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 Zachary Kallenborn | Tue, 05/30/2023 - 2:26am | 0 comments
Zachary Kallenborn assesses the challenges posed by drone swarms in amphibious operations.
by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 05/29/2023 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Adapted from remarks at the Special Forces Association Convention.
by Robert Muggah | Mon, 05/22/2023 - 5:22pm | 0 comments
SWJ−El Centro Fellow Robert Muggah weighs in on Latin America's cocaine fueled crime wave.
by Zachary Kallenborn | Fri, 05/12/2023 - 2:48am | 0 comments
WMD, drone, and threat analyst Zachary Kallenborn weighs in on the need for a US Commission on Information Warfare in this opinion piece.
by Pilar Glaser | Tue, 05/09/2023 - 3:44pm | 2 comments
Pilar Glaser reviews "The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth" by Sam Quinones.
by Tom Ordeman, Jr. | Sat, 05/06/2023 - 10:26am | 2 comments
In 2014, the U.S. Air Force began development of the B-21 Raider, its next generation stealth bomber. However, despite having socialized a set of requirements, identified a vendor, and set a per-unit price that will inevitably skyrocket, any serious discussion of whether a need for this platform actually exists has taken place - pun intended - largely under the radar.
by Paul Burton | Fri, 05/05/2023 - 11:08am | 3 comments
As the U.S. national security establishment grapples with the change of the global environment from the post-Cold War U.S.-led unipolar world to a multipolar one, much of the investment of capital – fiscal and intellectual – has been on large scale combat operations between peer nations. Yet, if the past is prologue, much of the competition, and even conflict, between great powers will likely fall into the category of Irregular Warfare.  How to approach the Irregular Warfare problem today presents significant challenges and great opportunities. In the DOD, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has much of the responsibility for the preparation of forces to conduct and execute Irregular Warfare (IW); its forces are purpose-built for this environment.
by Diego Ramírez Sánchez | Thu, 05/04/2023 - 8:43pm | 2 comments
This analysis looks at the challenge of organized crime and gangs in Chile. It originally appeared in Spanish as “El Crimen Organizado en Chile: El desafío que se avecina.”
by Daniel A. Pinkston | Thu, 04/27/2023 - 10:05pm | 2 comments
As Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine continues into its second year, most observers have been surprised by some aspects of the conflict. The consensus is that the Russian military shockingly has underperformed against Ukraine, and the Ukrainian resistance has exceeded expectations. Furthermore, students of international relations and warfare are analyzing the implications for geopolitics as well as the advances in weapon systems. While many analysts have considered the possible implications for conflict in the Taiwan Strait, it is important to understand the lessons Pyongyang is learning from Ukraine given North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities.
by Daniel Rice | Wed, 04/26/2023 - 7:01pm | 3 comments
As the global community anticipates a Ukrainian counter-offensive as spring sets in, it is imperative that the United States Congress and Department of Defense take decisive action to implement strategic changes that could save thousands of Ukrainian lives. Ukraine is not merely defending its own sovereignty, but also acting on behalf of Europe against a long-feared adversary.
by Mahmut Cengiz, by Camilo Pardo-Herrera | Tue, 04/25/2023 - 8:20pm | 1 comment
This article assesses Hezbollah's criminal enterprises in Latin America with an emphasis on its Latin American cocaine trade.
by Keith Nightingale | Sun, 04/23/2023 - 5:58pm | 2 comments
A remembrance of Operation Eagle Claw 24-25 April 1980
by Diego Ramírez Sánchez | Thu, 04/20/2023 - 4:23pm | 1 comment
This analysis in Spanish looks at the challenge of organized crime and gangs in Chile.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera | Mon, 04/17/2023 - 5:31pm | 4 comments
This opinion piece takes a critical look at current calls for US military intervention to address threats from criminal cartels in Mexico.
by Jonathan D. Rosen | Wed, 04/12/2023 - 6:46pm | 1 comment
This opinion piece assesses the negotiations between the Government of El Salvador under Nayib Buckle and various Salvadoran gangs.
