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 Jeremiah Shenefield | Wed, 06/29/2022 - 8:08pm | 0 comments
The role of any foreign policy, regardless of political leanings, should always focus first on the preservation of the national security of the United States. The central sticking points for politicians, government bureaucrats, and planners are what topics rise to the level of national security concerns? Policymakers have claimed national security extends to international terrorism threats, climate change, or ensuring lasting global democracy in the face of authoritarianism. While all reasonable, a common policy concern/goal is the pursuit of economic prosperity and the continued status of the U.S. as the global economic leader. Economies are broad, touch every aspect of society, politics, and foreign policy, especially in Washington. The driver of global economy and commerce is energy; either solar, wind, fossils fuels, commerce, and by extension, world economies grind to a haul without it. Outside regional terrorism and proxy/sectarian wars, energy is the reason Iran is still relevant in U.S. foreign policy circles. Policy effects regarding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) must weigh risks to global shipping commerce, threats to gulf allies (themselves involved in energy exports and affairs), the proliferation of weapons and destabilizing governments, and the wider role energy plays in the newest global power struggle between the U.S. and China.
by Chuck de Caro | Tue, 06/28/2022 - 10:55am | 1 comment
The current state of the Ukraine-Russian war has fallen into a see-saw struggle for small territorial gains, much like the War in Korea in 1952-53. While the Ukrainians are now beefing up their capability for offensive naval operations in the Black Sea, as recommended in these pages months ago, those actions against the vulnerable Russian littoral left flank have yet to occur. With those naval operations presumably soon at hand, the Ukrainians might be well advised to begin attacking the Russian war effort’s other great vulnerability:  Logistics.   Specifically, the Russian Rail System, and the command and control structure of the Russian Army’s Material Technical Support Brigades.
by Frederick M. Shepherd | Mon, 06/27/2022 - 4:49pm | 1 comment
Transnational drug networks have posed a fundamental challenge to the political systems of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in the 21st century. These “Northern Triangle” nations of Central America were among the most violent in the world in the early 2010s, and their governments have struggled to exert even the most basic kinds of political authority as they have been caught up in the global drug trade. This article analyzes how these conditions came about, their impact on these nations, and how vulnerable national governments have responded in recent years to the challenges posed by transnational drug networks. It does so in the context of the capacity of Northern Triangle governments to confront the power of transnational drug networks, with reference to the concept of “state infrastructural capacity.” The article employs this concept to describe the drug networks’ usurpation of basic national government functions in recent decades. And it assesses recent attempts by these national governments, often in collaboration with outside forces, to cope with and challenge the power of transnational drug networks in this same theoretical context. The larger conclusion points to shocking cases of transnational drug network power, but also significant and unexpected efforts by seemingly powerless national governments to counter it.
by James Rohrer | Wed, 06/22/2022 - 8:10pm | 0 comments
Examples of wargaming at the tactical level are scarce in the military literature and army manuals (Hodge, 2012).  Courses of action are tested at the strategic and operational level using a paradigm based on a three-legged stool for “What If” analysis: computer simulation, experimentation, and wargaming.  The legs of the stool represent different approaches to What If analysis that are useful in different situations.  Unfortunately, this paradigm might become limiting as the legs turn into silos. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that tactical wargaming is feasible by crossing the barriers between simulation, wargaming and experimentation.  Fair warning: this demonstration involves dice despite objections to their use in military wargaming.  
by Oscar L. Ware | Tue, 06/21/2022 - 3:32pm | 0 comments
The projection of American power and influence in the Middle East is fraught with peril and has proven to be expensive in American blood and capital. Since the onset of the 19th Century, America has maintained an uninspiring understanding of the Middle East, guided by an erratic and often anemic foreign policy. Today the United States and the Middle East have become emblematic of the vast geographic distance between them. These include disputes between the Palestinians and Israelis, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Syria and the Kurds, Turkey, and the Kurds, and even the Kurds versus the Kurds.1 U.S. interest in the Middle East can be traced to the early years of the American Republic; the region has been a principal focus of U.S. foreign policy since World War II. The onset of the Industrial Revolution, oil investments, unrest, and the 1948 special U.S. relationship with Israel have become the chief reasons for continued U.S. involvement in the region.
