Small Wars Journal

irregular warfare

“Accidental Guerrilla” Syndrome in California, 1836-1846

Sun Tzu’s injunction to “know your enemy” is never more critical than in counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare. During its COIN conflicts in the last hundred years, the United States military has fallen especially prey to the thinking trap of lumping all its opponents into the same category. COIN expert David Kilcullen identified this phenomenon as “accidental guerrilla syndrome” in his 2009 book of the same name.

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Taliban Fragmentation: Fact, Fiction, and Future SWJED Mon, 03/30/2020 - 9:09am
For years, the U.S. military pursued a "divide and defeat" strategy against the Afghan Taliban, attempting to exploit the supposedly fragmented nature of the group. Drawing on the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, this report finds that the Taliban is a far more cohesive organization than a fragmented one.

Coronavirus Poses Yet Another Challenge to the Afghan Peace Process

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s effort this week to bring the parties together failed and led the U.S. to reduce aid to Afghanistan. Amid all this uncertainty, Afghanistan is beginning to see the signs of a coronavirus outbreak, which could devastate the country given its poor health infrastructure and pollution problems. USIP’s Scott Smith explains how the coronavirus could further exacerbates an already complex situation.

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Winning Small Wars in Contests for the People

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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“To Oppress the Free”: The Iranian Basij and the Dark Side of Unconventional Warfare Doctrine

Iran, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, has prioritized and dedicated significant resources to protecting the ruling regime from UW threats from within while (leveraging its empirically won UW principles) projecting highly capable UW forces abroad.

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Analysis/Commentary: Pentagon Announces Army 1st SFAB Deployment to Counter Surge in Violent Extremism and Russian/Chinese Competition

Last Wednesday, the Pentagon announced the Army’s 1st SFAB (SFAB—Security Force Assistance Brigade) would deploy within the coming weeks to conduct train, advise, and assist missions in select African countries. This is a good move as it sustains U.S. military presence, and reinforces U.S. commitment to regional security partners as they work to beat back violent extremist and strategic competitor gains for influence.

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Amid Humanitarian Crisis, Syrian Regime Intensifies Idlib Offensive

Of the three million people in Idlib province, U.N. sources estimate more than one million have been displaced—with approximately 586,000 displaced since December 1, and the number is rising rapidly. With Turkey and other nations closing their borders, and harsh winter conditions in the region, what is the humanitarian situation in Idlib?

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