foundation, our analysis seeks to provide meaningful recommendations on how CA can support maritime forces through targeted CAA in both littoral and maritime environments. Lastly, we will review our analysis and summarize recommendations for the force. This paper is not intended to demand what maritime CAA should or shouldn’t be. Instead, we seek to offer ideas of what maritime CAA could be and hope to generate further discussion on a topic that is increasingly relevant.
by Alexander Boroff | Thu, 10/17/2019 - 3:27am | 0 comments
Utilizing a future fictional war against a near-peer adversary, reconnaissance and security fundamentals are presented in the manner of “The Defence of Duffer’s Drift.” Unique in addressing both the interconnectedness of reconnaissance and security and tying them to concrete examples of failure, this paper attempts to present plausible ways to integrate said concepts into an iterative tactical decision-making exercise.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 10/16/2019 - 3:56pm | 0 comments
Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) has been increasingly targeted from 2014 onwards by fuel thieves (ladrões de combustível). The gangs (gangues) involved include the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC or First Capital Command) and milícias (militias). A similar pattern of large-scale petroleum theft has been taking place in Mexico since at least 2006.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 7:28pm | 3 comments
China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.
by Matthew E. Miller | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:43pm | 0 comments
Offensive cyber, EW, and counterspace operations against sustainment enterprise could create a ‘shockwave’ across the theater of operations. The TSC G-2 sections need to emphasize analysis and collection against these multi-domain threats to the sustainment forces from both inside and outside of theater.
by Robert Boudreau, by Don Newberry Jr., by Richard Phillips | Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:34am | 1 comment
For the last hundred years, where diplomacy has failed and warfare has resulted, CA has repeatedly been revitalized and integrated with military operations during wartime. However, on the present-day battlefield, where open conflict is decreasing but “gray zone” activities are increasing, CA personnel should be utilized to undermine U.S. competitors’ attempts to build military, diplomatic, economic, and informational advantages in regions of U.S. interest.
by Keith Nightingale | Sun, 10/13/2019 - 2:45pm | 0 comments
With each generation, its soldiers are issued the new cutting-edge weapons to defend or destroy as required. From rocks to spears to nuclear weapons, mankind has progressed in the technology of killing. It has permitted its users to evolve from the highly personal closeup application to the most distant and dispassionate destruction from afar. However, one combatant tool always remains resident regardless of the evolution of time and generations and that is the power of thought.
by Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury | Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:14pm | 0 comments
The Indian Ocean has gained geostrategic importance due to the volume of trade that passes through it. At the same time, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is increasing Chinese influence in numerous countries in Asia and across the globe. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to examine how the growing Chinese footprint in Sri Lanka and the Maldives can have implications for India’s national security and how the Chinese expansion is of strategic importance to New Delhi.
by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 10/08/2019 - 8:57pm | 0 comments
Currently the development of Combat Medics is too heavily focused within the Institutional domain and needs the immediate introduction of the Operational domain to improve the abilities of Army medics. Offering supporting materials for Self-Development could further optimize the performance of Combat Medics on the modern battlefield.
by Andrew Narloch | Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:29pm | 0 comments
A hyper-mobile defense’s goal is to shock, not destroy, the enemy through rapid, repeated, multi-directional engagements. The fixed objectives serve to lure in vulnerable tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers along pre-planned routes, making them easy targets for the small strike teams. While this shock technique did not entirely destroy the Israeli force, it did disrupt the attacker’s central strategy of a swift, air-covered, armored penetration. The desire of achieving a quick, comprehensive strike for effect has long been the linchpin of effective urban conquest.
by Assad A. Raza | Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:31am | 10 comments
The Army published its Army Total Force Policy in 2012 to define steps and guidance to integrate all components to meet DoD’s goal for a total force. U.S. Army Civil Affairs should take the NCFA recommendations and the lessons learned by other services and from those Army units participating in the AUPP to develop a Civil Affairs Total Force Policy.
