|Outline of war|
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians (or "irregulars") use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to dominate a larger and less-mobile traditional army, or strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.
The term means "little war" in Spanish, and the word, guerrilla (Spanish pronunciation: [geˈriʎa]), has been used to describe the concept since the 18th century, and perhaps earlier. In correct Spanish usage, a person who is a member of a guerrilla is a guerrillero ([geriˈʎeɾo]) if male, or a guerrillera if female.
The term "guerrilla" was used within the English language as early as 1809. The word was used to describe the fighters, and their appearance (e.g."the town was taken by the guerrillas"). However, in most languages guerrilla still denotes the specific style of warfare. The use of the diminutive evokes the differences in number, scale, and scope between the guerrilla army and the formal, professional army of the state.
Strategy, tactics and organization
The strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare tend to focus around the use of a small, mobile force competing against a larger, more unwieldy one. The guerrilla focuses on organizing in small units, depending on the support of the local population, as well as taking advantage of terrain more accommodating of small units.
Tactically, the guerrilla army would avoid any confrontation with large units of enemy troops, but seek and eliminate small groups of soldiers to minimize losses and exhaust the opposing force. Not limiting their targets to personnel, enemy resources are also preferred targets. All of that is to weaken the enemy's strength, to cause the enemy eventually to be unable to prosecute the war any longer, and to force the enemy to withdraw.
It is often misunderstood that guerrilla warfare must involve disguising as civilians to cause enemy troops to fail in telling friend from foe. However, this is not a primary feature of a guerrilla war. This type of war can be practiced anywhere there are places for combatants to cover themselves and where such advantage cannot be made use of by a larger and more conventional force.
Communist leaders like Mao Zedong and North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh both implemented guerrilla warfare giving it a theoretical frame which served as a model for similar strategies elsewhere, such as the Cuban "foco" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan.
Mao Zedong summarized basic guerrilla tactics at the beginning of the Chinese "Second Revolutionary Civil War" as: "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."
While the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare originate in the 20th century, irregular warfare, using elements later characteristic of modern guerrilla warfare, has existed throughout the battles of many ancient civilizations but in a smaller scale. This recent growth was inspired in part by theoretical works on guerrilla warfare, starting with the Manual de Guerra de Guerrillas by Matías Ramón Mella written in the 19th century and, more recently, Mao Zedong's On Guerrilla Warfare, Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare and Lenin's text of the same name, all written after the successful revolutions carried by them in China, Cuba and Russia respectively. Those texts characterized the tactic of guerrilla warfare as, according to Che Guevara's text, being "used by the side which is supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression".
Main Article:History of guerrilla warfare
One of the earliest examples of guerrilla warfare, is Shivaji, the Maratha king. He fought several battles in which he used guerrilla tactics to overcome superior forces. He innovated rules of military engagement, pioneering the "Shiva sutra" or ganimi kava (guerrilla tactics), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies.
In Balkans, there is a long history of guerrilla warfare against the Ottoman Empire. In North America there is a long history of guerrilla warfare beginning at least with Apalachee resistance to the Spanish during the Narváez expedition in 1528 in present-day Florida. Guerrilla warfare was also practiced during the Hernando de Soto expedition from 1539-1542, the Anglo-Powhatan Wars from 1610-1646, King Philip's War from 1675-1678, the four French and Indian Wars, Father Rale's War and Father Le Loutre's War, among others. This type of warfare was also used throughout the American Revolution.
The Peninsular War (nicknamed the Spanish Ulcer), regarded by Karl Marx as one of the first national wars, is also significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare. It is from this conflict that the English language borrowed the word.
Marx and Engels wrote about other examples of guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War, by Tyroleans and Prussians against Napoleon, by Poland and the Caucasus against Imperial Russia, Pegu (Burma) against the British Empire. Marx and Engels interchanged numerous letters on war and military science and Engels wrote about several military topics.
In 1906, Lenin wrote his paper: Guerrilla Warfare. Lenin begins from the premise that guerrilla warfare must be linked to struggle of the masses of the working class, or else it is against the interests of revolution: 'the acts of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralise the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganise the movement and injure the revolution'". Lenin also argued about the inevitability of guerrilla warfare in some conflicts by saying that
- "Guerrilla warfare is an inevitable form of struggle at a time when the mass movement has actually reached the point of an uprising and when fairly large intervals occur between the 'big engagements' in the civil war."
