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 Garrett Martin | Thu, 08/25/2022 - 5:11pm | 0 comments
An effective grand strategy aligns the efforts of a nation’s citizens in order to meet security goals. A grand strategy cannot be successfully pursued if the people are unable or unwilling to support the nation’s proposed goals. Modern grand strategy has traditionally utilized national narratives to gain the necessary public buy-in. This article argues that the American people have now grown too incredulous of narratives to support a grand strategy; a modern grand strategy cannot rationally rely on support from a postmodern society. This article theorizes how grand strategy may still align collective efforts without a narrative by conceptualizing a “postmodern grand strategy.”
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Thu, 08/25/2022 - 1:32pm | 0 comments
Big battles and rapid taking or losing of territory are easy to understand and interpret.  When things slow down, though, there is a lot more uncertainty and speculation, but if you take the time to understand why things are slower, it can be as revealing as the big battles and large swaths of territory changing hands. We are now at an interesting time in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a moment where we are seeing two grand overall trends unite to heavily propel things in Ukraine’s favor.  These two overarching trends are that Ukraine is contributing prudence and Russia is contributing its deteriorating capabilities to the conflict in ways that are dictating the pacing and nature of much of the conflict at the moment, especially as most of the energy is now being directed towards the southern theater of action.
by Montassar Adaili | Tue, 08/23/2022 - 2:34pm | 0 comments
Over the last decade, the rise of military performance of non-state actors in wars and their use of terror, and other irregular military tactics led many scholars to speak about new wars. In 2014, the Islamic State emerged as dangerous terrorist group that applied asymmetric military tactics and succeeded in defeating regular forces and occupied territories. This paper seeks to explain the role of military tactics of non-state actors in changing the character of war by analyzing IS’s military tactics, what are they and how the terrorist organization applied them. This article offers better understanding of non-state actors’ tactics in changing the character of war.
by Mae Key-Ketter | Mon, 08/22/2022 - 8:46pm | 1 comment
Book review of Andrea J. Nichols, "Sex Trafficking in the United States: Theory, Research, Policy, and Practice by 2022 SWJ–El Centro Intern Mae Key-Ketter.
by James Rohrer | Mon, 08/22/2022 - 11:43am | 2 comments
Russian aggression in the Ukraine has all the earmarks of 19th century geopolitics.  Prior to the first Great War, war was an extension of diplomacy.  Nations took territory or otherwise expanded their spheres of influence without regard to whether the targets of their aggression had stronger claims to autonomy and control.  Some commentators expressed shock when Russia invaded Ukraine, saying they believed the world had outgrown war as a means of achieving national objectives.  How they arrived at that assumption is not clear.  The purpose of this essay is to apply the core concepts of a 19th century computer simulation war game to the current war in the Ukraine.  The drivers appear to fit the situation and may allow analysts to model developments over time.
by Richard (Dick) Newton, by Daniel Rice | Sun, 08/21/2022 - 10:50pm | 1 comment
Nuclear armed aggressor nations, such as China and Russia, cannot be allowed to invade neighboring sovereign democracies using conventional forces unchecked.  The best way to deter these aggressor nations, both Russia and China, is to arm the democracies with conventional forces capable of defending themselves or making the cost of invasion too costly for the aggressor nations in total terms. -- Provide Ukraine Excess US Air Force F-15s and F-16s...Now
by Daniel Weisz | Sat, 08/20/2022 - 6:20pm | 2 comments
The assassination of two Jesuit priests in the state of Chihuahua led to calls by the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) to protect priests, teachers, and doctors. I argue that this video is simply another form of information operations utilized to portray the cartel in a favorable light. Information operations are incredibly diverse within Mexico’s organized crime system and can include: digital campaigns to make specific cartels look better, narcocorridos (narco-ballads) to construct mythological personas for cartel members, extreme forms of violence like beheadings to communicate to rivals and the local population, food pantries to win over the local population, and even dispute resolution services to become de facto governors, etc.
