Small Wars Journal

irregular warfare

Transparency Needed: The Prosecution, Detention, and Deradicalization of Foreign Fighters

The military defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gave rise to a flurry of speculation regarding the possible threats posed by fighters returning to their countries of origin. Journalists and academics have since uncovered considerable information on the backgrounds of these ISIS fighters and speculated on the ways they could wreak havoc within their home countries. Yet one question remains largely unanswered: What exactly are Arab states doing with fighters who return home?

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Army Intel, Navy Gunfire, and Marine Mission Execution Saved Many

On March 30, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invaded South Vietnam and the Easter Offensive of 1972 in I Corps/First Regional Assistance Command (FRAC) area began, flouting their 1968 promise to “respect the DMZ.” Though seldom acknowledged or known by many, the priority objective of North Vietnam’s invasion was northern South Vietnam. Eventually, six NVA divisions, two tank regiments, and three-four independent infantry regiments would strike through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Laos catching United States and South Vietnamese command elements completely dumbfounded and slow to respond.

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Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Hawala’s Damage to the Afghan Economy

Killing terrorists is not all about kinetic strikes, area clearances, and pinpoint raids. Terrorist organizations must be pressured in every aspect of their organization’s lifeblood. Attacking their coffers, often referred to as “counter-threat financing,” or CTF, is a key aspect of hurting terrorists from growing future capabilities and preventing future high-profile attacks.

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The Forgotten War? US 2020 Debates Largely Ignore Afghanistan

The 2020 presidential candidates Afghan policy stance will surely be focused on short term political gains over the long-term prosperity of Afghanistan. Ultimately, Afghanistan has run its course politically and many would argue there exists no US policy that can “win” in Afghanistan and “win” politically at home in the US. The question each candidate should be asked next is what does your withdrawal look like?

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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.

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Should the U.S. Carry Out Punitive Strikes in Reaction to Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?

The international community, with the U.S. at the helm, has made it clear chemical weapons attacks are a uniquely abhorrent violation of international norms and laws. One that justifies punitive military strikes against the Syrian regime. Some might wonder if the Syrian regime could be deterred by more significant military action. Probably not.

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Assessment of the American-led Constabulary during the American Occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934 in Comparison to Later Occupations

During the American occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, the United States Marines officered a native constabulary called the Gendarmerie d’Haiti. Throughout the occupation, the Gendarmerie built infrastructure and assisted in the administration of the country. The success of the Gendarmerie can be compared with the failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority during the occupation of Iraq.

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Western COIN: The Rise of “Soft” Counterinsurgency Doctrine

This paper examines the major shifts in irregular warfare, defined here in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Concept as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over [a designated] population.” While there have been several noteworthy evolutions in the ways in which insurgents wage war, this paper argues that the most consequential developments in irregular warfare have occurred on the state-side, reasoning that Western democracies’ embrace of “soft” COIN approaches has spread worldwide.

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Sudan’s Mercenary Foreign Policy Repeats the Mistakes of the Past

Sudan has begun to send thousands of soldiers next door to Libya to shore up renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s failing siege of Tripoli. The move, believed to be bankrolled by United Arab Emirates (UAE), marks a new phase in Sudan’s post-Bashir foreign policy that further defines the feared mercenary paramilitary, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as a bartering chip and proxy army for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, first in Yemen, and now Libya.

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