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The Guerrilla Myth
The Wall Street Journal ^ | 18 January 2013 | Max Boot

Posted on 01/18/2013 6:23:35 PM PST by MinorityRepublican

For a student of military history, the most astonishing fact about the current international scene is that there isn't a single conflict in which two uniformed militaries are pitted against each other. The last one was a brief clash in 2008 between Russia and Georgia. In our day, the specter of conventional conflict, which has dominated the imagination of the West since the days of the Greek hoplites, has almost been lifted.

But the world is hardly at peace. Algeria fights hostage-takers at a gas plant. France fights Islamist extremists in Mali. Israel fights Hamas. The U.S. and its allies fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Syria's Bashar al-Assad fights rebels seeking to overthrow him. Colombia fights and negotiates with the FARC. Mexico fights drug gangs. And various African countries fight the Lord's Resistance Army.

These are wars without front lines, without neatly defined starting and end points. They are messy, bloody affairs, in which attackers, typically without uniforms, engage in hit-and-run raids and often target civilians. They are, in short, guerrilla wars, and they are deadly. In Syria alone, more than 60,000 people have died since 2011, according to the United Nations. In Mexico, nearly 50,000 have died in drug violence since 2006. Hundreds of thousands more have perished in Africa's civil wars. The past decade has also seen unprecedented terrorist attacks, ranging from 9/11 to suicide bombings in Iraq. To understand today's world, you have to understand guerrillas and the terrorist movements that are their close cousins.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/18/2013 6:23:39 PM PST by MinorityRepublican
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To: MinorityRepublican; Marcella
Asymetric warfare is difficult. American fighting men have dealt with it. And would be very good with it. From the ghost side, anyway.

It's probably best we don't have a new civil war in the US. It would get very ugly very quickly.

Nice government you have here. Be a shame if anything happened to it...

/johnny

2 posted on 01/18/2013 6:30:43 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: MinorityRepublican

How do you know when a guerrilla war is over? It’s not like you can get them to agree to surrender on the deck of the Missouri.


3 posted on 01/18/2013 6:33:14 PM PST by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Dr. Pritchett
How do you know when a guerrilla war is over?

They take the embassy in Hanoi.

/johnny

4 posted on 01/18/2013 6:39:19 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Dr. Pritchett

Do what the Israelis did and kill every guerrila leader and his replacement. Then ultimately the insurgency will run out of steam, due to attrition.


5 posted on 01/18/2013 6:47:22 PM PST by MinorityRepublican
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To: MinorityRepublican

Guerrilla wars can turn into conventional wars as the last two year of the Vietnam War did. The NVA took Saigon with light armored forces.

And still the threat of sudden conventional war still exists. Iraq taking Kuwait, the American-led coalition liberating Kuwait, The overthrow of Hussien’s Iraq regime, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Falklands War were all conventional conflicts of the last 30 years.


6 posted on 01/18/2013 7:05:24 PM PST by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: MinorityRepublican

Boot’s mostly correct but he sort-of perpetuates the myth of the Colonial “Guerrilla War” against the British. Yes, there was some irregular-style fighting, but the main colonial effort comprised a uniformed, drilled Continental Army fighting in the European style, not guerrillas hiding behind trees. And actually the British with their Indian allies probably did just as much irregular-style fighting as the Colonists did.


7 posted on 01/18/2013 7:07:41 PM PST by Strategerist
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To: MinorityRepublican
These are wars without front lines, without neatly defined starting and end points. They are messy, bloody affairs, in which attackers, typically without uniforms, engage in hit-and-run raids and often target civilians. They are, in short, guerrilla wars, and they are deadly.

CWII will probably be like that--there won't be set-piece battles such as Gettysburg or Cold Harbor, fought between uniformed armies, that characterized CWI. It will be more like the civil wars in Libya and Syria.

8 posted on 01/18/2013 7:26:56 PM PST by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: Strategerist

“Yes, there was some irregular-style fighting, but the main colonial effort comprised a uniformed, drilled Continental Army fighting in the European style, not guerrillas hiding behind trees. And actually the British with their Indian allies probably did just as much irregular-style fighting as the Colonists did.”

I think that depended on the region; Francis Marion in the south and the Green Mountain boys in the north were the only war going on in some parts of those theaters. In my area (NJ/NY/PA) there were conventional battles (with mixed success); against the guerrillas the British had no chance at all. Even their irregulars and Indians were beaten by the irregulars fighting for independence.


9 posted on 01/18/2013 7:32:55 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: JRandomFreeper

“They take the embassy in Hanoi.”

Dude,,,, you’re one of those “outside the box thinkers”, ain’t ya?


10 posted on 01/18/2013 7:39:23 PM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: MinorityRepublican
Insurgencies have been getting more successful since 1945, but they still lose most of the time.