by Daniel Weisz | Mon, 06/20/2022 - 9:39pm | 0 comments
Review of Victor Asal, Brian J. Phillips and R. Karl Rethemeyer, "Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians" by SWJ–El Centro Associate Daniel Weisz.  Using data from the "Big, Allied, and Dangerous II" database, the book seeks to explain why insurgent groups sometimes kill civilians.
by Lorris Beverelli | Mon, 06/20/2022 - 9:20am | 0 comments
The war in Ukraine surprised many commentors and analysts. There are notably two reasons why. The first one is the mere fact that Russia openly invaded and attacked Ukrainian territory which was not traditionally considered “pro-Russian.” The second one is the fact that the Russian military, which had been typically considered as the second most powerful military in the world, got bogged down, struggled even to make light advances, and eventually got repulsed, being forced to limit its operations to southeastern and eastern Ukraine.
by Ahmet Ajeti | Sun, 06/19/2022 - 4:40pm | 0 comments
The United States of America is a unique example in the world’s affairs when it comes to having stretched its influence to every corner of the world. The U.S. has a great number of bilateral defense and security partnerships, as well as membership in many multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, etc. In addition to these partnerships, regional or “coalitions of the willing” are another instrument in United States’ arsenal in advancing its interests worldwide. These Coalitions are generally functional - meaning they deal with a phenomenon, such as terrorism - or regional specific issues, where they tackle a threat from/to a specific country, or region.
by Daniel Rice | Sun, 06/19/2022 - 2:57pm | 0 comments
Ever since Russia invaded and occupied the Crimea and Donbas regions in 2014, Ukraine has been on a wartime footing.  Three US administrations and bipartisan Congressional support have enabled Ukraine to withstand the onslaught they now face by air, land, and sea.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 06/17/2022 - 11:10pm | 0 comments
A series of car bombings by criminal gangs in Ecuador demonstrates the challenge of criminal enterprises directly confronting the state. In a recent (29 May 2022) car bombing in front of a police station (Unidad de Vigilancia Comunitaria/Community Surveillance Unit – UVC) in La Florida, Guayaquil, a taxi exploded. The day before, police conducted a controlled removal of an explosive device left in front of a local business. Officials claim the attack was a response to the removal of gang graffiti associated with Los Tiguerones prison gang.
by Donatas Palavenis | Thu, 06/16/2022 - 10:12am | 0 comments
Recently, the new term Multi-domain operations (MDO) has popped up, which describes how battles will be conducted in the future as militaries would operate in a more concentrated manner (Figure 1), meaning, they would act in five military domains: air, ground, sea, space, and cyberspace. Military operations will be carried out in five domains under their simultaneous management or coordination from a single center. This new perception, arguably a change in warfare, is influenced by the level of current technological development, the need to improve the survivability of own troops on the battlefield, and the perception that effective military activity requires actions carried out not only through classical military environments but also in space and cyberspace. This, of course, changes the established understanding of the conduct of military operations, and now is the right time to start thinking about how small NATO countries will adapt to this change.
by Max G. Manwaring | Wed, 06/15/2022 - 1:48am | 6 comments
A new and dangerous dynamic is at work around the world today. The new dynamic involves the migration of political power (i.e., the authoritative allocation of values in a society) from the traditional nation-state to unconventional non-state actors such as transnational criminal organizations, Maoist-Leninist insurgents, militias, private armies, enforcer gangs, and other modern mercenaries. These actors promulgate their own rule-of-law and have the capability to seriously threaten the security and well-being of the global community. That hegemonic activity must inevitably result in an epochal transition from the traditional Western nation-state system and its values to something else dependent on the values—good, bad, or non-existent—to the winner.
