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 Brent Stricker | Thu, 03/31/2022 - 8:23pm | 0 comments
The last 20 years of Counterinsurgency employing precision strikes against an enemy force hidden amongst the civilian population has required a legal review of suck strikes before they are ordered to minimize incidental and collateral damage to civilians and protected places. The Marine Corps’ shift toward Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) that calls for a “an alternative forward force posture based on a more difficult to target, low-signature, and dispersed forward-basing infrastructure” reverses those roles particularly when considering the requirement to make use of civilian infrastructure to maintain that low profile.
by Santiago Previde | Wed, 03/30/2022 - 11:01pm | 0 comments
Next month is the 40th anniversary of the Falkland-Malvinas War between the UK and Argentina. Although from 1987, the memoir of Julian Thompson, commander of the British brigade that landed on the islands is still relevant today,
by Christjan Gaudio | Wed, 03/30/2022 - 10:45pm | 0 comments
It is time for the United States (US) to develop a land-oriented sister military service to the United States Coast Guard. This organization should combine the uniformed components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the military police components of the Department of Defense (DOD) and focus on force protection and security missions domestically and overseas. Similar to the Coast Guard, this new uniformed law enforcement organization should be a full-fledged member of the Joint Force, working within the DHS and seconded to the DOD depending on mission requirements.
by John Mac Ghlionn | Tue, 03/29/2022 - 10:24pm | 0 comments
Lede: Cancel culture is bad. This is not a controversial statement to make. It’s the antithesis of everything a free and open society stands for. As the author Steve Maroboli so accurately noted, cancel culture flourishes “because we accept (and gluttonously consume) social violence. We no longer seek truth or both sides of a story. Whichever side is loudest, wins… regardless of its relationship to the truth.” In this climate, to paraphrase a well-known motto, " the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” Absolutely nothing good comes from cancel culture. The same, though, is true for worship culture. In this particular environment, mere mortals are deified, venerated, and idolized. When it comes to the dangers of worship culture, China provides a valuable lesson.
by Brent Stricker | Tue, 03/29/2022 - 10:07pm | 0 comments
         A fallacy of the Cold War was the strategic importance of the GIUK Gap. The GIUK Gap is a 700 mile stretch of ocean between Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland that NATO planners thought Soviet naval forces would have to transit to attack allied shipping in the North Atlantic bound for Europe to fight a conventional land war against Warsaw Pact forces invading Europe. This Third Battle of the Atlantic was based on previous experiences from the Second World War. This fallacy was once correct until more advanced Soviet submarines were developed with longer range missiles.
by Ben Phocas | Tue, 03/29/2022 - 10:00pm | 0 comments
When the 1863 Civil War Siege of Vicksburg is mentioned, few who are familiar with the battle would describe urban warfare as one of the defining features. The battles and siege that comprised the Vicksburg campaign were fought entirely outside the confines of the city. Some of the more prominent aspects of this campaign could include the rampant disease, starvation, endless swamps and bayous, and oppressive heat that characterize the Mississippi Delta region of the United States. That being said, the battle does provide some very valuable takeaways for students of modern urban warfare, as the Union forces were able to successfully capture a zealously defended fortress city, without stepping a foot inside of it.
by John Mac Ghlionn | Sun, 03/27/2022 - 8:01pm | 0 comments
Vladimir Putin is, by all accounts, a strongman who rules with an iron fist. He is unashamedly narcissistic, and this narcissism fuels his megalomaniacal obsessions, or so we have been led to believe. However, such insights from so-called experts leave a lot to be desired. In fact, such insights are both lazy and unhelpful. Designed to titillate rather than inform, such articles do little to answer the following question: why fuel Vladimir Putin's dangerous behavior?
by Jesse Humpal | Sat, 03/26/2022 - 9:42pm | 0 comments
In a mostly symbolic bill, Representative Mooney from West Virginia introduced a resolution arguing the United States Government should not infringe upon the ability of American citizens to act in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs. It already doesn’t. The opposite is actually true, but this bill would force states to allow churches to become pseudo sovereign entities. The left also wants this, albeit for different reasons. Religious freedom, not religious autonomy, should be the actual goal as this is in fact uniquely American. The United States, contrary to most other liberal democracies, maintains a very symbiotic relationship between the state and religious groups, keeping religious organizations very public and very protected. The American way for publicly supported religion should be maintained because the alternative–either the right or left ideal–promotes an environment ripe for extreme indoctrination.