The tactics of guerrilla warfare were used successfully in the 20th century by—among others— the Soviet partisans and the Polish Home Army and the OSS in Burma in World War II; Mao Zedong and the People's Liberation Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the 26th of July Movement in the Cuban Revolution. Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap, Viet Cong and select members of the Green Berets in the Vietnam War (and the First Indochina War before that). The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Afghan Mujahideen, in the Second Boer War, in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, George Grivas and Nikos Sampson's Greek guerrilla group EOKA in Cyprus, Aris Velouchiotis and Stefanos Sarafis and the EAM against the Axis occupation of Greece during World War II, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the German Schutztruppe in World War I, Josip Broz Tito and the Yugoslav Partisans in World War II, and the antifrancoist guerrilla in Spain during the Franco dictatorship, the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Kosovo War, and the Irish Republican Army led by Michael Collins (considered to be the founder of modern guerrilla warfare) during the Irish War of Independence.
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) operation involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it. In the main, the insurgents seek to destroy or erase the political authority of the defending authorities in a population they seek to control, and the counter-insurgent forces seek to protect that authority and reduce or eliminate the supplanting authority of the insurgents.
Counter-insurgency operations are common during war, occupation and armed rebellions. Counter-insurgency may be armed suppression of a rebellion, coupled with tactics such as divide and rule designed to fracture the links between the insurgency and the population in which the insurgents move. Because it may be difficult or impossible to distinguish between an insurgent, a supporter of an insurgency who is a non-combatant, and entirely uninvolved members of the population, counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic, or otherwise situational distinction between insurgents and non-combatants.
The guerrilla can be difficult to beat, but certain principles of counter-insurgency warfare are well known since the 1950s and 1960s and have been successfully applied.
The widely distributed and influential work of Sir Robert Thompson, counter-insurgency expert of the Malayan Emergency, offers several such guidelines. Thompson's underlying assumption is that of a country minimally committed to the rule of law and better governance.
Some governments, however, give such considerations short shrift, and their counter-insurgency operations have involved mass of murder, genocide, and the massive spread of terror, torture and execution.
Timothy Snyder wrote, "In the guise of anti-partisan actions, the Germans killed perhaps three quarters of a million people, about 350,000 in Belarus alone, and lower but comparable numbers in Poland and Yugoslavia. The Germans killed more than a hundred thousand Poles when suppressing the Warsaw Uprising of 1944."
In the Vietnam War, the Americans "defoliated countless trees in areas where the communist North Vietnamese troops hid supply lines and conducted guerrilla warfare", (see Operation Ranch Hand). In the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Soviets countered the U.S.–backed Mujahideen with a policy of scorched earth, driving over one third of the Afghan population into exile (over 5 million people), and carrying out widespread destruction of villages, granaries, crops, herds and irrigation systems, including the deadly and widespread mining of fields and pastures.
Some writers on counter-insurgency warfare emphasize the more turbulent nature of today's guerrilla warfare environment, where the clear political goals, parties and structures of such places as Vietnam, Malaysia, or El Salvador are not as prevalent. These writers point to numerous guerrilla conflicts that center around religious, ethnic or even criminal enterprise themes, and that do not lend themselves to the classic "national liberation" template.
The wide availability of the Internet has also cause changes in the tempo and mode of guerrilla operations in such areas as coordination of strikes, leveraging of financing, recruitment, and media manipulation. While the classic guidelines still apply, today's anti-guerrilla forces need to accept a more disruptive, disorderly and ambiguous mode of operation. According to David Kilcullen:
"Insurgents may not be seeking to overthrow the state, may have no coherent strategy or may pursue a faith-based approach difficult to counter with traditional methods. There may be numerous competing insurgencies in one theater, meaning that the counterinsurgent must control the overall environment rather than defeat a specific enemy. The actions of individuals and the propaganda effect of a subjective “single narrative” may far outweigh practical progress, rendering counterinsurgency even more non-linear and unpredictable than before. The counterinsurgent, not the insurgent, may initiate the conflict and represent the forces of revolutionary change. The economic relationship between insurgent and population may be diametrically opposed to classical theory. And insurgent tactics, based on exploiting the propaganda effects of urban bombing, may invalidate some classical tactics and render others, like patrolling, counterproductive under some circumstances. Thus, field evidence suggests, classical theory is necessary but not sufficient for success against contemporary insurgencies."
Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a social reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.
