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THE GUERRILLA AND HIS WORLD: Psychological Aspects of Guerrilla Warfare

Author(s): Howard R. Simpson


Source: Naval War College Review, Vol. 21, No. 3 (November 1968), pp. 11-40
Published by: U.S. Naval War College Press
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44639388
Accessed: 18-07-2019 15:03 UTC

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11

THE GUERRILLA

AND HIS WORLD:

Psychological
Aspects of
Guerrilla Warfare

Photograph by the author shows a


political officer of the Vietminh
308th Division taken on the day
Hanoi was occupied.

A thesis prepared by
Mr. Howard R. Simpson
School of Naval Warfare

INTRODUCTION warfare. Gaps in knowledge and under-


standing have too often been filled with
complicated theory and a search for
In this age of nuclear power, ad-
vanced research, and mathematicalpunchcard answers.
models there has been a gradual deper-Attempts have been made to evaluate
sonalization of warfare. It is easier and the guerrilla as a solid physical factor, a
cleaner to work with figures than with a numerical digit to be balanced with
bayonet and to be once removed from force levels, weapons capabilities, and
the ugliness of physical combat by the slightly revised classic military doc-
clicking of a computer solution. trines. Such evaluations are seldom
In an era of nuclear standoff, well- adequate to measure guerrilla actions
developed, modern societies tend to which often defy both logic and analy-
forget the basic realities of war and to sis.
underestimate the human and psycho- The individual guerrilla may operate
logical factors involved. in a relatively limited area with a simply
This has often been the case in
defined task, utilizing comparatively
approaching the problems of guerrilla
basic weapons. He is often isolated and

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12 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

alone, with a minimum of logistic the sup-


tradition of the Robin Hood "outs"
port, medical facilities, and leadership.
against the "ins," and one begins to see
To do his job the guerrilla must why relythere
on is continued misunderstand-
a considerable amount of determina- ing of the term "guerrilla" and a lack of
tion. This determination is stronglyinsight
in- as to what human ingredients go
fluenced by psychological factors. into the making of the individual in-
Psychological factors are also impor-
volved in guerrilla warfare.
tant in studying the role of the counter-It is unrealistic to think of the
guerrilla only as a bandoleer-hung,
guerrilla. Seemingly secure in the knowl-
edge that he has superior weaponry bearded
and ruffian or as the starry-eyed
militiaman on a Chinese Communist
adequate support in his favor, the coun-
terguerrilla is often surprised at poster.
the The guerrilla can be an ema-
unpredictable quality of guerrilla fight-
ciated Meo tribal leader suffering from
ing, depressed by its indecisiveness,tuberculosis
and who has just killed two
shocked at its bloody personal cost.
Viet Cong porters with à Swedish K
Such a state of mind can delay, disrupt, submachine gun; a teenage Algerian girl
and even destroy a counterguerrilla cam- calmly placing a package of high explo-
paign. sives on the terrace of a crowded cafe,
The guerrilla's world, with its em- or a portly, well-dressed banker from
phasis on the individual, his motivation, Central America drawing money from a
morale, and physical endurance is a numbered Swiss account to buy arms.
demanding environment. A French com- The Meo is personally involved and
mando officer operating with a guerrilla motivated, because he hates the Vietna-
force in the isolated mountains in north- mese. He has no interest in politics. The
ern Laos once described his work to the fact that they are called Viet Cong has
writer as "a very lonely job." little bearing on his action. He wants
This paper is an examination of the only to keep the Vietnamese, any Viet-
psychological aspects of this "lonely namese, out of his territory, because
job" covering both the guerrilla and they have been a source of trouble and
those who fight him. domination to his people for many
years.
I--THE GUERRILLA AND HIS WORLD The Algerian teenager is risking her
life, and taking the lives of others, for
The guerrilla should come from the
an ideal. The ideal was planted in her
area in which he will fight. This will
give him personal contacts, terrain mind by French schoolteachers ex-
knowledge, local acclimatization and a pounding on Rousseau. It was re-
sense of fighting for his own area.
inforced by youth's natural tendency to
revolt and brought into action by the
--Ernesto Guevaral
requirements of a militant nationalist
The Individual. The term "guerrilla"
movement.

projects a certain image. The mostThe Central American banker is also


common is that of a tough, resourcefulrisking his life, and the new automatic
fighter moving with fluid ease throughrifles his money will buy are to take the
lives of others. Hut he is moved by
his zone of operations, inflicting losses,
realism and ambition. He has decided
and sowing fear and uneasiness in the
heart of his enemy. that the success of the revolution in his
This superficial conception is often
country is inevitable. He plans to be the
confused with that of the commando, Minister of Finance in the new regime.
so thoroughly romanticized during All of these people have one thing in
World War II. Add to this the usual common. They are actively participating
in guerrilla warfare and, because of the
Western predilection for the underdog,

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 13

nature of this type of struggle, each


Thisof
principle has been followed for
them is filling an important role. many years, with considerable success,
In few other forms of war does the by guerrilla movements. Isolated moun-
success or failure of a movement, an tains, inaccessible swamps, deep forest,
ideal, or a military operation depend to and heavy jungle have provided operat-
so great a degree on the actions of the ing bases for generations of guerrilla
individual or small group of individuals fighters.
involved. The Greek resistance high in the
The guerrilla can seldom depend on mountains, the Italian partisan in the
immediate support if he falters or a marshes of the Po, the Soviet partisan in
second chance if he fails. He is not the pine forests, and the Viet Cong in
inspired by supporting aircraft overhead
the jungle of the Central Highlands have
all shared
or reassured by divisions to his rear or this legacy. And yet, this
armor on his flanks. basic, practical rule must and can be
His world is a tight, personal circle changed if the situation demands it.
within which he fights or runs, wins or In Algeria the National Liberation
loses, dies or survives. Existence within Front (FLN), fighting in the mountains
this circle is often determined by the and djebels of the countryside against a
individual's psychological conditioning. well-equipped, mobile foe, found that
This conditioning begins with environ- many people in Algeria and abroad were
ment. unaware of their actions and occasional
The Environment. Environment is a victories due to their isolation and a

distillation of many factors: geography; stiff French press censorship.