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Fri, 03/25/2022 - 6:27pm | 0 comments
Este artículo analiza el impacto de la pandemia de Covid-19 en la delincuencia y la violencia, relacionadas con las drogas en Argentina. Al contrario de lo supuesto al inicio de la pandemia, el narcotráfico en Argentina encontró una situación provechosa para su expansión hacia las diversas regiones del país, especialmente en el conurbano bonaerense, el área que rodea a la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CABA) y que abarca 24 municipios en dos cordones y posee alrededor del 20% de la población total del país. Esta es la zona más pobre de la provincia de Buenos Aires (aunque no toda esta región es pobre), así como Rosario y sus alrededores, lo son para la provincia de Santa Fe. El crecimiento de la criminalidad se sustentó en la situación sanitaria, la debilidad del Estado con la creciente corrupción, y el aumento de la demanda de drogas. Dos consecuencias visibles fueron el resurgimiento de las “guerras de bandas” criminales y la baja calidad de las drogas (en su mayoría adulteradas), que causaron víctimas entre los ciudadanos (tanto por el consumo como por la inseguridad).
by William Plowright | Fri, 03/25/2022 - 7:17am | 0 comments
In the days following the launch of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one particular event quickly went viral. In the story, on February 24th a Russian naval vessel radioed a group of Ukrainian soldiers stationed on the unpopulated Snake Island, ordering them to surrender or face death. Though vastly overpowered, the Ukrainian soldiers radioed back their simple response; “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.” According to the story, the small group of thirteen soldiers were obliterated by the firepower
by Pablo A. Baisotti | Thu, 03/24/2022 - 4:01am | 0 comments
This article looks at impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on drug related crime and violence in Argentina. Contrary to what was assumed at the beginning of the pandemic, drug trafficking in Argentina found a profitable situation for expansion in various regions of the country, especially in the conurbano bonaerense, the suburbs or Greater Buenos Aires surrounding the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA)—the poorest area of Buenos Aires (although not all of this region is poor)—and Rosario and its surroundings, in the province of Santa Fe. The growth was sustained by the health situation, the weakness of the state with growing corruption, and the increase in demand for drugs. Two visible consequences were the resurgence of criminal “gang wars” and the low quality of drugs (most of them adulterated), which caused casualties among citizens, (due to consumption and insecurity).
by Michael J. Mooney | Wed, 03/23/2022 - 2:47pm | 0 comments
“In war,” as B.H. Liddell-Hart, observed, “the chief incalculable is the human will.” As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues drag on, this truism regarding the immutable nature of war has become readily evident as the fighting creeps into the suburbs of Kyiv. And one which Russian President Vladimir Putin is either ignorant of, or has purposely ignored: “guts” is more important than “stuff”. More accurately stated, “will” matters more than “means”. While the outcome of this conflict is far from decided – much still could (and mostly likely will) go badly for the Ukraine and its people – that this has been lost on the Russian leader could be his undoing.
by Kane Tomlin | Tue, 03/22/2022 - 9:03pm | 0 comments
According to the Victim Identity Model (VIM), I believe that the US and Western Intelligence Community (IC) played a pivotal role in the inevitable defeat of Russia in their war with Ukraine.  The main hypothesis of the VIM is “that a prerequisite for organized forms of collective violence is a motivated organizational leadership element that convinces his or her followers of their in-group victim status. This vicarious in-group victimization legitimizes the stated retaliatory causes of the group, subsumes individual responsibility to the group, and enables psychologically normal group members to commit violence against their perceived aggressors.”
by Josh Bedingfield | Tue, 03/22/2022 - 8:54pm | 0 comments
Among the many problems Putin’s war in Ukraine presents the U.S. Army is a highly dynamic and complex situation leaders must continually reassess. Army officers cannot fully understand complex situations like this while turning a blind eye to the history of Ukraine. If the Army wants to prepare officers to understand and win in increasingly complex environments, it must first reverse an ahistoric culture and restore officers’ historical mindedness. History is an invaluable tool the Army overlooks in favor of a culture fueled by brevity, data points, and soundbites. Restoring officers’ historical mindedness requires small changes to U.S. Army doctrine, military education, and professional development programs. Operationalizing history will improve officers’ ability to understand the environments they operate in, helps them avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and enhances Army operations in support of U.S. national strategy. The Army owes the joint force officers capable of synthesizing historical wisdom to enhance operational outcomes. The alternative is an Army ignorant of how past and concession of this cognitive advantage to America’s adversaries.
