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 Michael D. Shaler | Mon, 10/18/2021 - 6:47pm | 1 comment
The United States Army has long regarded itself as a LEARNING ORGANIZATION, so, as the President noted, we should ask ourselves: “What have we learned --- both positive and negative --- from our 20 years involvement in the Afghanistan War?”
by Robert S. Burrell | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 8:51pm | 6 comments
The recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and resulting takeover of governance by the Taliban has caused significant doubt in America’s ability to conduct long-lasting and effective counterinsurgency operations. However, a historical analysis into America’s small wars (or dirty wars) over the past two centuries offers an indispensable perspective. The United States has been at war for about 226 of its 245 years, the vast majority of these conflicts have been prosecuted short of traditional war, and many came as a result of great power competition. During this same period, the United States has developed its own unique methods of addressing insurgency. This essay illuminates the evolution and adoption of America’s double-edged reward and punishment approach to addressing insurgency, from the Plains Indian Wars through the Vietnam War, the lessons of which are essential to consider before embarking upon tomorrow’s conflict.
by Gabriel Lloyd | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:50am | 0 comments
Modern Russian intelligence operations, cyber intrusions and influence operations have found both potency in the proliferation of social media technologies and a receptive target in the existing political and social divisions in the United States. Media reports, including dramatic documentaries and breathless biopics on the ten Russian “illegals” arrested in 2010, create perceptions of either a newly developed Russian playbook or a full-scale return to the Cold War era of spy-vs-spy. Neither perspective is entirely accurate.
by Peter Layton | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:43am | 2 comments
China’s gray zone activities grind remorseless on but in so doing are creating an opposing pushback. As is customary, the paradoxical nature of war applies in that those impacted by a damaging strategy will over time devise optimized countermoves.
by Alexander Smith | Sun, 10/10/2021 - 3:36am | 1 comment
“Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.”[1] British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, recognized the value of airpower as early as 1933 during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and his words hold to this day. The United States spent sixteen of the last twenty years and precious resources attempting to rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF) into a viable, self-sustaining military aviation component capable of supporting the democratically-elected Afghan government. The withdrawal of U.S. and Coalition forces in August of 2021, and the embarrassingly swift takeover by the Taliban, have left the AAF in shambles. Many pilots fled with their aircraft to neighboring countries, where their fate remains uncertain, while the rest are now in Taliban hands.
by Andrew Milburn | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 8:32pm | 0 comments
Watching the chaotic scenes in Kabul airport this last August, it is difficult to make sense of the manner in which Washington pulled the plug on a two-decade Coalition effort leaving our allies non-plussed and our partners to the mercy of a vengeful enemy. Less than three weeks later, these images came again to mind during the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and two of his four-star generals before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nothing in that testimony, however, brought a sense of closure. Instead, repeated attempts at justification, and ultimately – a collective refusal to take responsibility – only rubbed salt in the wound.
by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 10/01/2021 - 6:19pm | 2 comments
Book Review of James H. Lebovic,"Planning to Fail: The US Wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This text looks at the US wars in Vietnam (1965–1973), Iraq (2003–2011), and Afghanistan (2001-present [2021]) reviewing the conditions from withdrawal. In all three case, the decision-makers accepted terms of departure that their predecessors would have rejected at the start of tase respective conflicts.
by David M. Tillman | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:56am | 0 comments
Mission command dates back to the mid-19th century, when the Chief of Prussian general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, first conceptualized the decentralized operational framework known as Auftragstaktik. German doctrine adopted Auftragstaktik in 1888, which later served as the foundation for the infamous German Blitzkrieg of WWII. Today, Auftragstaktik provides the foundation for mission command, which U.S. doctrine defines as having seven key principles: competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance. These principles are compounding, with each one enhancing the efficacy of the next. This article analyzes MG Ariel Sharon’s effective employment of mission command during the Yom Kippur War, specifically through the principles of competence, mutual trust, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.
by Anthony Ippoliti | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:41am | 0 comments
Geopolitics determines the type of cell phone you carry, the car you drive, and the computer you use. The all-consuming power of nation-state actor rivalries in the international arena shapes the structural paradigm that drives trade and politics. This is the invisible hand of the global economy. And so it goes with China, microprocessors, and American national security.