economic conditions; political atmo- Abane Ramdane, an FLN leader later
sphere; ethnic factors; religion; cultural assassinated in Morocco by his com-
trends, and the first impressions regis- patriots, ordered a shift of operations
tered in a child's brain added to an from the isolation of the countryside to
adult's life experience. Environment the
is concentration and exposure of the
city.
also a changing quantity continually
"Is it better for our cause," he asked
affected by new and unforeseen devel-
in one of his directives, "to kill ten of
opments.
the enemy in the countryside of Tel-
To survive, guerrillas must be flexible
ergma, where no one will speak of it, or
and ready to adapt quickly to meet one in Algiers that will be mentioned
these new situations. Mao Tse-tung, the next day in the American press? "3
Vo-nguyen-Giap, the late Che Guevara, This logic forced the FLN to open a
and many before them have written second front, using terrorism as its tool,
sound guerrilla doctrine, but the guer- in the principal cities of Algeria. This
rilla who ties himself to a manual of
move, with its sensational and violent
procedure tends to force the application
results making headlines in France and
of these rules into his own environ-
throughout the world, had much to do
mental situation, a tendency that can with the outcome of the Algerian con-
lead to disaster. flict.
Clausewitz felt that a people's war, The change of environment and the
readjustments it called for on the part
an uprising of the population, could not
be kept alive in an atmosphere "tooof the individual guerrilla had far-
thick with danger" and suggested thatreaching psychological repercussions
both within the FLN and among the
the centers of such an operation, like
flames, be "at remote points where French
it officers and men trying to stamp
has air, and where it cannot be ex-out the revolt.
tinguished by one great blow. "2 Within the organization, those who

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14 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

disapproved of the new methods mittedorto his cause. Fascist, Communist,


lacked the ability to operate in aDemocrat,
tight or Royalist, he must feel he
urban environment were removed. In is right and that the sacrifices he and his
the French Army a psychological- comrades are making are justified.
political struggle developed over the
Ranges of Motivation. The motiva-
brutal measures used to fight the urban
tion of a guerrilla fighter can be varied
terrorists. This dispute had considerable
and highly complicated. In World War II
negative effect on the army's morale, its
the Soviet High Command found that
prestige, and its place in modern French
the age-old emotional patriotism of the
society.
Russian people far outweighed all forms
The Soviets closely relate the regular
of political indoctrination in providing
soldier's psychological outlook to his
motivation to the partisan movement.
environment. Col. M. Korobeinikov, a
The protection of Mother Russia
military psychiatrist, states ... all the
became the rallying cry, and Red Army
soldier's psyche, his whole inner world,
is the result of the reflection of his political officers, swallowing their dis-
taste, glorified the Czarist military
brain, of the circumstances of his life,
heroes of previous defensive wars.
all his life experiences, the socio-Prior to modern communications,
historical conditions of his living, fast media diffusion, and sophisticated
schooling, work and service . . .
propaganda techniques, pure hatred of
This is as true for the guerrilla as it is
the enemy was often the prime moti-
for the regular, but the guerrilla must
often draw far more on the elements of
vating force. In the bloody peninsular
campaigns against Napoleon the Spanish
his environment to carry out his task.
guerrilla leaders often found willing
Requirements. The ideal require-recruits among peasants whose sole
ments for a man to perform successfullydesire it was to kill Frenchmen and
as a guerrilla are: commitment, deter-revenge the rape, torture, and slaughter
mination, courage, basic intelligence,of family, relatives, and friends.
and physical stamina. Any man possess- Today, nationalism and the desire for
ing all of these attributes in an equally political independence have formed a
high proportion is a rare being. But thedual motivating principle upon which
total lack of one or more of these
many guerrilla movements have built
requirements can be seriously detri-
their strength. In Communist-led move-
ments these two factors have delivered
mental to the individual and his organi-
zation. the human raw material to the political
The regular soldier also performs indoctrination mill.
according to a specific set of require- Social injustice, overdue land reform,
ments. His morale climbs or falls, and government inefficiency, police bru-
his offensive spirit fluctuates dependingtality, traditional resentment of au-
on his psychological outlook. But thethority-all of these can provide supple-
regular normally operates within thementary cause for revolt and insurrec-
well-fed, well-armed community of histion. Combined with political, ethnic,
platoon, company, or battalion knowingand cultural factors they soon find a
that support of all kinds is close atpractical and dynamic expression
hand. This military community forms a through guerrilla warfare.
psychologically protective cushion with- The individual often has additional
in which he can march, fight, retreat, orpersonal reasons for participation. One
advance without making important per-man may be in a guerrilla group because
sonal decisions. of a burning political idealism; another
The ideal guerrilla must be com- may be there only because he has had

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 15

no choice in the matter. One partisan


Obviously, the guerrilla who finds
may be nursing a secret ambition to
himself trapped in a narrow valley sur-
rounded by regular forces would wish
profit from the inevitable opportunity
to plunder, while another may have
for heavy weapons and the added pro-
tection of a steel helmet. The fact that
found his true calling and psychological
fulfillment in the violence and adven- he does not have them could undercut
ture of guerrilla fighting. his morale and produce a psychological
weakness. In such a situation, however,
Strengths and Weaknesses. All of
barring escape through the enemy en-
these motivating factors help to esti-
circlement, this guerrilla has ceased
mate or better understand the strengths
being a guerrilla. His war, his effective-
and weaknesses of a guerrilla movement.
ness, his raison d'etre ended the mo-
Here again the human factor contributes
ment he allowed himself to be trapped.
its balance of uncertainty.
Most guerrilla actions require that a
A guerrilla unit in Western Europemaximum amount of automatic fire be
may, on the surface, have all the ob-
vious attributes to carry out a successfuldirected on a target in the least possible
amount of time. Recoilless rifles, mor-
operation: personal intelligence, com-
mitment to a cause, and determination. tars, demolition equipment, and field
But, because the unit's members are radios are usually the heaviest material
highly sophisticated, the range andin the guerrilla inventory, and these are
often unavailable to small units.
variation of motivation may be so great
that it becomes a negative factor, delay-
The average guerrilla, armed with a
ing decision, causing dispute, and forc-light automatic weapon, a minimum
amount of ammunition, unencumbered
ing the unit's leader to spend much of
his time as an arbiter. with uniform, helmet, pack, or equip-
ment and able to live off the land,
In Asia, Africa, and South America
usually profits from a psychological lift.
the motivation of the individuals in a
He can see his enemy roadbound or
guerrilla unit, although sincere, may be strung out in heavily burdened columns
a relatively uncomplicated process with along difficult trails while he moves
few intellectual detours. In Asia it may easily through the jungle. He sees the
be based on hard, well-organized revolu- threatening mobility of the helicopter
tionary doctrine; in Africa, on emo- nullified by the overloaded regulars who
tionalism and tribal tradition; in South
stagger and stumble from under the
America, on a search for social justice rotors carrying heatstroke with their
interwoven with Hispano-Indian roman- helmets and exhaustion with their
ticism.
packs.
The psychological strength of a guer- In action he is reassured by his
rilla unit depends to a great extent on ability to move fast. He is often in a
certain physical advantages shared by it secondary position before enemy fire
members. Too often what are con- begins to search his first. In withdrawal
sidered weaknesses of the guerrilla byhe knows he can count on a safety
margin of time before the ponderous
the traditional military expert become,
enemy machine can gather itself to-
in reality, sources of strength. A report
evaluating a guerrilla unit's lack gether
of coherently to give chase. Even
heavy weapons, transport, boots, and
the simple movements of combat, crawl-
uniforms as a sign of weakness ignoresing, crouching, and running are easy for
one of the prime psychological and the lightly equipped guerrilla while his
tactical assets of the guerrilla~his free-
burdened opponent finds it a consider-
able effort to rise from the ground or
wheeling mobility, his quality of "light-
ness." even to bring his weapon into a good