by John Q. Bolton, by Derik R. Zitelman | Tue, 03/22/2022 - 8:32pm | 0 comments
As Putin’s war rages in Ukraine and Washington debates how to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces without engaging in direct military conflict with Russia, one cannot help but draw parallels with Taiwan. If Ukraine serves as the frontline for the defense of democracy in Europe, then Taiwan is democracy’s frontline in the Asia-Pacific. A vibrant democracy of 23 million people sits roughly 100 miles across an increasingly aggressive authoritarian regime with the world’s largest Navy and arguably one of the world’s most powerful militaries. Beijing is committed to reunifying Taiwan with Mainland China by 2049, using force if necessary. Given ongoing discussions regarding how the United States would defend Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the PRC threat, much is lost regarding what defines American interests. This paper outlines American interests in geographic, economic, and normative terms. We conclude that Taiwan’s economic and geopolitical positions are less important than the normative value protecting a viable democracy juxtaposed against the PRC.
by SWJ Editors | Mon, 03/21/2022 - 9:54pm | 0 comments
Please refer to our editorial policy here: https://smallwarsjournal.com/content/editorial-policy. We seek to give a platform to authentic voices, regardless of the position held by the authors, to advance the discussion of national security issues.  Publication does not mean that Small Wars Journal agrees with the position of any author.  We agree with S.G. Tallentyre: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Small Wars Journal supports global democratic values and freedoms in the face of authoritarian aggression. -Dave Maxwell, editor, SWJ
by Christopher Zambakari | Mon, 03/21/2022 - 9:53pm | 0 comments
In recent weeks, there has been no shortage of news reports, political opinions and military analyses in an effort to dissect the growing crisis in Ukraine, a country the size of Texas with 43.7 million inhabitants. Embedded in the coverage has been the media’s portrayal of the military operation as simply a matter of Russian aggression; business, in other words, as usual. As in any war and conflict, truth is the first casualty.
by John Bolton, by Andrew Senesac | Thu, 03/17/2022 - 9:31am | 0 comments
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offers plenty of lessons for military leaders, especially regarding how armies operate in a social media environment. Most interesting is the emergence of the soldier-shooter-texter (SST) as both a fighter and operational-level enabler of multiple battlefield systems, especially intelligence and fires.  Undoubtedly, the slowness of the Russian advance owes much to stiff Ukrainian resistance, the extensive period Russian units spent deployed prior to the February invasion, and the Russian reliance on poorly led and misinformed conscripts. Russia’s inability to rapidly seize Kyiv and poor use of airpower against the smaller Ukrainian Military are shocking, with an estimated 4,000 dead Russian servicemen in just two weeks. What looks like a planned punitive expedition has bogged down into a war of attrition.
by Philip Wasielewski | Mon, 03/14/2022 - 9:26pm | 0 comments
Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine is now three weeks old.  President Putin’s goals for this euphemistically named “special military operation” are the [sic] denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.  “Denazification” is short hand for removing a constitutionally elected government and replacing it with a puppet one.  Demilitarization means imposing conditions that will make Ukraine perpetually weak and subservient to Moscow.  For Putin, this is a war of regime change to make Ukraine a vassal of Russia.
by Mahbube K. Siddiki | Sat, 03/12/2022 - 8:30pm | 0 comments
The Nanotechnology industry in China is moving forward, with substantially high levels of funding, a growing talent pool, and robust international collaborations. The strong state commitment to support this field of science and technology is a key advantage for China to compete with leading forces like US, EU, Japan, and Russia. The Chinese government focuses on increasing competitiveness in nanotechnology by its inclusion as strategic industry in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, reconfirming state funding, legislative and regulatory support. Research and development (R&D) in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is a key component of the ambitious ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative aimed at turning China into a high-tech manufacturing powerhouse.