by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 04/05/2023 - 1:10am | 2 comments
This book review of Caryn Dolley's "Clash of the Cartels: Unmasking the global drug kingpins stalking South Africa" looks at South Africa's role in the global illicit economy.
by Daniel Rice | Sat, 03/25/2023 - 11:03am | 0 comments
The war in Ukraine is ongoing, and while the focus is on winning battles and planning reconstruction, one critical aspect is being overlooked: de-mining. As the Russian invasion has left millions of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and landmines across 27% of Ukraine's territory, we must take urgent action to prevent further civilian casualties and ensure the future prosperity of the region. It is time for an international effort on the scale of the Marshall Plan or the Manhattan Project to address this monumental challenge.
by Howard Campbell | Fri, 03/24/2023 - 5:02pm | 1 comment
In recent years, unauthorized US border crossings by non-Mexican Latin American nationals have increased significantly. This article examines the impact that these new migrants have had on Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It focuses especially on the period immediately preceding the COVID-19 pandemic to the present. Since 2018, Central Americans, Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans have passed through Juárez in record numbers, and many have settled at least temporarily there. Through ethnographic observations and interviews the author analyzes the impact the new migrants have had on border society and how Juarenses have responded to each of the immigrant groups. Acts of charity and generosity toward the migrants are common, but so too are xenophobia and hostility, especially from local politicians, tabloid journalists, local law enforcement, and members of organized crime. As large numbers of migrants, especially Venezuelans at present, have flooded into downtown Juárez, the impact has been transformative to local business and street culture and led to brewing social tensions on the border that may worsen in the future.
by Michael L. Burgoyne, by Albert J. Marckwardt | Thu, 03/23/2023 - 4:40pm | 4 comments
In this commentary, two former foreign area officers with experience in Latin America address the pitfalls of US military intervention against criminal cartels in Mexico's crime wars.
by Daniel Rice | Wed, 03/08/2023 - 11:03am | 2 comments
Recent media reports from outlets such as Reuters, Ukraine Business News, and Euromaidan have created unnecessary confusion and politicization around Ukraine's request for submunitions to be used in drone warfare. It is time to set the record straight and provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to effectively defend itself against Russian aggression.
by Russell W. Glenn | Mon, 03/06/2023 - 10:01pm | 4 comments
This article reviews the 1846 Battle of Monterrey from an urban operations perspective. The review provides salient lessons for contemporary military operations.
by Kyle Amonson | Sun, 03/05/2023 - 7:59pm | 0 comments
At the heart of every peacekeeping operation is the peacekeeper, the populace, and the mandate. In an international community that is currently supporting 12 United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) across three continents, with over 97,000 peacekeepers, it is imperative we ask ourselves if we are fielding the appropriate technological advantages to mitigate risk in the pursuit of regional peace and stability. One key capability found in nearly every military and police force across the globe is the drone (the unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV), or unmanned aerial system (UAS), when considering the entire package. While the UAS cannot replace the interpersonal relationships of working alongside a populace during a PKO, it can provide a variety of critical capabilities to revolutionize peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. The thesis of this article is that the UN has a proven track record of successful UAS integration to add value for UN Force Commanders. However, many leaders in less developed countries are apprehensive to the application of UAS, not realizing that UN UAS are employed in the same ISR capacity, and held to the same standards, as the more expensive fixed and rotary wing assets.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Sun, 03/05/2023 - 7:48pm | 5 comments
This essay is a food-for-thought on the identity (culture), training and education of special forces (SF). The target audience is the special forces, the emerging wider special operations forces (SOF) community, politicians and key military decision-takers who must wield special forces. Admittedly every nation has its particularities, but many SF throughout the world have common concerns and difficulties when it comes to setting a culture that matches a clear identity. Not in terms of tasks like specialized forces, but in terms of purpose like special forces. Struggling to find a balance between too much or too little “unconventional” is also a universal phenomenon. It should be clear that there is a time for structure and optimization and there is a time for creativity and momentum. Knowing what to be in which circumstances is exactly the educational foundation of special forces: analytical acumen.