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16 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

firing position. on their morale, fighting spirit, and the


The positive psychological lift af-of their commanders.
loyalty
Political
forded by this guerrilla "lightness" is officers were attached to
infectious. Some of the best and most British and French colonial expeditions
effective counterguerrilla forces havein Africa, the Near East, and Asia. They
felt its benefits. The British Ferret were to assist commanders in dealing
Force in Malaya and the French Com- with local rulers and populations and to
mando d'Indochine became more ef- see that the goal of the expedition was
ficient as they became light and un-
not lost in an excess of military glory
orthodox, and their high morale re-
hunting. Many a general breathed a sigh
flected the psychological advantage this of relief when he could leave his politi-
change produced. cal officer behind to administer a newly
It is essential to think of the guerrilla
pacified territory.
as a person to better understand hisThese forerunners of the modern
strengths and weaknesses. The human
political officer were seldom concerned
with the individual soldier and his in-
being of flesh and bone in his envelope
doctrination. Napoleon felt that an
of vulnerable skin reacts in various ways
to thousands of physical influences, army is a crowd which obeys. Morale
threats, and promises. The thermostat problems could usually be dealt with by
an appeal to the emotions: a horseback
controlling these reactions is the mind.
exhortation by a revered general; re-
The technician who adjusts this thermo-
stat is the political officer. wards in the form of decorations, cita-
tions, or an additional ration of brandy.
II-GUERRILLA METHODS If these failed there was always punish-
AND THE MIND ment.
Political evolution and revolution
A good political officer is a great
have changed this. Political theory has
help to a commander, while one who
does not recognize his position is a seeped down to the individual soldier.
The revolt of entire frontline units
corresponding source of anxiety and
trouble. during World War I sent a shock through
-Col. W.C. G. Heneker1 the French Army. Firing squads crushed
West African Campaign 1874 the revolt, but the romantic picture of
the self-effacing, patriotic "poilu" ask-
The Political Officer. Historically,
ing only to be sent into the mouths of
the role of the political officer in enemy guns was smashed forever, and
normal military organizations has been the High Command was forced to insert
political factors into its evaluation of
ill defined and tenuous. Military leaders
troop morale.
have often resented the presence of such
official envoys and done their utmost to The Chinese Nationalist soldier who
ignore them. This is understandable deserted to the Communists in 1948 to
considering that many noblemen per- save his own skin was, for the first time
in his life, lectured on what he was
forming such a function in the 15th and
16th centuries were merely spies for fighting for and why.
their sovereign sent to report on the He also found that his new officers
actually explained their planned tactical
performance of his generals and see that
the spoils of battle found their way tomoves. This was heady wine for a
the Royal Treasury. peasant soldier whose previous experi-
During the Napoleonic wars the
ence with officers had been limited to
moving their luggage and receiving
equivalent of political officers was used
to keep track of the non-French regi- punishment.
ments fighting for the Empire, reporting Today, if the political officer or his

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 17

Chinese soldier.
equivalent is a constant recognized Political indoctrination
emphasizing
factor in many military organizations, it the constant threat to the
is largely due to his coming of unit andin
age the nation from "reactionary
elements" and the atmosphere of mu-
guerrilla movements where his function
tual political responsibility in the PLA
has proved indispensable to success.
From the caves of Yenan to the hills facilitates the acceptability of such a
of North Korea the People's Liberation system.
Army (PLA) of Communist China has Despite this constant indoctrination
depended on the political officer or the individual still reflects a certain
cadre as a yeast in their leavening of amount of human independence, and
purpose. the PLA political officer divides his
The footsore intellectual trying to wards into beets-red through and
lecture guerrilla bands on the compli- through, the true party members-and
cated theory of politics has been re- radishes-red on the outside only, those
placed by the hardened, professional who lack party commitment.^
propaganda expert whose role in the Although the PLA's political
PLA has grown to the point where he is methods were developed in a time of
burdened with specific tasks. guerrilla operations, it is now a well-
He is responsible not only for established regular army and should not
morale, political indoctrination, and be taken as representative of a normal
propaganda but he must also arrange for guerrilla fighting force.
assistance to soldiers' families; process In Malaya the Communist-supported
leave, furlough, and marriage applica- guerrillas of the Malayan Races Libera-
tions; allocate blame, praise, reward, or tion Army (MRLA) recognized the
punishment; regulate relations between importance of political indoctrination
unit members and the civilian popula- from the very beginning of their revolt.
tion; observe closely the behavior of Forced to fight in small units and under
military leaders toward their men and constant danger of infiltration by agents
even their conduct of military affairs.2 of the Colonial Police of British Intelli-
This is a complex assignment for one gence, the MRLA saw to it that its
officer no matter how dedicated or political officers were equal or, in some
fanatic he may be. To make their task cases, senior to their military com-
manders.
easier, the PLA political officers have
evolved a system that automaticallyIn Vietnam the political officer or
enlists the common soldier as an assis- cadre has been the backbone of the
tant. revolution. During the period prior to
Under the "morale informants sys- World War II, anti-French political
tem," appointed leaders within the groups with varying loyalties carried on
squad-usually party members-are made a clandestine fight for leadership in the
responsible for daily reports on bad struggle for eventual independence.
morale or any stubborn attitude shown Western political doctrines blended
by their comrades. This spiderweb net- with traditional Asian intrigue to make
work of informants facilitates the politi- French Indochina a perfect operating
cal officer's work. It also provides him terrain for the professional paramilitary
with the mechanics to evaluate the cadre. Violence, corruption, sellouts,
double and triple agents, official and
soldier's psychological reaction to politi-
cal and military situations and events. unofficial "special" operations built an
A Westerner would consider this atmosphere within which only the hard,
spying or informing. Care should clever be professional survived.
taken, however, not to expect such aHo Chi Minh's agents and the French
negative reaction on the part of the intelligence services recruited their own

