Small Wars Journal

Journal

Journal Articles are typically longer works with more more analysis than the news and short commentary in the SWJ Blog.

We accept contributed content from serious voices across the small wars community, then publish it here as quickly as we can, per our Editorial Policy, to help fuel timely, thoughtful, and unvarnished discussion of the diverse and complex issues inherent in small wars.

by Halia Czosnek | Fri, 07/05/2019 - 11:25am | 0 comments
Though some security studies practitioners question securitizing unconventional security issues, the impact of fossil fuels on climate change and health must be securitized.
by Robert Muggah | Thu, 07/04/2019 - 7:15am | 0 comments
Terrorist threats are changing. Over the past decade Jihadist groups have moved away from monolithic ‘mafia-like’ operations and franchised their activities. As was evident in attacks from Mumbai (2008) to Nairobi (2019), they are extremely adept at deploying digital platforms to encourage recruitment, radicalization, and manage operations in real-time. It is not just Jihadist networks such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, or al-Shabaab that have expanded their digital skill-sets.
by George Fust | Wed, 07/03/2019 - 1:54am | 0 comments
How does one define “healthy” civil-military relations? The simplest definition would suggest a nation’s military is subordinate to its ruling body. In other words, the guys with all the guns listens to those without any. So how then would we evaluate this relationship in a country like Venezuela? The military has remained loyal and subordinate to the ruling body, so does it meet the criteria?
by Mahmut Cengiz | Wed, 07/03/2019 - 1:32am | 0 comments
The July 15 military uprising of 2016 has continuously served as a pretext for the Turkish government to crackdown its opponents. The government has made up a flimsy story of an attempted coup, including blame for the Americans behind it, and expects its people to believe the story without question. However, many details of the uprising are full of contradictions and dark points.
by Timothy P. Lewin | Tue, 07/02/2019 - 11:54am | 0 comments
A new process adopting Dr. Joseph Strange’s center of gravity approach will provide a way to defeat enemy combat power and provide freedom of action across and throughout the domains. The U.S. Army should adopt Dr. Strange’s center of gravity method and adjust doctrine to update the targeting methodology in the Military Decision-Making Process.
by Harrison Manlove | Tue, 07/02/2019 - 9:17am | 0 comments
This article is published as part of the Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options Writing Contest which ran from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019.
by Robert Bunker, by Pamela Ligouri Bunker | Tue, 07/02/2019 - 12:30am | 0 comments
The 2019 Terrorism and Social Media (TASM) conference took place on 25 and 26 June 2019 at Swansea University Bay Campus, Wales, United Kingdom. The conference was organized by Swansea University’s Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law and its Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC), with the support of the VOX-Pol Network of Excellence.
by Michael Gladius | Mon, 07/01/2019 - 2:37pm | 0 comments
In this article, we will examine each of the 4 generations from a cultural standpoint. Focusing purely on warfare only scratches the surface but understanding culture as the basis of the 4 generations explains why America seems to be incapable of waging 3rd- or 4th-Generation warfare. Any system can use the same tactics, so the actual difference between generations is found the soul of the nation. Knowing the soul of each generation illustrates the real risks of imitating these systems, and why we may inevitably become the monster we wish to destroy.
by Ed Nash | Mon, 07/01/2019 - 3:11am | 0 comments
Between June 2015 and August 2016, I fought as a volunteer with the Kurdish YPG against the Islamic State in Syria. That timespan saw the creation of what became the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a disparate conglomeration of different groups of multiple ethnicities, that all had the common goal of destroying ISIS, a goal that has territorially been achieved but is in actuality far from complete.
by George Fust | Sun, 06/30/2019 - 5:17pm | 0 comments
Critics will argue that furniture instructions are a poor analogy for doctrine. And yes, they are correct. Doctrine is not meant to be a step-by-step guide. It is meant to allow flexibility and adaptability as conditions change. Doctrine, however, should not be shunned. It should not sit idle on a shelf or the Army Publishing Directorate website.
