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The Theory and Conduct of War


3.7 Guerrilla warfare



Guerrilla warfare is characterized by irregular forces employing unorthodox military tactics to fight small-scale, limited actions against orthodox civil and military forces. Traditionally, it is a method of protest employed to rectify real or imagined wrongs levied on a people either by a foreign invader or by an incumbent government, but it has also been used in an offensive role, in both ancient and modern times.

Although this type of warfare is as old as history, the word guerrilla (the diminutive of Spanish guerra, "war") stems from the Duke of Wellington's campaigns during the Peninsular War (1808-14), in which Spanish and Portuguese irregulars, or guerrilleros (also referred to at the time as partisans, insurgents, and bandits), helped to drive the French from Iberia. In World War II the word partisan became synonymous with guerrilla; in later years the word insurgent came into vogue, followed by the (often contradictory) term freedom fighter.



In 512 BC the Persian warrior-king Darius I, who ruled the largest empire and commanded the best army in the world, bowed to the hit-and-run tactics of the nomadic Scythians and left them to their lands beyond the Danube. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) also fought serious guerrilla opposition, which he overcame by modifying his tactics and by winning important tribes to his side. In 218 BC Hannibal faced considerable guerrilla opposition in crossing the Alps into Italy; he was later brought to bay by the delaying military tactics of Quintus Fabius Maximus, from whom the term Fabian tactics is derived and who earned the surname Cunctator (meaning "Delayer"). The Romans themselves fought against guerrillas in their conquest of Spain for more than 200 years before the foundation of the Empire. (see also  Punic War, Second)

Guerrilla and quasi-guerrilla operations were employed in an aggressive role in ensuing centuries by such predatory barbarians as the Goths and Huns, who forced the western Roman Empire onto the defensive; by the Magyars, who conquered Hungary; by the hordes of northern barbarians who attacked the eastern Roman Empire for more than 500 years; by the Vikings who overran Ireland, England, and France; by the Mongols, who conquered China and terrified central Europe. In the 12th century the Crusader invasion of Syria was at times stymied by the guerrilla tactics of the Seljuq Turks, an experience shared by the Normans in their conquest of Ireland (1169-75). A century later, Kublai Khan's army of Mongols was driven from Vietnam by Tran Hung Dao, who had trained his army to fight guerrilla warfare. King Edward I of England struggled through long, hard, and expensive campaigns to subdue Welsh guerrillas; that he failed to conquer Scotland was due largely to Robert Bruce's brilliant guerrilla operations. Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton guerrilla leader in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), all but pushed the English from France by using Fabian tactics of harassment, surprise, ambush, sudden assault, and slow siege.

Guerrilla warfare in time became a useful adjunct to larger political and military strategies--a role in which it complemented orthodox military operations both inside enemy territory and in areas seized and occupied by an enemy. Early examples of this role occurred in the first two Silesian Wars (1740-45) and in the Seven Years' War (1756-63), when Hungarian, Croatian, and Serbian irregulars (called Grenzerer, "border people"), fighting in conjunction with the Austrian army, several times forced Frederick the Great of Prussia to retreat from Bohemia and Moravia after suffering heavy losses. Toward the end of the American Revolution (1775-83), Francis ("Swamp Fox") Marion's ragtag band of South Carolina irregulars relied heavily on terrorist tactics to play a major role in driving the British general Charles Cornwallis from the Carolinas and to defeat at Yorktown, Va. Wellington's operations in Spain were frequently supported by effectively commanded regional bands of guerrillas--perhaps 30,000 in all--who made life miserable for the French invaders by blocking roads, intercepting couriers, and at times even waging conventional war. In 1812 Napoleon's columns suffered thousands of casualties in the long retreat from Moscow inflicted by bands of Russian peasants working with mounted Cossacks. (see also  Napoleonic Wars)

Guerrilla wars flourished in the following two centuries as native irregulars in India, Algeria, Morocco, Burma, New Zealand, and the Balkans tried, usually in vain, to prevent colonization by the great powers. Indian tribes in North America viciously fought the opening of the West; Cuban guerrillas fought the Spanish, and Filipino guerrillas fought the Spanish and Americans. In the South African War (1899-1902), 90,000 Boer irregulars held off a large British army for two years before succumbing.