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18 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

cadres from these professionals. A officer rose and exposed his


political
mutual appreciation of the political
identity by going into his harangue. The
cadre's importance instigated a first
warburst
in of fire was designed to silence
him forever.
the shadows as important and crucial as
the field operations of the Indochina
war.
Guerrilla Morale. Morale is the spe-
cial domain of the political officer. He
Following the Geneva Accords the
must understand the men of a guerrilla
well- trained, covert political cadre left
behind in South Vietnam became the unit thoroughly and know them well
artisans of the National Liberation enough to detect individual infections
of depression, fear, or fatigue and treat
Front's control apparatus. Today they,
them before they spread to others.
and their assistants, continue their train-
Isolation can be a serious problem
ing and indoctrination work throughout
for guerrilla morale. A man cut off from
the South. At the district level approxi-
the outside world, his family, and
mately 50 percent of their study pro-
friends reacts differently to pain, suffer-
gram is devoted to political subjects. At
ing, and sickness. Political ideology
the village level political subjects take
must be firmly buttressed by discipline
approximately 70 percent of the total
if it is to survive intact through a
training time, leaving only 30 percent
particularly trying situation.
for military instruction.
The forced inaction of a guerrilla
An important aspect of the Viet
group can lead to lethargy and second
Cong political officer's work is the
thoughts, particularly if the food is low
maintenance of fighting spirit among
and the wounded are suffereing from a
guerrilla units, particularly those iso-
lated from base areas or under continual lack of medicine and professional care.
At such times the political officer is
harassment by the enemy.
extremely active. He must redefine pur-
The political officer's harangue prior
to an action has become a standard pose, do his utmost to occupy the time
of his men, and exert a strong control
procedure both with the North Vietna-
over unit discipline.
mese and the Viet Cong. Generally, this
preaction warmup is modeled on The the antidotes for poor morale vary
Chinese Communist method, going so depending on who the guerrillas are and
far as to require signed pledges promis- where they are operating, but "together-
ness" seems to be a common denomi-
ing death to the enemy, continued faith
nator. The isolated unit draws in on
in the party, and requesting punishment
in the event of failure. itself and seeks strength from each of its
The most effective political officers members. This procedure can be com-
pared to a form of group therapy.
weave references to international events,
local developments, and the enemy'sSelf-criticism sessions, group singing,
alleged cowardice or brutality intolaudatory
their speeches, and ridicule of the
exhortations. The message is enemy oftenare stock tools of the Commu-
presented in a traditional style ornistas
political
a officer for improving unit
morale.
modern-day version of some ancient
Vietnamese legend. If these fail he turns to discipline and
The famous commando Vanden- picks the weakest link of the unit as the
berghe, who spread fear and insecurity subject for its application. The malin-
deep into Vietminh territory during gerer,
thethe whincr, the troublemaker is
Indochina war, mad«; it a practice ofout and made the focal point of
singled
seeking out these, open-air «exhortation
criticism. This gives the unit an object
meetings of the <;n«;my. This elitetowardgroup which they can direct their
would th«;n hold their fire until th<; frustration. The political officer pre-

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 19

sents them with a target forperform


hate, athe task of a physician to the
bestwhile
scapegoat, and buys precious time of their ability. Even the assign-
disposing of a troublesome element.
ment of a competent first aid man can
Guerrilla units throughout thebeworld
considered a morale plus to a guer-
seem to agree on one general rilla
rule of and a small consignment of
unit,
morale: the importance of a doctor's
modern drugs can be worth more than
presence or of someone who cananact asofa new weapons. 5
issue
doctor with any degree of competence. Another morale problem faced by
The sick and wounded can be the irregular troops is that of national iden-
tity
Achilles heel of a guerrilla unit. In and purpose. Guerrillas may fight
very
few instances can they be evacuated alonetoin an isolated region, but they
mustof
hospitals or recuperate in situations know that others are aware of
minimum comfort and care.their actions and that these actions are
They
part its
hamper the unit's mobility and drain of an overall plan or national
resources. effort. This is particularly important if
guerrillas
For the political officer they are working in conjunction
present
with a regular
an even greater problem. Their presencearmy or fighting far from
the classic
is a serious morale depressant. Nofront
onein the rear of the
likes to see a man die, particularly
enemy. a
Poor communications
friend. This ordeal is compounded with and liaison,
the knowledge that the infrequent
medical care or lack of attention
resupply,
from
that could save a life is being a higher for
denied headquarters can cast a
operational reasons. pall over a guerrilla organization. This
may sound
In addition to the sight and be more of marked in a Western
suffering and the odors of environment
infection, where
thethe lack of strong
individual guerrilla is exposed to the
political control and more ready access
constant thought that he mayto outside
sooninformation
be facilitates the
wounded and lying on the spread
same of rumor and speculation. Guer-
make-
rillasof
shift litter with little hope listening
proper to daily radio broadcasts
care or the needed drugs. on the glorious advances or victories of
A badly wounded regular theirwhisked
comrades in a regular division may
away by a medical evacuationbe momentarily
helicopterexcited and pleased at
soon becomes a faint memory to his
the good news. Once the radio is
fellow soldiers. A badly wounded guer-
switched off, however, they return to
rilla becomes the mirror of one's own
the grim realities of their own daily
death in the tight community of aexistence and the realization that their
guerrilla unit. actions and even their deaths may well
Alexander Orlov, a former high offi- go unrecorded and unknown.
cial of Soviet intelligence and instructor This problem became so serious
in the NKVD schools, emphasizes the
among Soviet partisans during World
importance of a physician's presence
War II that Moscow launched a special
with guerrilla bands and bluntly states
propaganda campaign to create an esprit
that if a doctor cannot be persuaded to
de corps in the guerrilla bands and build
a definite sense of "belonging" to the
join the guerrillas he must be drafted
against his will. 4 national defense effort. Special decora-
Such forced drafts took place in tions were authorized, locally published
propaganda newspapers extolling the
Europe during World War II when resis-
tance groups were operating from iso- exploits of outstanding partisans were
distributed among the units, and the
lated areas. In Viet Cong units shortages
of doctors are often remedied with the term "partisan" was dropped from of-
assignment of trained pharmacists whoficial usage and the term "soldier of the

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20 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