by Nick Bono, by Tyler Horan, by Brett Reichert, by Garrett Carr | Fri, 06/28/2019 - 6:30am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Alfred Negron | Fri, 06/28/2019 - 6:02am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Cristina Martin Ristori | Thu, 06/27/2019 - 1:07am | 0 comments
Chemical weapons attacks remain an uncommon choice for militant and terrorist organizations targeting Western countries. Their rarity makes them an attractive option, as the shock factor associated chemical weapons attacks plays into the main goal of any terrorist attack: to instill fear and insecurity in the population.
by Kiril Avramov, by Ellery Cushman | Wed, 06/26/2019 - 1:01am | 0 comments
The deployment of these “cognitive munitions” in the current “hot” stage of political warfare confrontation between Russia and the West should serve as a stark reminder that multiple “defusing” initiatives should be actively developed and implemented, aiming at raising the cognitive protection levels at military and civilian institutions alike.
by Daniel Koehler, by Peter Popella | Tue, 06/25/2019 - 11:33am | 0 comments
One essential aspect affecting individual risk is mental health, such as for example the role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that has been found to significantly increase the threat posed by returning foreign fighters. Furthermore, as it happened throughout history when fighting forces were facing superior opponents and ultimate defeat on the battlefield during “final stands”, the use of drugs to enhance fanaticism, physical strength and to prevent fatigue, hunger, thirst and exhaustion was also reportedly present among IS’s fighters. The substance of choice for IS, Captagon or fenethylline, was so famous among the group’s fighters, that it was used even during terror attacks, for example in the November 2015 Paris attacks.
by Brandon Quintin | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 9:58am | 0 comments
After the Massacre at the Wabash in 1791, George Washington and Henry Knox reformed the U.S. Army as the Legion of the United States. The Legion was a self-contained modular army composed of four identical combined-arms units. During the Fallen Timbers campaign, the Legion proved itself the ideal force structure for use in small wars. The Brigade Combat Team is the closest the U.S. Army has ever come to reviving the legionary structure.
by Nicholas J. Lorusso | Mon, 06/24/2019 - 7:25am | 0 comments
Author’s Note - This paper is a modified version of a submission to the Joint and Combined Warfighting School - Hybrid faculty in partial satisfaction of the requirements for Joint Professional Military Education Phase II. The contents of this submission reflect my original views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Joint Forces Staff College or the Department of Defense.
by Franklin C. Annis | Sun, 06/23/2019 - 8:14pm | 0 comments
Flipping through the pages of this little book, I quickly realized that there was likely little there. Inside this 5”x8” book you will find 1”+ margins with the text more than single spaced. With maybe 100 words per page, the content of this entire book is probably a ~10 page “academic” article.
by Celia Belt | Sun, 06/23/2019 - 1:15am | 0 comments
I’d been walking the floors of the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center since 1998. At the onset of the war, things truly heated up. I no longer had the time to visit with each patient and their families; there were far too many. I was the only volunteer actively visiting patients and I was also heading up a nonprofit for burn survivors, the Moonlight Fund, that consumed much of my time. With so many new burn survivors entering the fold due to the war, I was frantically working to raise the funds to meet the mounting needs of so many wounded military members and also continue to care for civilians who had suffered burn injuries.
by Andrew Fox | Sat, 06/22/2019 - 12:46pm | 0 comments
This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.
by Mario Hoffmann | Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:33am | 0 comments
Strategic competitors like Russia and China are using old technologies in new ways while also employing new advanced technology to fight their enemies in all domains (space, cyber, air, sea, and land). This required the U.S. Army to evolve and adapt the way it wants to fight by publishing “Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) 2028” as the cornerstone for the Joint force to militarily compete, penetrate, dis-integrate, and exploit future adversaries. While air, land, and sea domains have been prevalent since World War II, the relative new-comers of Cyber and Space are still establishing their doctrinal foundation in modern warfare.
by John Turner | Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:54am | 0 comments
If Washington is serious about dismantling TCOs and disrupting cocaine trafficking into the United States it must prioritize more assets to support Admiral Faller’s efforts so that his command is better resourced to interdict and reduce the flow of dangerous, illicit drugs from entering the United States. If not, Washington should lower its expectations and rethink its regional objectives.