by Ryan Bridley, by Scott Pastor | Fri, 08/19/2022 - 11:14am | 2 comments
     The tactical use of drones is expanding as demonstrated from the past 100 years. Drones were first created in the U.S. and United Kingdom during World War I, though neither country employed them during the war. In World War II, the Nazis created the V-1 to serve as a missile. The U.S. employed drones for surveillance missions during the Vietnam War and utilized them frequently for counter-insurgency surveillance and strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones are now developed in and utilized by over 100 countries and non-state actors. Drone capabilities, manufacturers, and customers will likely continue increasing and a tactical shift in utilizing drone swarms is emerging. This article provides a broad overview on the current state of drones for commercial and military use, the impact drone swarms can play in the military environment, and the options available to combat swarms.
by Dan Pace | Wed, 08/17/2022 - 3:36am | 0 comments
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks, dismantle the Taliban government that provided the perpetrators with safe haven, and deny Afghanistan as a base of operations for future terrorist attacks. At the time, the war received widespread international support and was generally regarded as “a legally appropriate use of force,” but by the war’s end in 2021, regard for the justice of the U.S. cause had diminished somewhat. What changed, and how did the U.S. lose the moral high ground it enjoyed in 2001?
by Patrick B. Roberson, by Stuart Gallagher, by Kurtis Gruters | Wed, 08/17/2022 - 3:24am | 1 comment
At the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS), Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) is a job interview. Eight times a year, soldiers travel to Fort Bragg from all over the world to attend Assessment and Selection (A&S) to see if they have what it takes to become a member of the elite Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF).
by Anna Mahjar-Barducci | Wed, 08/17/2022 - 3:02am | 0 comments
Despite the severe blows inflicted by the Israeli army, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza has gained various advantages from the last war against Israel. Some Western media reported that Israel "won" the war. However, even though Israel eliminated two important leaders of the terrorist movement, the Islamic Jihad managed to strengthen its image and influence in the region. Until August 5, when Israel launched the preemptive strike against Gaza, initiating the "Breaking Dawn" operation, the Islamic Jihad was only a secondary movement, which could not compete with the popularity of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, after three days of war and about 1,100 missiles sent towards Israel, the Islamic Jihad became one of the most important resistance movements in the region and obtained Teheran's full support.
by Natalie D. Baker , by Jonathan Landry | Wed, 08/17/2022 - 1:28am | 2 comments
This essay examines the problem of violence against journalists and media workers in Mexico. We use data on killings collected over the past three decades by advocacy groups to provide an empirically rooted answer to why Mexico seems so dangerous for media workers. The reasons, tied to the country's overall governance problems, lead to impunity, government collusion with drug trafficking organizations, and widespread corruption. Further, we find some issues with collecting and maintaining data by advocacy groups, creating problems of accuracy about the scope of killings in Mexico.
by Andreas Foerster | Sun, 08/14/2022 - 12:11am | 0 comments
This paper is not the first to argue this interpretation of Alexander’s strategic thinking. However, this view usually came as a part of a greater examination of Alexander’s policies, not a self contained hypothesis in of itself. These historiographical opinions then often looked at Alexander as simply pragmatic, adapting his policy as he went to fit he needs of the moment, with minimal consideration of the young king’s long term plans before a campaign; that is to say, there is no evidence given in these sources that their authors believed Alexander had any sort of master plan.
by Jesse R. Humpal | Sat, 08/13/2022 - 3:24pm | 1 comment
A recent strategic wargame that pitted the People’s Republic of China against a U.S. backed Taiwan, resulted in the trading of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a 25-percent drop in the global economy, 10s of thousands of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Americans dead…and a protracted guerilla conflict on the small island. During the adjudication, leaders from both sides–who were played by some of U.S.’s most prominent academics, military leaders, politicians, and statesmen (they were all men)–concluded that their side behaved with restraint while the other acted as provocateur. Absent from their rationale, was an acknowledgment that in global conflict seeking manifest destiny, if just one of the sides actually acted with restraint, they would be steamrolled.
