USMC's Small Wars Manual

July 23rd, 2004  
Duty Honor Country

Topic: USMC's Small Wars Manual

I've been hearing some rumors about the USMC reissuing the Small Wars Manual. Here is a site that allows you to download the 1940 edition in pdf format for free.

I am going to read the thing and see what it says we did wrong in Iraq.

Small Wars defined by the Small Wars Manual

a. The term small war is often a vague name for any one of a great variety of military operations. As applied to the United States, small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation. As herein used the term is understood in its most comprehensive sense, and all the successive steps taken ill the development of a small war and the varying degrees of force
applied under various situations are presented.

b. The assistance rendered in the affairs of another state may vary from a peaceful act such as the assignment of an administrative assistant, which is certainly nonmilitary and not. placed under the classification of small wars, to the establishment of a complete military government supported by an active combat force. Between these extremes may be found an infinite number of forms of friendly assistance or intervention which it is almost impossible to classify under a limited number of individual types of operations.

c. Small wars vary in degrees from simple demonstrative operations to military intervention in the fullest sense, short of war. They are not limited in their size, in the extent of their theater of operations nor their cost in property, money, or lives. The essence of a small war is its purpose and the circumstances surrounding its inception and conduct, the character of either one or all of the opposing forces, and the nature of the operations themselves.

d. The ordinary expedition of the Marine Corps which does not involve a major effort in regular warfare against a first-rate power may be termed a small war. It is this type of routine active foreign duty of the Marine Corps in which this manual is primarily interested. Small wars represent the normal and frequent operations of the Marine Corps. During about 85 of the last 100 years, the Marine Corps has been engaged in small wars in different parts of the world. The Marine Corps has landed troops 180 times in 37 countries from 1800 to 1934. Every year during the past 36 years since the Spanish-American War, the Marine Corps has been engaged in active operations in the field. In 1929 the Marine Corps had two thirds of its personnel employed on expeditionary or other foreign or sea duty outside of the continental limits of the United States.
July 24th, 2004  
The Small Wars manual is fascinating, certainly when thinking about the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm not sure how the 1940 edition differs from the one released last year. I believe the latest issue has just got an extra chapter, covering post-9/11 issues, and would probably update the current rifles/mortars/machine guns used by the USMC.

I know the chapter on the care of pack animals has created a few laughs. Having travelled in the Waziristan area a few years ago, I can tell you that horses and mules are the only way to get deep into country with any level of equipment: so the manual is all good for the modern situation.
July 25th, 2004  
Lil Hulk 1988

Topic: Here is the 2003 Draft...

The draft of the new version.....


Semper Fi...
October 18th, 2004  
Duty Honor Country
Here is some current news that relates to the Small Wars Manual

Iraq to begin arms amnesty

Iraq's national security adviser today announced plans for the start of a national arms amnesty aimed at stopping the flow of weapons to anti-government forces...Next week, we will announce a nationwide arms collection drive," Mr Daoud said, adding that the deadline for the current amnesty in Sadr City would be extended to Thursday.

"There are many people with weapons who want to hand them over in Sadr City, so we decided to extend the deadline. It would not be fair to search houses now when these people have not had enough time to turn over their weapons," he said..."

Here's what is written in the Small Wars Manual

"If it has not been done previously by the intervening forces,
the disarming of the people should be initiated upon the formal
declaration of military government, and must be regarded as the
most vital step in the restoration of tranquility. The disarming of
the native population of a country in which military occupation has
taken place is an imperative necessity."

"Peaceful inhabitants, voluntarily surrendering their arms,
should be guaranteed protection by those forces charged with the
restoration and maintenance of peace a]ld order. l~~ere it possible to
disarm completely the -whole population, the military features of
small wars would resolve themselves into simple police duties of a
routine nature. Obviously, considering the size of the population,
the extent of territory, and the limited number of available troops,
any measures adopted will not he 100 percent effective. However,
if properly executed, the native military organizations and a large
proportim~, of the populace may be disarmed voluntarily; many
others will be disarmed by military or police measures designed to
locate and confiscate arms held clandestinely, These measures will
limit the outstanclin~ arms to those held by a few individuals who
will seek to hide them. In many instances, these hidden arms will
be exposed to the elements or to deterioration which in time will
accomplish the same end as surrender or confiscation. Although
complete disarmament may not be attained, yet the enforcement
of any ordinance restricting the possession of arms will result in the
illegal possession of such arms oldy by opposing native forces, outlaws or
bandits, and a few inh:lbitants who will evade this ordinance as they
would attempt to do with ally unpopular legislation. Comparatively
few of this latter class will use their weapons except in selfdefense.
Thus the inhabitants are partially segregated at the outset
of the negotiations. The chswning order will probably not influence
the professional guerrilla fighters to give up their weapons but,
such source of supp]y and replenishment of weapons and anmunition
within the country will be practically eliminated."

I have said it before. The problems we have experienced in Iraq has been addressed in the Small Wars Manual of 1940. If the military had taken the advice of the manual, the US may have had greater success in Iraq.