by William T. Latta | Sun, 03/05/2023 - 7:24pm | 5 comments
In large-scale combat operations (LSCO), critical decisions during armed conflict that defeat the adversary to achieve strategic and operational objectives often determine the victor. History proves that the chaotic nature of the battlefield contains many variables that shape the operational environment (OE), which requires leadership to make the right decision on time to accomplish the objectives. The United States Army implements mission command to enable subordinates on the battlefield to make the critical decisions necessary to seize the initiative that can gain an advantage over an adversary. The Battle of 73 Easting during Operation Desert Storm displays the practical application of mission command in an LSCO environment that led to a decisive victory over Iraqi forces and the liberation of Kuwait. The success at the Battle of 73 Easting was due to effective mission command, which will provide a historical case study to analyze mission command, battlefield command and control (C2), C2 warfighting function execution in an LSCOs environment.
by Joseph W. Frost | Fri, 03/03/2023 - 10:54pm | 20 comments
            Information is a critical component of any organization in the world. Specifically, the military depends on massive amounts of data to make decisions across all battlefield domains. The abundant information gained from various sources supplies joint-level leaders and staff with ample material to decipher, analyze, and create intelligence products. When given to the right people, these products can leverage opportunities that enable friendly military actions and reduce the effects of the adversary’s combat power. Joint planners have several capabilities to evaluate within information operations that aid in creating advantages for friendly forces. Joint commanders and staff must understand the information environment’s dimensions, military information support operations (MISO), civil-military operations (CMO), and military deception when planning dynamic information operations.
by George Chkhikvadze , by Corban Pierce, by Trevor Davison, by Matthew J. McGowan | Thu, 03/02/2023 - 7:15pm | 3 comments
Endangered Fishing Village: A fishing village located on an island in an archipelago in the Indo-Pacific about 200 nautical miles from a major straight and 50 nautical miles from a major shipping route.  The fisherman, many of whom are third or fourth-generation fishermen, who have worked these waters surrounding their home for decades, are under persistent harassment from strange foreign fishing vessels.  Local vessels are chased from legacy fisheries, while foreign vessels are overfishing the area and devastating the local economy.  Within the local village, outsiders have been placing pressure on local officials to sell land surrounding the village under the pretense of building an airport and the promise of building infrastructure.  Local officials are frustrated that they cannot protect their fishermen, despite the repeated calls for support from the overtaxed Coast Guard.  Concurrently, national officials are worried about territorial encroachment and predatory economic practices across multiple islands and districts.
by Josh Phillips | Thu, 03/02/2023 - 6:51pm | 2 comments
For the past two decades, United States foreign policy has been centered around the Global War on Terror (GWOT), but this era appears to be steadily coming to a close. In light of this, as the U.S. continues to trend away from GWOT policies and operations, it must not lessen its opposition to international violence and human rights violations. Instead, it must remember to remain steadfast in its commitments to international humanitarian aid efforts that were initiated during the GWOT. The U.S. cannot afford to backslide in its progress in mitigating foreign violence, and must not forget the tools that it has at its disposal to maintain this progress. One such means that the U.S. should continue to employ is the Foreign Terrorist Designation (FTO), an important political tool that the U.S. uses to publicly identify and sanction perpetrators of international violence, and one example of how this tool should be used to protect U.S. interests can be seen ongoing Houthi rebel group crisis in Yemen, a group which the U.S. delisted as an FTO in 2021.
by Rodani Tan | Thu, 03/02/2023 - 6:39pm | 1 comment
During the Vietnam War, Builder et al. (1999) mentioned that before 1965, the fighting by the United States (U.S.) Soldiers in Vietnam had been in minor skirmishes with Viet Cong (VC) troops conducting hit-and-run counterinsurgency operations. However, the situation significantly escalated since 6 February 1965, the VC attacked the U.S. compound in Pleiku, leaving eight Americans dead and hundreds wounded. In November 1965, Colonel (COL) Thomas W. Brown ordered the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, commanded by then Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Harold G. Moore Jr., to execute an airmobile assault operation in Ia Drang valley and conduct a search and destroy operation against the VC and North Vietnamese Army (NVA). At the same time, North Vietnamese General (GEN) Chu Huy Man, with three NVA regiments, ordered preparations for conducting offensive operations in the same area of Ia Drang to inflict significant casualties against the U.S. military.