by Justin Baumann | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:32am | 0 comments
In discussing the Army’s role in protecting interests against adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDO-PACOM) theater of operations, it may seem counterintuitive that an article discusses Navy and Air Force platforms, but the Army cannot operate against adversaries while conducting Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs) or Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCOs) if it is not properly supplied.[ii] In the INDO-PACOM, this means the Army relies predominantly on current Navy and Air Force resupply platforms for sustaining operations and power projection across the vast Pacific Ocean.[iii]
by Bruce Hoffman, by Jacob Ware | Mon, 09/27/2021 - 7:49pm | 0 comments
Terrorism and national security scholars Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware weigh in on the consequences of the Biden Administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan
by Kate Kingsbury | Sun, 09/26/2021 - 9:40pm | 0 comments
On 6 May 2021, three heavily armed men stormed into the Santa Muerte temple known as Santa Muerte Internacional Tultitlán (SMI Tultitlán), firing off shots into the air. The men, who had previously attacked the home of Enriqueta Vargas, the former leader of the temple, looted the shrine for items of worth and beat up staff members. This paper looks at the background of SMI Tultitlán and the new religious movement (NRM) surrounding Santa Muerte with a discussion of the roles of Jonathan Legaria Vargas "Comandante Pantera" and Enriqueta Vargas "La Madrina" culminating in a discussion of the future of SMI Tultitlán.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Fri, 09/24/2021 - 1:59am | 1 comment
Article 5 of NATO’s foundational 1949 North Atlantic Treaty demands that if an “armed attack” is carried out against even just one member state, all other member states “shall” consider that attack (and any armed attack) on a member state “an attack against them all” and “will assist,” up to and “including the use of armed force.”  This bedrock is the centerpiece for over seven decades of the Pax Americana: the U.S.-led global system of military power, alliances, collective defense, and ability to project combined strength anywhere on the planet.  For it to continue in these roles, NATO must adapt to current and future threats by adding cyberwarfare—including information warfare—to Article 5.
by Frank Sobchak | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 6:27am | 2 comments
Since the disastrous fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, there have been a continuous series of reports that announce far-reaching observations and conclusions from the conflict. Two popular narratives are that cowardly Afghan forces collapsed with barely a shot fired and that the U.S. military is incapable of building an effective foreign partner force. On its face, each judgement would seem to have some threads of truth given the considerable debacle that played out over August 2021. But the reality is much more complex and requires nuance, something that is challenging in the current American political environment.
by Alex Richards | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:21am | 0 comments
In 1989, a team of American analysts presented an argument that the next generation of war would have blurred lines between war and politics, and civilians and combatants. This has become increasingly true as corporations now have major stakes in global conflict and are able to influence outcomes of global politics and war. The Russo-Georgian War further blurred those lines when the Georgian government transferred Internet capabilities that were under attack to TSHost servers in the United States. Private cybersecurity firms and non-state sponsored hackers can influence diplomacy on a global scale due to the deep penetration of the internet into the military, critical infrastructure, and everyday society. This penetration has increased the effectiveness of information warfare and cyber espionage.
by Richard McManamon | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:15am | 0 comments
With the election of a new U.S. president comes a new foreign policy strategy. While the U.S. continues to manage the recent evacuation of forces and allies from Afghanistan, monitors the volatile situation between Israel and Hamas, and carefully listens to North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, it must not lose focus on Russia and China. At a time when both countries continue to expand their presence in eastern Europe, it becomes evident that the U.S. must have a focused strategy within the Balkans. The recent build-up of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border in April 2021 reinforces the idea that Russia will continue to destabilize the region while China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has found its way into eastern Europe, specifically to the Balkan countries. China’s dangerous lending practices and infrastructure projects can put Balkan countries at increased risk and provide China a backdoor into Europe. The U.S. benefits from a strong E.U. and NATO as well as sustainable stability throughout Europe. Targeted support for European allies is a strong incentive for U.S. involvement in the region as the U.S. can benefit from increased stability and stronger trading partners. This was highlighted by President Biden’s recent signing of an Executive Order on June 8, 2021, that provided additional sanction authority, efforts to combat corruption, and promote accountability within the Balkans and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Lastly, the Balkans present a unique challenge for western allies as this region simultaneously displays global competition from both Russia and China, which will require a comprehensive approach to counter their expansion effectively. 
by Ernest John C. Jadloc | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 5:06am | 0 comments
In 1952, U.S. officials approved the establishment of an international anticommunist movement for rural reconstruction in the Philippines. Central to this project was the issue of land reform. After a perceived success of development programs and subsequent surrender of the Hukbalahap insurgents, the U.S. abandoned its commitment to land reform.[1] However, land reform and its security implications have not been forgotten and are at work today.
