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 Scott S. Haraburda | Thu, 11/21/2019 - 9:27am | 0 comments
Sound and effective decisions, supported by reliable data, usually determines military operational success. Recent rapid advances in electronic instrumentation, equipment sensors, digital storage, and communication systems have generated large amounts of data. This deluge of digitized information provides military leaders innumerable data mining opportunities to extract hidden patterns in a wide diversity of situations.
by Francisco M. Hernandez, by Brodie T. Babb | Wed, 11/20/2019 - 9:29am | 0 comments
The analysis of CAO by trained CA forces drive multiple processes, including operations and targeting processes, and enabling supported commanders and decision makers to apply resources and make decisions. CA drives the operations and targeting processes by executing its core competencies alongside indigenous partners to increase the understanding of networks within the operational environment (OE), particularly those within the civil component.
by Adam Gallagher | Tue, 11/19/2019 - 4:49pm | 0 comments
"If foreign powers ceased their involvement in Libya, the country’s protracted civil war could come to an end quickly, said Mohamed Syala, the foreign minister of the Government of National Accord, in an interview with the U.S. Institute of Peace. The role of outside powers in Libya’s conflict has garnered renewed international attention in recent weeks as Russia has ramped up its support for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar’s forces."
by Franklin C. Annis | Tue, 11/19/2019 - 5:25am | 0 comments
I was first introduced to the concept of Availability Ratings by Major Jason Fincher at an event held by the Association of Marine Corps Logisticians. By measuring equipment readiness over time and attempting to increase the speed of acquisition of replacement parts and maintenance, Major Fincher was positively impacting readiness. He found that the key to maintaining a high-level of readiness may be focusing on the increasing the speed of which Marines can return non-functional equipment to a ready status.
by Morgan Smiley | Mon, 11/18/2019 - 4:55am | 0 comments
Many of the troopers and leaders who were part of the early deployments of the “Global War on Terrorism” have since departed the military. But I know many remain, though for a lot of them, I suspect their experiences consist of deployments involving security force assistance or limited patrols with limited goals as host-nation forces were pushed to take on more responsibility. Despite this, the troopers who are still in our military have valuable lessons that should be passed on to those with less experience.
by Chayathip Weerakajorn | Sun, 11/17/2019 - 11:44am | 0 comments
All actions have consequences, and all circumstances come after certain root causes; so does the ongoing insurgency in the southernmost provinces of Thailand, or what also known as the Deep South. The Thai ways of counterinsurgency are arguably flawed in several aspects, including the security and civil pillars of counterinsurgency. Moreover, the unstable domestic politics continues to distract the country leaders from conflicts in the south, as they are forced to focus on securing political power in Bangkok instead.
by Louis René Beres | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 10:52am | 0 comments
At the outset, world leaders will need to plan rationally, self-consciously and (above all) collaboratively for global survival. More than anything else, this would signify a refreshingly new willingness to realign traditionally narrow judgments of national self-interest with the much wider interests of humankind. Although meeting this complex requirement will at first appear unrealistic, nothing could be less pragmatic than staying stubbornly on our present collision course.
by Matthew Aaron Richmond | Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:57am | 0 comments
Violence resulting from conflicts between criminal groups and police has risen steadily across much of Latin America in recent years. The effects tend to be most felt in marginalised urban neighbourhoods, where widespread poverty and weak provision of essential services create opportunities for drug trafficking factions, street gangs, and militias to entrench local influence.
by Daniel Riggs | Fri, 11/15/2019 - 2:58am | 0 comments
No support to resistance will ever be perfect. But identifying groups who pose the best means for not only success, but stability as well is crucial. Decision makers and planners should not be content with finding a group to just achieve strategic ends. In world affairs, nothing appears to provoke as much ill will and long-term disdain towards a foreign country after they have provided less than intelligent support to a resistance movements that turn totalitarian or towards carnage.
by Boglarka Bozsogi | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:27pm | 0 comments
They know the drill. Emerging threats, foreign intervention, local alliances, and historic letdowns. Abandonment should not come as a surprise. Great powers have instrumentalized Kurdish nationalism for grand strategy, but cooptation implies agency from the proxy—a willingness to offer its strategic advantages for support or protection. U.S. withdrawal in face of the Turkish incursion in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria shines a light on the challenges of proxy warfare.
by Samiullah Doorandesh | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:55pm | 3 comments
Every U.S. airstrike resulting in civilian casualties nullifies the eighteen-year long endeavors of reconstruction and nation building aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Afghans in the perpetual War on Terror. The airstrikes have alarmingly augmented the xenophobia of Afghans towards the foreign troops and especially those of the United States.
by Brandon Kasubaski | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:41am | 0 comments
MDO’s success depends on technological developments, capabilities available, and leaders and planners’ insight in seeing how such developments and capabilities can affect the ideal relationships between operating elements. A great deal of success also depends on the nature of the enemy, their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities.