by Caleb Carr | Thu, 03/02/2023 - 6:23pm | 3 comments
The pledge on the part of various NATO countries to send advanced armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) to Ukraine to help that country in its struggle against the Russian invasion has been welcomed by those who support Kyiv’s cause as something of a deliverance. And even most analysts who have reservations about the tanks’ actual utility base their reservations on the Ukrainian tankers lack of training in specific Western models, preeminently the American Abrams MIA2 Main Battle Tank (MBT), the German Leopard II, and the British Challenger II. Granted, it will take the Ukrainians some time to master the operational technicalities of each of these models, as they have begun to do in Germany. But their most glaring shortcoming when it comes to modern armored warfare is not unique to Western tanks. Indeed, it has already been demonstrated by their use of captured Russian MBTs: they have not yet mastered the fundamentals of modern armored doctrine, either strategically or tactically. Doing so will be far more important than learning engine specs and firing modalities, if only because it will allow them to mount a far more efficient defense immediately (without waiting for Western tanks), and eventually go on the offensive, and do both in ways for which the Russians are unprepared.
by Ioannis Koskinas | Wed, 03/01/2023 - 6:11pm | 2 comments
In late 2022, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) quietly divested the combat aviation advisor (CAA) capability, the only unit in the Air Force specifically trained, organized, and equipped for irregular warfare (IW). Within a few months, AFSOC converted the 6th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) from one uniquely suited for building partner capacity, security force assistance, and aviation foreign internal defense (AvFID) to another one of the multiple AFSOC squadrons flying the MC-130J airlift aircraft. For nearly 30 years, the 6th SOS was the Air Force’s only organization dedicated to IW and AvFID. But, contrary to the 2022 Defense Department Special Operations Vision and Strategy that aimed to bolster integrated deterrence by advancing partnerships and enhancing relationship with allies, partners, and the interagency, AFSOC scrapped the Air Force’s only IW capability. This has diminished U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) capacity to meet its national security objectives. Since August 2022, new commanders have taken the reins at USSOCOM and at AFSOC. This paper hopes that they take stock of the unforced error made by their predecessors and reinstitute the CAA mission in the Air Force and USSOCOM’s kit bags of asymmetric air power advantages.
by Brandon Sanders | Fri, 02/24/2023 - 7:30pm | 5 comments
For several reasons, the Army is wrestling with recruitment shortfalls. As with many problems in the military, the tendency is to “whip out the money gun” and shoot the problem right in the face. However, we need to be very careful with doing that in this context. Simply flooding the internet and airwaves with promises of $50k bonuses and a life of benefits may only set us up for failure in the next conflict. Instead, we should look at how to tailor our communication and Soldier experience to let our future warriors become what they truly want to be.
by Daniel Rice | Tue, 02/21/2023 - 5:11pm | 1 comment
The Battle of Kyiv is a story of Ukrainian resilience and strategic prowess, and a remarkable victory against a larger and better-equipped enemy. Sun Tzu famously wrote that "most battles are won before they are fought," and this was certainly the case in Kyiv. Despite being outnumbered and under-equipped, the Ukrainian Armed Forces emerged victorious, thanks to better leader development, leadership, strategy, and training.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Tue, 02/21/2023 - 4:36pm | 2 comments
The Ministério Público do Rio Grande do Norte (MPRN)—public prosecutor’s office in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil—launched Operação Plata (Operation Plata) on Tuesday, 14 February 2023 to investigate money laundering related to drug trafficking by a suspected leader of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC). The cell investigated laundered money through multiple means. Most notably, their laundering efforts including establishing evangelical churches as front operations.