Although it was alive and well in the '60's, '70's, and '80's and is still widely believed, especially in academia, the myth of the "invincible guerrilla" has been debunked on more than one occasion . See the following books:


11 posted on 01/18/2013 7:43:23 PM PST by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: JRandomFreeper
They take the embassy in Hanoi.

Guerillas did not take the embassy in Hanoi(?!?!?!). Nor did they take the embassy in Saigon.

North Vietnamese regular army, with MASSIVE materiel support from USSR and PRC took the embassy in Saigon ... when the demonicRats in the US Congress abandoned and betrayed South Viet Nam.

12 posted on 01/18/2013 7:45:13 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: DesertRhino
I've got a tattered report card from kindergarden that says "doesn't play well with others".

/johnny

13 posted on 01/18/2013 7:47:05 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: MinorityRepublican

Do what the Israelis did and kill every guerrila leader and his replacement. Then ultimately the insurgency will run out of steam, due to attrition.

____________________

Nice theory, but I would say it is a work in progress. For generations now.

Mao said that the people are the sea, and the guerrilla is the fish who swims in the sea. Using that analogy you cannot get every fish one by one. But you can boil the sea and make fish soup.

This phase of Western civilization is too humane, or soft, or decadent to do that math at this time, and our existence is not yet threatened. When it becomes a matter of survival for either us or them - whoever the ‘us’ or the ‘them’ is at that time - we shall see.


14 posted on 01/18/2013 7:48:42 PM PST by Psalm 144 (Capitol to the districts: "May the odds be ever in your favor.")
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To: ArrogantBustard; All
My bad on the Hanoi/Saigon thing. You are correct that it was Saigon. I'm getting old and distracted.

NV regulars couldn't have taken Saigon without the guerilla warfare that happened. In the jungles, in France, in the media, and in Congress.

/johnny

15 posted on 01/18/2013 7:51:28 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Fiji Hill

Agreed. I would add the Irish and Yugoslav models as possibilities. Spain as a worst case scenario.


16 posted on 01/18/2013 7:51:32 PM PST by Psalm 144 (Capitol to the districts: "May the odds be ever in your favor.")
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To: Psalm 144
The guerrilla insurgency in Oman, which began in 1965, also petered out in the 1970's, and a few years ago, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka were tamed.

Yet some guerrilla wars smolder on and on, such as the one in Burma, where the grand children of the guerrilla fighters who staged an uprising in the 1940's were continuing the war in the 1990's--and their great-grand children may still be at it today.

17 posted on 01/18/2013 8:10:44 PM PST by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: ArrogantBustard
Guerillas did not take the embassy in Hanoi(?!?!?!). Nor did they take the embassy in Saigon.

A red unit did attack the US embassy in Saigon in 1968, at the start of the Communist's "Winter-Spring Offensive." Although they got onto the embassy's grounds, they didn't penetrate the building, and they were killed to a man.

18 posted on 01/18/2013 8:14:59 PM PST by Fiji Hill (Io Triumphe!)
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To: kearnyirish2

The majority of the fighting was conventional (either European linear field warfare, or European-style sieges like Boston and Yorktown) and the British would not have been defeated were it not for the large, conventional Continental Army fighting in lines wearing uniforms in open fields (even though they didn’t have success in most of the individual battles.)

The militia was mostly useless (as was also true in 1812), despite attempts to glorify them by those violently opposed to a standing, real army. They were of use in certain isolated circumstances when properly used, like Cowpens, and the militia vs. Loyalist militia battle of Kings Mountain.

The most effective irregular warfare ambush of the war was a Loyalist/Indian ambush of American militia at Oriskany.

The “myth” though is embodied in the Bill Cosby routine about smart Americans shooting from behind rocks and trees against the stupid British in bright uniforms standing in neat lines.


19 posted on 01/18/2013 8:15:12 PM PST by Strategerist
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To: JRandomFreeper

The Viet Cong were for all practical purposes annihilated in Tet, and the following Phoenix Program (CIA assassinations) and the Chieu Hoi program through 1972.

South Vietnam was actually defeated 1972-1975 by the NVA in conventional combat. The North Vietnamese themselves helped dismantle the Viet Cong because they wanted Northerners in charge.


20 posted on 01/18/2013 8:21:14 PM PST by Strategerist
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To: Strategerist

Actually the Militia in the South caused the British to divide their forces and waste resources dealing with them. The Militia played a much larger part than you are giving them credit for.


21 posted on 01/18/2013 8:21:30 PM PST by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the 2nd one...)
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To: Strategerist

France naval power decided the conventional war; the British could have held the coast indefinitely were it not for their interference. The smart colonists shooting from behind rocks and trees made places with rocks and trees ungovernable to the British


22 posted on 01/18/2013 8:22:37 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Fiji Hill

I think the ones that die out do so because there is some rapprochement possible. Some honey along with the vinegar. That takes a willingness on both sides, and some times that is not possible, or even advisable. An ugly business.


