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 Sean McLaughlin | Sun, 01/17/2021 - 10:14pm | 1 comment
After seven years of war, the Ukrainian military is now under severe stress. A ceasefire agreement initiated in July between Ukraine and Russian-backed insurgents has been ineffective. Despite the Ukrainian sides' planned withdrawal from certain areas and maintaining the ceasefire, Russian-backed separatists have repeatedly violated the agreement. Also, the Ukrainian military now openly rules out the possibility of offensive operations to retake the Donbas. This has caused an inevitable drop in morale for front-line soldiers who are now put on permanent defense.  Besides, Ukrainian military leadership has recently been mired in controversy with accusations of corruption and mismanagement. This has led to open declarations in the media by field grade officers that demand the removal of the Commander in Chief of the military.
by Lucas Webber | Sun, 01/17/2021 - 2:34pm | 1 comment
China’s Xinjiang policies have drawn the ire of transnational militant organizations and the topic of Uyghur repression has found rhetorical traction within global jihadist discourse. Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS), and others have explicitly threatened China and prominent jihadist figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have criticized Beijing’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Muslim population. While conflict in the region has not traditionally been a priority concern for most non-Uyghur jihadists, Xinjiang issues have become more international and mainstream in recent years. Militants of disparate geographies and of numerous languages have been devoting noticeably greater attention to Xinjiang in their propaganda content. Growing global media coverage and popular awareness of Chinese policy toward the Uyghurs has put additional pressure on jihadist organizations to publicly address the subject.
by Frank Sobchak | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:41pm | 9 comments
Was the Capitol Riot America’s equivalent of the Reichstag Fire?  Or were the shots fired there more akin to those of Fort Sumter, presaging a second Civil War?  Making a comparison to other singular micro events in history is often problematic due to the many differences in each case.  But exploring the causes behind the revolt, especially the macro events that shaped the environment in which dissent, anger, and frustration have festered, is far easier.  The insurrection that played out across the offices and hallways of the U.S. Capitol was not just a reflection of the anger and seditious behavior of some  Americans, it was a symptom of the fissures wrought by the information revolution which has been tearing the fabric of global society apart for the last few decades. 
by Justin H. Leopold-Cohen  | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:17pm | 2 comments
   There has been considerable analysis on the competition between the United States, Russia, and China, and potential military conflict. These pieces tend to examine respective militaries’ firepower, troop numbers, hybrid capabilities, and other conventional measures, however, strategists ought to consider how these militaries are preparing for the consequences of climate change. The environment can shape matters at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels just as much as more traditional measures. Be it Napoleon choosing to retreat out of Russia rather than endure the harsh winter, World War II’s delayed D-Day Invasion and effects on allied airpower during the Battle of the Bulge, or visual challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan from sand and dust storms, which were even known to cause lung disease to servicemen after prolonged exposure.
by Ali Ozdogan | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:13pm | 1 comment
Several experts of terrorism including Daniel Byman and Hassan Hassan recently reported al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death . The last time he appeared in media was on September 11, when he published a video message about the nineteenth anniversary of the historic attack. If al-Zawahiri’s death is true, it inevitably arises the question about how his death impacts al-Qaeda.
by Paul Bailey | Mon, 01/11/2021 - 8:04pm | 1 comment
            The U.S. military continues to face terrorist threats from al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but is increasingly reorienting on great power competition (GPC), heralded by the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). U.S. Special Operations Forces (USSOF), and the wider military, assert success in counter terrorism but also claim the need to better adapt for GPC, particularly against Russia and China. Although USSOF have successfully learned how to hunt down and kill terrorist leaders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden and others, a more comprehensive look at the U.S. fight against irregular-terrorist organizations reveals a bleak global strategic picture.
by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 11:08am | 1 comment
The National Security and National Defense Strategies prioritize great power competition and conflict.  The United States faces two revisionist powers, China and Russia, and two rogue powers, Iran and North Korea, and the enduring threat of global violent extremism.  These threats are likely to persist for decades to come and it will be up to the U.S. national security apparatus to deter, contain, cope, manage, and where possible, defeat these threats.