by Erwin Bieri | Sat, 03/12/2022 - 8:19pm | 0 comments
If one has the monopoly on information, then the one-eyed man is king. Access to information does impact command and control and may even reverse the chain of command. In this article the interrogators, informants, and interpreters of the Netherlands Marine Corps Brigade, collectively known as “Employés Speciale Diensten” (Special Services Employees) during the Dutch East Indies Decolonization War of 1945-1950 are studied. The Employés Speciale Diensten (ESDs) were indigenous soldiers who effectively used their cultural background and skills as a secret weapon against Indonesian freedom fighters. This article scrutinizes the military's position, ESDs' motivations to serve, and post-war discrimination of these veterans.
by Brent Stricker | Tue, 03/08/2022 - 6:23pm | 0 comments
The Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on the night of 3-4 March 2022] raises concerns that its damage or destruction could release radioactive material or cause a nuclear meltdown that endangers people or the natural environment. While details of the Russian action are uncertain, this same concern arose from Russian armed forces seizing the Chernobyl site. ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of four such installations in Ukraine housing 15 nuclear reactors. These installations provide half of Ukraine’s electricity. The importance of this critical infrastructure to the civilian population and the potential catastrophic release of radioactive material poses challenging questions in the law of armed conflict.   
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Tue, 03/08/2022 - 6:15pm | 1 comment
After well over a year of isolation induced by the COVD-19 pandemic, it seems Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has become so detached from reality with his wild Ukraine gamble that he may finally have adventured too far, stumbling into a trap entirely of his own making.  Surprising as it is, this time it is distinctly possible his aggression, ultimately, will not provide him with any way to save face: no “offramp,” as the media seems to love to refer to a possible endgame that leaves him comfortable and not in a weak and unstable position at best (for him) or ousted at worst (obviously, the latter would be ideal for us).
by Guido Torres | Sun, 03/06/2022 - 4:42pm | 0 comments
Two decades of war have left the nation weary of intervening abroad. The nation’s most protracted conflict has taken a toll on the country, its citizens, the military, and its reputation on the international stage. However, war was inevitable after the most brazen and deadly attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. Critics have argued that going abroad as the world’s protector of democracy has unnecessarily placed it in the crosshairs of many. During the Trump administration, and even today, many have echoed the comments of John Quincy Adams’ famous foreign policy speech to not interfere in the interests of other nations. Instead, those same pundits and politicians prefer to focus domestically on America’s preservation and vitality.
by Charles T. Pinck | Sat, 03/05/2022 - 1:42pm | 0 comments
The OSS Society offers support to the Ukrainian resistance and hopes all freedom loving people around the world will do what they can to help defend a free and democratic Ukraine.
by Doug Livermore | Sat, 03/05/2022 - 9:08am | 0 comments
The United States (U.S.) can successfully compete with Russia by synchronizing efforts across the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic (DIME) spectrum consistent with the 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS).
by Aaron Bazin | Fri, 03/04/2022 - 4:39pm | 0 comments
Today, one can quickly see how the virtual and physical worlds are becoming increasingly interconnected, interdependent, and indistinguishable from one another.  The idea of the metaverse has emerged to describe this convergence and the concept continues to gain the attention in the public consciousness.  In March 2022, Goldman Sachs analysts estimated the growth of the metaverse economy could exceed $8 Trillion in coming years.  Much like the airplane gave birth to the air domain, and the Internet resulted in the cyberspace domain, this article explores the idea that the metaverse may result in a new domain of warfare over time.  
by Jason Crawford | Fri, 03/04/2022 - 3:38pm | 0 comments
      This paper aims to analyze the process commanders and staffs use to frame the operational environment while defining the role of a sergeant major in the planning process. Ill-defined problems cause Armies to waste valuable resources to treat symptoms and risk total mission failure.
by Wes Dyson, by Kyle Martin, by Shannon C. Houck | Fri, 03/04/2022 - 3:25pm | 0 comments
United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is losing special operators via voluntary separation at an alarming rate, with some organizations manned at less than 50% of desired levels after key retention milestones such as O-3 to O-4. This is unsurprising in many ways; civilian life offers more time for family, new (and often less taxing) career opportunities, more money, and greater autonomy. While some attrition is inevitable, losing experienced operators is costly for USSOCOM. The specialized skills that operators acquire and develop during their careers require significant time and monetary investments. More critically, losing these high-value, experienced warfighters imposes costs on overall force readiness.