23 posted on 01/18/2013 8:28:57 PM PST by Psalm 144 (Capitol to the districts: "May the odds be ever in your favor.")
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To: kearnyirish2
ungovernable

There's a damn good word. Mind if I take and keep it for my very own?

/johnny

24 posted on 01/18/2013 8:33:11 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Aye; you’re welcome to it!


25 posted on 01/18/2013 8:37:56 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Monterrosa-24

>>The NVA took Saigon with light armored forces.

They weren’t particularly “light”. Maybe they were “medium” by the standards of what might have been in the Fulda Gap had the Cold War turned hot, but they were more than capable of taking on the heavy tank forces of WWII (which hadn’t been all *that* long ago, at the time).

“By 1975, the NVA had an estimated 600 T54s in or on the border of South Vietnam supplied by large, well-concealed fuel lines with sophisticated pumping and fueling stations that ran through Laos and Cambodia hundreds of kilometers from Haiphong in the north.”

From here:
https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/bookreview/steel-and-blood-south-vietnamese-armor-and-war-southeast-asia

T-54s were very capable tanks, more than able to compete with the M-48s the ARVN had.

By comparison, Rommel had only 500 tanks at El Alamein, and a good number of those were Italian. The Germans only had about 600 tanks at the Battle of the Bulge - and a T-54 was superior to all but perhaps a handful of them.


26 posted on 01/18/2013 8:42:25 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: kearnyirish2
Thank you.

There would be whiskey in the jar. Help yourself.

/johnny

27 posted on 01/18/2013 8:45:10 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: ArrogantBustard

Bingo. The final push in 1975 was an armored blitzkrieg that Guderian and Zukov would have recognized.


28 posted on 01/18/2013 8:48:30 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: ArrogantBustard
North Vietnamese regular army, with MASSIVE materiel support from USSR and PRC took the embassy in Saigon ... when the demonicRats in the US Congress abandoned and betrayed South Viet Nam.

100% correct. What is also true is that there was really no such thing as the Viet Cong. It was simply irregular arm of the North Vietnamese army, staffed by North Vietnamise officers who used both regular NVA trrops out of uniform, ideological volunteers from the South and many many unwilling conscripts pressed into service as mules and cannon fodder.

I still bristle when I recall the 60s Hippies and idiots on campuses shouting

Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh... The Viet Cong are going to win.

This at the same time Ho Chi Minh's government denied having any troops in South Vietnam.

Somehow, Walter Cronkite never quite detected that disconnect. ;~((

29 posted on 01/18/2013 8:59:50 PM PST by Ditto
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To: Dr. Pritchett
How do you know when a guerrilla war is over? It’s not like you can get them to agree to surrender on the deck of the Missouri.

it's real easy to tell... it's an ideological war. either the guerilla side wins or you kill ALL the guerillas, their supporters, their safe havens and any means of reorganizing.

It's not a question of winning ...it's a question of WILL.

30 posted on 01/18/2013 9:05:53 PM PST by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: MinorityRepublican
When I was just starting “my 20” in the AF I bought a book dealing with international conflict. It covered everything from nuclear weapons to insurgency.

At the time of its publication, circa 1971, there were some 70 active insurgencies through out the world, including Vietnam. Of those conflicts over half are still active today, 40 years later.

While the book examined the world wide conventional hot spots only the Middle East has repeatedly erupted into open conflict.

The observations of this 1971 publication closely parallel this author's observation. But, unfortunately, our political and military leadership haven't learned anything in the intervening decades (much to the horror and suffering of the line grunts)!

31 posted on 01/18/2013 9:47:35 PM PST by Nip (BOHEICA and TANSTAAFL - both seem very appropriate today.)
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To: JRandomFreeper
"ungovernable"

That is what we all should aspire to be.

32 posted on 01/18/2013 11:21:13 PM PST by UnwashedPeasant
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To: FreedomPoster

It’s also important to note that the NVA took practically EVERYTHING they had and sent it south in 1975, counting (correctly, as it turned out) on there being no military response from by then Democrat-dominated Washington.

Sources published since the end of the Cold War indicate that both Moscow and Beijing basically reacted to Hanoi’s all-or-nothing move with a “WTF ARE YOU DOING????” message, fearing that they had left themselves wide open to an American military response against North Vietnam. As I recall, General Giap (or another high-ranking NVA leader) subsequently indicated that their concerns had been very justified.


33 posted on 01/19/2013 8:52:55 AM PST by M1903A1 ("We shed all that is good and virtuous for that which is shoddy and sleazy... and call it progress")
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To: M1903A1

It’s worth noting they had a major armor-led assault in 1972, when our ground forces were down to very little. We crushed it with carrier and land based air power, including strategic air power - Operation Linebacker.

It took them 3 years to rebuild for 1975.


34 posted on 01/19/2013 9:24:19 AM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: FreedomPoster

Yes, I believe you are correct. I was overly influenced by the role of light PT-76s in the combat of the final days of Saigon.


35 posted on 01/19/2013 11:04:55 PM PST by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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