As these vicious campaigns continued, political motivations became more and more important. The Taiping Rebellion in China (1850-64), a peasant uprising against the Ch'ing Dynasty, killed an estimated 20 million Chinese before it was suppressed. Mexican peasants, fighting under such leaders as Emiliano Zapata, used guerrilla warfare to achieve a specific political goal in the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). Arab tribesmen under Faysal I employed T.E. Lawrence's brilliant guerrilla strategy and tactics in their campaign to liberate their lands from the Turks in World War I. In 1916 the Easter Rising in Ireland led to a ferocious guerrilla war fought by the Irish Republican Army (IRA)--a war that ceased only with the uneasy peace and partition of Ireland in 1921. In 1927 a 33-year-old communist leader in China, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), raised the flag of a rural rebellion that continued for 22 years. This experience resulted in a codified theory of protracted revolutionary war, Mao's On Guerrilla Warfare (1937), which was later called "the most radical, violent and extensive theory of war ever put into effect."

The political factor became more pronounced in the numerous guerrilla campaigns of World War II. In most of the countries invaded by Germany, Italy, and Japan, communists either formed their own guerrilla bands or joined other bands, such as the French and Belgian maquis. While consolidating their hold on the country, some of these groups spent as much time eliminating indigenous opposition as they did in fighting the enemy, but most of them contributed sufficiently to the Allied war effort to be sent shipments of arms, equipment, and gold, which helped to strengthen them for their postwar challenges to existing governments.

In Yugoslavia and Albania the communist takeover of government was simple and immediate; in China it was complicated and delayed; in Vietnam it succeeded after nearly three decades; in Greece, Malaya, and the Philippines it was foiled--but only after prolonged and costly fighting. Non-communist insurgents simultaneously used guerrilla warfare, with heavy emphasis on terrorist tactics, to help end British rule in Palestine in 1948 and Dutch rule in Indonesia in 1949.

Mao Zedong's victory in China in 1949 established him as the prophet of "revolutionary warfare" who had transferred Marxism-Leninism from the industrial areas to the countryside. A spate of new insurgencies, both communist and non-communist, followed to end French rule in Algeria and Indochina and British rule in Kenya, Cyprus, and Rhodesia. Fidel Castro's overthrow of the tottering and corrupt Batista regime in Cuba in 1959 provoked other rural insurgencies throughout Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle and Far East, and Africa. Ho Chi Minh's guerrillas ejected the French from Indochina, then held off U.S. forces in South Vietnam until the orthodox armies of North Vietnam claimed final victory in 1975. That same year, insurgencies in Angola and Mozambique freed those lands from Portuguese rule. South Africa similarly was forced to relinquish control of South West Africa/Namibia in 1989. Rudely clad Muslim guerrillas, the famed mujahideen, fought a decade-long campaign that finally forced a powerful Soviet army to leave Afghanistan in 1989. (see also  Chinese Civil War)

In the early 1970s the general failure of rural insurgencies in Central and South America caused some frustrated revolutionaries to shift from rural to urban guerrilla warfare with emphasis on terrorist tactics. Fired by the quasi-anarchistic teachings of Herbert Marcuse, Régis Debray, and others, and armed with a do-it-yourself manual of murder (Carlos Marighela, For the Liberation of Brazil [1970]), New Left revolutionaries embraced assassination, robbery, indiscriminate bombing, and kidnapping to attain their ends--crimes that became the order of the day as did, on an international scale, airplane hijackings, kidnappings, and mass murder.

Such was the media-heightened impact of urban guerrilla warfare, and such its potential danger to civilized society, that some observers believed "urban terrorism" should be classified as a new genre of warfare. But terrorist tactics, urban or rural, had always been integral to guerrilla and counterguerrilla warfare, indeed to all warfare. ("Kill one, frighten 10,000," wrote the Chinese general Sun-tzu in 350 BC.) In addition, urban guerrilla warfare by itself accomplished virtually nothing except to bring on a host of repressive measures to combat it. A more serious menace to society came from fringe advocates and practitioners of urban and international terrorism, groups of social dropouts far removed from guerrilla insurgencies--for example, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, and the Symbionese Liberation Army in the United States, the Japanese Red Army, the Red Army Faction in West Germany, the Angry Brigade in Great Britain, and such Middle Eastern splinter groups as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Such people came to be regarded by society as international criminals and were treated as such by law enforcement agencies around the world.