by Pierre Jean Dehaene | Tue, 02/21/2023 - 10:08am | 3 comments
What can military organizations learn from one of the oldest natural mechanisms of survivability? Natural selection has for millions of years determined the species that get to live on. It was commonly thought that survivability was a matter of strength and/or fitness, but these (brute) notions less accurately describe what is in fact the mechanism of adaptability. The “fittest” species is the one best able to adapt to its constantly shifting environment. Essentially being less prone to developing dangers and more efficient with energy. Organisms and organizations are not so different. They both compete and exist within dynamic and fluctuating ecosystems. Organizations must adapt rapidly, especially organizations that exist to protect their people and government. This essay will look at the building blocks of natural selection as a framework for thinking about organizations. I will concentrate on the special forces, but the claims and reasoning presented in this essay are applicable to any military organization. How must we integrate the qualities of organisms that are able to survive and thrive in a dynamic competitive order?
by Richard A. Dean | Tue, 02/21/2023 - 9:59am | 3 comments
Make no mistake: if left unchecked, the war in Ukraine will bring about wider conflict. Today, the world over, executives and their tutors view the turmoil in Ukraine with an ever-increasing sense of dread. To properly grasp this circumstance, consider the morphing response of the Western world. A year ago, they responded to Russian provocations with rhetoric. Yesterday, they answered with shoulder-fired missiles and artillery. Today, they reply with tanks. Now, the greater world stands at a juncture, one created by an ill-fated mixture of interest, policy, and sentiment. The question to be asked now – the point that must be settled – is where to go from here?
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Mon, 02/20/2023 - 9:25pm | 2 comments
Enough with the “Russian offensive” hype.  Whatever the Kremlin manages to stitch together in the coming weeks and months, there is no reason to suspect it will be anything different from what Russian operations have been for the more than ten months since the end of March, the last time Russia saw any major successes on the battlefield: that is, ineffective and incompetent.
by Charlie Black | Mon, 02/20/2023 - 3:13pm | 2 comments
In America’s Special Operations Problem Colonel R.D. Hooker, PhD former combat leader turned scholar offers a necessarily useful criticism of US Special Operations and SOF.  His real argument relates more to USSOF than special operations. I urge everyone interested in national security, especially those in the special operations community to read it closely. As the Department of Defense shifts its strategy priority to great power competition it is prudent to reflect on over two decades of war. The lack of a dispassionate assessment of the recent Afghanistan withdraw suggests other priorities. Hooker makes some points worthy of consideration to be discussed later. Unfortunately, some of the argument is a misinterpretation of recent historical events, dependent context, and derives generalized conclusions from a relatively small number of incidents or events.  What follows is my response to advance the discussion and debate.
by Patrick Cunningham | Sun, 02/19/2023 - 11:49am | 1 comment
       The opening remarks of the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) highlight the views held by many leaders within the United States on the current security environment: that “we are living in a decisive decade,” that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “remains our most consequential strategic competitor” for the foreseeable future, and that the PRC is the only country with both the intent and capacity to reshape the international order. Underscoring these beliefs is the Department of Defense’s most current version of the “China Military Power Report” which asserts that the PRC seeks to harness all elements of national power to attain a “leading position” in strategic competition, “accelerate the integrated development of… informatization, and intelligentization” of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and cultivate an environment hospitable to the PRC’s strategic goals to create a “community of common destiny.” Comparatively, the PRC’s “2019 Defense White Paper” emphasizes that the PLA is in “urgent need of improving its informationization” and that building a “Community with a Shared Future for Mankind” crucially supports the PRC’s “National Defense Policy in the New Era.” Given these deliberate assessments from both U.S. and PRC perspectives, this paper seeks to examine the mutually reinforcing modernization of PLA information warfare and military diplomacy, the effects of these modernization initiatives on regional and global stability, and key weaknesses that the U.S. and partners can exploit.
by Jesus Gonzalez , by Clayton Dos Santos | Sun, 02/19/2023 - 11:30am | 1 comment
The United States (U.S.) Army has been studying and evolving its approaches to military operations. In this context, learning from past experiences is one of the best methods to enhance the Army’s ability to fight. To illustrate that, in December 1989, a remarkable success in military operations took place in Panama, which demonstrated a high level of coordination and command and control on the battlefield. It is known as Operation Just Cause and it was a complex Joint Operation against the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) in Panamanian territory. It captures the importance of training, planning, and leadership to prevail in combat operations. Another doctrinal concept that emerges from this operation is mission command. According to the U.S. Army doctrine, mission command is “the Army’s approach to command and control that empowers subordinate decision making and decentralized execution appropriate to the situation." During Operation Just Cause, there were several opportunities to exercise mission command and they were decisive to mission accomplishment. Therefore, it is relevant to present some of the events that took place in Operation Just Cause as part of the U.S. Army learning process, and the application of mission command and leadership to the success of military operations. In order to better comprehend this operation, it is important to understand the scenario in Panama that led to the execution of Operation Just Cause.