by Justin Magula | Sun, 10/06/2019 - 3:48am | 0 comments
North Korea has always relied on provocation to preserve regime stability. The Kim regime refuses to recognize the 1953 armistice as an end of the Korean War and desires to reunite the peninsula under North Korean control. Even in the face of international pressure, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons to combat threats to the regime and maintain Kim’s survival.
by Mahmut Cengiz | Sun, 10/06/2019 - 1:21am | 0 comments
Small Wars Journal on July 7, 2019 published this author’s article[1] “Who Was Behind the July 15, 2016 Military Uprising in Turkey?” and then retweeted it on July 15, 2019 the third anniversary of the coup attempt. In the meantime, a reader of Small Wars Journal, who is referred to hereafter as respondent X, who is from the United Kingdom (UK), reached out to article’s author to speak about the coup attempt and article.
by Joe Buccino | Sat, 10/05/2019 - 11:31am | 0 comments
Rick Atkinson's thorough research reveals a Continental Army that was often hapless, frightened, and under-resourced. It’s often terrified soldiers are led by the ineffectual, the self-interested, and the deceitful.
by Joe Cheravitch | Fri, 10/04/2019 - 5:06am | 0 comments
Moscow’s form of information warfare targeting the West has attracted significant international attention since 2014, especially through its reinvigorated military intelligence branch. Nonetheless, little research has focused on these campaigns’ apparent shortcomings.
by Andrew J. Bibb | Thu, 10/03/2019 - 12:32am | 6 comments
The unfortunate truth is that supported commands are not nearly as aware or informed of what Civil Affairs offers as other branches. Every commander knows that the role of the Infantry is to close with and destroy the enemy. Not every commander knows that Civil Affairs Soldiers and Marines are his or her sensors on the battlefield.
by Jaron Wharton, by Sean Parrott | Wed, 10/02/2019 - 11:39am | 2 comments
Are Regionally Aligned Force missions readiness-building or readiness-consuming for U.S. forces? Having deployed recently in support of exercise Shared Accord 19 in Rwanda, we argue that an answer to this question requires nuance that is often glossed over.
by Scott Crino, by Andy Dreby | Wed, 10/02/2019 - 8:18am | 2 comments
The recent drone attacks targeting critical components of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector, highlighted by the September fourteenth attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Khurais oilfield and Abqaiq refinery, demonstrate the strategic effect small drones can make in conflict zones.
by Alia Awadallah | Tue, 10/01/2019 - 2:55am | 0 comments
The military defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gave rise to a flurry of speculation regarding the possible threats posed by fighters returning to their countries of origin. Journalists and academics have since uncovered considerable information on the backgrounds of these ISIS fighters and speculated on the ways they could wreak havoc within their home countries. Yet one question remains largely unanswered: What exactly are Arab states doing with fighters who return home?
by W. R. Baker | Mon, 09/30/2019 - 2:26pm | 0 comments
On March 30, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invaded South Vietnam and the Easter Offensive of 1972 in I Corps/First Regional Assistance Command (FRAC) area began, flouting their 1968 promise to “respect the DMZ.” Though seldom acknowledged or known by many, the priority objective of North Vietnam’s invasion was northern South Vietnam. Eventually, six NVA divisions, two tank regiments, and three-four independent infantry regiments would strike through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Laos catching United States and South Vietnamese command elements completely dumbfounded and slow to respond.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 09/30/2019 - 9:48am | 0 comments
Our need to scrutinize information becomes more acute as automation outstrips human understanding. If machine-learnt becomes machine-taught, we may lose the power to make responsible decisions. At the same time, our drive for technological advantage creates dependence on complex networks such as the “collaborative sensing grid.” Uncertainty persists.
by Samuel Canter | Mon, 09/30/2019 - 6:30am | 1 comment
The exodus of Junior Military Officers (JMO) from the service, colloquially known as the “brain drain,” represents one of the more slow-burning problems facing the United States Army. Beyond the immediate results on planned force structure and end-strength, the subtler effects of these departures will take decades to manifest.