Meanwhile, guerrilla warfare continued to flourish. Guerrilla insurgencies got under way in Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, and Northern Ireland. The most successful of these campaigns took place in Nicaragua, where the urban and rural guerrilla tactics of the Sandinist National Liberation Front led, in 1979, to the overthrow of the corrupt Somoza regime. Not without reason did one expert write that "guerrilla warfare and terrorism, rural or urban, internal or international, has undoubtedly now become the primary form of conflict for our time."


3.7.2 PRINCIPLES Purpose and motivation.

Fundamental to militant revolution is a cause, which unfortunately has never been difficult to find in a less than perfect world. The guerrillas' cause may assume several guises: to the world it may be presented as liberating a country from a colonial yoke; to the peasant being converted to communism it may be freedom from serfdom, from oppressive taxation, or from payment of oppressive rents to absentee landlords; to a middle-class citizen it may be establishment or restoration of representative government as opposed to a military- or Marxist-sponsored dictatorship.

Whether real or artificial, whether inspired by communism or by virulent nationalism or by a genuine desire for a better life, this cause is fundamental in motivating people to armed action. Mao Zedong leaves no doubt of its importance:

Without a political goal, guerrilla warfare must fail, as it must if its political objectives do not coincide with the aspirations of the people and their sympathy, cooperation, and assistance cannot be gained. Popular support.

Revolutionary writings constantly stress the guerrillas' affiliation with the people. Guerrillas spring from the people, who in turn support their spawn, not only by furnishing their sons and daughters to the cause but also by furnishing money, food, shelter, refuge, transport, medical aid, and intelligence--support that must simultaneously be denied to the enemy. Although T.E. Lawrence called for no more than "a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy," he also wrote that his guerrillas "had won a province when the civilians in it had been taught to die for the ideal of freedom." Georgios Grivas, the non-communist Greek professional soldier who led the Cypriot rebellion in the 1950s, wrote that a guerrilla war stands no chance of success unless it has "the complete and unreserved support of the majority of the country's inhabitants." Mao repeatedly stressed the importance of proper troop behaviour: the Chinese guerrilla was required to pay a peasant for food, to respect his property, and not to offend propriety by undressing in front of a peasant woman.

Essential to maintaining popular support is intelligent propaganda to advertise success and stifle news of failure. The Yugoslav partisan leader Josip Broz Tito spread the word by newspaper, the Algerians by newspaper and radio, thereby enforcing Lawrence's dictum that the press is the greatest weapon in the army of a modern commander. Perhaps unfortunately, the printed word has since been supplemented by the television camera, defined by one expert as "a weapon lying in the street, which either side can pick up and use--and is more powerful than any other." Leaders and recruits.

Such are the vicissitudes of guerrilla warfare that outstanding leadership is necessary at all levels if a guerrilla force is to survive and prosper. A leader must not only be endowed with intelligence and courage but must be buttressed by an almost fanatical belief in himself and his cause. T.E. Lawrence, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Mao Zedong, Josip Tito, the Filipino Luis Taruc, Menachem Begin, the Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, the Malayan Ch'en P'ing, Fidel Castro, the Algerian Ahmed Ben Bella, Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap--these and dozens of their lieutenants were all unusual persons, generally with civilian backgrounds. But each attracted followers to a cause, organized them, and instilled a disciplined zeal matched only by the most elite military organizations.

The guerrilla recruit must be resourceful and enduring, committed totally to the cause if he is to withstand the hardships and dangers of guerrilla fighting. A prolonged and difficult campaign may force guerrilla leaders to abandon selectivity and resort to terrorist tactics in order to gain recruits--as was the case in Vietnam, where rigorous political indoctrination only partially compensated for lack of voluntary zeal. (see also  recruitment) Organization and unity of command.

Protracted revolutionary warfare demands a complicated organization on both the political and military levels. Mao early developed a clandestine political-military hierarchy that began with the cadre or cellular party structure at the hamlet-village level and proceeded to the top via district, province, and regional command structures. This was roughly the concept followed by guerrilla forces in Malaya and Indochina. Tito was careful to build a parallel political organization in "liberated" areas as a foundation for his future government. Other guerrilla leaders formed civil organizations to provide money, supplies, intelligence, and propaganda. The Viet Cong and the Algerian rebels even established provisional governments in order to win external recognition, including representation at the United Nations.