by Scott Fisher | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:45am | 1 comment
Traditionally, IO (Information Operations) doctrine would hold that a such a tweet is a measure of performance (MOP): criteria used to assess friendly actions that are tied to measuring task accomplishment (FM 3-13, pg. 8-4) – in other words, something we did, not an effect we created. Other common examples of MOPs include: the number of leaflets or handbills disseminated, number of broadcasts, the number of photos or videos taken or disseminated – all observable and measurable activities, but none that reflect a change in behavior by the target or target audience. Basically, we did something, but we’re not sure if it mattered.
by Alex Teynor | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:40am | 1 comment
Unilateral military actions by a state actor in the era of globalization and numerous international institutions receive harsh criticism and subject to strict moral, ethical, and legal review by the international community. The basis for this is that under the United Nations (UN) Charter, Chapter 1, all member states are, in theory, guaranteed “sovereign equality” and the right to “self-determination." When a member state commits forces against or within the borders of another member state, questions concerning the violation of a state’s sovereignty and the legitimacy to act surface, which will be discussed later in this paper.
by Campbell German | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:34am | 1 comment
The War on Terror ushered in a new era of warfare for the United States and the Marine Corps. Gone are the days of Desert Storm-like conflicts when the United States could simply flex its muscle and use its technological advantages to bring an enemy to its knees. This muscle has now turned into the country’s Achilles heel, exposing it to devastating attacks from insurgents, cyber warriors, and the like. These enemies are not caught on a battlefield, but rather attack from the shadows, costing the country dollars and blood it cannot continue to pay. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the widespread adoption of counterinsurgency (COIN) tactics by both Army and Marine Corps units in order to mitigate this weakness.
by Amos C. Fox | Wed, 01/06/2021 - 10:22am | 1 comment
The United States Army currently has a problem. The face of modern war, and what that portends, are not adequately expressed in concepts and doctrine. The problem is that the US Army’s concepts and doctrine, as part of that of the larger Joint Force, are rife with ideas that are out of step with trends in contemporary armed conflict and projections about future war. To be sure, concept development is currently focused on large-scale combat operations (LSCO) and multi-domain operations (MDO), or joint all-domain operations (JADO), and while lacking an appreciation for applied dominance. All the while, today’s trend line suggests urban warfare, and its reciprocal siege, coupled with great and regional powers competing indirectly through a variety of proxies, are war’s moderating features.
by Matt Begert | Thu, 12/31/2020 - 7:54pm | 5 comments
Review of Charles "Sid" Heal, "Concepts of Nonlethal Force." 
by Bob Howard | Wed, 12/30/2020 - 10:03pm | 3 comments
The concept of Great Power Competition (GPC) is flawed. The term GPC leads to an apathetic response by those with a responsibility to act and protect western democratic interests such as businessmen, politicians, intelligence, academia, media, national and international government institutions, and the military. China’s government is waging war against the United States (US); not competing.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan | Wed, 12/30/2020 - 6:15pm | 14 comments
In the ongoing conflict in Michoacán between the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and local defense forces coordinating amongst themselves and with local cartels, a recent engagement took place in which an autodefensa (self-defense group) improvised armored fighting vehicle (IAFV) was engaged by small arms fires. The engagement, caught on video from the perspective of the mounted infantry and reporters in the armored truck bed of the IAFV, took place in La Bocanda—a CJNG stronghold—in mid-December 2020.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera | Mon, 12/28/2020 - 7:12pm | 1 comment
This book review of Nilda M. Garcia's "Mexico’s Drug War and Criminal Networks: The Dark Side of Social Media" by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera focuses on the exploitation of cyberspace by Mexican criminal networks through three case studies of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zetas, and the Knights Templar.
by Wojciech John Labuz, by Kari A. Thyne, by Joseph Long, by Christopher Hughes | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 4:26pm | 3 comments
The emerging global environment marked by the competing interests of current and emerging great powers has enmeshed American foreign policy and strategic military preparations in understanding the 21st century’s new “converging, trans-regional compound security dilemmas.” This compound security dilemma combines the Joint Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) decades-long imperatives to counter violent extremist organizations (CVEO) and counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), all within the global framework of "rising competition with China and Russia, under conditions of eroding US relative military advantage." To confront these challenges, SOF must reimagine ethical decision-making as a foundational aspect of leadership and leader development in the context of the future SOF environment.