by Chris Bronk | Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:56pm | 1 comment
Review of Amy Myers Jaffe, "Energy's Digital Future: Harnessing Innovation for American Resilience and National Security." This monograph looks at future energy security issues in a 'post-oil' world punctuated by technological change and great power conflicts marshaling hybrid warfare strategies including cyberattacks.
by Vanda Felbab-Brown | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:51pm | 0 comments
Perhaps nowhere in the world has a country and the international community faced an illicit drug economy as deeply entrenched as in Afghanistan. After toppling the Ashraf Ghani government in August of this year, the Taliban has announced its intention to rid Afghanistan of drugs. They tried to ban opium production in 2000 with limited success, This analysis by SWJ-El Centro Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown provides a retrospective view of the Taliban's opium control initiatives from the 1990s to the present. She concludes that maintaining these suppression efforts would be wickedly difficult and could internally destabilize the Taliban.
by Sandor Fabian | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 10:15pm | 1 comment
In her recent articles in Foreign Affairs and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at Modern War Institute Rachel Tecott paints a quite bleak picture about US Security Force Assistance efforts. In both of these articles the author arrives to strong conclusions by suggesting that the US approach to building foreign militaries does not deliver the expected results and even argues that recent events “exposed the rot” within these efforts.     While there are several compelling and thought-provoking points in these articles their arguments and conclusions seem to be significantly weakened by the authors` narrow definition of US security force assistance efforts` scope and objectives, and the cherry-picking of scholarly literature and cases that scream obvious confirmation bias. A more comprehensive investigation of the issue at hand reveals that the topic is much more complex than presented in these two articles and while undeniably there are several bad cases in the history of US security force assistance efforts they also have yield some great results as well.
by Adam Reitz | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 9:53pm | 3 comments
Traditionally most people think of using the stick of coercion when dealing with a foe and the carrot of persuasion with an ally, but we should amend our influence planning to include the possibility of applying both, as required, in a goal-centric model.  Friend or Foe?  As a target it makes little difference in designing the dialog of influence if we recognize that either would decide on an action only after weighing the pros and cons. Instead, distinguishing between whether you are trying to discourage an actor’s potential behavior or you are trying to encourage their current behavior offers planners more utility than focusing on your relationship with them.
by Mangesh Sawant | Tue, 09/14/2021 - 9:26pm | 1 comment
In the short Sherlock Holmes story from 1885, Mycroft Holmes, the intellectual panjandrum of the British government, tells his brother Sherlock about the plans of the Bruce-Partington submarine. Mycroft mentions to Holmes that the submarine’s importance can hardly be exaggerated. It has been the most jealously guarded of all government secrets. “You may take it from me,” Mycroft declares, “that naval warfare becomes impossible within the radius of a Bruce-Partington operation.”                          Stealth is the common feature between submarine warfare and urban warfare. Submarines are asymmetric weapon platforms in the vast oceans. Contemporary US and Russian submarines are sophisticated and powerful weapon platforms. One nuclear submarine can obliterate two to four cities with intercontinental ballistic missiles or target centers of gravity like aircraft carriers and military installations with cruise missiles by staying safe thousands of miles away from the target.
by Katherine Aguirre, by Robert Muggah | Mon, 09/13/2021 - 2:32pm | 2 comments
This article reviews the lethal violence statistics featured in the "Homicide Monitor"—a data visualization tracking international murder rates—confirms that Latin America and Caribbean countries are indeed suffering from a disproportionately high burden of lethal force by police compared to other parts of the world. Notwithstanding norms and standards urging restraint, countries like Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico report some of the highest levels of police killings on the planet.
by Andrew Milburn | Sun, 09/12/2021 - 11:10pm | 12 comments
Mission Command is a philosophy of decentralized decision making. Plans and orders are simply starting points, likely to soon become irrelevant amidst the fog and friction of war – what really matters is the intent of the higher commander which is linked to the overarching purpose of the operation. A subordinate is expected to be able to think on his feet, work out the best way to follow that intent, and adapt his actions to changing circumstances.  As a method, mission command has ample precedence as a highly evolved philosophy of command and control that can produce disproportionate combat results.  But while we understand the buzz words, we fail to understand the changes required in personnel management, education, and training in order to make it a cultural reality.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 09/10/2021 - 5:36pm | 1 comment
On 17 August 2021, the ex-Secretary of Prisons (Secretaria de Administração Penitenciária – Seap), Raphael Montenegro, was arrested for corruption after meeting with a Comando Vermelho (CV or Red Command) leader in the Federal Prison in Catanduvas, Paraná. He was fired from his position the day of his arrest. Montenegro was offering to transfer gang members to less restrictive state prisons in Rio de Janeiro and overlook the gang’s activities and prison expansion in exchange for reducing violence in Rio.