by Tom Ordeman, Jr. | Thu, 08/11/2022 - 8:48pm | 1 comment
One uncomfortable lesson from the recent conclusion of the First World War’s centenary was the reminder that, prior to its outbreak, flag and general officers were committed to utilizing Napoleonic era tactics that were long obsolete. Similarly, more than three quarters of a century after the Second World War’s conclusion, American officers continue to treat the fight against fascism as the gold standard of warfare, even as its practical lessons for modern warfare wane to near obsolescence. One rare exception to this trend has been the alternate history presented by The Man in the High Castle, Amazon Prime’s dystopian drama, which ran from 2015 to 2019.
by Patrick B. Roberson, by Stuart Gallagher, by Kurtis Gruters | Mon, 08/08/2022 - 4:26pm | 4 comments
As technology proliferates it becomes increasingly important to integrate science into operational practice. Two years ago, the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) embarked on an aggressive campaign to overhaul its management information system. This overhaul included a massive paradigm shift moving the organization from a transactional data approach to that of a transformational one – an approach that proactively anticipates and solves problems in advance to supplement human knowledge and inform decision making. This significant shift demanded the forging and fostering of a strong relationship between science and operations in order to realize progress and mission accomplishment. This article explores the importance of this sacred relationship and its impact on the organization by utilizing lessons learned from the past two years of work at the USAJFKSWCS.
by Lee Van Arsdale, by Daniel Rice | Fri, 08/05/2022 - 9:38am | 0 comments
To the American military eye, the first impression of the Ukrainian Army is that it’s more a quasi-uniformed biker gang than an army.  An occasional pony tail, many beards in various stages of maturity, a variety of mixed uniforms, and footwear that ranges from combat boots to flip flops.  However, this impression would be dead wrong.  To an individual, these are totally committed Soldiers.  Life on the front line is anything but easy, but the dedication and love of country is universal.  There is an easy camaraderie, and all tasks are performed with professional efficiency.  From the commanding general to the brigade and battalion commanders, to the front line troops, this is a dedicated, motivated, war hardened army.  
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Thu, 08/04/2022 - 9:59am | 1 comment
Dynamics over time are the key to analyzing just about anything, and they (“why”) clearly favor Ukraine in Russia’s failing war of conquest, meaning Ukraine can possibly push Russia out entirely in the coming months by sweeping through the south all the way to Donetsk (“how”)
by Brian Phillips | Tue, 08/02/2022 - 10:19pm | 3 comments
This timely book review of Tricia L. Bacon and Elizabeth Grimm, "Terror in Transition: Leadership and Succession in Terrorist Organizations" is essential reading for understanding terrorist organizations and leadership succession.
by Dylan Nigh | Tue, 08/02/2022 - 5:23pm | 1 comment
These words were meant to inspire the world to view space travel as an inevitability. In the same vein, those in the Special Operations Force (SOF) Enterprise must view further space integration as the inevitable next step in our evolution. The twin rise in space capabilities and strategic competition makes evident the need to leave the proverbial “cradle”. While strategic changes have been signaled or initiated at higher levels, there persists a need for one more link between SOF and Space. Units and individuals must do what they can to expand space knowledge within special operations from the ground up. This article will explore the relevant background behind this need and how action can be taken.
by Thomas Matyók, by Srečko Zajc, by Maj Fritz | Mon, 08/01/2022 - 8:45pm | 0 comments
Events in Ukraine demonstrate people’s willingness to take up arms, fight, and do all that is necessary to protect themselves, their families, communities, and country. When states fail to provide security, individuals step forward and security networks develop. Pictures of men accompanying loved ones to a safe border then returning to the fight provide compelling evidence of people’s willingness to protect what is theirs; physically, mentally, and spiritually. The development of new technologies, energy sources, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc. may have make daily life a bit easier, but they have done little to change people’s desire to live freely, safely, and securely. Comfort alone is not good enough for a meaningful life. Freedom is. Ukraine is resilience in action and the conflict provides a laboratory for the study and advancement of individual resilience and Open Security in the 3rd Millennium. Open Security is all-of-society defense against all possible threats, internal and external, to Human Security. Open Security is self-organizing and resists formal coordination, command, and control. A way of thinking of Open Security is as a living organism. Biology, not management, explains Open Security systems.   