Red Army in the rear of the enemy"


to guerrilla fighters and even to the Dan
substituted. h Cong, or labor units, engaged in battle:
The Outside World. The outside Our enemies admit that 'if the flag
of the Democratic Republic of Viet-
world is important to the guerrilla.nam
It comes to float over the fortifica-
provides his hope, his eventual goal, and
tions of Dien Bien Phu, the situation in
the environment he hopes to rejoin onceIndochina will know important
changes, that will resound throughout
his actions have changed it to his liking.
This outside world can be friendlySoutheast
or Asia' . . . They do not hide
their uneasiness for, if France loses the
hostile. It can provide support or op-
battle, she will be in a bad position at
position, and the modern guerrilla
the Geneva Conference ... In France,
leader is aware of the need to exploit
all the leading newspapers print news
of Dien Bien Phu on the front page.
this other battleground through the use
L'Humanité, organ of the French Com-
of propaganda.
munist Party warmly applauds the vic-
Even the most isolated movements
tory of our people . . . '
recognize the need to spread informa-
tion on their actions throughout the Bombarded with such messages from
on high and with the political officer
world. In 1966 a rebel group in Angola
assuring continuity on a day-to-day
organized a special attack on a Portu-
guese Army post for a camera team ofbasis, the Vietminh soldier and the
the French National Television (ORTF)coolie working along the supply routes
felt the eyes of the world were upon
knowing that within days the footage of
their exploit would be shown to the them. They were no longer dying an-
onymously in an isolated mountain
entire French nation and might well be
valley. They were being honored as the
picked up and used by the Eurovision
network in other countries. vanguard of international communism.
Guerrilla leaders do not normally Target--The Enemy. Enemy troops
have the facilities or the money to are a prime target for guerrilla propa-
sustain international propaganda cam- ganda. Facing superior forces, arma-
paigns through an established network ment, and organization, the guerrilla,
of diplomatic posts or information like a sniper, aims at the enemy's most
offices. They do know that revolt and vulnerable point--the brain. He knows
violence in an exotic setting makes news that thoughts can be secret and hard for
and that discreet contacts with in-
any authority to control.
terested newsmen can provide them
Mao Tse-tung makes it elear that
with many column inches of copy in the treatment of captured enemy
proper
world press and prime-time footage on is highly important to the suc-
soldiers
international television.
cess of a guerrilla movement. He empha-
Incoming information can be just as sizes the need to destroy the enemy by
important in its effect on the guerrilla. propagandizing his troops, and caring
The Communist guerrilla is provided a for captured enemy wounded is part of
steady diet of radio messages informing this propagandizing. Any failure in these
him of support, congratulations, and the respects, Mao states, strengthens the
deep admiration and friendship of party solidarity of the enemy.®
members throughout the world. The late Che Guevara warned his
Passages of General Vo-nguyen- men to differentiate between traitors
Giap's "Message to the Army for the and those who "fought only because
Building of the Lines of Attack and they were forced to." Ile gave instruc-
Encirclement on the Dien Bien Phu tions that the latter category of pris-
oners should be released and given
Front" are good examples of how out-
side events and their significance are whatever
fed aid was available for their

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 21

wounded.9 they fed their wards a diet of daily


During World War II the Soviet parti- including the latest news of
propaganda,
sans leveled their propaganda sights at
the anti-French movement in the pris-
non-German troops, particularly
oner's in-
homeland. The same technique,
digenous units, and did so well with
in their
slight variations, was applied to the
campaign that German antiguerrilla prisoners from the Foreign Legion.
operations were visibly hampered. With10 the indoctrination came the
Basically there is nothing new subtle
in suchpsychological pressures of com-
tactics. The divide-and-conquer bined
methodphysical need and mental compro-
is as old as war itself. The disintegration
mise. The cooperative prisoners were
of the colonial empires and the eruption
rewarded. An extra piece of fish in the
of Communist-inspired wars of rice national
bowl or three cigarettes at the end
liberation have accelerated the develop-
of the day's march became extremely
ment of this technique to a high point to men under great physical
important
of sophistication and efficiency. strain.
Perhaps no better example can be who resisted brought punish-
Those
given than the treatment of mentFrench
to their group. If one man refused
Union Forces captured at Dien Bien Phu a political lecture his com-
to attend
by the Vietminh in the spring rades
of 1954.
were deprived of their rice for 24
The capture of Dien Bien Phu hours,
was anor badly needed drugs were
international propaganda victory in its unavailable for the sick and
suddenly
own right. But the high-rankingwounded.
political
officers of the Vietminh realized that Under such conditions defeated,
they had also won an inestimable propa- starving men, undergoing exhausting
ganda asset in the prisoners they held. marches through the jungle with little
Seldom have propagandists received hope of surviving, found it difficult to
such a windfall. These prisoners were resist the drumfire pounding of repeti-
stunned by defeat and bitter with re- tive indoctrination.
crimination. They came from the four The Vietminh political officers added
corners of the world. Algerians, Moroc- small refinements to their technique.
cans, Senegalese, Frenchmen, Vietna- For example, they knew that the garri-
mese, and Thai tribesmen were mixed son commander was not universally
with the Germans, Italians, Yugoslavs, respected by his fellow officers, particu-
Spaniards, and other nationalities of the larly those in the parachute battalions.
Foreign Legion. He was therefore treated with little
Well aware that the flames of na-
respect by the Vietminh and made to
tionalism were already flickering in the
eat alone and apart.H
countries of North Africa, the Vietminh Although many prisoners died in
quickly separated the Algerians andcaptivity, most were eventually ex-
Moroccans from their French officers
changed and returned to their homes.
and noncoms. Deserters and previously Some, although marked by their ex-
captured soldiers of the same nation- periences, were able to shake off the
ality who had been well indoctrinated effects of the political indoctrination
by the Vietminh were assigned as cadre with varying degrees of ease. Others had
for the newly formed groups. become willing carriers of the seed of
Their first task was to identify and rebellion planted by the political offi-
signal to their Communist superiors the cers and continued the same work, with
hard cases among the prisoners who modifications, in their own countries.
refused to accept indoctrination or gave Even the officers who had consis-
signs of solidifying opposition around tently resisted the Vietminh propaganda
them. Once this had been accomplished were fascinated by its efficiency and