by Cole Herring | Tue, 02/14/2023 - 1:13pm | 2 comments
This paper argues that influence campaigns are becoming the most powerful weapon authoritarian regimes have against democracies. Authoritarian regimes have the ability to censor domestic information, which presents an opportunity that inherently places democracies on the defensive. Additionally, the pace in change of technology has made large portions of the population suspectable to misinformation. State actors weaponization and use of artificial intelligence in influence campaigns is powerful, and while the use of state propaganda is not a new concept, the scope and scale that it can be conducted is unpresented. This paper explores multiple case studies using current examples.
by Sanjai Bhagat, by Michael Brogan, by Kevin Benson | Mon, 02/13/2023 - 9:13pm | 2 comments
During the past three decades, U.S. companies relentlessly pursued a strategy of building manufacturing facilities in China. The over-arching rationale given by U.S. corporate leaders and international economists was that “trade benefits all countries.” U.S. CEOs shifted manufacturing to China arguing that lower manufacturing costs in China compared to the U.S. enabled them to price their product at a much lower price, and benefit their U.S. shareholders and consumers. A key building block of this narrative turned out to be false. The benefits to U.S. long-term shareholders of shifting manufacturing to China were, at best, temporary, and in most cases never realized, because China expropriated the technology of U.S. manufacturers using both legitimate and illegitimate methods.
by Alexander R. Kenna, by Matthew R. Alexander | Mon, 02/13/2023 - 4:42pm | 2 comments
As the US military continues to develop its climate security strategy and action plans, the current publications and programs only briefly mention proactive international actions by enhancing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance efforts. However, this approach is not a sufficient response to the complexity of climate insecurity. The current lines of effort for the DOD Climate Adaptation Plan would benefit from an additional measure that is proactive and international at its base. The oversight of the near-term consequences of destructive climate events such as drought, flooding, rising sea levels, etc., resulting in resource scarcity for vulnerable populations has allowed adversaries of the United States to capitalize on these vulnerable states. This allows these maligned actors access economic, military, and political advantages through providing resources and infrastructure to these fragile populations. While the United States needs to focus first domestically, neglecting international efforts to combat climate insecurity will only further the loss in adversarial competition while endangering US national security.
by Jeff Giesea | Sun, 02/12/2023 - 5:58pm | 1 comment
This is the second part of a series developing a concept I’m calling hybrid intelligence. In part 1, I defined hybrid intelligence as an agile and integrative approach to intelligence, positioned as a response to hybrid warfare. In this piece, I explore hybrid warfare as a special forces-like capability.
by Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed | Sun, 02/12/2023 - 12:09am | 0 comments
Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has entered its second year. During the past months, the Kremlin has continued to engage in ongoing combat efforts, artillery shelling, and missile and drone attacks targeting civilian infrastructure across the country. The number of civilians who became victims of Russia’s atrocious assault is growing and the country’s infrastructure is in imminent danger of collapse. Russia perpetuates its plan to depopulate the occupied parts of Ukraine and to deport both adults and children to Russia. At the same time, Russian teachers arrive in Russia-occupied Ukrainian towns and cities and diligently follow the orders of their Russian “bosses” beating into the heads of Ukrainian children Russia’s vision of Ukraine: “Ukraine as a sovereign state does not exist” and “Ukrainians are confused about their nationality—in essence, you are Russians who, under the influence of external Western forces, erroneously decided that you are Ukrainians. Ukrainians do not exist!”