by Federico Alistair D'Alessio | Tue, 06/14/2022 - 10:32am | 0 comments
Since the beginning of the 2014 Donbass War, Vladimir Putin has asserted that Ukraine is ruled by neo-Nazis. He has reiterated this message before initiating a full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. While it is true that some nationalist militias (such as the Azov and Aidar battalions) are fighting alongside the Ukrainian military, it is fair to say that Putin has a far bigger problem than Zelensky: as recently reported by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, there is abundant research demonstrating that Russia has been the home to several extreme right and white nationalist movements, deployed both domestically and abroad.
by Maxwell Myers | Sun, 06/12/2022 - 2:20pm | 0 comments
Studies of nationalist movements around the Middle East and North Africa are often confined to the Weberian definition of statehood: “ [a] human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” However, the nationalism literature tends to overlook areas where national identity and state boundaries do not overlap entirely, namely in the case of Kurdistan. Existing literature addresses the Kurdish nationalist and women’s rights movements, yet authors fail to approach its dynamic nature and layered complexities which this paper aims to address. When addressing topics of Arab nationalism, the state, or development of state-like institutions in the absence of a state, are critical to addressing nationalism. This paper does not attempt to project the trajectory of Arab nationalist movements. Instead, this paper aims to address how nationalists reshape social and cultural norms outside the traditional state-society boundaries. This is most prominent in the case of Kurdistan. Ernest Gellner’s Nationalism provides the bases for understanding nationalism and its role in creating a unified identity and vision for a community while political scientist Nira Yuval-Davis’ work highlights the gendered experience in nation formation. This paper utilizes the case of Kurdistan under Ocalan in the 1990s and present-day to question state institutions’ roles in developing a sense of nationhood and challenge pre-existing women’s rights to further improve gender relations.
by Tyler Bandini | Sun, 06/12/2022 - 2:09pm | 1 comment
A central concern in any insurgency is how an insurgent group’s funding methods will impact the group’s prospects. Existing literature on this topic focusses heavily on the operational or tactical impacts of insurgent funding methods. Little scholarship has been devoted to exploring how a group’s chosen funding method will impact its long-term outcomes, and scholars have certainly not reached a consensus on this question. This essay addresses this question through a comparative case study of two Colombian insurgencies: the M-19 and the FARC. This essay traces each group’s development, considers the political, social, and economic contexts in which they operated, and investigates how their funding methods impacted key inflection points in their insurgencies. This essay argues that the link between insurgent funding methods and insurgency outcomes is causal when the funding method becomes the insurgent group’s dominant source of power.
by Mikel Santiago | Fri, 06/10/2022 - 9:22am | 0 comments
Since the conclusion of the Cold War, the global climate has been characterized by a myriad of emerging threats, challenges, and widespread disorder. The preponderance of these crises is globally located in or around littorals and outlines what is widely coined as the arc of instability. This concept is defined by the USMC as volatile regions undergoing rapid change and growth which as a result, lack established economies, infrastructures, and functional governments, thus driving up competition for scarce resources, overpopulation, and socioeconomic disparities. The nature of these crises affects global stability and security and are the most likely areas of concern requiring the United States’ involvement. When it comes to global power competition, the Eastern Mediterranean (EMED) specifically presents rising security and maritime challenges for the United States and NATO due to the expanding Russian and Chinese presence in the region.
by Christina Huynh | Wed, 06/08/2022 - 8:07pm | 0 comments
The dilemma of focus is the development and use of lethal autonomous weapons systems in warfare. According to the Department of Defense Directive 3000.09, “lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) are a special class of weapon systems that use sensor suites and computer algorithms to independently identify a target and employ an onboard weapon system to engage and destroy the target without manual human control of the system.” Keeping in mind that robot autonomy falls on a spectrum based on how “on-the-loop” or involved humans are in control, LAWS has full autonomy and is completely independent from the human (out-of-the-loop). Thus, the introduction of LAWS will change the ethics and operational structure of warfare.
by Matthew H. Ormsbee | Mon, 06/06/2022 - 9:31am | 0 comments
The current state of American military dominance signals credibility of force but also diverts adversaries’ efforts from conventional war to ambiguous threats below the threshold of war—so-called gray-zone threats.  Regrettably, such tactics in the gray zone are on course to proliferate as adversaries largely acknowledge conventional overmatch with the United States.  Rather than risk political harm and potentially massive losses in traditional war, competitors will take actions in the gray zone to counter American influence and authority through non-military measures that erode the legitimacy that the United States has cultivated since the Second World War.  Unquestionably, these measures are challenges to American national security.  Left unchecked, they will diminish American dominance and the United States will slowly concede its authority and good will.