by Allyson Christy | Fri, 03/04/2022 - 8:11am | 0 comments
The Ukraine crisis may be a moment for reasserting U.S. power and allied unity, but it serves public distraction and hints of hypocrisy. Proposed legislation authorizing assistance to Ukraine connects “national security interests” with defending Ukraine’s sovereignty, border security, and territorial integrity. Bills in the House and Senate also support extending media outreach to Russian-speaking audiences. The House version includes a $155,500,000 appropriation to support Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty with its reach “inside the Russian Federation and surrounding countries.” Guided by such principles, it may be worth revisiting the nearly 200-year old Monroe Doctrine, a founding tenet of U.S. foreign policy restricting European interference in the Western Hemisphere and justification for U.S. authority.
by Daniel Phillips | Tue, 03/01/2022 - 2:45pm | 0 comments
The Military utilizes multiple algorithms to define and predict adversaries, develop staff estimates, and develop courses of action. These algorithms include, but are certainly not limited to: intelligence preparation of the battlefield and the Eikmeier method for center of gravity analysis. They have been developed in large part incidentally, from trial and error efforts by tacticians attempting to apply tenants of military theorists such as: Jomini, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu. The evolution of said algorithms, grow and evolve when prodded by national security crisis’s, such as war. This ebb and flow timeline for growth allows adversaries to methodically maintain parity with American tacticians, whose focus transitions from research and development, to sustaining the force, to fiscal austerity depending on the political administration in power.
by Morgan A. Martin, by Clinton J. Williamson | Tue, 03/01/2022 - 1:50pm | 0 comments
In 2017, Mr. Darren Tromblay wrote No More Fun and Games: How China’s Acquisition of US Media Entities Threatens America’s National Security for Small Wars Journal. In his article, Mr. Tromblay posits that Chinese investments in American theater chains and film studios create pathways for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to “achieve its political objectives… with a minimum of saber-rattling”. In the ensuing four years, the PRC has expanded its de facto control over the American film industry through investments, economic coercion, and acquisitions. Overall, Mr. Tromblay’s assessment was correct; this article explores involvement in the entertainment industry, and finds that China has the placement and access to shape public perceptions. An examination of film as propaganda in general, the scope of Chinese interests in Hollywood, and CCP’s use of propaganda films will demonstrate that the PRC’s creeping influence has become a grave security threat indeed. 
by Marshall Foster | Mon, 02/28/2022 - 11:27pm | 0 comments
On January 28, 2022, China released a white paper that outlined ambitious plans to advance the country's space capabilities for economic, technological, and national security aspirations. This release is in line with China’s recent increased use of space, especially for its military applications. The heightened reliance on space provides a reason for the United States to suspect that China, as it has claimed, will avoid early strikes on space systems to avoid retaliation against its own space assets. However, many U.S. pundits argue that space represents a likely escalatory domain for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to gain an advantage for a conflict in the Indo-Pacific. The assumptions that China’s need to protect its space assets and that China sees space as a domain for escalation are contradictory.
by Nilda M. Garcia | Mon, 02/28/2022 - 3:25pm | 0 comments
In northern Mexico, human smuggling has been a highly lucrative illicit activity for years. Yet, the business has become more profitable due to the rise of migrants crossing through Mexico to get to the US. Drug cartels have taken advantage of the migrant upsurge to continue broadening their criminal portfolio and are also integrating it into their social media strategies. Facebook is one platform widely used to offer smuggling services and lure migrants. Different spheres of criminal networks converge in the virtual world, including smugglers or coyotes, transporters, lifters, document forgers, and drug traffickers. Is social media facilitating the establishment of more complex and sophisticated illicit networks? Is social media use by criminal organizations for human smuggling purposes impacting migration patterns in the northern and southern Mexican borders? This article attempts to add an empirical approach to these questions and fill in the gap in the literature, mainly concentrated on journalistic accounts. This work demonstrates the established presence of drug cartels on social media, its nexus with human smuggling, and the convergence of criminal networks on platforms such as Facebook.