Divided commands have plagued guerrilla leaders through the centuries and are probably more responsible for failed insurgencies than any other factor. The Algerian rebellion suffered severely until the National Liberation Front absorbed or neutralized rival guerrilla groups, but it never did settle feuds between the Arabs and the Berbers or between its own internal and external commands. Internal guerrilla rivalries dangerously weakened the postcolonial governments in Mozambique and Angola and seriously undermined the anti-Sandinista guerrilla effort in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The tactical organization of guerrilla units varies according to size and operational demands. Mao called for a guerrilla squad of nine to 11; his basic unit was the company, about 120 strong. Grivas initially employed sabotage-terrorist teams of four or five members. The Greek insurgency opened with about 4,000 guerrillas divided into units of 150 fighters each that, as strength increased, grew to "battalions" 250 strong. Tito began his campaign against the German invaders with about 15,000 guerrillas organized into small cadres; he ended the war with some 250,000 troops organized into brigades. Vietnamese guerrillas initially were organized in small squads that expanded to battalion and even regimental strengths.

Urban guerrilla units are small as a rule and are more tightly organized, generally in a cellular structure that from a security standpoint has proved valid over the decades but has suffered--as in the abortive Tupamaro insurgency in Uruguay (1963-73)--from an inability to take the war to the masses. Arms.

The guerrilla by necessity must fight with a wide variety of weapons, some homemade, some captured, and some supplied from outside sources. In the earlier stages of an insurgency, the weapons are often primitive. The Mau Mau in Kenya initially relied on knives and clubs (soon replaced by stolen British arms). French and American soldiers in Vietnam frequently encountered homemade rifles, hand grenades, bombs, booby traps, mines, and trails studded with punji stakes soaked in urine (to ensure infection). Nearly every guerrilla campaign has relied on improvisation, both from necessity and to avoid a cumbersome logistic "tail." Molotov cocktails and plastique (plastic explosive) bombs are cheap, yet under certain conditions nothing can be more effective. Stolen and captured arms are also a favourite source of supply, not least because army and police depots also stock ammunition to fit the weapons. (see also  military technology)

As a guerrilla war escalates and involves the interests of other nations, the guerrilla is often supplied with more sophisticated weapons, including modern rifles, machine guns, mortars, rockets, and even antitank and antiaircraft missiles, as was the case in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Mozambique, and Angola. Terrain and sanctuary.

It was axiomatic to Mao and his followers that revolution begins in familiar terrain. Once sufficient base and operational areas are established, guerrilla operations can be extended to include cities and vulnerable lines of communication. This rural strategy may be influenced by such factors as political goal, geography, and insurgent and government strengths.

If a guerrilla force is to survive, let alone prosper, it must control safe areas to which it can retire for recuperation and repair of arms, clothing, and equipment and where recruits can be indoctrinated, trained, and equipped. Such areas are traditionally located in remote, rugged terrain, usually mountains, forests, and jungles.

Sympathetic neighbouring countries may also provide sanctuary. Ho Chi Minh's guerrillas, in the later stages of the war against France, relied on China for refuge, training, and supply of arms and equipment; later in the war against the United States they used Laos and Cambodia for sanctuary. Still later Thai guerrillas found sanctuary and support in Cambodia, as did Nicaraguan guerrillas in Honduras. For years Spanish Basque guerrillas found sanctuary in France, as Northern Irish guerrillas did in the Irish Republic.

People offer a final form of sanctuary, one especially important to an urban guerrilla employing terrorist tactics. During the Cypriot war Grivas was surrounded by a British force for nearly two months without being captured. An Algerian rebel leader installed himself within 200 yards of the army commandant's office in Algiers. As a member of Irgun Zvai Leumi, a Zionist guerrilla group, Menachem Begin survived a massive British raid in Tel Aviv by hiding in a tiny cupboard.

Rapid transportation offers still another form of sanctuary, particularly for the international terrorist who frequently leaves the target country by jet aircraft before the time bomb explodes in the marketplace. Terror.

Euphemistically termed "armed propaganda" by Marxist terrorists, terror is one of the most hideous characteristics of guerrilla warfare. It is used for several reasons: to focus world attention on the rebel cause with the hope of winning international support; to eliminate opposition leaders and, in the countryside, officials loyal to the government; to paralyze normal governmental activities; to intimidate the general populace in order to gain support and recruits (while denying them to the government); to keep one's own followers from defecting; and to raise funds by collecting ransoms for kidnapped victims.

Not all guerrilla leaders have favoured the use of terrorist tactics. In Palestine the Haganah broke with the Irgun and Stern gangs over the issue. IRA leaders in Ireland also disagreed on the use of terror, which resulted in a movement divided between "official" and "provisional" wings. After decades of advocating the use of terror, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasir 'Arafat, denounced international terrorism (more likely from a desire to gain political legitimacy than from genuine distaste).