by Sarhang Hamasaeed | Tue, 11/12/2019 - 4:32am | 0 comments
ImageTens of thousands of Iraqis have been protesting in Baghdad and southern provinces against the failure of the Iraqi government and the political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption, and more. Iraqi security forces and armed groups reportedly linked to Iran have used lethal force in response to the protests, leaving over 260 dead and over 10,000 injured. As the protests have progressed, demands have expanded to include calls for regime change, the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, early elections, pushing back against Iranian influence, and accountability for killing peaceful protesters.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 11/11/2019 - 1:28pm | 0 comments
Many years have passed since the last uniformed American left Vietnam. Those of us that were there have many mixed feelings and emotions on the subject. There is sufficient distance that historians have time to dissect actions ranging from Presidential decisions to the amount of mixed-race babies left behind to the quality of c rations.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 11/11/2019 - 12:18pm | 0 comments
Once a year, the Nation honors the Veterans. Each day the Veteran honors us all with the fruits of that service. The Veteran internally recalls, reflects and remembers the very personal and unique aspects of that time served There. Together, all the Veterans have a binding thread we honor that only they can know and share- the knowledge that they were part of something larger than themselves over There.
by Chris Wozniak | Sun, 11/10/2019 - 11:53am | 0 comments
The United States occupies a central role in the global financial system and has leveraged its advantage to combat transnational actors and pressure geopolitical adversaries. The low cost and high utility of financial suasion makes it an appealing tool for presidents seeking alternatives to military force or unsophisticated embargos. However, presidents who make use of this financial strength must understand its roots, appropriate use, and the threats to American predominance it can create.
by Mona Yacoubian | Sat, 11/09/2019 - 6:06am | 0 comments
In the month since President Trump’s October 6 phone call with Turkish President Erdogan and the announced U.S. withdrawal from northeast Syria, the picture on the ground has changed immensely. Moscow has emerged as the key power broker in Syria. The Kurds, looking for protection from Turkish forces, are in Russian-brokered talks with the Assad government. These discussions could pave the way for an expanded Syrian government presence in the northeast for the first time in years.
by Jeremy Blascak | Fri, 11/08/2019 - 3:01pm | 0 comments
The difference between success or failure on the Korean Peninsula fell on the shoulders of the theater commander, US Army General Douglas MacArthur. His decision to execute Operation Chromite, a bold, combined arms, amphibious landing on the Korean west coast at Inchon, turned the tide of the war. Chromite successfully prevented a defeat at the Pusan Perimeter while cutting off vital North Korean lines of supply and communication through an amphibious envelopment. In order to understand the operational art and dynamics of Chromite’s success, it is necessary to frame the problem through a Cold War perspective militarily and politically, analyze the defense of the Pusan Perimeter to the planning and execution of Chromite, and evaluate how the operation successfully met strategic objectives through the creative and skillful employment of military forces while balancing the ends, ways, means, and risk.
by Tony M. Kail | Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:14pm | 0 comments
The use of magico-religious systems to promote the activities of drug trafficking organizations is nothing new. In my book "Narco Cults: Understand the Use of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican Religious Cultures in the Drug Wars", I define a narco cult as “An individualistic, shamanistic, communal or ecclesiastical cult that functions as a source of spiritual or psychological empowerment for individuals or organizations connected to drug production or trafficking.” Based on these early reports of the investigation and witness testimonies it appears that several of the religious shrines discovered in the raid were possibly used for spiritual protection.
by Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. | Wed, 11/06/2019 - 9:30am | 0 comments
Recently Professor Mary McCord published an essay in which she rhetorically re-makes the reality of a scattered collection of rag-tag right-wingers who call themselves “militias” into potent “private armies” akin to what she calls “foreign forces prepar[ing] for potential violence.” Regrettably, Professor McCord‘s essay lacks a sufficient military perspective to adequately gauge the true nature of the threats.
by Leanne Erdberg, by Fouad Pervez | Wed, 11/06/2019 - 8:50am | 0 comments
There is a great hunger to better understand violent extremism and diminish its impact, especially given its global spread. Policies should stand on the shoulders of research to yield better outcomes for countless people around the globe whose lives are devastated by violent extremism.
by Nick Lopez | Mon, 11/04/2019 - 4:33am | 0 comments
In "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World", General (Retired) Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell highlighted the transformation of Joint Special Operations Command in the early 2000s to more effectively fight the Global War on Terror, and ultimately offered insights on how to respond to 21st century problems. This same transformation may not be feasible across the Department of Defense (DOD). However, established networks in the DOD can be utilized to tackle the wicked problems of the 21st century. One such network is the FAO corps serving across the globe.
