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 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 | 5 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 | 2 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 | 2 comments
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 | 8 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 | 5 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 | 1 comment
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. 
by Chuck de Caro | Fri, 04/29/2022 - 2:54pm | 0 comments
While the Ukrainian Army and Air Force are drawing most of Vladimir Putin’s attention, this might be an auspicious time for the Ukrainian Navy to strike again against the Russian Navy, via surprise attacks against the Russian surface ship base at Sevastopol  and the Russian submarine base at Novorossiysk, 165 and 468 miles, respectively, from the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
by Cecilia Polizzi | Fri, 04/29/2022 - 1:40pm | 0 comments
The development of terrorism has been progressively characterized by the involvement of children. In the continuous and dynamic evolution of terrorist organizations, child exploitation has come to represent a fast-evolving operational, strategic and tactical component of Salafi-jihadism and emerged as one core overarching pattern in the rise of extremism, globally. In 4th Generation Warfare, the escalating nature of this phenomenon and its widening scope bring into consideration questions as to whether the exploitation of children in terrorist ranks is a mere aberration or an indication of the evolution of warfare and its changing requirements. As part of the ongoing effort to understand the causes, motivations and factors driving the accelerating nature and protracted dimension of child exploitation in terrorism, the ambition of this article is twofold: To investigate the causal complexities between the recruitment and use of children as part of Salafi-jihadist´s groups strategy of war and the tenets of 4th Generation Warfare; To provide new theoretical insights into the phenomenology of child exploitation in terrorism.
by Derik R. Zitelman | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 8:38pm | 0 comments
Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the Middle East and South Asia, particularly in Pakistan, will likely experience stepped-up attacks by Islamic terrorists and ethnonational separatist groups. Overseas Chinese workers and assets are becoming high-value targets for jihadist militants, as China’s domestic persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang continues. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project along the BRI’s western front, is particularly susceptible to terror attacks.
by Tarik Solmaz | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has undermined the prevailing premises in the West about the character of contemporary warfare. Over the past decade, the Western world, generally speaking, had seemed to be convinced that actions that fall below the threshold of the outright act of war will be the most dominant form of conflict in the 21st century. As such, Western states and institutions had primarily focused on countering measures short of conventional war. The focus on ‘sub-threshold threats’ emerged primarily in reaction to Russia’s ‘unconventional’ operation against Ukraine in 2014.
by Patrick B. Roberson, by Stuart Gallagher, by Kyle Martin , by Wes Dyson | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 1:05pm | 0 comments
If you have been in the Army for any length of time, you have heard one of the many adages touting the importance of people in the organization. Two that immediately come to mind are “Mission first, people always!” and “People first!” Similarly, in the special operations community there are a series of guiding principles entitled the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Truths - the first of which states “Humans are more important than hardware.” In Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF), we could take this a step further, “humans are most important.” As with any organization, it is one thing to acknowledge the importance of people, but the true measure of importance is evidenced through action. Both Army special operations and the Army writ large are on a quest to better focus on people and improve how talent management is conducted throughout the force.  
by Daniel Riggs | Tue, 04/26/2022 - 10:24pm | 0 comments
Cybersecurity is critical, and the military needs to orient towards cyberspace over the next few years. However, the current narrative overstates the role of misinformation and disinformation about national security, human action, and cybersecurity. Target audiences' prevailing and ongoing external and internal conditions affect attitudes and behavior far more significantly than enemy propaganda. The following will first define the Cyber Domain to understand its impact on influence, explain its connection to other domains, how external and internal conditions outside of the Cyber Domain influence human action, and proposals for future efforts. 
by Brian E. Frydenborg | Tue, 04/26/2022 - 6:10pm | 0 comments
Crimea is likely far more vulnerable than many assume.  Given Russia’s sloppy, absurdly ineffective approach to this entire war, Crimea may actually be ripe for the taking.  Why this is the case, and how Ukrainian forces can undo Putin’s entire Crimean project of the last eight years and deal his regime a catastrophic blow, is detailed below
by Bill Edwards | Mon, 04/25/2022 - 9:55pm | 0 comments
   If you are paying close attention to the war in Ukraine you would have noticed a significant change in how war is prosecuted in the modern age specifically regarding commercial and military drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and robotics.  Additionally, Ukraine is winning the information war starting at the top of their government in the form of President Zelenskyy’s constant and upfront reporting daily.  Why is this important?  What this specific conflict is showing us from a military and possibly more important from a private sector perspective is the demonstration of what strategists and historians would classify as a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
by  Greg Metzgar | Mon, 04/25/2022 - 11:56am | 0 comments
The past two decades of persistent conflict have brought about an unprecedented need for Special Operations Forces (SOF) and Conventional Force (CF) personnel at all levels to learn quickly and constantly enhance their ability to conduct operational design and planning functions not only at the component level but increasingly at the operational level. This “punching above your weight” is due to continued manning requirements that dictate a sustained need to fulfill operational demands, along with a diminishing pool of personnel resources. As the Joint Force enters the mid-point of the 21st century, the demands placed upon the joint force will continue, and professionals at all levels will require a renewed focus on being prepared to address the multidomain threats posed by a host of strategic challenges.  