by Iman Basharat | Mon, 08/01/2022 - 4:13pm | 0 comments
The media is a potent tool. The transformation of media from something that could only be accessed through wires to something that was everywhere brought about a significant change in how people interacted, created narratives, and shared tales. Because they form and affect people's views on political and social issues, narratives play a significant part in our lives. Your story, and the way you choose to tell it as the state's leader, directly affects the people and states around you.
by Alan Cunningham | Mon, 08/01/2022 - 9:50am | 0 comments
For the past twenty years, the United States has been dealing with insurgencies, most prominently the one in Afghanistan. While the U.S. has conducted insurgency campaigns since the beginning of the 20th century in the Philippines, the United States still is unable to properly perform a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy. While they have been successful in individual provinces and districts of nation-states they are involved in, some have opined that “poor outcomes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam before them are the result of a poor implementation of the U.S.’s counterinsurgency strategy” and that the U.S.’s COIN doctrine and policies are ineffective in combating insurgencies.
by Ernest John C. Jadloc, by Leo Blanken, by Kevin Jones | Sat, 07/30/2022 - 11:48pm | 0 comments
Security cooperation with partner nations is increasingly important for the success of American security policy in an era of strategic competition. After twenty years of large-scale counterinsurgency operations, during which security cooperation largely consisted of the rapid building of (often inappropriate) “mirror imaged” partner forces, new thinking is required. We provide a novel and scalable mechanism for partner force enablement efforts here: grassroots innovation among partner force personnel through the leveraging of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. More specifically, we show the potential for partner forces to create affordable, sustainable, and tailored solutions to their own capability gaps as a mechanism for better partnering.
by Artur Kalandarov | Sat, 07/30/2022 - 11:28pm | 0 comments
Recent history has shown that irregular warfare (IW) can be used as a tactic and a strategy to grind down the willingness and capacity of a larger power to pursue its objectives. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. experienced firsthand the difficulty of engaging combatants dedicated to irregular methods. Now, IW is playing a key role in Ukraine’s ability to resist Russia’s invasion. In the future, it can and likely will be a crucial aspect of small states’ resistance to revanchism. Drawing from recent and ongoing conflicts, the U.S. can harness its knowledge and experience in IW to counteract China and Russia on the global stage, while continuing to engage non-state violent extremist organizations (VEOs). This can be accomplished primarily in two ways: preparing partners and allies to engage in irregular warfare in the event of an attack, and intimidating adversaries by utilizing the prospect of IW as a deterrent.
by Daniel Rice, by Lee Van Arsdale | Sat, 07/30/2022 - 12:31pm | 1 comment
The prevailing attitude here in Kyiv is that many in the U.S. government do not yet trust the Ukrainian people. It’s a sentiment that we believe is correct and needs to be remedied immediately in the best interests of U.S. national security. We have personally traveled the battlefields with the Ukrainian Armed Forces commanders in Kyiv, Moschun, Bucha, Iripin, and the Donbas, so we have unique insights into their attitudes and values. The Ukrainian military deserves our ultimate respect and our trust. As such, the U.S. should fully arm Ukraine as if it were arming U.S. troops to fight against the entire Russian Army. Continuing to approve and send small amounts of arms and ammunition at a time could result in a catastrophic loss for Ukraine, and by extension, the United States.
by Tyler Wood | Wed, 07/27/2022 - 2:40pm | 0 comments
Recent reflections on the military strategy used by Hitler and the German Armed Forces High Command during Operation Barbarossa provide insights into similar Russian setbacks in Ukraine. Hitler’s operational blunders on his eastern front serve as a historical precedent for Putin’s ambitions and his special military operation.