by Mike Sweeney | Wed, 06/19/2019 - 2:06pm | 0 comments
Failed dreams of a U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East were very much on my mind while reading a pair of excellent – if flawed – articles in 'War on the Rocks' by Anand Toprani. In the first essay, published in January, Toprani provides one of the best explanations you’ll find on the vagaries of oil pricing and supply, as well as a cogent case for why oil is unlikely to be “just another commodity” anytime soon. In his second essay, published in May, he further underscores that the Persian Gulf remains an irreplaceable source of oil production and argues, to this end, that the United States needs to continue its Cold War role as the region’s strategic guarantor.
by Jonathan F. Lancelot | Wed, 06/19/2019 - 2:16am | 0 comments
It could be argued that Presidential war power was significantly reduced by Congress' War Powers Act of 1973, yet today in the post-September 11th, 2001 era, we are dealing with a Presidency that has been allowed to mismanage conflict through successive administrations leaving it to the other to end conflicts started by the former. Herein lies the contradiction of limit and power embedded within the DNA of the Presidency: the limit of time to see a conflict from beginning to end, and the enormous amount of presidential war power to start a conflict without the consent of Congress. This is where mismanagement begins and ends, with the new occupant of the office and their advisors.
by Jim Davitch | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:58am | 0 comments
This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.
by Chris Telley | Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:31am | 0 comments
The institutions of the U.S. national security community have recognized, but just begun to remedy, a gap in how they interact with conflict environments: the failure to understand how gender and warfare intertwine. The 2017 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act provides a clarion call for operationalizing a gender perspective at each command level and in nearly all activities in the environment.
by James P. Micciche | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:27pm | 0 comments
This article is published as part of the Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options Writing Contest which ran from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019. More information about the writing contest can be found here.
by Vylius Leskys | Mon, 06/17/2019 - 1:15am | 0 comments
Russian decision-makers might be tempted to gamble that NATO would not react to a land grab or—perhaps more likely—an operation designed to come in under a threshold that would trigger a collective security response. Considering this, Baltic decision-makers should explore a wide array of options to help enhance deterrence; but they must do so with deliberation.
by Chris O’Connor | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 2:56pm | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Andrew J. Bibb | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 3:44am | 0 comments
This paper aims to show the value of CA to both the statesman and general as they are understood by Winston Churchill in Dr. Larry P. Arnn’s scholarly work Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government. Although Churchill uses the term “general” to refer to commanders, CA’s value is by no means limited to flag officers. The CA team, the lowest-echelon CA element, is a battalion-level asset and can inform tactical decisions as well as operational and strategic ones. Similarly, CA support to statesmen is not limited to elected officials, as fostering partnerships within and supporting the various branches of government fall directly within the purview of Civil Affairs.
by Joel Aud | Sun, 06/16/2019 - 2:20am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 06/14/2019 - 7:15am | 0 comments
Over the last few months, Colombian army and police have discovered factories operated by the Clan del Golfo engaged in producing and stockpiling antipersonnel mines and explosive devices. In addition, cases of Colombian soldiers sustaining injuries from antipersonnel mines have been documented. These cases illustrate the ongoing, and apparently growing, threat—initially disclosed in an alert made by the Colombian Army in May 2013—of antipersonnel mines employed by criminal organizations or bandes criminals (criminal bands or bacrim).
by J. David Thompson | Fri, 06/14/2019 - 6:47am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is the final article in a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by J. David Thompson | Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:43am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by Peter Soendergaard | Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:06am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Franklin C. Annis | Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:15am | 0 comments
This book might be uniquely suited to be used during peer-learning groups or “book clubs.” The chapters are short, and most are “self-contained” to provide some useful lesson. In this way, the book could be said to be a collection of useful vignettes.
by Yaniv Friedman, by Lazar Berman | Wed, 06/12/2019 - 5:39pm | 0 comments
In today's security reality, proxy warfare represents an especially relevant tool in the state's kit. Iran has employed proxy organizations to great effect, while the American and Israeli militaries currently seem reticent to systematically study and employ proxies. Without fully understanding proxy warfare, the US, Israel, and their allies will struggle to take the initiative against Iran in the region.