by Mark Grdovic | Thu, 02/09/2023 - 8:50am | 3 comments
As 2023 begins, the U.S. military finds itself addressing how it will institutionalize the topic of Irregular Warfare (IW).  There is no shortage of speeches, articles and documents that extol the importance of the topic to the National Defense Strategy and its related concepts.  While this sounds completely appropriate, there is a problem.  The U.S. military has been in this position before, multiple times.   In 2009, I wrote an article as part of an introduction for an IW conference at Ft Bragg in which I said, “In the 1960s and again in the 1980s, the U.S. military experienced a revival of interest in irregular warfare, or IW, similar to the one that is occurring today.  In both of the previous periods, the topic enjoyed a celebrity-like popularity in professional military forums until such time that circumstances allowed it to be relegated back to the margins in favor of a return to proper soldiering. Both previous revivals produced high-quality doctrine and curriculum in professional-education courses.  So why, then, did IW fail to become ingrained as part of the military mainstream?’  It feels like little has changed since that time other than to add one more period of interest.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Thu, 02/09/2023 - 8:37am | 2 comments
Russia, on paper the second most powerful military power in the world, should have taken Kyiv and much of the rest of Ukraine rather quickly; by the odds and by the takes of most pundits at the time, Ukraine should have lost the war months ago, Ukraine’s military and leadership crushed (and clearly Russia hubristically expected and planned on this, too, and Putin certainly did not expect the unified and robust support of a West and NATO led by Biden).  At best, it was thought Ukraine might to be able to offer some level of heroic and persistent nationalist guerilla insurgency against Russian occupiers much like the case when Ukrainian anti-Soviet partisans kept fighting from the mid-1940s into the mid-1950s in the wake of World War II and the Soviet Union’s reimposition of unwanted Soviet rule over Ukraine after Hitler’s German Army’s temporary occupation and misrule. 
by Chris Martin, by Simmie A. Adams | Wed, 02/08/2023 - 9:19pm | 2 comments
In September 1994, Special Forces Soldiers from 3rd SFG(A) deployed to Haiti to support Operation Uphold/Restore/Maintain Democracy.  They were charged with providing the majority of the command-and-control structure for the Army Special Operations Task Force (ARSOTF). Bad governance is looked upon as the root cause of Haiti’s instability.  Some entities believe the way forward is to conduct a kinetic action.  However, from an irregular warfare perspective, interested parties working together to achieve what is best for the country resolves problems effectively.  It remains true today. 
by Leo Villalobos , by Ryan J. Ward | Tue, 02/07/2023 - 11:09pm | 0 comments
The utility of social movements as a means to achieve societal, cultural, or political change has been well established throughout history. In particular, adversaries of the United States (U.S.) have demonstrated their ability to leverage social movements to shape the operational environment in favor of their objectives. However, U.S. military doctrine addresses social movements exclusively as resistance movements as part of unconventional warfare. This view, however, neglects the utility of social movements to disrupt or degrade adversarial efforts in strategic competition through non-violent means. Special Operations Forces (SOF) must explore the utility of social movements in the context of Irregular Warfare (IW) to remain competitive in a complex and dynamic global environment.
by Jeff Giesea | Tue, 02/07/2023 - 6:06pm | 1 comment
The last two decades have seen many changes in the security environment. New technologies have given rise to asymmetric opportunities. The costs of all-out war have pushed conflict into the grey zone. The lines separating state and non-state actors have blurred. So-called hybrid warfare has combined conventional warfare, unconventional warfare, and even business activities to achieve meaningful geopolitical effects. 
by Daniel Bergman | Tue, 02/07/2023 - 5:05pm | 0 comments
Warfare is not only traditional or irregular but a deadly mix between the two; leaders must master both aspects of warfare to defeat the enemy and protect friendly forces (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2020). To master irregular warfare, a leader must first know and understand what it is; irregular warfare is the ability to influence the population with the intent to deplete power (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2020). The purpose of this paper is to analyze and understand the leaders’ vital role in irregular warfare holistically. An in-depth analysis of the performance triad’s positive and integral role in irregular warfare, how competent leaders utilize mission command to their advantage, and how a leader's intellect is one of their greatest weapons in irregular warfare. With the uncertainty induced by irregular warfare, there is one consistent aspect: the need for competent leaders to prepare their Soldiers for the unknown.