by Kane Tomlin | Fri, 06/03/2022 - 8:03pm | 2 comments
My earliest “what I want to be when I grow up” life decision that I can remember was to become a United States Marine.  It was sometime in the second half of the 1980s, I was 8 or 9 years old, my dad was a Marine Staff NCO stationed in Barstow California, my brothers and I were visiting for the weekend, and the movie Aliens had just come out for rental at the Class VI on base.  It was my first R-rated movie, and I knew this would be an important moment to make life decisions when my dad loaded the VHS player with great fanfare; exclaiming “boys, I want you to know this movie is loosely based on my exploits in the Marine Corps.”
by Todd Morley | Wed, 06/01/2022 - 12:29pm | 4 comments
On March 15th, 2022, 18-year-old Payton Gendron walked into a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY and opened fire on innocent civilians. A calculated and premeditated attack, typical of the shootings that have become tragically routine across the United States. Unlike most, this particular attack was livestreamed on the streaming platform Twitch to a small audience of Gendron’s friends. This is not the first instance of a shooting broadcast for entertainment, but this recent example belies a disturbing trend. Gendron uploaded hundreds of pages of material to the 8chan and 4chan online message boards prior to the attack, including a self-described manifesto outlining the rationale for his attack. These documents show that Gendron drew a significant amount of inspiration from the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand – his manifesto explicitly states that seeing the impact of that attack was what convinced him to begin planning his own.
by Scott D. Orr | Tue, 05/31/2022 - 9:00pm | 2 comments
In the very near future, software-defined systems (especially those driven by AI and machine learning), and field-swappable modular components will enable commanders to carry out rapid technological innovation in the field by creating customized devices and networks of devices. We will experience the military equivalent of “fast fashion”, as opposing leaders compete to create systems that respond to new battlefield realities in a matter of days. Because the world has never seen such a state of affairs, we have no idea what it will look like—and that makes it difficult for operations researchers and military strategists to carry out any sort of rigorous analysis. Wargaming can provide a way forward, as commanders pitted against one another make moves and countermoves that will allow us to map this vast new decision space, so that we can then proceed to analyze it.
by Daniel Rice | Tue, 05/31/2022 - 7:34am | 0 comments
The world expected the Russian Army to defeat the Ukrainian Army within days. Russian President Vladimir Putin, United States Senate expert testimony, and most of the west, all expected Kyiv to fall within a few days under the weight of the enormous and powerful Russian army. The Russians thought it was going to be quick, but the Russians forgot that the enemy has a vote.   The Ukrainian army didn’t collapse. After nearly 100 days, the Ukrainian military continues to surprise the world. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalensky inspired the world and displayed his resolve, and his nation’s resolve, to fight the much larger Russian Army.  
by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 05/29/2022 - 6:37pm | 0 comments
For Memorial Day: A review of two albums from the "Green Beret" rock band BoneS Fork - Goat Tree (2016) and Beautiful Circle (2021)
by Nicholas H. Kacavas | Sun, 05/29/2022 - 11:19am | 0 comments
What do malign foreign influence campaigns and sea turtle barnacles have in common?  Just as some barnacles exploit the wounds of sea turtles and threaten their survival, disinformation campaigns also exploit societal divisions or ‘wounds,’ for strategic interests.
by Oscar L. Ware | Fri, 05/27/2022 - 8:52pm | 8 comments
Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro in Nuclear Politics "The Strategic Causes of Proliferation" (2017) provide a robust body of research into why nation-states seek nuclear proliferation and others counter proliferate. Debs and Monteiro present a complex scholarly view of predictive patterns of nuclear proliferation and their political implications through the psychology of diplomacy and military policy. The authors take great care in navigating the effects of nuclear proliferation by reviewing the rise and fall of several states who have sought but were unsuccessful in developing effective nuclear weapons or technology and those that have been successful in developing, safeguarding, and employing them. The authors contend that the more states are aligned with a nuclear security sponsor, its capability to secure domestic interest and gain international prestige, the greater willingness to proliferate diminishes.