by Tom Johansmeyer | Sat, 04/23/2022 - 1:46pm | 0 comments
Supply chain vulnerability and natural resource supply have remained pressing topics through waves of global crises over the past three years. The pandemic demonstrated how fragile supply chains can be, and climate change threatens the stability – and even viability – of the equatorial region. The conflict in Ukraine helps demonstrate the potential for volatility in natural resource exports from the Arctic region as a result of the sanctions currently imposed on Russia. The economic security implications of access to resources are profound, particularly extractives, given the broad dependence on them worldwide, from energy to rare earth metals. Extractives industries, in particular, face both near-term and long-term threats resulting from natural and geopolitical conditions, making it crucial for the world to find alternative sources for them, with the political and economic stability of potential exporters crucial to worldwide markets.
by Jonathan D. Rosen | Fri, 04/22/2022 - 6:05pm | 0 comments
Commentary by SWJ−El Centro Fellow Jonathan D. Rosen on the arrest and extradition of Juan Orlando Hernández, the former president of Honduras. The indictment and arrest reveals the intricate state-organized crime nexus in that Northern Central American Country.
by Martin Comack | Fri, 04/22/2022 - 8:48am | 1 comment
    Considerations of early counterinsurgency efforts by the American military usually   focus upon the many interventions of the U.S. Marines in Central America and the Caribbean through the 1920s.  Somewhat less attention has been given to the U.S. Army’s mission of suppression of the insurgency that followed acquisition of the Philippine Islands after the Spanish American War.
by Chuck de Caro | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 8:19pm | 0 comments
When Winston Churchill thought that Nazi Germany would invade the UK, he selected Major Colin Gubbins to form the secret “Auxiliary Units.”   The Auxiliary Units mission:  Wait for Britain to be over run, and then rise from their underground bunkers and deliver absolute havoc among the German occupiers...forever. ... In Ukraine, what may be coming is a stupendous Russian juggernaut bent on taking the enormous Yuzivska natural gas fields, the gigantic ArcelorMittal steel complex, the water resources of the lower Dnieper River, and all the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. Under those circumstances, Ukraine’s military would be slowly ground down to combat ineffectiveness under the sheer weight of Russian numbers. What would remain would be the balance of 40 million Ukrainian civilians bent on evening the score. But how?  NATO has only limited numbers of Special Forces troops to train guerrillas, and any of them captured on Ukrainian soil could cause an escalation that might engulf NATO.
by Tarik Solmaz | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 9:54am | 0 comments
The existing literature tends to characterize proxy warfare as a form of warfare exclusively employed by states, in particular, global powers and regional actors. Today, however, proxy warfare is conducted not only by states but also by politically motivated non-state armed actors. Therefore, current understandings of proxy warfare do not provide a sufficient framework to explain this non-traditional form of proxy warfare. This article examines and analyzes non-state-led proxy warfare. Thinking about non-state-led proxy warfare matters because it reveals that non-state actor can attain their political objectives without carrying out terrorist or guerilla-style attacks. This may necessitate reviewing current strategies used to negate non-state threats, which are quite counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency-centric. The main purpose of this article is to explore some patterns regarding non-state-led proxy warfare, and so, to find out whether, and if so, how it differs from state-led proxy warfare. For these purposes, this paper uses two case studies: al-Qaeda’s sponsorship of the Caucasus Emirate and Hezbollah’s support of Yemeni Houthis. This article argues that although there are significant differences between the capabilities, organizational structures, and organizational cultures of state and non-state actors, and thus, how they use these to carry out proxy warfare, non-state-led proxy warfare is, in substance, not that different from state-led proxy warfare.
by Adam Wendoloski | Wed, 04/20/2022 - 5:45pm | 0 comments
U.S. thinking recognizes the role of proxy forces in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). The MDO concept discusses the need to both employ, and counter proxy forces without specifically addressing the use of militias or how to employ them. In Syria and Ukraine, Russia heavily leverages pro-government militias to achieve its policy goals. The United States also leverages militias. The Sons of Iraq and Syrian Democratic Forces were used with great effect at the tactical and operational levels. However, the discussion on the role of militias in a near-peer competition conflict is lacking. The bulk of U.S. doctrine focuses on  militias in a COIN role, however militia's have the capability for broader application in Multi-Domain Operations.
by Astor Lu | Tue, 04/19/2022 - 8:39pm | 0 comments
   When Russian troops rolled into Ukraine in late February, economic sanctions quickly emerged as the U.S.’ retaliatory weapon of choice. On the surface, they appear to be a Goldilocks-esque option for President Biden and his administration — more punch than rhetoric and diplomacy, yet short of military intervention. The heart of the American response to the invasion is coercion: how can the U.S. and its allies compel Vladimir Putin to cease military operations in Ukraine? The answer may appear in the war-torn skies of eighty years ago. While the two may initially appear unrelated, the history of strategic bombing offers much-needed guidance on sanctions. Fundamentally, both have been misused. Rather than making sanctions the centerpiece of a coercive strategy, leaders should incorporate them as valuable but supporting components in a larger plan.
by Matt Golsteyn | Tue, 04/19/2022 - 10:44am | 0 comments
Among the many reasons the Ukrainian conflict captured our collective attention, the fact that it features the first head-to-head matchup between militaries of the post-modern era is one of them. The display of new military technologies on a scale not seen since the Gulf War is another. So far, the evolution of the conflict bears bad omens for the post-modern orthodoxy in the Pentagon.