by Philip Wasielewski | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:50pm | 1 comment
In 2014, the politico-military face of Europe changed considerably after the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and its follow-on subversion of, and incursion into, eastern Ukraine. While some decried Russia for “acting in a 19th-century fashion”, it became clear to many eastern and central European states, NATO members and non-members alike, that their 21st century security challenges now could include invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation. Nowhere in NATO was this challenge felt more acutely than in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They had regained their sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union, but unfortunately also regained the same geopolitical challenges to their security that they faced during their interwar existence – limited territory providing no strategic depth and a small population unable to generate conventional military forces that could deter a Kremlin hostile to their independence. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO took specific steps to increase Baltic security. Since 2017, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a proportionate deterrent force and to send a clear message that an attack on one would be met by troops from across the alliance. NATO has improved its security posture in the Baltics through multiple deployments and exercises and by investing in infrastructure and pre-positioned forces via the European Deterrence Initiative.
by Tamseel Aqdas | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 8:34pm | 1 comment
With respect to its evolving tendencies, warfare can be depicted as dynamic in nature. A discussion of the contemporary geopolitical environment discloses advancements in the philosophy and art of war. Those developments are associated with technological progression, resulting in novel strategies and implications for warfare. Contemporary evolving methods have merged with traditional understandings of warfare, marking the concept of hybrid warfare.
by Michael Ferguson | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 1:50pm | 2 comments
In 1997, between two very different wars with Iraq, military historian Williamson Murray highlighted what he saw as a disturbing trend in the US Department of Defense. A newfound obsession with supposedly revolutionary military technologies was sidelining history and strategic studies in professional military education programs. He believed this fascination was preparing the US officer corps “to repeat the Vietnam War” in the twenty-first century, only more “disastrously.”
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, by Rajendra G. Kulkarni, by Patrick R. Baxter, by Naoru Koizumi | Tue, 09/07/2021 - 3:39pm | 1 comment
This research article applies Social Network Analysis (SNA) toward a preliminary understanding of the relationship between the various actors that communicate on social media platforms (essentially through Twitter), report situations of risk, and inform about matters of organized crime, violence, and insecurity in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The analysis finds that dynamics of violence and organized crime in this region have spilled over into the cyberspace. It also identifies a close relationship between law enforcement agents, state and local politicians, local and national reporters, “citizen journalists,” as well as key anonymous social media users that represent a variety of interests—including possibly those of corrupt authorities and even organized crime. The present study highlights the preponderance of anonymous accounts when reporting about organized crime in Tamaulipas.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Sun, 09/05/2021 - 4:01pm | 1 comment
On Sunday 29 August 2021, at approximately 2200 hours, around 20 armed gunmen conducted a series of raids on three banks in Araçatuba, São Paulo, killing at least three. The armed commando wore bulletproof vests and helmets and used assault rifles, explosives, and drones. Hostages were also used as human shields to hamper their capture and facilitate escape. Blockades constructed from burning vehicles, as well as explosives were deployed to facilitate their escape during the ‘mega-robbery.’ Brazil has been plagued by this type ‘urban bank raid’ in recent years.
by Christopher K. Tucker | Thu, 09/02/2021 - 3:04pm | 4 comments
The biggest challenge to global stability and security cannot be addressed by major weapons systems. Deterrence strategies will not prevent it. More and more lethal warfighters can do nothing to overcome it. That challenge? Runaway population growth. Runaway population growth will continue to destabilize and undermine the security of key regions, and the global system, regardless of our investment in these traditional approaches to national security. This essay reviews the national security implications of rapid population growth from a US strategic perspective.
by Pedro Izquierdo | Mon, 08/30/2021 - 3:35pm | 1 comment
Review of Raúl Benítez Manaut and Elisa Gómez Sánchez, Eds. "Fuerzas Armadas, Guardia Nacional y violencia en México" en español. The text assesses the implementation of Mexico's Guardia Nacional (National Guard) in light of concerns of insecurity and militarization.
by Michael Poce | Fri, 08/27/2021 - 9:40pm | 2 comments
Author's Note: When I sat down to write this piece, I had no purpose in mind beyond catharsis and to exorcise some demons. I had no goal, audience, or particular message in mind. I just wanted to capture what I was thinking and this piece is what emerged after a lengthy and messy writing process. It is my sincerest hope that in releasing this piece to the broadest possible audience I am honoring the sacrifice of PFC Cody Board, his family, and that these words inspire others to do the same.