It is difficult to assess the psychological impact of terrorist tactics on the general population, but it seems that even those persons originally sympathetic to a guerrilla cause may be alienated by the indiscriminate use of terrorism, such as planting bombs in shopping centres or blowing commercial aircraft out of the sky. They also may be disillusioned when orthodox forces reply in kind, so that the population is subject to terror from both sides and the original insurgency turns into virtual civil war. This happened in Argentina, Northern Ireland, Angola, Mozambique, and Nicaragua.



The broad strategy underlying successful guerrilla warfare is that of protracted harassment accomplished by extremely subtle, flexible tactics designed to wear down the enemy. The time gained is necessary either to develop sufficient military strength to defeat the enemy in orthodox battle (as did Mao Zedong in China and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam) or to subject him to internal and external military and political pressures sufficient to cause him to seek peace favourable to the guerrillas (as did the Algerian guerrillas to France and the Angolan and Mozambican guerrillas to Portugal). This strategy embodies political, social, economic, and psychological factors to which the military element is often subordinated--without, however, lessening the ultimate importance of the military role.

That role greatly varies, as does the way it is carried out. T.E. Lawrence's Arabian campaign (1916-18) was strategically vital in protecting the British general Edmund Allenby's flank during his orthodox advance in Palestine, yet its success hinged on carrying out the Arabs' political aim, which was to expel the Turks from tribal lands. Lawrence's acceptance of this goal, combined with his linguistic ability, imagination, perception, and immense energy, helped him to establish and maintain unity of command. Popular support was ensured in part by tribal loyalties and hatred of the Turks, in part by effective propaganda and decent treatment of the people. There were too many Turks to risk doing battle, but in any case killing the enemy was secondary to killing his line of communication. In Lawrence's words, "the death of a Turkish bridge or rail" was more important than attacking a well-defended garrison. Lawrence kept discipline and organization (Arab, not Western, style) simple and effective. He drilled his men in the employment of light machine guns and in rudimentary demolitions. Camels provided transport. The terrain was desert and desert was sanctuary, and the guerrillas were "an influence, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas." Demanding "perfect intelligence, so that plans could be made in complete certainty," Lawrence "used the smallest force in the quickest time at the farthest place." Mobility and surprise were everything. Hit-and-run tactics on a broad front cut communication, eventually causing enemy garrisons to wither on the vine. By war's end the Arabs had gained control of some 100,000 square miles while holding 600,000 Turks in passive defense. They had killed or wounded 35,000 enemy at little loss to themselves. They had protected Allenby's vital flank in Palestine and had proved the truth of Lawrence's later dictum: "Guerrilla warfare is more scientific than a bayonet charge."

Mao Zedong's political goal was the communist takeover of China. Guerrilla warfare alone, he realized, could not achieve this, but in a prolonged war it was an indispensable weapon, particularly in holding off the enemy (Chinese and Japanese) until orthodox armies could take to the field.

Mao's guerrilla campaign of over two decades stressed the flexible tactics based on surprise and deception that the ancient writer Sun-tzu had called for in The Art of War. Mao later wrote that "guerrilla strategy must be based primarily on alertness, mobility, and attack." He demanded tactics based on surprise and deception: "Select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack, withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision." Mao instructed his subordinates to accept battle only under favourable conditions, otherwise avoid it and retreat: "We must observe the principle, 'To gain territory is no cause for joy, and to lose territory is no cause for sorrow.' " Careful planning was vital: "Those who fight without method do not understand the nature of guerrilla action."

Ho Chi Minh and his able military commander Vo Nguyen Giap were disciples of Mao's teachings, as was shown in their remarkably successful campaigns against the French and, later, against the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies. Ho and Giap did not, however, hesitate to extend guerrilla operations to the cities when occasion warranted. Vietnamese organization and leadership were generally effective, albeit expensive in lives. The use of terrain was often masterful, both tactically and for sanctuary. When popular support lagged, terrorist tactics were used, particularly the murder of pro-government village headmen, to coerce peasants into furnishing recruits, food, and information while denying these to the enemy. Operations were carefully planned and audaciously executed. As cruel as it was, the guerrilla portion of the Indochinese Wars must rank as one of the most successful in history.