by Dale Pankhurst | Sun, 02/27/2022 - 7:03pm | 0 comments
The decision by the Putin regime to initiate a Russian military invasion of the Ukraine has sparked the worst security crisis on the European continent since the Second World War. Despite fears of a sweeping and quick Russian military victory over its forces, the Ukrainian State has so far managed to launch strong and determined resistance against Russian troop movements and tank columns. This resistance has slowed down Russian advances towards the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and other strategic towns and cities. Much of these tactical successes are due to recent military assistance provided by Western states, including the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
by Nathan White, by Katherine Voyles | Sun, 02/27/2022 - 12:15pm | 0 comments
What happens during war and what happens in the aftermath of war are two different things. What’s more, how to make sense of what happens during war and how to make sense of what happens in the wake of war are also distinct from each other. Nineteen years on from the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, the nature and character of its aftermath are unsettled; this is true even though today the war itself is unpopular with the American public. Thomas E. Ricks, an important chronicler of the war, begins his 2006 book Fiasco this way: “The consequences of his [President Bush’s] choice [to invade Iraq] won’t be clear for decades.” Fifteen years on, Ricks is still right; the consequences, for U.S. domestic politics and culture, for U.S. foreign policy, for civil-military relations, and for the U.S.’s standing in the world are still not widely understood even if some of them are increasingly visible.
by Garrett R. Wood | Sat, 02/26/2022 - 11:56am | 0 comments
Fresh Russian aggression is putting the Ukrainian military to the test. The conflict that began in 2014 revealed a Ukrainian military that was not prepared to defend its homeland, and both the military and the volunteer battalions that carried the weight of the conflict for the first several months reached out to the public for charitable donations to fill in critical gaps in Ukraine’s defense left by decades of corruption. Despite reforms to Ukraine’s military and defense industrial sector, crowdfunding could remain an attractive alternative method of supporting a war effort, but it is a method that comes with the risk of weakening Kyiv’s control over paramilitary groups that sometimes have extremist ties.
by Tarik Solmaz | Fri, 02/25/2022 - 4:52pm | 0 comments
Russia's latest aggression against Ukraine once again leads to concerns about ‘hybrid warfare’. However, the concept of ‘hybrid warfare’ is still as contested as it is popular. This essay argues that ‘hybrid warfare’ is a socially constructed concept rather than a clearly defined phenomenon. That is to say, the reality regarding ‘hybrid warfare’ has been constructed by publications and speeches made by scholars, practitioners, analysts, decision-makers, and journalists. Today, there are many definitions of ‘hybrid warfare’ and they significantly differ from each other. This essay identifies five main interpretations of ‘hybrid warfare’ that are related but different. The lack of conceptual and ideational clarity surrounding the concept of ‘hybrid warfare’ diminishes its explanatory value. Alongside the poor understanding of such a concept, the ideational confusion weakens the capabilities of Western states and organizations to effectively deal with what they deem ‘hybrid threats.’
by Will Turner | Thu, 02/24/2022 - 8:14pm | 0 comments
         The Rhodesian Bush War, or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, is a story of Rhodesian military successes followed by a crushing political defeat.  The Rhodesian security apparatus never lost a single kinetic engagement with insurgent forces from 1965 until 1980 when Robert Mugabe was voted into office.  Why then did the state not survive?  Contemporary analyses point to military and technical innovation as well as tactical successes in counterinsurgency.  But the same analysts often follow with disbelief at the installation of the Mugabe government, believing it to be a mistake made possible only through international meddling and chance.  The Rhodesians were simply fighting the wrong war, one in which the battles did not matter as much as the understanding of the ideological and political context. 
by Andrew Gibbons | Thu, 02/24/2022 - 4:14pm | 0 comments
This book, written after the American exit from Afghanistan in August 2021, recounts the US-led campaign in that country from the year 2001 and explains not just why it failed, but why it could not possibly have succeeded.
by Isaac Poritzky | Thu, 02/24/2022 - 3:02pm | 0 comments
In this SWJ Book Review, SWJ-El Centro Intern Issac Poritzky reviews "Understanding Dark Networks: A Strategic Framework for the Use of Social Network Analysis" by Daniel Cunningham, Sean Everton, and Philip Murphy.
by James H. Creechan | Wed, 02/23/2022 - 8:42pm | 0 comments
Book review of "The Wolfpack: the millennial mobsters who brought chaos and the cartels to the Canadian underworld.
by Keith Nightingale | Wed, 02/23/2022 - 1:42pm | 0 comments
For reflection: A view from an operator's perspective of close quarters battle and breaching the door.