by Louis René Beres | Sun, 11/03/2019 - 10:39am | 0 comments
Already, back in 2014, US Senator Bernie Sanders fancied himself an informed scholar on the complex laws of war. Then as now, however, the Senator's seat-of-the-pants judgments concerning Israeli counterterrorism were evidently contrived and woefully incorrect. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, this recurrent American presidential aspirant, by accusing Israel of using "disproportionate force" against Palestinians, still ignores the (1) critical regional context of Israel's self-defense responses to terrorism, and (2) the authentic legal meaning of "proportionality."
by Keith Nightingale | Sun, 11/03/2019 - 9:22am | 0 comments
Laden Grunts traversing the steep scree-laden hills, Preternaturally alert, analyzing, Cunning senses energized, Behind them, others followed...
by Muhammad Faizal bin Abdul Rahman | Sat, 11/02/2019 - 11:15am | 0 comments
Given the heightened terrorist threat, the police forces of global cities are beefing up their special forces units by adopting more militarised approaches in weaponry, tactics, culture, and organisation even as they increase the level of cooperation with the state’s armed forces. This civil-military integration in homeland security is present in Singapore where the police force and the army are conducting more joint patrols in public places besides key installations (KINS), and the Army is training more soldiers for peacetime operations.
by Lex Oren | Sat, 11/02/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
The Arctic Sea is a significant expanse for American security and has repeatedly been under-resourced by the Department of Defense (DoD). Without access to the sea and airspace that the freedom of the seas provides, the United States’ ability to maintain a forward presence and accomplish a range of military and humanitarian assistance missions will be compromised.
by Lauren Serrano | Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:11am | 0 comments
Underpinnings of ethnic, religious, tribal, and demographic factors as well as their associated social identities remain a recurrent player in Iraqi politics and has affected the building of the Iraqi Army over the past 16 years. Researching Iraqi culture, social identities and their historical context is paramount to understanding the challenges the U.S. has faced in its efforts to train, equip, and advise the Iraqi Army. Independent thinking, creative ideas, information sharing, individual initiative, decentralized control, delegation of responsibility, and personal merit are all keys to success in U.S. military doctrine but contradict Iraqi sociocultural norms of centralized power, groupthink, and avoiding shame, embarrassment, and admission of mistakes. Training, equipping, and advising Arab militaries to follow Western military doctrine has had a history of at best mediocre results and rarely outlives the departure of Western advisors. U.S. capacity building doctrine in Iraq did not adjust to take into account Iraqi culture, instead it expected the Iraqi military to adapt to American military doctrine.
by Michael L. Burgoyne, by Albert J. Marckwardt | Thu, 10/31/2019 - 8:23am | 0 comments
Counterinsurgency isn’t dead no matter how much the U.S. military may want it to be. Ten years ago, we wrote a short parable designed to quickly inform junior leaders on the basic concepts of counterinsurgency called The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa. It seems appropriate to take this anniversary to revisit the book and the concept of counterinsurgency.
by Thomas A. Drohan | Thu, 10/31/2019 - 3:41am | 0 comments
In 2019, we are immersed in competitions that require persistent advantages to prevail against long-view opponents. Victory is relative and temporary, and our operations need to be influential lest they become irrelevant. This strategic challenge is acute in complex warfare, where operations are waged across domains (land, sea, air, space, cyber, electro-magnetic) using diverse means (diplomatic, informational, military, economic, social—DIMES) to produce synergistic effects (preventive and causative, psychological and physical, cooperative and confrontational).
by Mustafa Hasan, by Joanne Patti Munisteri | Wed, 10/30/2019 - 2:22pm | 0 comments
Protests in Iraq continue despite the harsh measures against those participating. Starting Thursday night, October 24th, crowds of protesters in Baghdad, Babel and Nasiriyah gathered to prepare for more protests. The vast majority of those participating according to the field reports, were males between 15-35 years old. Then Friday morning protests started again in earnest, renewing calls for reform and action. This time both men and women and high school aged boys and girls, joined the protests.
by N. V. Subramanian | Tue, 10/29/2019 - 6:18pm | 0 comments
Saudi Arabia’s overweening confidence as a leading Sunni power has been enfeebled by the 14 September attack on its oil facilities. Its sworn enemy, Iran, has carried out the attack by itself or its Houthi proxy in Yemen. It amounts to the same thing.
by Louis René Beres | Mon, 10/28/2019 - 11:00am | 0 comments
The US targeted killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on 26 October 2019 raises both tactical and legal questions. Although it is by no means certain that such "decapitation" tactics can tangibly diminish Jihadist terrorist threats to the United States, there is little reason to doubt their permissibility under pertinent international law. In the final analysis, such permissibility derives from our world's still-decentralized legal structure.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 10/28/2019 - 12:44am | 0 comments
"War Amongst the People: Critical Assessments" - Edited by David Brown, Donette Murray, Malte Riemann, Norma Rossi and Martin A. Smith, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Published by Howgate Publishing, May 2019.
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 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 | 0 comments
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 | 0 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.