by Steven Metz | Thu, 05/26/2022 - 10:46pm | 1 comment
Book Review of Jacqueline L. Hazelton's "Bullets Not Ballots: Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare" by Steven Metz, Professor of National Security and Strategy at the US Army War College and a nonresident fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
by Peggy-Jean M. Allin, by Steven R. Corman | Thu, 05/26/2022 - 8:06pm | 0 comments
By pushing the narrative of Zheng He, the Chinese state has attempted (and succeeded to a degree) to construct collective memory through mythical and inaccurate historical rebranding. The goal of this public diplomacy campaign is to increase regional support for China’s pursuit of geostrategic interests—namely, aggression in the South China Sea and the “Maritime Silk Road” component of its Belt and Road Initiative.
by Suleyman Ozeren | Wed, 05/25/2022 - 9:07pm | 0 comments
\Turkey's blocking of Sweden and Finland’s bid North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for membership led to confusion and frustration in the alliance.  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced Turkey’s opposition to NATO expansion, and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) trailed his remarks. While repeating some conditions publicly, Ankara also seeks to use NATO’s expansion to gain concessions from the West, particularly from the United States.
by Justin Malzac | Wed, 05/25/2022 - 5:12pm | 0 comments
Much ink has been spilt examining the effect and lawfulness of malicious influence operations, particularly in the cyber realm. As of yet, a clear and effective strategy on disrupting or blocking such activities has yet to be discovered. One idea that does not seem to get enough comment is responding to these activities offensively, combating the unlawful information operations of Russia, China, North Korea, and others, with lawful operations from the West. There exists a wide maneuver space for lawful information operations, especially those that are truthful or that promote compliance with international law. The fight against malicious influence cannot simply be defensive, but rather the West must expand our own influence operations against these bad actors. We must fight misinformation with the truth, by employing overwhelming fires. This essay provides a collection of recent examples, including from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, showing lawful influence operations can be effective against unlawful aggression.
by G. Murphy Donovan | Wed, 05/25/2022 - 1:09pm | 1 comment
An old cliché tells us that “no news is good news.” Today, that aphorism might come out of rewrite as “good news is not really news.” A recent BBC piece, under the ironic rubric of a “war on truth” told of a woman in the port city of Mariupol who heroically gave birth midst a Russian bombardment. The narrative was an inane argument about whether or not the women were a propagandist.
by Mike Pultusker , by Tom Hammerle | Tue, 05/24/2022 - 5:08pm | 0 comments
After twenty years of Global War on Terrorism operations, the question of how to effectively employ United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) now, and for the next twenty years in support of national defense priorities has come to the forefront for policy-makers and military leadership. What is SOF’s value proposition in an era of strategic competition? How can SOF continue to shape the environment and remain an important tool in the American strategists’ toolbox? Among the first Americans in Afghanistan after al-Qaeda attacked the United States on 9/11, SOF has continued to be at the vanguard of efforts to counter violent extremism. The relentless pace of SOF operations in a continuous Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze (F3EA) targeting cycle continued for two decades of uninterrupted deployment. In that time, the American national defense community’s understanding of VEO behavior, assessment of risk to the homeland, and advancements in technology have matured so that countering violent extremism is no-longer a deployment-centric task.
