Small Wars Journal

small wars

Pancho Villa and Bin Laden

If American policymakers were to simplify the objectives of its military adventures it would not only limit the costs in blood in treasure, it would render the military more able and ready to address the existential threats to American national security, relieve the American people’s exhaustion with persistent war, and improve the prospects for decisive victory in theaters where it has proven so elusive.

About the Author(s)

Turning “Small” Wars into “Big” Wars: How Tacticians Endanger Us All

Small wars remain highly likely even as the U.S. stresses the return to great power conflict. In these coming conflicts, some frustrated military leaders will exhibit tension between strategic and tactical thinking. This tendency can be seen in the following discussion of Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt Vandenberg, who had a problematic vision of targeting the Chinese mainland during the Korean War that exemplifies tactical thinking at the expense of considering strategic ends.

About the Author(s)

Assessment of the Consequences of Insufficient Engagement in Darfur SWJED Thu, 08/22/2019 - 12:51am
The author believes in the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) whereby the United Nations (UN) intervenes in order to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. The author believes grand strategy and intervention must be ethically grounded.

The Loss of South Vietnam and the Coming Loss of Afghanistan

Unlike conventional wars, which in Vietnam we called the “War of the Big Battalions”, small wars, or what back then we called “the other war”, integrate the military with the cultural and the political. Thus, small wars are hard to win with kinetic engagements and firepower alone. The complex reality of small wars also implies that they can be lost for cultural or political reasons even if single military engagements are won handily again and again.

About the Author(s)

MacArthur, Eisenhower, and the Lost Lessons of Building Partnership Capacity SWJED Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:41am
Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower justifiably have become legends for their accomplishments while commander World War II’s Pacific and Northern European campaigns. Yet even with renewed focus on great power conflicts, future commanders are more likely to face missions similar to what these officers faced in the Philippines prior to the war than the continent-wide conventional campaigns they are better known far.
Shifting Militia Allegiances and the Prospects for Ending the Small War in Northern Mali SWJED Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:20am
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to the situation in northern Mali. The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation still provides a blueprint for a more just, inclusive, and peaceful social contract to regulate relations between the government and the people and between different communities in the area.
Saving Blood & Treasure: The Evolving Art of War and the Application of Design Methodology to Complex Problems of 21st Century Small Wars SWJED Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:25am
The United States and its Allies have historically been successful at fighting conventional wars. America must both build on its understanding of past state-on-state conflicts and learn from the small wars of this young century to be able to fight and win future wars.

Leveraging Incomplete Sovereignty: Building a Peaceful Empire on the Cheap

Why has the United States focused their grand strategy on influencing states and central governments rather than the ungoverned areas within them? Pursuing reluctant authoritarians rather than the accepted rulers who control the land outside the states control has been a failed and misguided strategy.

About the Author(s)