Small Wars Journal

small wars

Winning Small Wars in Contests for the People

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 12:28pm
A dilemma is now facing western militaries, in-so-far as, the contextual terrain has shifted to such an extent that their enemies refuse to engage them in a manner that would ensure their own destruction. Focus on this modern Sphacterian-dilemma has led to discussions and debates that are encapsulated within the ‘War amongst the people’ arena.

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Revisiting an Alternative Approach to Fighting Small Wars: The Works of Charles Wolf Jr. and Nathan Leites, 1965 to 1970

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 8:21am
All too often academics and practitioners concern themselves with the latest theory or framework addressing some aspect of security studies, in this case insurgency and counterinsurgency. An excessive focus on the “now” does a disservice to the knowledge and hard work of those thinkers who came before. Often times the “new” drowns out the voices of the recent past who may have pushed against the current tide and offered an alternative to what may have become common wisdom.

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General Zinni's Considerations Revisited (Again) SWJED Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:33am
ICYMI item from 2003. General Anthony Zinni (USMC Ret); experienced in the theory, planning, and conduct of Military Operations Other Than War as well as a leading proponent of cultural intelligence; developed the following considerations for humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement operations.
Pancho Villa and Bin Laden SWJED Thu, 09/26/2019 - 8:32am
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.
Germany’s Options in the First Moroccan Crisis SWJED Thu, 09/19/2019 - 7:45am
Following the Franco-Prussian war and its unification in 1871, the German Empire was a latecomer to the “Scramble for Africa.” Only in 1890 did it adopt Weltpolitik, seeking possessions abroad and equal status among the European imperial powers.
Turning “Small” Wars into “Big” Wars: How Tacticians Endanger Us All SWJED Mon, 08/26/2019 - 12:13am
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.
The Loss of South Vietnam and the Coming Loss of Afghanistan SWJED Wed, 08/21/2019 - 6:09am
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.
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.