by Avi Dravid | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 4:07pm | 3 comments
At face value, genocide appears to be a fundamentally irrational act, ripping apart the very fabric of society for little demonstrable gain. Indeed, the term conjures images of mindless killing and pathological bloodlust. Hannah Arendt famously asserted that the Nazi extermination camp could not be understood in utilitarian terms, as it reflected an irrational and paranoid worldview that was divorced from any broader strategic calculus. While there are certainly elements of irrationality in genocide, this article argues that genocide is often viewed as rational by those who perpetrate it, though these rationales seem perverse and inscrutable from the outside.
by Aaron Gookins | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 3:59pm | 2 comments
The Special Air Service’s (SAS) longest serving member, Ken Connor, with the assistance of a career author and historian, David Hebditch, examine military coup successes and failures from around the globe in their work; How to Stage a Military Coup: From Planning to Execution.  As the title suggests, the authors claim to provide a step-by-step guide to planning and executing a military coup but miss the mark.  The authors utilize a historical case study method throughout the work with comical interjections, often ill-timed, to present the analysis of over 20 coups. The end result is a book that is historically grounded, supplies a reasonably supported list of indicators of coup likelihood, and entertainment; but fails to offer a true framework for execution. 
by Matthew A. Lauder | Fri, 12/25/2020 - 3:47pm | 1 comment
The emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and a lack of clear and definitive information and guidance by public health organizations and national and regional governments, coupled with heightened collective anxiety, created the perfect storm for the promulgation of disinformation and other manipulative and deceitful content. The Russian government has been one of the most prolific offenders, seeking to generate disruptive effects in targeted countries. This article examines the mechanics of how the Russian government generates disruptive effects through COVID-19 disinformation, as well as discussing implications for NATO and its partners.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm, by John P. Sullivan, by Nathan P. Jones, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 12/23/2020 - 11:49pm | 1 comment
An assassin (sicario) shot former Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval in the bathroom of the Distrito/5 bar in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco on Friday, 18 December 2020. He succumbed to his injuries. The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) is suspected; however, other actors and political motivations can’t be ruled out in this direct attack.
by Richard McManamon | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:34pm | 2 comments
Since taking office, President Trump has challenged the global order with his “America First” approach. He has questioned the role of the US and its Allies within NATO, exited the Paris Climate Accord, and entered into a trade battle with China. At the same time, the Trump administration has positioned both Russia and China as strategic rivals to the US and the new rise to great power competition. In the last decade, the US has witnessed aggressive actions by both countries in an effort to carve out new spheres of influence.
by Kaman Lykins | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:15pm | 1 comment
War is one of the oldest and most terrible of human endeavors and Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) is war at its conventional zenith. Of course, most would agree that reducing the effects of war to a simple calculus of blood and treasure is crass and callous. Yet these two cursory measurements can shed light upon the sheer devastation war can, and has repeatedly, wrought.
by Jonathan F. Lancelot | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 9:07pm | 7 comments
On November 10th, 2020, the Secretary-General of the United Nations reported, "massacres by non-state armed groups in several villages in northern Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province including the reported beheading and kidnapping of women and children" (United Nations). The news of these crimes against humanity broadcasted worldwide via the internet. The ability of information on crimes like these to potentially end up in front of hundreds of thousands if not millions of human beings is a glimpse of a future where humanity can quickly react to and mitigate a slaughter.
by Alex Plotkin | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 8:45pm | 2 comments
This is one of the books every new Special Operations soldier should read when they start their journey into the world of Unconventional Warfare. Gene Sharp could have titled this book the “Doctrine of (Nonviolent) Unconventional Warfare” to Free the Oppressed, or Create Order from Chaos, or even to Persuade, Change, or Influence (the three mottos of the US Army’s Special Operations Branches).
by Benjamin Arbitter | Sun, 12/13/2020 - 8:38pm | 7 comments
In the early 1990s, interviews with former Soviet pilots and access to Soviet archives revealed that “Soviet pilots covertly participated in air-to-air combat with American pilots during the Korean War for two years.” Subsequently and arguably more surprisingly, declassified U.S. intelligence documents revealed that U.S. officials not only knew of this intervention but actively sought to keep the Soviet intervention secret.
by Alma Keshavarz, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 12/11/2020 - 3:59pm | 1 comment
This note looks at developments in Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) capabilities. In this initial note, a new naval carrier, new drones, helicopters, and speed boats. This series will look at IRGC strategic, operational, and tactical developments.