In the 1960s the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara developed the foco (Spanish: foquismo) theory of revolution in his book Guerrilla Warfare, based on his experiences during the 1959 Cuban Revolution. This theory was later formalized as "focalism" by Régis Debray. Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus for popular discontent against a sitting regime, and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilize and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements.
- Freedom Fighters
- Asymmetric warfare
- Fabian strategy
- History of guerrilla warfare
- List of guerrilla movements
- List of guerrillas
- List of revolutions and rebellions
- Special forces
- Unconventional warfare
- Creveld, Martin Van (2000). "Technology and War II:Postmodern War?". In Charles Townshend. The Oxford History of Modern War. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 356–358. ISBN 0-19-285373-2.
- McNeilly, Mark. Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare, 2003, p. 204. "American arming and support of the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan is another example."
- Mao Tse-tung, “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire”, Selected Works, Eng. ed., FLP, Peking, 1965, Vol. I, p. 124.
- Guevara, Ernesto; Loveman, Brian; Thomas m. Davies, Jr (1985). Guerrilla Warfare. ISBN 9780842026789.
- Snyder, Craig. Contemporary security and strategy, 1999, p. 46. "Many of Sun Tzu's strategic ideas were adopted by the practitioners of guerrilla warfare."
- Purandare, Babasaheb (August 2003). Raja Shivachhatrapati (Marathi: राजा शिवछत्रपती) (15 ed.). Pune: Purandare Prakashan.
- Karl Marx. "Karl Marx's writings about revolutionary Spain". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Churchill, p. 258. "Nothing like this universal uprising of a numerous, ancient race and nation, all animated by one thought, had been seen before...For the first time the forces unchained by the French Revolution, which Napoleon had disciplined and directed, met not kings or Old World hierarchies, but a whole population inspired by the religion and patriotism which...Spain was to teach to Europe."
- Laqueur, Walter (July 1975), "The Origins of Guerrilla Doctrine", Journal of Contemporary History (Society for Military History)
- Marx and Engels. "Marx's letters about war". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Engels. "Engels writings on military topics". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Guerrilla Warfare, V.I. Lenin, 1906.
- Timothy Snyder. "Holocaust: The Ignored Reality"
- *Peers, William R. and Dean Brelis. Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America’s Most Successful Guerrilla Force. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1963.
- Julio Aróstegui y Jorge Marco: "El último frente. Los hermanos Quero y la resistencia armada antifranquista, 1939-1952". La Catarata, Madrid, 2008.
Jorge Marco: "Guerrilleros y vecinos en armas. Identidades y culturas de la resistencia antifranquista", Comares, Granada, 2012.
- The Irish Question: Two Centuries of Conflict by Lawrence John McCaffrey (ISBN 978-0-8131-0855-1), page 152
- See American and British English spelling differences#Compounds and hyphens
- An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority (for example an authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents (Oxford English Dictionary second edition 1989 "insurgent B. n. One who rises in revolt against constituted authority; a rebel who is not recognized as a belligerent.")
- Robert Thompson (1966). Defeating Communist Insurgency: The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 0-7011-1133-X
- Failoa, Anthony (13 November 2006). "In Vietnam, Old Foes Take Aim at War's Toxic Legacy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
- The Story of Genocide in Afghanistan Hassan Kakar
- Report from Afghanistan Claude Malhuret
- "Counter-insurgency Redux", David Kilcullen
- Guerrilla Warfare, by Ernesto Guevara & Thomas M. Davies, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997, ISBN 0-8420-2678-9, pg 52
- Robert Asprey, War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History
- Fitzroy Maclean, Disputed Barricade: The Life and Times of Josip Broz Tito
- Peter MacDonald, Giap: The Victor in Vietnam
- Keats J. 1990. They Fought Alone. Time Life. ISBN 0-8094-8555-9
- Weber Olivier, Afghan Eternity, 2002
- Schmidt LS. 1982. "American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945". M.S. Thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. 274 pp.
- Peers, William R. and Dean Brelis. Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America’s Most Successful Guerrilla Force. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1963.
- Warren Hinckle (with Steven Chain and David Goldstein): Guerrilla-Krieg in USA (Guerrilla war in the USA), Stuttgart (Deutsche Verlagsanstalt) 1971. ISBN 3-421-01592-9
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Guerrilla warfare|
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- Insurgency Research Group - Multi-expert blog dedicated to the study of insurgency and the development of counter-insurgency policy.
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