by J. David Thompson | Wed, 06/12/2019 - 11:17am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by J. David Thompson | Tue, 06/11/2019 - 9:28am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by Assad A. Raza | Tue, 06/11/2019 - 7:43am | 0 comments
The early integration of civil affairs forces at all echelons is necessary to determine what resources are available to support a commander’s civil-military operations (CMO). Enabling the sharing of information and resources with all partners contributes to a position of relative advantage during all phases of competition, armed conflict, and the return to competition.
by J. David Thompson | Mon, 06/10/2019 - 7:18am | 0 comments
SWJ Note - This is a multipart series exploring administrative detention in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
by Bob Shalala | Mon, 06/10/2019 - 5:12am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by James Bond | Sun, 06/09/2019 - 1:57pm | 0 comments
As evidenced from the KSF CACOY example, It is critical that USSOF eventually relinquishes command and control of institution building and allows the A/PN unit to succeed, or even fail, on its own. Had CMSE XKS not enforced the importance of KSF officers conducting their own execution and problem solving, they would continue to rely on the US support.
by J. David Thompson | Sun, 06/09/2019 - 10:45am | 0 comments
This series of papers seeks to accomplish four major objectives. First, it establishes an understanding of what administrative detention is and reviews the legal justification under Israeli law. Second, it aims to paint a picture of what actually happens to administrative detainees by looking at conditions of their imprisonment. Third, it reviews the relevant international laws, shows where gaps exist, and considers how the international community responds to the Government of Israel regarding the use of administrative detention. Fourth, the series provides alternative ways of thinking about perpetrators of administrative detention and counter-normative means to enhance international influence.
by George Schwartz | Sat, 06/08/2019 - 11:36am | 0 comments
The Green Berets are in danger of self-inflicted irrelevancy because of shortcomings in their training. Most current Unconventional Warfare (UW) training events take the Unconventional Warfare template from Robin Sage and simply impose it on other environments and threat situations. This trend has persisted despite the lack of modern UW examples that resemble Robin Sage. Green Berets should be considering other models of UW that may be more relevant today.
by Jennifer Wilson | Sat, 06/08/2019 - 2:23am | 0 comments
Future military success hinges on the American military’s ability to understand the underpinnings of casualty aversion as a component of the American way of war and be able to accept more risk with health care assets on the battlefield. This essay describes the American way of war, the development of casualty aversion, and its implications for LSCO.
by Joseph Miller, by Monte Erfourth | Fri, 06/07/2019 - 8:39am | 0 comments
With a clearer understanding of competition and the role of SOF within that context, USSOCOM can begin to shape its approach to the strategic environment. To support the advancement of U.S. interests, USSOCOM should guide SOF to capitalize on opportunities that provide an advantage, promote favorable foreign relations positions to create influence, enable global defense posture, support diplomatic and intelligence actions globally, and help manage escalation. Bringing this case into practice requires changing how SOF thinks strategically about the complex global environment, focusing on interests rather than threats. USSOCOM must educate Joint Force, interagency, and multinational partners on SOF capabilities and collaborate on shared interests to more effectively unified common efforts.
by César Niño | Fri, 06/07/2019 - 7:45am | 0 comments
Do terrorism and rebel groups have rules of the game? Why do terrorist groups act in particular ways despite the obvious militarized reaction of states? Why do some attack large centers of power such as New York, Paris or London, and others prefer to exploit small shops in Mogadishu, run passers-by on the Ramblas in Barcelona or blow up a cooking pot in the Boston Marathon? These are questions that manage to generate new insights and methodological analyzes about the rationality of rebel actors and terrorist groups.
by David Pickering | Fri, 06/07/2019 - 12:10am | 0 comments
The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.
by Alex MacCalman, by Jeff Grubb, by Joe Register, by Mike McGuire | Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:56am | 0 comments
Recent technological, socio-economic, and geopolitical trends, coupled with the reemergence of great power competition, complicate the future environment in which U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) must operate. SOF professionals will need to operate not only across traditional physical domains such as land, air, and sea but also in the virtual and cognitive domains. In particular, achieving cognitive dominance over adversaries will be essential to the success of future SOF missions.