by Robert Bunker, by John P. Sullivan, by Alma Keshavarz | Fri, 12/11/2020 - 3:00pm | 1 comment
The ongoing Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) offensive into Michoacán has been met by the creation of defensive trenches dug across multiple state highways/roads in mid-November 2020.  These anti-improvised armored fighting vehicle (IAFV) trenches were created by Los Viagras, Carteles Unidos, and/or local community self-defense groups (autodefensas) in an apparent co-ordinated effort to obstruct CJNG commando unit—consisting of IAFVs, monstruos (monster trucks), narcotanques (narco-tanks), and soft-skinned vehicles and gun trucks with mounted infantry elements—access to towns under their control.
by Justin Baumann | Wed, 12/09/2020 - 9:16pm | 2 comments
This article details the advantages the US military can gain by developing an experimental joint airborne division for use in current or future hybrid conflicts while simultaneously countering emerging proxy threats during Great Power Competition. It highlights the current capability gap in our airborne formations between conventional and irregular airborne units and provides a plan to address this issue with the creation of an experimental joint airborne division led by the Army and staffed by additional joint personnel.
by Mahmut Cengiz | Wed, 12/09/2020 - 9:03pm | 4 comments
The Arab world had hoped to see more democratic regimes when the Arab Spring struck many authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. Arab countries witnessed a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions in the early 2010s. Responding to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, Tunisians were on the streets to protest government corruption. The unrest spread to Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria. Protesters were successful in overthrowing long-serving authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt.
by Patricia H. Escamilla-Hamm | Tue, 12/08/2020 - 11:00pm | 1 comment
After months of political debate, the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) proposed by Mexicos new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was formalized on 27 May 2019.[ ] However, it remains a source of heated controversy. Some critics claim that it was unnecessary since Mexico already had a Policia Federal (Federal Police - PF). Human rights advocates and some security specialists argue that its military traits exacerbate the risk of abusive use of force and the militarization that prevailed during the Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña (2012-2018) Administrations. The purpose of this essay is to examine why a new law enforcement institution was created and designed as a civilian-military institution.
by John Berger | Tue, 12/08/2020 - 10:32am | 2 comments
Noel Barber’s The War of the Running Dogs: How Malaya Defeated the Communist Guerillas 1948-60 is a gripping history that reads like a novel. Barber tells the story of courageous British and Malayan men and women who fought the guerillas—as well as the story of the rise and fall of communist guerilla leaders—through personal antidotes and experiences during the Malayan Emergency; details which make it a difficult book to put down. Barber’s account also appeals to the academic reader by providing a combination of historical narrative and a test-case of applied COIN theory.
by Kaley Scholl | Mon, 12/07/2020 - 5:29pm | 1 comment
The United States is preparing for great power competition against near-peer adversaries by preparing for a major war with China and Russia. However, this is a fundamental misreading of the challenges the US actually faces in this multipolar security environment.[Adversaries recognize they cannot compete against the US in conventional warfare. Instead, they are increasingly employing the use of gray zone operations, or those tactics that fall beneath the threshold of armed conflict, to increase their influence and impose costs on the US. The US Department of Defense’s (DOD) US Special Operations Forces (SOF) are an agile force uniquely positioned around the world and capable of using their irregular warfare asymmetric advantages to counter Chinese gray zone activities. As counterterrorism operations in the Middle East are winding down, the DOD should leverage SOF’s successes in irregular warfare to rebalance the mission sets to meet the full range of new and emerging security challenges in support of great power competition.
by John P. Sullivan | Mon, 12/07/2020 - 4:47pm | 1 comment
Killing civilians in war is a lightning rod for controversy.  Ethical, moral, and practical concerns frame the discussion—and more importantly the reality on the ground.  International law is clear, under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the deliberate killing of civilians and other persons hors de combat is prohibited—that is it is a war crime.  Despite these norms, deliberate and indiscriminate killing of civilians persists. This SWJ Book Review looks at Jürgen Brandsch's assessment of the topic in "Killing Civilians in Civil War: The Rationale of Indiscriminate Violence."