by Zachariah Lee Parcels | Mon, 07/25/2022 - 8:31pm | 0 comments
Terrorists violently struggle by using or threatening to use violence against civilians to achieve political aims. Among the thousands of attacks designated as terrorism since 1970, only spec-tacularly innovative terrorist attacks take nations by surprise. Innovative terrorist tactics, strategies, and organisational arrangements exploit vulnerabilities in security apparatuses and inflict high material, psychological, social, and emotional costs. This innovation requires both cooperation and financing. This paper adopts a follow-the-money directive by qualitative-ly exploring the emergence of the crime-terror nexus, an increasingly salient terrorist financ-ing conundrum not solely explained by existing typologies. Thus, an alternative conceptualisa-tion of the Crime-Terror Nexus that incorporates terrorist innovation typologies is presented. By illuminating the learning competition between anti-terrorist forces and terrorists, the adap-tation, innovation, and imitation terrorists undertake under pressure, and decentralisation of terrorist and criminal organisations, this work elicits how these criminal-terrorist configura-tions leave terrorists with more money to execute their political aims. Therefore, amidst a re-orientation towards inter-state conflict, these criminally-enriched terrorists present a present and looming danger to international security.
by Zachary Kallenborn | Mon, 07/25/2022 - 5:44pm | 2 comments
Zachary Kallenborn makes the case for Anti-Rail Landmines in Ukraine. Coupling old school concepts with modern capabilities can vastly improve effectiveness: the Civil War did not have dedicated special operations forces to emplace landmines, open-source imagery to easily map a country’s entire rail network, network analysis techniques and tools to identify strategic chokepoints, and modern long-range fires from rocket artillery to drones and aircraft for follow-up strikes on fixed trains and military engineers. Anti-rail landmines should not only serve US operators, but could be provided to allied nations.
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Sun, 07/24/2022 - 10:18pm | 0 comments
Too many analysts frame the current actions and reactions in centering on Russia and Ukraine in narrow terms, around Ukraine’s recent moves towards the West or the events of 2014. So even before the February 2022 massive escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin of the eight-year-long war in Ukraine, there has been a chorus of voices—each and every single one myopic, ridiculous, and not worthy of serious consideration—saying that, we, the United States/NATO/the West should, to some degree or another, not help Ukraine militarily (too much) and/or not increase Ukraine’s aid (too much) because, somehow, if we do, that would be a “provocation” against Russia.
by James Rohrer | Sun, 07/24/2022 - 10:12pm | 0 comments
Wargmaing. Insurrection is possible in any nation where a portion of the population is dissatisfied due to long-standing grievances.  In the United States, we might assume that insurrection could not be successful because the US military is reputed to be the best in the world, vast sums of taxpayers’ funds having been invested to develop high-tech weaponry. On the other hand, even primitive tribesmen have been effective against modern armies.  This raises the question: could American insurgents be effective against the American army?... The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the effectiveness of insurgents against the modern army in a particular tactical scenario.  Results are contingent on the validity of the wargaming method (the rule set).  The findings may have implications for national security.
by Sean Jacobs | Sun, 07/24/2022 - 10:04pm | 1 comment
US Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent remarks to Pacific Island leaders they have not previously “received the diplomatic attention and support you deserve” has acknowledged a key gap in US foreign policy – a consistent, comprehensive South Pacific presence. Her remarks, delivered to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and emerging only weeks after Secretary of State Blinken’s regional visit, are certainly welcomed. It had been almost four decades since a US Secretary of State visited Suva, Fiji’s capital, and over a decade since Secretary of State Clinton visited the Cook Islands and the South Pacific’s largest nation – Papua New Guinea (PNG). Ostensibly to counter China’s re-energised economic and security support to South Pacific states, both Harris’ remarks and Blinken’s presence have served as a reminder of US intentions for “authentic engagement that speaks to the real needs of the islanders,” according to Blinken, and for the “US to include on the agenda items that Pacific countries have identified as priorities for them.”