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22 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

application. Some of them tried toSoustelle, the former Gover-


Jacques
apply its techniques in Algeria to
nor coun-
General of Algeria, described terror
ter the guerrillas of the FLN.asPart
a psychological
of weapon of un-
their failure can be explained by the
believable power. "Before the bodies of
difficulty of importing guerrilla those whose throats have been cut and
or coun-
thecoun-
terguerrilla techniques from one grimacing faces of the mutilated,"
Soustelle
try, situation, or environment to an-states graphically, "all ca-
other. pacity for resistance lapses: the spring is
broken. "2
As Regis Debray, the intellectual
albatross of Che Guevara's Bolivian Breaking the spring of resistance is
fiasco, has written, "... it is dangerous
the goal of a guerrilla movement. The
to import organizational formulas, even guerrilla leader knows that each spring
if they are based on a known theory. broken within the individual adds up to
facturing the giant spring of an estab-
Clearly, it is physically dangerous, since
many military errors derive from a government or society or, at the
lished
single political error ... "12 least, rendering it useless by robbing it
When political means, pressure,ofor support.
coercion prove ineffective in obtainingTerror is often the first form of
the desired results, guerrilla movementsaction available in a guerrilla campaign.
often turn to another tool. Its name is It is a stock item ready for use at little
terror. expenditure in personnel or funds. To
understand terrorism one must take into
III-TERROR AND ITS EFFECT
account the interpretive differences in-
herent in this form of action.
He who fears he will suffer already
suffers because of his fear. Menachem Begin, one of the Chiefs
-Montaigne! of the Israeli Irgun organization, com-
plained that foreign correspondents
Terrorist Action. Terrorism is a
were describing his men as terrorists and
powerful and dangerous weapon. The that they use another word:
suggested
word itself has an immediate emotional
the word "patriot." Begin reasoned that
and personal association lacking in mostas the Irgun's actions were liberating the
other terms of conflict. Terrorism pre- Jewish people from fear, his men were,
sents a threat as unpredictable as quick-in reality, antiterrorists.3
silver, and its methods can make a The bomb thrower of the Irish Re-
mockery of security, political control, publican Army, the political assassin of
and national purpose. the 0AS4 in Algeria, and the Chinese
A person who has not been exposed gunman of the Malayan Races Libera-
to terrorist action finds it difficult to
tion Army were practicing the art of
fully appreciate its true meaning. To live terrorism. In their own context, how-
in an atmosphere of terror is to await ever, they considered themselves
the grenade arching over the garden patriots.
wall, to search an automobile three or
four times a day for detonators and a Advantages and Disadvantages.
bomb, to realize that the whim of the. Whether the men involved accept the
enemy could result in the kidnaping or term terrorist or call themselves patriots
murder of one's children, to keep one's changes in no way the fact that they are
senses abnormally alert to every sound, using a sensitive psychological tool with
to sleep with a revolver by the bedside, several automatic advantages. It can
and to search the face of each passerby intimidate the enemy, particularly if the
for a sign that he, or she, desires your enemy's motivation is shaky or un-
own death or mutilation. certain. Mon; important, it can intimi-

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 23

date the population, erectingdesire


an in-
for action, or the knowledge that
visible barrier of noncooperation
terrorbe-
can present an immediate return
for little investment, they often lose
tween the people and their government.
Terrorism can also serve as effective sight of the fact that such violence can
publicity for a guerrilla movement an-escalate beyond any measure of its
nouncing to a nation and to the world practicability or profit. The competent
that a war has been declared on the practitioners of terrorism usually know
existing government. Repeated actshow of their actions will affect their ene-
terrorism then reveal to the peoplemies andand what reactions they can expect
to international opinion that the govern-
from those not directly involved.
ment is impotent to stop the attacks.
Reactions to Terrorism. It often
The people begin to doubt the govern-
comes as a surprise to find the Viet
ment's ability to protect them, and
Cong so quick to claim credit for acts of
other nations are hesitant to express
terrorism that have taken many inno-
support for a government that cannot
cent lives, a majority of them Vietna-
keep its own house in order.
mese. But the Viet Cong have had years
Another advantage is terrorism's ef-
of active experience. Their goal is that
ficiency as a liquidator of opposition. A
of the classic terrorist-to inspire fear
respected legislator and family man,
resulting in a psychological paralysis
with a substantial position and eco-
nomic resources, can be devoted to a
that cancels the people's desire to par-
ticipate in government-organized pro-
political ideal or movement, but his
grams.
degree of devotion may undergo an
abrupt readjustment when weighed In the early I950's a bomb of great
against the threat of terrorist action. force exploded in the heart of Saigon in
Death is a very permanent state, and front of the Opera House. 5 It had been
man is a most human animal. Dying for timed to go off at a busy hour, and its
a cause is much easier to contemplate in principal victims were the small shoe-
the abstract than when it becomes an shine boys who made the steps of the
immediate possibility. Opera House their headquarters. The
bomb also killed or mutilated a number
The disadvantages of terrorism can
often stem from the manner in which it of French and Vietnamese civilians. It

is applied. Clumsy, unplanned terrorist was a bloody incident, and it received


action can alienate a population, solidi- wide pictorial coverage in the world
press.
fy support for an existing regime, and
force an otherwise hesitant government This attack was immediately labeled
to apply its complete resources to crush as a Vietminh atrocity, and the French
a guerrilla movement. Information Service gave it additional
The unleashing of a terrorist cam- publicity. The Vietminh did little to
paign can also present a guerrilla leader refute these charges. Several years
with problems of control. Once the passed before the blame for the incident
Pandora's box of terrorism is opened, it was squarely placed on the leader of a
may be difficult to close. The ingredi- Cao Dai dissident group unassociated
with the Vietminh.
ents of violence and hate present in all
guerrilla movements find an easy outlet Up to this time the Vietminh had
through terrorism. A leader who has profited, in their own way, from the
ordered one or two acts of controlled false mantle of guilt. They had falsely,
terrorism may find his subordinate com- but effectively, demonstrated their
manders and their men only too eager power to strike with force and at will in
to continue such actions indiscriminate- the heart of a heavily controlled symbol
ly. In their eagerness based on revenge, aof colonial presence, the city of Saigon.