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker, by Nathan P. Jones | Fri, 12/04/2020 - 7:10pm | 1 comment
While violence is down for the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019 in Tijuana, violence in the ‘Greater Tijuana Plaza,’ including Mexicali, Ensenada, Tecate, and Playas de Rosarito in Baja California, may be on the rise as possible internal divisions emerge, alliances shift, and the Cártel de Sinaloa (CDS) and the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) battle for supremacy of the region’s drug trafficking corridor into the United States.
by Rory Andrews | Thu, 12/03/2020 - 7:13pm | 2 comments
This piece argues that the West has entirely mishandled the peace process because of a fundamental misunderstanding of Afghan politics, history and society, which has led to a binary view of the war and an overly simplistic view of Afghanistan as a nation. Utilising extensive primary and secondary research from a number of experts in the field, this essay will help demystify the illusion of the war in Afghanistan and the peace process which has come subsequently in order to offer tentative insight into the people, tribes, groups and states which all have a stake in peace in Afghanistan and who should be included in the process.
by Faruk Hadžić | Thu, 12/03/2020 - 11:05am | 1 comment
A rational analysis of the international community's failure to prevent war crimes in BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) can be a lesson for the future's morality model. The EU's role in Southeast Europe is inconsistent between its normative potential and current problematic aspects of process implementation policies. The recognition of Dayton's failure by the US, can pave the way for building a political community within the current "virtual entity" that does not possess vertical and horizontal legitimacy. It would be morally obligatory, even imperative, to build blueprints and state reorganization tools in the concrete.
by John P. Sullivan, by José de Arimatéia da Cruz, by Robert Bunker | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:15pm | 1 comment
Armed gunmen attacked banks in two Brazilian cities on Monday 30 November 2020 through Tuesday 1 December 2020.  The attacks occurred in Criciúma, Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil and Cametá, Pará state in Brazil’s north.  The attackers are believed to be unrelated but share common tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  Brazilian media refers to the style of attacks as the ‘New Cangaço’ referring to historic banditry in the 1920s-1930s.
by Eric Slater | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 12:32pm | 2 comments
The purpose of this article is to provide intelligence professionals a set tactics, techniques, and procedures for successful course of action analysis. I also cover how to maintain a cooperative environment when tasked with role-playing the enemy. This article is borne from the experience of having failed to grasp the collaborative nature of war-gaming as a lieutenant, followed by development through my captaincy as a staff intelligence officer and company commander assigned to the National Training Center.
by Sam Hayes, Jr., by Jerry Patterson, Jr. | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 12:02pm | 2 comments
The goal of this article is to show the diversity of mission sets and organizations AC CA supports, develop CA practitioners, as well as inform the larger community of CA’s value. The first section addresses the company and team’s experiences in support of U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), U.S. Air Forces Africa (USAFAF), Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), and the U.S. Agency for International Development in West Africa Regional Office (USAID-WA) objectives. The final section addresses insights from these CA Soldiers’ unique perspectives (i.e., operating with GPF and SOF elements in the joint environment, working with the RAF and the U.S. country team, conducting regional exercises and assessing HN CMO capacity, validating HN CA forces institutions and setting the conditions for regional exercises with U.S. and NATO partners, coordinating among the DOD, DOS, and the international community, and supporting the teams and managing civil information), which currently may not reflect the view of others.
by Wes Dyson | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 11:37am | 1 comment
In War by Other Means former Ambassador to India, Robert D. Blackwill, and Rhodes Scholar, Jennifer M. Harris, clearly articulate an alternate path to American success in Great Power Competition: geoeconomics.  Geoeconomics, as they define it, is “the use of economic instruments to promote and defend national interests, and to produce beneficial geopolitical results; and the effects of other nations economic actions on a country’s geopolitical goals.” The authors state that economics, and particularly geoeconomics, is the instrument of national power that the United States must employ to maintain its dominant position within the international system.
by Aaron A. Bazin, by Karla Mastracchio | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 9:41am | 1 comment
American policymakers must weigh many risks in the development, oversight, and use special operations to protect and advance the nation’s interests. If they hope to do so from an informed position, they must understand what makes special operators tick — their mindset. In this article, we present original research into the creeds the special operations community uses during selection and training as an indicator of their inherent mindset. The purpose of doing so is to provide new insight into how special operations approach some of today’s most wicked military problems.
by Matthew A. Hughes | Sat, 11/28/2020 - 8:09pm | 1 comment
Across an Angry Sea: The SAS in the Falklands War is Lieutenant General Cedric Delves’s first-hand account of 22 Special Air Service (SAS) involvement in the 74-day war between Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands. Commanding D Squadron, 22 SAS throughout the war, Delves played a central role in this special forces unit, which emerged as a pivotal player in the British war effort. Delves directed his men in a variety of ground operations, leading military historian Max Hastings to declare that no “man saw more than he did at the sharp end of the 1982 action in the South Atlantic.”