The leader who does not respect the principles of guerrilla warfare soon finds himself in trouble, particularly against effective counterguerrilla forces. Greek communist guerrillas lost their war (1946-49) for a variety of reasons, not so much because Tito deprived them of sanctuary in and supply from Yugoslavia, but more because they forfeited popular support in northern Greece by their barbarous treatment of civilian hostages, by their rapacious behaviour in villages, and by kidnapping children and sending them to be raised in communist countries.

Filipino, Malayan, and Indonesian guerrillas of the 1940s and '50s suffered from poor organization and leadership as well as from lack of external support, and later "liberation" movements failed for similar reasons. Uruguayan and Guatemalan insurgents lost control over terrorist tactics and suffered heavily for it. Basque guerrillas became unpopular in Spain because of their brutal assassinations. Polisario fighters, inadequately supported by Algeria and Libya, faced continuing stalemate in their war against Morocco over Western Sahara. Angolan and Mozambican guerrillas split into several factions and became pawns of Cuba (by extension, the Soviet Union), South Africa, and the United States. The use of indiscriminate terrorist tactics by the provisional wing of the IRA brought general opprobrium on their movement, including a partial loss of heavy financial support from previously sympathetic Irish-Americans.



Perhaps the most important challenge confronting the military commander in fighting guerrillas is the need to modify orthodox battlefield thinking. This was as true in ancient, medieval, and colonial times as it is today. Alexander the Great's successful campaigns resulted not only from mobile and flexible tactics but also from a shrewd political expedient of winning the loyalty of various tribes (Alexander recruited one guerrilla leader into his army and then married his daughter). The few Roman commanders in Spain--Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, Cato the Elder, the Scipios, and Pompey--who introduced more mobile and flexible tactics often succeeded in defeating large guerrilla forces, and their victories were then exploited by decent treatment of the vanquished in order to gain a relatively peaceful occupation.

In their conquest of Ireland, the Normans borrowed the enemy guerrilla tactics of feigned retreat, flanking attack by cavalry, and surprise. (These tactics were countered by the Irish retreat to impenetrable bog country.) Early settlers in Virginia and New England tried to adopt the best features of Indian guerrilla tactics: small-unit operations, loose formations, informal dress, swift movement, fire discipline, terror, ambush, and surprise attack. As frontiers expanded, colonists reverted to European methods of formal warfare with disastrous results until a Swiss mercenary, Henry Bouquet, trained his new light-infantry regiment to fight Indian-style in the French and Indian War (1754-63). Bouquet's treatise on tactics, clothing, arms, training, logistics, and decentralized tactical formations is reminiscent of Caesar's work on Gaul. British generals fighting in the New World never quite understood Bouquet's teachings and suffered accordingly. A similar blindness cost Napoleon and his generals disastrous defeats in Spain and Russia. (see also  colonialism)

The French conquest of Algeria (1830-44) might well have failed had it not been for tribal discord and the tactical innovations of Thomas-Robert Bugeaud, who understood the value of the ruse, the raid, and the ambush. Bugeaud dispensed with heavy columns in favour of small, fast-moving task forces, or "flying columns," which pursued and brought the Berbers to battles that were usually won by disciplined troops using superior arms. Although Bugeaud believed in constructive occupation--"the sword only prepared the way for the plough"--he nonetheless depended more on fear than on persuasion, relying on the razzia, or scorched-earth policy, to starve the natives into submission. Bugeaud's offensive tactics of clearing, holding, and expanding became the model for subsequent pacification campaigns around the globe, including the United States' winning of the West and its forays into colonialism in Cuba and the Philippines.

Such were the string of colonial successes that occasional serious reverses due to inept leadership and ill-trained troops were shrugged off. Orthodox commanders were generally quite content to put unquestioning faith in sheer military weight with little consideration given either to the poor organization and leadership of native forces or to the lack of modern arms and allies. Blockhouses and garrisons kept the peace in pacified areas. If natives rebelled, they were put down with force.

This simplistic concept was challenged by a French general, Louis-Hubert-Gonsalve Lyautey. He had been taught by Joseph-Simon Gallieni in Indochina in 1895 that military success, in Gallieni's words, meant "nothing unless combined with a simultaneous work of organization--roads, telegraphs, markets, crops--so that with the pacification there flowed forward, like a pool of oil, a great belt of civilization." Lyautey later employed this tache d'huile, or oil-spot, strategy in Algeria, where he used the army not as an instrument of repression but, in conjunction with civil services, as a positive social force--"the organization on the march." Lyautey's success went generally unheeded, as did the potency of the guerrilla weapon in World War I and subsequent decades. Native rebellions continued to be put down with force, no one paid much attention to Mao Zedong's guerrilla war, nor were orthodox commanders greatly impressed with the guerrilla weapon in World War II.