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24 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

They had falsely, but effectively,led by Daniel Breen. The British charac-
shown
that their action could be terrible and terized the attack as an "outrage"
carried out by "dangerous madmen"
implacable. They had falsely, but effec-
and "murderers. "h In Anglo-Saxon
tively, embarrassed the French authori-
ties and made their Vietnamese and terms terrorism is not only outside the
law, it is something that is just not
Chinese collaborators highly uncomfort-
able. done. Thus, to the British, terrorists
Since the close of World War II the must be labeled as bandits and gunmen
Vietnamese people have been bom-
to place them clearly in a criminal
category removed from any political
barded with photos, pamphlets, tracts,
and newspaper stories of Vietminh validation.
or
Viet Cong atrocities and terrorism. Although pure fear is the first and
Today they are close to the saturationmost common reaction to terrorism, it
point. The first human reaction after is
so usually accompanied by feelings of
many years of war is to be thankful that
impotence and frustration. The law of
the viewer was not the victim. The "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
second reaction, a bit slower but crucial
tooth" may be universal but, when
in a psychological sense, is the inescap-
applied to the victims of terrorism, it
able impression of Viet Cong omni- lacks practicability. The desire to strike
presence and freedom of action. back is normal, but one must first find
Unfortunately, Americans have often the terrorist to lay claim to his eye or
failed to grasp the objective of the Viet
his tooth. Even a well-organized police
Cong's use of indiscriminate terror andforce or special branch operates with a
have rushed to spread the wordthin ofmargin of probable success.
terrorist action throughout the country, When terrorists strike, the surviving
thus acting as Madison Avenue assistants
victims can seldom take weapon in hand
to an unwanted client--the Viet Cong. and track them down. They must rely
Reactions to terrorism vary depend- on the forces of order. This is an
ing on environment and the people impatient reliance that demands quick
involved. In Sicily, where small-scale results.
but When results are lacking, the
effective terrorism is traditional, theinitial hatd for the terrorist is diluted
people quickly "get the message." They with frustration and resentment. This
go beyond the act itself to interpretnegative
its mixture is often directed at the
significance and meaning. They seldom authorities.
expect or seek protection from the local
Selective Terrorism. Selective terror
authorities. Instead, they know how to
read the language of violence as promul- be highly effective. It was a favorite
can
tool of the Vietminh, and it remains a
gated by the Mafia, and their reactions,
though bathed in an outward show of standard procedure for the Viet Cong in
South Vietnam. Much of the South
emotion, are based on experience and
hardheaded realism. Vietnamese Government's inability to
In France, during the height of OAS regain control of the countryside can be
laid to the success of selective terrorism.
actions, the terms used to describe the
OAS activists were simply "activist" or A government official named as a
"terrorist" depending on the specific hamlet chief to replace a murdered
incident and its result. predecessor who had, in his turn, re-
Anglo-Saxon reactions are con- placed another victim of terrorism, is
siderably different. In Dublin, during
understandably reticent about spending
the winter of 1919, an attempt was the night in the home or room where
made on the life of Britain's Field the previous deaths occurred.
Marshal French by members of the IRA The temptation is strong to leave lhe

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 25

hamlet before sundown and bed down guerrilla's objectives and impatient with
at the district headquarters. This soonthe government's lack of efficiency. The
becomes a habit. The Viet Cong then fill
guerrillas then carry out their attacks in
this leadership vacuum. They enter the a manner that will place the blame on
hamlet at will for a night of lectures,the government while they pose as
songs, and discussions, often withinchampions of the murdered progres-
sives.
pistol range of the closely barricaded
police post. The Individual Terrorist. One of the
The people are aware that their chief
great problems in meeting the threat of
is absent each night, and so are the
terrorism is the difficulty of identifying
police. Neither will normally risk a and isolating the terrorist as an indi-
showdown with the Viet Cong under
vidual. A terrorist plan may originate in
such circumstances. When the time
the office of a locally respected physi-
comes, the Viet Cong assassination
cian, but the person carrying out the
squad will ambush the hamlet chief on
plan may be a 12-year-old boy who has
his way to the district headquarters or,
been paid to lean a bicycle against a
if the police are sufficiently cowed, he
will be shot on the street in full view of
certain wall at a specific time. The boy
is unaware that the bicycle frame is
the people.
stuffed with plastic explosive. Even
Selective terrorism is not always
under brutal interrogation he will be
applied to the enemy. It is often used to
unable to provide useful information,
"readjust" command or political dif-
for the man who paid him was a
ferences within guerrilla organizations
complete stranger. By the time the boy
or between rival guerrilla bands. What
is ushered into police headquarters the
appear to be indiscriminate acts of stranger is on his way to another city.
terror are often selective terror in dis-
The members of the Viet Cong spe-
guise. In Yugoslavia during World War
cial activities cell charged with assassina-
II, Soviet-supported partisans disguised tion and terrorism would seem to have
as Chetniks raided Croatian villages thus
much in common with the professional
turning the Croat population against the
Serbian-dominated Chetnik movement Tonkinese gunmen used by certain
branches of French Intelligence during
led by Mihailovic.?
the Indochina war. The differences how-
The range of targets for selective
ever are considerable. Not only is there
terrorism can vary greatly. Government
the obvious dichotomy in motivation,
officials, military leaders, police offi-
there is also the manifestation of an end
cers, and politicians are standard vic-
to an era of professional terrorism.
tims, but guerrilla movements invariably
match their targets to their political The black-clad, mercenary gunmen
goals. perched on their haunches outside
If a government is weak or vacil- French Intelligence offices in 1953 were
lating, the guerrillas may leave its offi- practitioners of a traditional art. They
cials in peace. They may be of more use followed in their fathers' footsteps,
to the guerrilla movement alive than learned their trade, practiced it, and
dead. On the other hand, a segment of were paid accordingly. The identity of
society under a weak government may their victims meant little to them, and
give signs of impatience and latent they considered their Vietminh counter-
action that could pose a threat to the parts as emotional amateurs.
movement. Today, in Vietnam, the emotional
In such a case, selective terrorism
amateurs have become the professionals.
might be directed at journalists, stu-
Terrorism has become too important to
dents, or labor leaders hostile to the
be left to the simple practitioner, and its

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26 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