by John Bolton | Wed, 11/25/2020 - 11:48am | 4 comments
America in (relative) decline is a common refrain in national security circles, with many evoking Rome’ Collapse or Great Britain’s fading from the heights of its power. Rome disappeared while Britain managed its decline well, shedding territories while maintaining a relatively strong domestic consensus. The appropriateness of these comparisons is generally assumed. This article offers a different point of comparison: the decline and eventual collapse of China’s Qing Dynasty amidst internal fracturing, a failure to reform, and relentless external pressure from Western Powers.
by Joseph Hammond | Sat, 11/21/2020 - 8:24pm | 1 comment
The United States should pay careful attention to the brewing conflict in the Sahara which if left unchecked could contribute to destabilizing forces across North Africa and the Sahel. Renewed clashes between Polisario, a leftist rebel group, and Morocco is only the latest armed confrontation riling the continent. The past few months have seen an increase in insurgent activities in Mozambique and an outbreak of a new war in Ethiopia. In contrast, the United States has largely been distracted by the 2020 presidential campaign. The deterioration in the status quo between Morocco and Polisario in the Western Sahara deserves greater attention because decisive action now may be able to preserve a ceasefire which has largely held since 1991.          
by Eran Ortal, by Lazar Berman | Sat, 11/21/2020 - 8:16pm | 2 comments
For decades, Western militaries have confronted a stubborn operational challenge. Our enemies disappear on the battlefield, and we struggle to bring our material superiority to bear. Simultaneously, our own maneuver makes us vulnerable to attack. How can we beat an enemy we can't see? This study examines Allied anti-submarine warfare in WWII's Battle of the Atlantic, to extract contemporary lessons against stealth enemies. During the campaign, Germany attempted to blockade the British Isles through submarine attacks on Atlantic supply routes, using attrition through stealth area-denial tactics with concealed low-signature platforms.
by Josh Chang, by Peter Kouretsos | Sat, 11/21/2020 - 8:05pm | 1 comment
In a great power competition, most of the United States’ policy attention has focused on East Asia and Eastern Europe. However, the incoming Biden administration should remember George Orwell’s refrain: “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” In front of the nose of U.S. leaders is an overlooked fact: a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Western Hemisphere has allowed the U.S. to confidently pursue its national interests abroad. It is imperative for the next administration to factor Latin America more greatly into U.S. strategy.
by Wade Pommer | Thu, 11/19/2020 - 1:15pm | 1 comment
A reposted essay with some big ideas that should stimulate big discussion about a critical military capability that must achieve tactical and strategic effects.
by Richard A. McConnell, by George E. Hodge, by Thad D. Weist | Tue, 11/17/2020 - 2:25pm | 3 comments
In early March 2020, instructors at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) were informed that they would have to learn to “fly” their classrooms under instrument conditions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. With very short no­tice, the instructors found themselves locked down, working from home, and reformatting classes orig­inally designed for face-to-face instruction into distance-learning (DL) mode. Although the uncertain situation had presented several significant challenges, the instructors found that having to redesign classes proved to be a catalyst for positive change and ad­vancement. In the process, they discovered that the experience made them better instructors; the redesign expanded their teaching capabilities, including learn­ing skills and modalities (standard methodologies) that instructors anticipate will be used when they return to face-to-face instruction
by Octavian Manea | Tue, 11/17/2020 - 9:39am | 1 comment
Small Wars Journal interview with H. R. McMaster, Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. From 2017 to 2018, he served as U.S. National Security Adviser.
by Batya (Батя) | Sun, 11/15/2020 - 8:37pm | 3 comments
During the grueling wars that ravaged the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Montenegro was arguably fortunate in comparison to countries like Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. Whilst it was bombed several times in NATO airstrikes, Montenegro didn’t suffer the mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, and refugee crisis that its neighbors did. The country has been lucky to avoid religious conflict through a high degree of religious tolerance and diversity throughout its history. However, in 2020 it seems that luck has run out. It’s possible that a civil war is looming in the country of the black mountains. One that has the potential to become an international conflict.