by N. V. Subramanian | Sun, 09/29/2019 - 9:31am | 0 comments
Having angered China by stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and calling to question its claims on Ladakh, India may attempt to placate its powerful northern neighbour and adversary at an informal Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping summit slated for next month.
by Michael Kelvington | Sun, 09/29/2019 - 12:10am | 0 comments
Killing terrorists is not all about kinetic strikes, area clearances, and pinpoint raids. Terrorist organizations must be pressured in every aspect of their organization’s lifeblood. Attacking their coffers, often referred to as “counter-threat financing,” or CTF, is a key aspect of hurting terrorists from growing future capabilities and preventing future high-profile attacks.
by Sammie Wicks | Sat, 09/28/2019 - 8:22am | 0 comments
This memo describes how Nigerian Organized Crime affects both host nations and Nigerian diaspora communities as it specifically relates to Italy. Further, this memo argues that Nigerian organized crime has entrenched itself in Italy and persists as a significant threat to Nigerian diaspora communities in Italy.
by Donald "Tony" Vacha | Fri, 09/27/2019 - 1:35am | 3 comments
Army Civil Affairs (CA) faces an existential conundrum. The Army’s renewed focus on peer competition and lethality in Large Scale Combat Operations challenges how the branch defines itself and how the Army perceives its role. The inability of CA to define itself in relation to the Army’s operating concepts and doctrine is an enduring problem.
by Benjamin Ordiway | Fri, 09/27/2019 - 1:14am | 12 comments
When Special Forces train foreign partners, I can know how many bullets exited a rifle and how many foreign partners eventually qualified on the weapons range. I’m just not sure I can see what your Civil Affairs Teams accomplished during their deployment. What can you show me?
by Adam Wilson | Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:34am | 3 comments
The 2020 presidential candidates Afghan policy stance will surely be focused on short term political gains over the long-term prosperity of Afghanistan. Ultimately, Afghanistan has run its course politically and many would argue there exists no US policy that can “win” in Afghanistan and “win” politically at home in the US. The question each candidate should be asked next is what does your withdrawal look like?
by Robert Alan Murphy | Thu, 09/26/2019 - 8:32am | 2 comments
If American policymakers were to simplify the objectives of its military adventures it would not only limit the costs in blood in treasure, it would render the military more able and ready to address the existential threats to American national security, relieve the American people’s exhaustion with persistent war, and improve the prospects for decisive victory in theaters where it has proven so elusive.
by David Retherford | Wed, 09/25/2019 - 5:56pm | 0 comments
Historian and author, Stephen L. Harris, has written the definitive history of shared combat experience of the 3rd Infantry Division and the soldiers who fought in the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918. The American involvement in the First World War was minor compared to the French and British commitment. Yet, the American combat experience was equally demanding on the soldiers. Rock of the Marne detailed the recollection of the weeks and day leading into the Second Battle of the Marne.
by Nathan Jones | Wed, 09/25/2019 - 5:43am | 0 comments
"Understanding Human Trafficking" by Luz Nagle takes the reader into the sometimes arcane yet important legal world for a master lesson in how global and domestic actors can and will fight the scourge that is human trafficking.
by Irina Tsukerman | Wed, 09/25/2019 - 12:16am | 3 comments
Following the recent attacks on Saudi ARAMCO oil fields, which according to US and Saudi intelligence assessments, involved both drones and cruise missiles, and most likely originated in Southern Iran, the future of the US-Saudi alliance has come into question as President Trump has been taking time to assess the nature of the threat and to decide on reasonable next steps that would deter Iran from further aggression in the region.
by Patrick Burke | Tue, 09/24/2019 - 1:04am | 1 comment
The international community, with the U.S. at the helm, has made it clear chemical weapons attacks are a uniquely abhorrent violation of international norms and laws. One that justifies punitive military strikes against the Syrian regime. Some might wonder if the Syrian regime could be deterred by more significant military action. Probably not.