by G. Murphy Donovan | Thu, 07/21/2022 - 8:48pm | 2 comments
We might now call the proxy war in Ukraine a tale of two Victorias; a contest between the world views of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Indiana Congresswoman Victoria Spartz. 
by Connor L. Mitchell | Thu, 07/21/2022 - 10:47am | 0 comments
February 24, 2022 marked the date in which Russian foreign affairs nullified their own prior diplomatic legitimacy on the international stage. Vladimir Putin’s “Special Military Operation,” a façade for an illegal invasion of a sovereign country, dramatically reversed Russia’s prior claims that any suggestion of a Russian military excursion into Ukraine was “Western Propaganda.”
by Donatas Palavenis | Thu, 07/21/2022 - 10:33am | 1 comment
The analysis evaluates the effectiveness of 12.7 mm and 30 mm calibre weapons, that could be installed in the turret of IFV Boxer. The case study analyses the Lithuanian situation as there is an intent to acquire 120 units of IFV Boxer. However, the analysis could be useful for other NATO /EU countries if they are looking for effective weaponry to win contemporary land battles.
by Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Pereira | Mon, 07/18/2022 - 1:51pm | 3 comments
This two-part commentary critiques ADPF 635 (an injunction for infringement of a fundamental principle) in the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) ADPF No. 635, also known as the "ADPF Favelas Case" limited police action in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
by Kevin Hammill | Sun, 07/17/2022 - 10:25pm | 3 comments
Book review of Mark Galeotti, "The Very: Russia's Super Mafia." The text provides a valuable overview of Russian organized crime and its influence on Russia's political system.
by David Brazel | Sat, 07/16/2022 - 8:46pm | 0 comments
On September 26th, 1918, the US First Army, under the command of General John Pershing, contributed to an allied assault on the remaining German defenses in France.  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the American effort of this advance.  This paper will examine General Pershing’s use of the principles of mission command.  His performance demonstrated that mission command is a valuable leadership tool, yet strict adherence to its seven principles is not necessarily required for mission accomplishment.
by Alan Goodman | Thu, 07/14/2022 - 10:55am | 0 comments
Revisionist powers seek to compete with and degrade the influence of the United States within what has been dubbed the gray zone. That is to compete with non-traditional means below the threshold of armed conflict. Civil Affairs are military forces that establish, maintain, or exploit relationships between military forces and indigenous populations and institutions. Civil Affairs forces can compete below the threshold of armed conflict, focusing on achieving non-kinetic effects. However, Civil Affairs require funding specifically allocated to civil-military operations to be effective in the gray zone. This analysis argues for a dedicated Civil-Military Operations funding source that is flexible and fast enough for Civil Affairs forces to have effective impacts that are employed promptly.
by Juri Toomepuu | Tue, 07/12/2022 - 2:52pm | 3 comments
The greatest advantage our adversaries in autocratic dictatorships have over us, is their ability to man their forces with as many soldiers as needed, of the quality needed to effectively operate their technically advanced weapons systems. Our all-volunteer, more accurately, all-recruited force, established a pernicious link between the nation`s economic well-being and military recruiting. When opportunities for civilian jobs are plentiful, recruiting suffers. Because job and educational opportunities for better qualified youth are always better than for their less qualified counterparts, armed forces need more incentives, requiring more resources, to attract them into military service.
by Andreas Foerster | Tue, 07/12/2022 - 2:34pm | 0 comments
With the rise in popularity of doctrines concerning low-intensity conflicts, especially counterinsurgency (COIN) and hybrid warfare, several theorists have promoted a separation from the older generation of thinkers. Naturally, because of their significant influence upon the development of “conventional warfare”, as these newer theorists understand it, Carl von Clausewitz and Antoine-Henri de Jomini have been zeroed in for criticism. Put simply, a misunderstanding of these theorists has led to this attack on their writings. This failure to see their potential outside of conventional warfare and the historical context of their ideas’ formation, concerning these two giants of military theory, deprives researchers and officers alike of valuable tools for achieving victory. This particular paper will focus on Jomini, because his absence in modern discussion on low-intensity conflicts is far more prominent.