by Pete Reider | Tue, 05/24/2022 - 4:52pm | 1 comment
     Lt. Ramsey’s War is an autobiographic tale of determination, perseverance, and survival in the Philippines during the Second World War. This is the story of Lt. Edwin Ramsey, told in his own words, of how he transformed from a naïve 1st LT in the 26th Cavalry (Cav.) to a leader of 40,000 guerillas and a vital part of U.S. plans to return to the Philippines. He is credited with leading the last U.S. Cavalry charge in American history, surviving the Japanese conquest of the Philippines, establishing himself as a guerilla leader and briefing General MacArthur. Edwin Ramsey recollects his experiences both highs and lows, discusses his motivations, and his work with indigenous forces. It is a harrowing story of one man’s fight in a larger conflict, but also offers insights into resistance movements, occupation, and collaboration with indigenous forces.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Mon, 05/23/2022 - 3:20pm | 0 comments
George Santayana famously wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Marx expanded on the thoughts of a fellow German when he wrote in an essay that “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”  The ancients Aristotle and Polybius found history to be cyclical, as did Ibn Khaldun of the Middle Ages.  The saying “the past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes” is attributed to Mark Twain.  And Stephen Hawking gave us this zinger: “We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.” Today, Russia is proving all of these, and rather pathetically.  I have seen or heard some casual comparisons of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current campaign in Ukraine to the Soviet-Afghan War or the recent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but such comparison are off when compared to a little known war within World War II that would be overwhelmed and dwarfed historically by the much larger conflicts of World War II, this sub-war being a relatively small sideshow.
by McLeod Wood | Sat, 05/21/2022 - 11:05am | 0 comments
Leadership is an incredibly personal affair. It is an innately human endeavor that differs in execution from individual to individual. However, to some extent there still exists hints of ‘shopping lists’ and prescribed models that leaders are ‘required’ to follow to be successful. These lists and models are hangovers from Trait Era leadership research which incorporated the Great Man Theory of the 1840s and Trait Theory up until the 1940s. Leadership is not a black and white skill – it is opaque at best and requires constant attention and modification to get the best results out of the leader and out of the follower.  Leadership therefore is an incredibly personal affair and requires the leader to be a chameleon. This article will briefly explain the four eras of leadership theory, conduct a short comparison of US, UK, and Australian leadership doctrine, and conclude by explaining why leadership is a personal affair and being a chameleon is important to success.
by Matthew Egger | Sat, 05/21/2022 - 10:56am | 1 comment
Between September 2020 and the end of August 2021, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) (中国空军) made 554 intrusions into the Taiwanese air defense identification zone (ADIZ).[1] The Communist Party of China (CCP) (中国共产党) carries out these sorties to wear down the Taiwanese Air Force, intimidate the island’s inhabitants, and shake their belief in the feasibility of an independent Taiwan. The intrusions are part of a broader effort on behalf of the CCP to operate in the gray zone (灰色地带), which encompasses “intense political, economic, informational, and military competition more fervent in nature than normal steady-state diplomacy, yet short of war” to achieve unification with Taiwan.[2] The CCP operates in the gray zone because actions below the threshold of war are less costly and less likely to trigger international reprisals.
by James Torrence | Fri, 05/20/2022 - 10:31pm | 6 comments
This Review Essay of Lise Morjé Howard's "Power in Peacekeeping" looks at Power, Persuasion, and Inducement in Peacekeeping through the lens of US doctrine: both US Army FM 3-0: Operations and the Joint Multi-service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (MTTP) for Peace Operations.
by Allyson Christy | Wed, 05/18/2022 - 9:43am | 4 comments
Afghanistan’s geographic location embodies the earliest routes of the Silk Road and modern development would benefit the BRI, but member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) present challenges. The Eurasian security bloc actually formed over 20 years ago to focus on regional security and development, but the bloc has largely enabled an encroachment of Chinese influence. Russia has sought to counter-balance that dominance. With security a concern over Afghanistan and recent unrest in Kazakhstan, Moscow has increased military activities in Central Asia, largely through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)—China is not a member nor does membership include all SCO members. China’s grand strategy began to play out favorably with Taliban leaders in Tianjin last year. Under auspices of political deference and support for a peaceful transition of power, Chinese officials strategized talks by underscoring policies of non-interference in Afghan affairs. Foreign Minister Wang Yi used the opportunity to criticize U.S. troop departure as being “hasty” and evidence of American policy failures.
