Three Letters Re: Studying Guerilla Warfare Tactics

CPT Rawles,
To follow up on the recent letter son Guerilla warfare:

1.   The most important thing to the success of the insurgent is the support of the people (the fish swims in the sea). The insurgent must maintain support/legitimacy.  Discipline when dealing with the people is paramount.
2.   The insurgent always chooses the location of the fight.

3.   The insurgent never fights when he knows he will lose.  The insurgent wins by surviving.

4.   Advance/retreat; rest/harass; retreat/advance – read Mao.

5.   The insurgent seeks to make the enemy overreact against the people.

6.   In the early phases of the insurgency the best source of supplies and weapons may be the enemy.  Overreaction by the enemy inflames the people.

– Mark S., in Germany

The post on “studying” Guerilla War tactics brought to mind a subject that I have been considering for some time.
Like many, my training and experience was many years ago. Though my body has grown slightly less than optimal my spirit and mind are what they once were and more as an added measure of wisdom has been granted to me.
The question I have been pondering is to ask, what role to those of us who have reached the age of reason have to play in a possible future resistance? We are not able to handle the physical challenges efficiently yet have the experience and knowledge stored that would assist the success of such endeavors.

I have read Max Velocity’s book and many other books, articles and posts over the last few years. Many of those in the marketplace of ideas appear to me to be the products of armchair warriors who never heard a shot fired in anger but who have strong opinions and fair writing skills. Max Velocity is not one of the armchair variety. I can not specifically nail down why I know this but can only say that when you know you know.

I believe however, that even from some of these armchair folks, things of value can be gleaned and I will not detract from their efforts except for the few who would upon implementation of their advice get a lot of good people killed without value. I’ll leave the details to another time, though I suspect that you and many others with actual experience in the storm see them for what they are as well.

My conclusions are based on observations of history. Old men may not be able to run twenty miles and fight or evade an enemy force in a northern plains winter but we still have value to a potential resistance. In Southeast Asia and many other conflicts in time and about the world it was the old men who provided the philosophical foundation of a resistance. Without coherent reasons as an underlayment, a movement will wither and die. The problem to avoid is a philosophy that compromises true value for the sake of expedience and experiments with the lives of young men. Those who take this role need to be people who have lived what they speak of.

Old men and women provided the Intelligence network for much of the Viet Cong’s network. Shop and stall keepers in the cities and towns and the village elders and headmen out in the bush provided the eyes and ears of the guerilla fighters. Men with experience in combat will know what information is useful and how to transmit it. They will be very likely able to set up the networks required. Many good men and their families were executed by the Viet Cong because they would not fill this function for them, instead they worked with our forces. Tragic as this is, it is a good lesson in the value of information networks run by old men and women.

Wounded can be sent to outlying farms to be cared for by the elderly as well as active troops scattered to farms as labourers disguising their true nature. Food supplies and caches of equipment can be concealed and managed by old men and women in cities as well as on the farms. A lot of fighters in African conflicts survived on food and equipment cached by villagers out in the bush. There are many ingenious ways of doing this. Young fighters need food & medical supplies as much as they need ammo.

I think that one of the most valuable assets that old war horses bring is tactical knowledge and training. Knowing how to approach an enemy, how to engage and how to escape and evade afterwards is paramount to success. Young men’s eagerness can often lead them into the jaws of a trap or violate the principals that keep a population on the side of insurgents. Old men teach and moderate this tendency in the young.

Like many, I see dark days and see the handwriting on the wall. There is a storm coming. Don’t write off an old man because he walks with a cane and takes a long time to pass water. What he carries in his head and his heart is as valuable as a weapon and as useful as a well stocked medical kit. – George in the Upper Midwest


James Wesley;
Another good book on this topic about the originators of guerilla warfare on this continent fighting a standing army is Apache Tactics 1830-86,  by Robert Watt

The author concludes with several reasons the Apache tribes eventually failed in their efforts.
1)  Attrition due to small numbers
2)  Weapons and ammunition supply
3)  Eventual army adoption of guerilla tactics and use of Apache scouts.

…all of which are reversed to the benefit of a patriot counter-revolutionary effort in our present situation. – S.P.