by Kyle Sajoyan | Tue, 07/12/2022 - 1:04pm | 0 comments
The conclusion of the Second World War brought the international community together to pursue justice following the bloodiest cataclysm in human history. The prosecution of Japanese war criminals during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East helped lay the blueprint for how crimes against humanity and other atrocities were defined and dealt with. Despite the Tokyo War Crimes Trials’ clear definitions of the permissible and illegal conduct of nations, the Netherlands perpetrated one of the most brutal and overlooked wars of the decolonization era. The Indonesian War of Independence began at the closure of the global catastrophe that raged for the past six years. The Dutch unlearned the lessons of the previous conflict, systematically trying to subjugate a people who no longer desired to live under the imperial yoke of the Netherlands. The Dutch forces in the East Indies (Indonesia) unleashed a wave of untold destruction and suffering upon their colonial subjects, typified by the “counterinsurgency” campaign of Captain Raymond Pierre Westerling in 1947. Westerling’s rampage in South Sulawesi represented the clearest and most blatant hypocrisy of the post-World War Two era as the Netherlands abandoned their promises to safeguard a humane world to retain their empire.
by Michael B. Kelley , by Greg E. Metzgar | Mon, 07/11/2022 - 12:02pm | 0 comments
Prior to 9-11, Special Operations Forces (SOF) were integrated into operations predominantly led by conventional forces. During the reestablishment period of formal SOF capability in the 1980s, the Service leadership required Congressional action to establish permanent and sustained SOF capabilities within their own formations. In 1987, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) established its headquarters in Tampa, Florida, a first for the SOF community since the disbanding of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) at the end of World War II. Public Law 99-661, established in 1986 directed USSOOCM in Section 167 with the requirement to “develop strategy, doctrine, and tactics.” Arguably, USSOCOM has mastered the doctrine and tactics, but military leaders, SOF practitioners, and academics are still working to define an agreeable definition of strategy and theory of SOF.
by Kevin Chapla | Sat, 07/09/2022 - 12:08pm | 1 comment
Despite its ubiquity and prevalence in modern human conflict, a commonly accepted definition of terrorism has eluded scholars and practitioners alike. This paper proposes a new definition of terrorism as a tactic of violence used by both state and nonstate actors. The decision to use terrorism as a tactic to achieve political goals in any conflict ranging from guerilla warfare to low intensity conflict to an insurgency will permanently change the character of that conflict. The definition advocated for here argues that terrorism is simply a potential (albeit extreme) tactical feature of modern human conflict. Perception of a conflict drives whether the use of lethal and violent force is deemed legitimate. Limiting terrorism’s definition to a description of a specific type of violence ensures we can accurately identify it across all types of conflicts - whether the conflict in question is open warfare between recognized states, insurgency, or low intensity conflict does not matter. The tactics-based definition of terrorism proposed here divorces terrorism from the ambiguities of legitimacy, enabling an honest assessment of whether tactics being used in any conflict are terrorist tactics – irrespective of whether the perpetrator is a state or a nonstate actor.
by Kyle Sajoyan | Sat, 07/09/2022 - 11:59am | 1 comment
The myth of the “clean Wehrmacht” among other fallacies regarding the German Army demonstrated the necessity of critically studying the most destructive theater of the Second World War. By scrutinizing both primary and secondary literature, the author decided to add to the existing scholarship around the Eastern War by focusing on the “counterinsurgency” campaign in occupied Belarus. Through the lens of anti-partisan specialists such as Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, the paper demonstrates the genocidal brutality of the guerilla war in the East and simple calculus the SS and Wehrmacht underlined in their fight: to destroy the resistance, one must indiscriminately kill every man, women, and child regardless of the threat they pose.