by Allyson Christy | Tue, 05/17/2022 - 5:03pm | 1 comment
The world watched in astonishment as America withdrew from Afghanistan last year. Reality hit hard in August, as departures were fast-tracked, initiating chaos, violence, tragedy—creating widespread panic as events quickly unfolded. Satellite images showed crowds rushing the Kabul International Airport; many swarmed the only runway while others tried grabbing onto military aircraft. Video later showed the horror of two people falling to their deaths after a plane was airborne. The U.S. Air Force later confirmed finding human remains inside the landing gear of a C-17. Shock peaked when a bomb exploded at the airport a few days later, killing at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, and leaving many injured.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Sun, 05/15/2022 - 6:29pm | 0 comments
Anti-mafia prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci from Paraguay was assassinated on a beach in Barú, Colombia near Cartagena while on his honeymoon with his wife who witnessed the murder. The attack—with the hallmarks of a “transnational hit”—occurred on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 when a pair of attackers infiltrated the beach riding a jet ski. Pecci specialized in prosecuting transnational organized crime and narcotics trafficking cases.
by Oscar L. Ware | Thu, 05/12/2022 - 3:29pm | 0 comments
The world woke up on February 24, 2022, to the news of Russian military forces moving into Ukraine under the guise of protecting dual Russian-Ukrainian nationalist interest. This left the rest of the world, most notably former nuclear weapons states (NWS) and those that fall under the security umbrella of an NWS wondering - how might this invasion affect them. The Russian military’s early strategy has perplexed many experts and observers, and in smaller circles - was predicted. Unfortunately, the more protracted this war, the more barbaric and political it has become. This military action was preceded by Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
by Steve Blank | Wed, 05/11/2022 - 10:43am | 2 comments
Hundreds of billions in public and private capital is being invested in AI and Machine Learning companies. The number of patents filed in 2021 is more than 30 times higher than in 2015 as companies and countries across the world have realized that AI and Machine Learning will be a major disruptor and potentially change the balance of military power. Until recently, the hype exceeded reality. Today, however, advances in AI in several important areas equal and even surpass human capabilities. If you haven’t paid attention, now’s the time.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 7:04pm | 0 comments
A gang of about 30 armed criminals attacked an armored car company’s place of business in Guarapuava, Paraná (PR) at approximately 2200 hours (10 PM), Sunday 17 April 2022. The quadrilha (gang) used “Novo Cangaço” tactics, including explosives, blockades, and the use of hostages as “human shields.” They directly confronted police in the early stages of the robbery/assault to inhibit their response activities.
by David Acosta | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 3:24pm | 0 comments
The war in Ukraine stands out as the classic David and Goliath story between the larger, more powerful Russia and the smaller, more agile Ukraine. It is a tale of how Ukraine wielding the West’s spigot of truth, a deluge of TikTok videos, a band of Eastern European Elves, and Elon Musk’s satellite constellation, converged information power to challenge Russia’s firehose of falsehoods. Historians will study this conflict for years to come, and the information lessons are critical, especially to the US Army as it develops its emerging information advantage concept.
by Dustin E. Lawrence | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 9:21am | 0 comments
In the cauldron of World War I, fire and steel had reduced the old paradigms formulated by titanic figures in military history. Modern weapon advances had expanded the battlefield, which had become less dense but more lethal. Following the Great War then the subsequent Russian Civil War, Russian officers and thinkers deliberated these new realities in preparation for the next modern war. This cohort greatly expanded the intellectual understanding of warfare. One of these voyenspets to rise through the discourse afterwards was General-Major Alexander Andreevich Svechin, who during a series of lectures at Moscow’s Academy of the General Staff in 1923-1924 first coined the term, “operational art.” Ironically, one of the greatest operational artists by Svechin’s own standards was first stepping into the classroom then, albeit over 4,000 miles southeast of his lecture hall. Fourteen years later Vo Nguyen Giáp received his law degree and began teaching. Over three decades after Svechin’s lectures in Moscow on May 7, 1954, Giáp decisively defeated the French Union Forces at Dien Bien Phu. Through Svechin’s lens, Giáp’s victory provided history a master class on the most exacting approaches to operational art.