by Jason Payne | Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:07am | 0 comments
As the Department of Defense shifts its national defense strategy to re-establish dominance against near-peer threats by synchronizing joint and coalition forces in full-spectrum operations, the Army is well served to update its doctrine into a universally shared language with sister services and allied partners.
by Billy Carter | Mon, 09/23/2019 - 6:48am | 1 comment
Russian intelligence has adapted to exploit modern tools and the host of vulnerabilities they present, building on a robust history of exploiting the open access to media and information that are hallmarks of western, democratic societies. Russian confidence is at an all-time high, where intelligence activities are conducted with little regard for political costs.
by Christopher J. Heatherly, by Ian A. Melendez | Mon, 09/23/2019 - 4:29am | 2 comments
What role do unofficial transnational and criminal organizations play in the global adversarial competition among nations occurring today? How specifically do Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other specifically named adversary employ unofficial transnational or criminal organizations in its strategic efforts to undermine the United States or its allies?
by Louis René Beres | Sun, 09/22/2019 - 1:55pm | 2 comments
Though generally unseen, the most compelling form of power on earth is power over death. Always. Today, after an American president declared "victory" over one especially notorious organization with aggressive claims to such ultimate power, Jihadist doctrine is anything but in retreat. On the contrary, ISIS is in the verifiable midst of a substantial "comeback" or group "resurrection."
by DJ Collier | Sun, 09/22/2019 - 11:10am | 2 comments
It is our responsibility to establish and foster a new culture unique to military advisers. A culture built around the small unit construct present in special operations units but ultimately unique. A culture that can enable joint operations, build capacity by identifying indigenous solutions to indigenous problems and who are confident working with partners outside the norm of typical combat operations.
by Nathan Jones | Sat, 09/21/2019 - 5:30pm | 0 comments
Unlike many University Press books, Jeremy Slack’s Deported to Death is informative, methodologically rigorous, and an entertaining read. It is a masterful account based upon years of deep ethnographic fieldwork that will be of interest to those studying transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) given it supplies incredible detail on the modus operandi or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of illicit networks from the perspective of their victims along the US-Mexico border.
by Phil Walter | Fri, 09/20/2019 - 3:03am | 1 comment
Continue on for a list of all the winners! Congrats to all who entered, job well done. - Dave D.
by Rafael Loss | Thu, 09/19/2019 - 7:45am | 1 comment
Following the Franco-Prussian war and its unification in 1871, the German Empire was a latecomer to the “Scramble for Africa.” Only in 1890 did it adopt Weltpolitik, seeking possessions abroad and equal status among the European imperial powers.
by Kevin Butler | Wed, 09/18/2019 - 4:06am | 0 comments
Less than a decade after weathering massive geo-political upheavals from the Arab Springs, the Middle East is on the verge of yet another crisis; the plummeting price of crude oil. “Rentier states” in the Middle East, have for several decades, secured their status-quo by building an overwhelming portion of their economy dedicated to the sale of crude oil. While the rentier system has been successful in propping up Middle Eastern governments for decades, the downside to this system is the economic and political uncertainty created by the rapidly changing value in a single commodity.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:34pm | 2 comments
As a follow-on to "The US National Security Strategy Needs Combined Effects", this paper shows how combinations of US National Security Strategy (NSS) effects can integrate US National Defense Strategy (NDS) objectives to create strategically significant advantages.
by Travis Prendergast | Mon, 09/16/2019 - 12:33am | 1 comment
During the American occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, the United States Marines officered a native constabulary called the Gendarmerie d’Haiti. Throughout the occupation, the Gendarmerie built infrastructure and assisted in the administration of the country. The success of the Gendarmerie can be compared with the failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority during the occupation of Iraq.
by Brandon Brooks | Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:38am | 5 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.