by Daniel Riggs | Fri, 08/27/2021 - 12:42pm | 3 comments
In this essay the author recommends that an emphasis on narrative construction and storytelling should replace argument as the means of persuasion in US Army Psychological Operations doctrine. It uniquely provides a light on past myth and mythmaking, not a myopic orientation to new tech, as just as important as any development in Psychological Operations. The article itself provides biological, evolutionary, and epistemological reasons why stories and narratives are superior to logic and arguments as the best means for behavior change, the main reason Psychological Operations exists.
by SWJ Editors | Wed, 08/25/2021 - 8:52pm | 1 comment
Ed.: This essay was written in 2009 for a US Special Operations unit that was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Given the current events in Afghanistan it is interesting to read this advice and reflect on what has taken place in the past 12 years and what is currently happening with the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It comes from a former US Special Forces NCO/officer with extensive experience in the region, who speaks the regional languages and works for an international organization.
by Pedro Izquierdo | Mon, 08/23/2021 - 8:33pm | 1 comment
English language review of Raúl Benítez Manaut and Elisa Gómez Sánchez, Eds. "Fuerzas Armadas, Guardia Nacional y violencia en México." The original text in Spanish assesses the implementation of Mexico's Guardia Nacional (National Guard) in light of concerns of insecurity and militarization.
by Keith Nightingale | Mon, 08/23/2021 - 8:13pm | 1 comment
A Memo for POTUS on 1 OCT 2038*
by Robert Collins | Mon, 08/23/2021 - 11:42am | 1 comment
As the world watches the precipitous and poorly planned efforts of the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan, America’s allies cannot help but to wonder how these unfolding historical events will impact their individual alliances with the U.S. Elements of the Republic of Korea (ROK – South Korea) are no different. Today, the ROK print and broadcast media is full of questions and doubt, as well as ROK politicians who view compromise with North Korea as the primary route to unification of the Korean peninsula.
by Frederick M. Shepherd | Fri, 08/20/2021 - 7:38pm | 1 comment
Venezuela, once one of the more prosperous and democratic nations in Latin America, is currently experiencing the region’s most severe political and economic crisis. This article focuses on the Venezuelan state during the crisis, and how its exercise of “despotic” capacity made it a repressive actor in relation to its citizens, and a weak actor in relation to powerful transnational groups. The larger outcome has been a Venezuelan nation increasingly vulnerable to transnational criminal organizations and other external forces.
by Keith Nightingale | Fri, 08/20/2021 - 2:23pm | 1 comment
Iconic Afghanistan Photo
by Keith Nightingale | Wed, 08/18/2021 - 4:14pm | 7 comments
From a Vietnam veteran to all veterans of Afghanistan
by SWJ Editors | Sat, 08/14/2021 - 5:33pm | 5 comments
I received the following letter from a longtime (decades long) friend and colleague with whom I served in the Army. He is former Special Forces NCO/Officer, speaks regional languages, and has extensive experience on the ground through the region to include the FATA. He is using his nom de guerre because he is serving in a sensitive position in an international organization.
by Anna Simons | Wed, 08/11/2021 - 11:01am | 3 comments
Given the vulnerabilities just described in Part One, what might the U.S. do to protect itself, thwart subversion, and retain primacy?  What kinds of counter-subversion might we engage in?  Are there more unconventional ways in which to put the military to use, especially since traditional military options like conquest and control remain off the table?    
by Anna Simons | Wed, 08/11/2021 - 10:48am | 2 comments
The aim of this article is to tackle how, and why, international competition as Washington currently conceives it is more likely to undermine than assist American primacy in the 21st century.
by Andrea Varsori | Thu, 08/05/2021 - 4:55pm | 2 comments
Over the past year, Rio’s public prosecution and investigative or Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro–PCERJ) have carried out several operations against paramilitary groups. The most consequential took place on 12 June 2021 and resulted in the capture and killing of Wellington da Silva Braga, aka “Ecko.” Ecko was leading Rio’s largest paramilitary group, so his death is in itself an important event for the city’s underworld. This piece takes Ecko’s death as the basis for an evaluation of the current and future state of the militias operating in Rio de Janeiro. It outlines the power of Ecko’s group and the importance of his criminal career. It then assesses the strength of the link between this paramilitary group and state forces. An assessment of the likely impact of Ecko's death and the potentials for reorganization of Rio's paramilitary militias is provided.
by Mark Grdovic | Tue, 08/03/2021 - 8:43pm | 2 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 | 14 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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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 | 1 comment
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.