by Will McGee  | Sat, 05/07/2022 - 9:59pm | 0 comments
Two years ago, the Marine Corps embarked on a once-in-a-generation redesign intended to prepare it to fight with China. The decision was widely praised at the time. But in the last two months, a star-studded cast of former Marine generals, including every living Commandant of the Marine Corps and Secretary Mattis, have all denounced the plan in major national outlets like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. This article contributes to the debate in two ways: (1) by examining the operating concepts that underlie the Marine Corps’ plan, and (2) by evaluating these operating concepts in light of what we have learned from the Russia-Ukraine war. Operating concepts are the documents that detail, in theory, how the service intends to fight. The article proceeds by tracing the history of the redesign process, describing the operating concepts using published policy documents, and then evaluates them in light of the Russia-Ukraine war and possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The article concludes that these concepts do not adequately prepare the service for the next war.
by John F. Sullivan | Sat, 05/07/2022 - 7:47am | 0 comments
While Sun Tzu remains a cornerstone of every U.S. military officer’s professional military education, and is often viewed as a window into current Chinese strategic thinking, how well do we really understand the text? Have we subjected it to harsh philological, historical, and philosophical debates similar to the ones surrounding Clausewitz? This article will argue that we should remain skeptical over our modern interpretations of the work. This article highlights how even a phrase thought to be a bedrock concept of Sun Tzu, “Know the Enemy, Know Yourself,” is not quite what it seems when placed within its proper historical and textual roots. My hope is that we elevate the study of this enigmatic text from mere hagiography into a more historically grounded realm of debate.
by Benjamin Van Horrick | Thu, 05/05/2022 - 11:13pm | 1 comment
In 1967 a college professor was killed on a Marine patrol in South Vietnam. Why was Professor Bernard Fall in Vietnam with a combat unit? Nathaniel Moir’s superb new intellectual biography of Fall, Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare (2022), documents the extraordinary scholarship of Bernard Fall, an academic whose field research shaped America’s understanding of Vietnam, while attempting to inform America’s military intervention. The intellectual biography of Fall’s provides today’s military professionals and academics a template for how each group can benefit from one another while influencing how America wages irregular warfare in the future. 
by George Kotlik | Thu, 05/05/2022 - 11:06pm | 0 comments
This paper proposes to settle the remote Alaskan backcountry. This work concerns topics covering the logistics of that region’s settlement and the political philosophical underpinnings that call for such an action. As such, this paper begins with a discussion of the settlement site followed by coverage of the settlement itself, including discussions on the political, military, and economic considerations of the settlement’s founding, in addition to other particularities not mentioned here, unique to the settlement in question. Finally, this essay will conclude with a discussion of this plan’s shortcomings in addition to providing explanations wherever possible to address any concerns, objections, or criticisms to the proposed plan. All at once, this work offers the author’s own assertion of what a utopian society looks like. Consequently, my claims are not intended to serve as fact. No, rather, they offer readers a springboard for future thought into the realm of political philosophy.
by Jeremiah Shenefield | Wed, 05/04/2022 - 3:44pm | 0 comments
The recently published Department of Defense documents, the department shifted to the Chinese pacing threat after years of focusing on Counter-Terrorism. Each military service is developing requirements, advocating for increased budgets, and clamoring for relevant missions in a hypothetical conflict with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) even as the land war in Ukraine grinds on. Fears of a volley of ballistic missiles raining down on Taiwan, naval bases in Okinawa, and facilities in Guam appear to be keeping U.S. policy makers up at night, among many other potential kinetic capabilities the PLA’s Navy (PLAN) has rapidly developed over the years. Prior to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, China’s own rhetoric points to a potential invasion of Taiwan by force, though the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leadership would likely rather assert dominance through less kinetic means, especially consider the economic and military backlash the world has displayed towards Russia. 
by Patrick Hanlon | Tue, 05/03/2022 - 8:58pm | 0 comments
Since Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February, it has become quite fashionable for commentators, despite their lack of warfighting experience, to criticize the Russian military for its apparent ineptitude.  I’ll admit too that I fell into this camp that felt the war in Ukraine demonstrated how overrated the Russian military was.  While that is true in some regards, it’s an incomplete picture in my opinion.