Small Wars Journal

irregular warfare

“Malice in Blunderland” - J. P. Cross and the Royal Lao Army - 1972-75

There are many reasons (political/diplomatic/financial) why Laos was taken over by the Pathet Lao in 1975. Perhaps the overriding reason was the state of its military. The Royal Lao Army was one of the most ineffective forces of modern times. Despite being funded by a near inexhaustible American bankroll, it was a very poor shadow of its model, the ARVN.

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A Man, A Plan, So What? The Influence of Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, Reconsidered SWJED Tue, 07/09/2019 - 1:36am
Despite al-Suri’s reputation, however, questions exist about the relevance of his work, and jihadi strategic thought as a whole. Broadly, the relevance of jihadi strategic thought is unclear. Some note its potential to enable clearer understandings of jihadi behaviour.

Unintended Consequences of the Message Surrounding US Withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria

This study determines what trends, if any, may be associated with the announcements of US troop withdrawals in both Syria and Afghanistan on December 19 and 20, respectively. It examines the extent to which linkages exist between the unintended consequences and the announcement of the US military’s withdrawal by examining activities and commentary associated with the Taliban, the SDF, and the Daesh.

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Lessons in Working with Indigenous Forces

Between June 2015 and August 2016, I fought as a volunteer with the Kurdish YPG against the Islamic State in Syria. That timespan saw the creation of what became the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a disparate conglomeration of different groups of multiple ethnicities, that all had the common goal of destroying ISIS, a goal that has territorially been achieved but is in actuality far from complete.

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Getting off: The Implications of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues Among Former ISIS Fighters for Counterterrorism and Deradicalization

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.

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Assessment of the Legion as the Ideal Small Wars Force Structure

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.

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The US Presidency and Small Wars: Genealogy of the Mismanagement of International Conflict

It could be argued that Presidential war power was significantly reduced by Congress' War Powers Act of 1973, yet today in the post-September 11th, 2001 era, we are dealing with a Presidency that has been allowed to mismanage conflict through successive administrations leaving it to the other to end conflicts started by the former. Herein lies the contradiction of limit and power embedded within the DNA of the Presidency: the limit of time to see a conflict from beginning to end, and the enormous amount of presidential war power to start a conflict without the consent of Congress. This is where mismanagement begins and ends, with the new occupant of the office and their advisors.

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Assessment of the Role of Small Wars within the Evolving Paradigm of Great Power Competition in a Multipolar World

This article is published as part of the Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options Writing Contest which ran from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019. More information about the writing contest can be found here.

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