The greater the postwar shock, then, when these commanders and their subordinates were called upon to quell organized insurgencies by ideologically motivated, combat-trained guerrillas equipped with modern weapons and often politically allied with and, on occasion, supplied by the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.

Most governments and commanders simply floundered while calling for more soldiers and more weapons. The Greek army originally tried to suppress the "bandits" by static defense tactics that soon failed. Once the army had received massive reinforcements of U.S. arms and equipment, it launched large-scale offensives, or "search-and-clear" operations, which met with only limited success. Chinese Nationalist commanders moved vast armies hither and yon in futile efforts to capture Mao's guerrillas before finally holing up in towns and cities, where they eventually fell prey to Mao's own army divisions. During the Hukbalahap Rebellion (1946-54), U.S. Army advisers in the Philippines trained and equipped splendid Filipino combat teams supported by armour, aircraft, artillery, and even dogs. Large-scale search-and-destroy operations--the "ring of steel" tactic similar to that unsuccessfully employed by German commanders against Tito's guerrillas--produced minimal results, as did free-fire areas (zones in which troops may fire at anything and everything), massive and sometimes brutal interrogations of villagers, and the employment of terrorist tactics, all of which further alienated the rural people whose support was necessary to defeat the guerrillas. Wiser commanders replaced conventional tactics with small-unit patrols and a variety of ruses that largely neutralized overt guerrilla action, then turned the army to the vital task of winning civil cooperation. With this the Huk insurgency died, but by the 1970s the failure to carry out promised reforms, mainly land distribution, had brought on a guerrilla insurgency by the New People's Army.

British commanders in Malaya also performed ineffectually in the early phases of the communist insurgency that began in 1948. Eventually, however, they realized that the support of the rural natives was vital to their goal of eliminating the entire guerrilla apparatus. Once they had achieved a reasonable civil-military chain of command, their first priority became the reestablishment of law and order, which meant revitalizing the rural police function. The military effort concentrated on breaking up and dispersing large guerrilla formations, then depriving them of the initiative by small-unit tactics, mainly frequent patrols and ambushes based on valid intelligence often gained from natives. The subsequent civil effort was designed to win "the hearts and minds" of the people, first by providing security in the form of village police and local militias working with government forces, second by providing social reforms (land reform, schools, hospitals) that identified the government with the people's best interests. Harsh measures were necessary: compulsory census, an identity-card system, suspension of habeas corpus (with carefully publicized safeguards), search of private property without a warrant, the death sentence for persons caught with unauthorized weapons, harsh sentences for collaborators, curfews, resettlement of entire villages, and other extraordinary measures. These were somewhat palliated by the British government's promise of eventual independence and by the general unpopularity of the guerrillas among the majority Malay population as well as the urban Chinese business community. (see also  Malaya, Federation of)

Despite the lessons of history, including those learned in Malaya and the Philippines, orthodox commanders have continued to employ a wide range of weapons and tactics that, judged by results, have been more appropriate to conventional warfare. These have included wholesale bombings and mass artillery interdictions of suspected sanctuary areas, division- and corps-strength "sweeping" operations in which only a few guerrillas are captured or killed while entire villages are destroyed, free-fire areas, the building of defended but isolated chains of military outposts, the construction of massive walls that can be outflanked, mass arrests, and brutal interrogations. The result: an expenditure in lives and money that in time have lost whatever support the government enjoyed at home. France backed down in Algeria, Portugal in Mozambique and Angola, the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. These campaigns failed because commanders chose quantity over quality to fight "little wars," in which victory is attainable only by patient application of intelligent, skillful, and extremely subtle strategy and tactics.

Precisely the same command qualities are necessary in fighting urban guerrilla warfare and international terrorism. Although a number of Western countries have established special antiterrorist military units, which at times have functioned effectively, the problem in the long run can be solved only by competent police work and by governments that refuse to allow the payment of ransoms (no matter the human cost) and refuse to be intimidated by terrorist threats into denying extradition of captured terrorists to other countries. Also necessary to put an end to terrorist depredations is a sharing of resources and intelligence among nations. (R.B.A.)



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