by Bryce Johnston | Tue, 02/22/2022 - 3:55pm | 0 comments
Russia’s support for two “breakout regions” in Ukraine has placed the spotlight on secessionist movements. Past experiences show that secessionist movements are ripe for disruption from influence campaigns. The 2017 Catalan Independence movement is a recent example of this. Governments used state media outlets to spread digital propaganda to establish narratives favorable to their policy goals. The Catalan Independence movement is not an isolated case. To combat future uses of digital media, analysts may have to use WWII-era methods to understand the intent of the propagandists. By combining Alexander George’s method of propaganda analysis with open-source sentiment analysis tools, this paper found that Russia’s state media outlet expressed more consistent support for their policy positions than Western state media outlets. Future analysts could apply these same tools to other conflicts to gain more information on the policy preferences of each state.
by Mitch Ruhl | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 10:56pm | 0 comments
As the situation in the Ukraine rapidly deteriorates, little attention has been given to the presence of paramilitary forces that have operated on both sides of the conflict since 2014. These forces, ranging from militias-turned-professional units to volunteer battalions, will play a significant role in provoking an invasion and the aftermath. Utilizing social media, previous media snapshots, and earlier assessments, this essay looks at the most prominent (para)military organizations fighting for the Ukraine and the separatists and assesses the risk they pose to escalation and a post-invasion insurgency. This essay pays particular attention to the risks inherent in the three main pro-Kyiv paramilitary organizations given the larger pool of source material and their outsized role and reflects significant concerns for post-invasion radicalization and recruitment. Separatist elements have far less source information available, resulting in a lesser focus in this essay. Given close ties to the Kremlin, the escalation risk factor of the separatists is of main concern. Given these assessments, NATO must act decisively to mitigate escalation risk factors from Ukrainian forces and combat the expansion of extremism in an insurgency.
by Tyris S. Foster Jr. | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 10:28am | 0 comments
The United States and the People’s Republic of China are competing for influence in the Pacific Ocean, from Panama to Malacca. While the United States has focused heavily on increasing its influence in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asian littorals, it has allowed China to gain a foothold in the Eastern Pacific and South American littorals. This is a result of a whole-of-Pacific approach to competition that China has utilized, while the United States’ approach has been disjointed due to current Combatant Command boundaries. This piece evaluates the extent of Chinese influence in the Eastern Pacific and South American littorals, notes the growing incongruence between U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command priorities, and argues that only a whole-of-Pacific Department of Defense strategy with integrated Combatant Command priorities will allow the United States to truly compete with China.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Mon, 02/21/2022 - 8:55am | 0 comments
The extremely-likely-to-be-pending invasion of Ukraine by Russia would likely be the largest invasion in Europe in over half a century (since the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and, before that, the final years of World War II) and the largest European war since WWII (since Ukraine’s army today seems quite willing to fight along with many civilians, but the Czechoslovak People’s Army did not resist at all in 1968).  Yet perhaps the most remarkable thing apart from the scale of all this is the predictable, soporific banality of Putin’s game plan, one visible from many miles and many years away.
by JD Fuller | Sat, 02/19/2022 - 8:49am | 0 comments
Putin's demand that NATO scale back its deployments in Eastern Europe has led to even more troops being sent to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, whilst NATO itself has been injected with a new life and purpose not seen in a generation. Far from sowing disunity, Putin’s actions have focused minds in Western capitals more than any annual NATO conference could have achieved, leading to new conversations about the future direction of the alliance.
by B. Z. Khasru | Fri, 02/18/2022 - 12:56pm | 0 comments
Both China and America are courting Bangladesh because being next to the Bay of Bengal it can provide easy access to the Indian Ocean, which funnels much of the world trade. By controlling this sea lane, America can choke off China's economy. Bangladesh can give China an alternative land route via Burma.
by Joseph Osborne | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 4:43pm | 0 comments
The reality of 2003 Afghanistan was an environment full of insurgents, conducting insurgent type activities against a coalition that was, in large part, desperately trying to avoid saying the words insurgency or counterinsurgency. For me, this story really begins with opportunity, timing, and luck. In reality, it begins with classic Counterinsurgency (COIN) theorists like Galula and Trinquier and the intervening influence of scholars like Gordon McCormick and John Arquilla. The timely convergence of a like-minded counterinsurgency practitioners was also fortuitous. Most importantly, and despite later implicit claims of finally getting it right, this story shows that Operation WARRIOR SWEEP, and the actions in and around Zormat in 2003, represented the first real counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Afghanistan.