by Josh Green | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 10:14pm | 1 comment
Since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the United States has given Ukraine $6.3 billion in aid. The aid, most recently in the form of sophisticated loitering munitions, M777 howitzers, and multiple rocket launchers arguably has provided a lethal capability to the Ukrainians. However, this aid creates strategic risk for both the US, Ukraine’s other Western supporters, and Ukraine itself. Beyond raising the risk of escalation with Russia, these diverse aid packages could create a Ukrainian military that is increasingly reliant on a patchwork of Western materiel support. Although this current policy creates capability, it threatens the Ukrainians’ capacity to engage in a sustainable war with an adversary who has considerable war stocks and shorter supply lines.
by James Rohrer | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 12:15pm | 2 comments
Predictions and expectations about the outcome of the war in the Ukraine have been fraught with peril.  The initial invasion triggered fears of a rapid Russian victory.  Plucky and effective defense by Ukrainian forces generated euphoria and heady hopes of pushing the Russian bear all the way out of Ukraine; nothing less than complete victory would be acceptable.  When the war shifted toward the east and south, experts began expecting a prolonged conflict. After four months of war, we now have more information that could help develop assumptions about how the conflict will unfold by the end of its first year.  Developing such assumptions is a necessary step for wargaming in real-time.
by Anthony Marco | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 12:07pm | 0 comments
On the French Empire’s southern flank, the seven-year war in the Peninsula absorbed close to a quarter of a million Frenchmen in a titanic struggle against the Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese alliance. During this long and bloody conflict the city of Cadiz, at the southernmost tip of French martial glory, epitomized the wastefulness of Napoleon’s ill-advised invasion. In April of 1809, King Joseph Bonaparte remarked, “it is necessary to seize control of Cadiz,”  yet the Spanish city would elude their grasp for two and half years due to the resolve of the Anglo-Spanish defenders and the advantageous geographical disposition of Cadiz.[1] The indefatigable defense of Cadiz remained an essential component of the Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese war effort, which preserved Spain’s governing body, maintained a staging ground and supply point for Anglo-Spanish operations throughout the Peninsula, and, most importantly, occupied Marshal Claude Victor Perrin’s Corps and the French armies across Andalusia in a futile war, which enabled the operations of Wellington’s Army in Portugal during the dark hours of Marshal Massena’s Invasion of Portugal.
by Douglas A. Borer , by Shannon C. Houck | Wed, 07/06/2022 - 9:28pm | 0 comments
Irregular warfare is an approach to peer-to-peer competition that Congressional legislators and civilian policymakers must better understand. Irregular warfare is how the Taliban drove the Western Alliance out of Afghanistan, and it is how Ukraine is presently checking Russia’s invasion of its territory. As these cases show, in the year 2022, the weak have won (and can win) wars. Knowing how to fight from a position of relative weakness is the true secret to understanding irregular warfare.
by Onambele Mendouga Guy Hervé | Mon, 07/04/2022 - 1:53pm | 0 comments
Imagine a Swiss businessman in Italy, near the city of Solferino. He probably went there for an important meeting that would increase his fortune. Unfortunately, there is a colossal battle between two opponents' camps while he is there. Gunfire resonates everywhere; soldiers are shouting, crying, yelling; the blood splashes and cuts the soldiers' heads, hands, and feet at every cannonball explosion. In the evening, more than 30.000 wounded and killed in action are abandoned on the field. Some cry, and the others are simply lifeless, dead. Henri Dunant witnessed this atrocity scene on the evening of June 24, 1859, at Solferino during the Italian independence war. The war opposed two camps. On the one hand, the Austrian empire and, on the other hand, the French-Italian coalition. This conflict between many state actors was by its nature brutal and violent, inhuman, and led Henry Dunant to take actions in favor of the wounded regardless of their camp. Later, Dunant's steps would create the international red cross, the Geneva conventions, and the law of armed conflicts. Solferino represents the war as we know it. A bloody military engagement between armies of two or multiple states. This type of war has rules that all the belligerents should respect; otherwise, they commit war crimes.