physical brutality is as important as


sensitivity as a political and psychologi-
cal tool necessitates careful intelligence,
intelligence and ruse in guerrilla war and
planning, and control. that when the three are allied they will
Most guerrilla movements have always be-
triumph over what he describes
come highly selective in picking asthe
blind armament. 8
men
who are to carry out missions of Buttar-
the cold, brutal escalation of
geted terror, for the psychological atti-
counterterrorism can appear as a public
tudes of the individual can mean the admission that a nation's law enforce-
success or failure of a terrorist act.ment capabilities have broken down.
Nevertheless, a man devoted to a causeFrank Scotton, a U.S. Information
and demonstrating the highest motiva- Agency officer who recently received
tion can be a complete failure the as aPresident's award for outstanding
terrorist, while one who has no motiva-
field work in the Revolutionary Devel-
tion can carry out a terrorist action opment
with Program in South Vietnam,
extreme efficiency and success. explains that in combating terrorism the
One person may approach terrorism goals should be "the establishment of an
with considerable mental reservations. equitable system of law and appropriate
These reservations may be dormant,enforcement agencies (to include armed
dominated by the emotionalism of aforces). Once this is accomplished, the
cause. They may then appear suddenly, elimination (arrest, trial, imprisonment,
flashing into the open at a crucialor execution) of terrorists becomes a
moment, triggering hesitation, uncer- legal operation under Police Special
tainty, and reluctance, luxuries a terror-Branch or Army Special Operations. "9
ist cannot afford if he is to survive and Fighting fire with fire in the field of
carry out his mission. terror can build wars within wars. The
On the other hand, a hired terrorist struggle in the fall of 1961 between the
may approach the act with a mind OAS terrorists fighting for a French
uninhibited by either political motiva- Algeria and the "Barbouzes," or special
tion or human considerations. He may police acting for the French Govern-
be a young tough seeking recognition, ment, is a classic example of runaway
excitement, and violence or a profes- terrorism. The favorite arm in this clash
sional approaching his task with the was plastic explosive, and its use in the
pride of a journeyman. The policeman crowded streets of Algiers accounted for
or special branch operative who can hundreds of innocent victims. The de-
analyze such psychological differences lineation of who were the terrorists and
in terrorist motivation has a much bet- who were the counterterrorists became
ter chance of countering terrorism effec- progressively vague as explosion fol-
tively. lowed explosion in the striken city.
Assassinations, torture, and kidnapings
Counterterrorism. Terrorism often marked the skirmishes of the "com-
produces the related violence of coun- mandos Delta" of the OAS and the
terterrorism. This controversial method
"Barbouzes." Well-organized attacks
of striking back at terrorists is swathed utilizing bazookas were directed against
in the mystique of clandestine opera- the special police, and they responded
tions and strengthened by the normal with bombings of the business establish-
human desire for vengeance and quick ments and homes of known OAS
justice. It is supported by the argument sympathizers. Typical of this bloody
that terrorists must liquidate terrorists. escalation was the destruction of the
Col. Roger Trinquier, a leading Radja Hotel where the "Barbouzes" had
French expert on revolutionary war and established their fortress headquarters.
advocate of counterterrorism, feels that A powerful bomb disguised as a case of

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 27

and dies
supplies was delivered and accepted. Its because of a natural incompati-
bility.
explosion completely destroyed the Psychological attitudes have
hotel and buried in its debris the muti- played a considerable role in this rejec-
lated bodies of those inside. tion process.
In this situation the psychological In Western society the professional
and even the political results of terror- soldier's training, tradition, and code of
ism and counterterrorism became secon- honor have built a wall between him
dary and were pushed aside in order and the complicated world of national
that the blind killing could continue. and international politics. He is trained
The clash of terrorist and counter- to fight, to protect his homeland, and to
terrorist oblivious to those around them perform these tasks to the best of his
can create a vacuum of reaction. professional ability. Even the draftee or
Numbed and sickened by what they conscript
see, follows this code of honor
the population can lose faith
once in a
in uniform.
guerrilla movement or the government's
In modern guerrilla warfare the pro-
efforts to combat it. fessional soldier finds himself up against
Counterterrorism may appear an
toenemy
be a whose every move or tactic is
tempting and expedient method coordinated
to fight with political objectives
guerrilla terrorists, but the counter-
and plans. The traditional procedure of
guerrilla who accepts its use winning
is em- a battle or a war against an
enemy
ploying a tool of negative power. army and then turning the vic-
A tool
tory over to the politicians and diplo-
that may well create new problems
matsfaces.
rather than solve those he already has suddenly become obsolete.
The guerrilla's tactics call for con-
IV--THE COUNTERGUERRILLA stant political-military action. The coun-
terguerrilla commander who ignores this
He who stumbles twice over the
rule may win militarily only to find his
same stone deserves to break his neck.
victory annulled by the enemy's politi-
--Spanish Proverbi cal triumph.
In such situations the counter-
The Problem. From the clash of
guerrilla's psychological attitude can be
Roman Legions with the wild tribes of
a serious obstacle to success. Tradition
Gaul to the quick, deadly ambushes of
and modern technology can combine to
the Vietnam conflict, there has do
been
him a disservice. A man trained over
one constant with few exceptions: the period of time in military pro-
a long
great difficulty experienced by regular
cedures that have proven highly effec-
forces in understanding and effectively
tive will not forego them easily. Rather
reacting to guerrilla warfare. than change his viewpoint to meet a
"Revolutionary war," with itsnew
em-situation, he tends to adapt what
phasis on political action and subver-
he has known and used in the past to fit
sion, has made the modern counter-
the new problem. He thus achieves a
guerrilla's task even more difficult.
hybrid result of dubious value.
Armies have been retrained and The same man may have profited
equipped, regulars have been lectured
from the technological advances of mili-
tary
on the ways of the guerrilla, and science during his career. He finds
special
courses have been put together with all
it particularly difficult to put aside his
the benefits of technological data
technological expertise and make the
mental readjustment needed to return
gathering. The results, unfortunately,
often fall short of the desired goal. Itbasics
to the is of guerrilla warfare.
as if a new branch, grafted onto a commanders in Malaya often
British
found it more profitable to train a
weather-tested tree, gradually withers

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28 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

But all we ever got


conscript for counterguerrilla operations
rather than attempt the reconversion of from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy
a veteran regular into a counterguerrilla
fighter. made us swaller;
Traditionally the professional regular We 'eld our bloomin' own
is faced with a constant temptation to the papers say ,
underestimate his guerrilla enemy. But man for man the Fuzzy
There is usually a factor of contempt in knocked us 'oller.2
such miscalculations. To him, the guer-
rilla is not really a soldier, and he does During the Indochina war the term
not fight according to the book. There "Viet" used by the French to describe
are few manifestations of warfare fur- the Vietminh evolved from a term of
ther from the norm than those carried derogation in the mouth of the Saigon
out by the guerrilla. staff officer to one of professional
respect when used by the Legion officer
General Braddock's inbred contempt
in the field. Today the term "Charlie"
for irregulars led him to ignore George
referring to the Viet Cong undergoes
Washington's warning prior to the am-
much the same change in meaning de-
bush of his column by the French and
pending on its user and his experience.
Indians. Lawrence had to fight the
The professional military officer who
disdain of British professionals before
is suddenly projected into the role of
he could obtain arms and supplies for
counterguerrilla commander without
his Arab irregulars. The French High
Command refused to credit the Viet-
adequate preparation and training soon
suffers the frustrations common to this
minh with the ability to transport and
type of war. His massive, powerful
install artillery in the hills surrounding
force, designed and trained to carry out
Dien Bien Phu, and the American High
large conventional operations, becomes
Command was unprepared for the well-
a liability until it can be reorganized and
organized attacks of the Viet Cong andtrained in its new task.
North Vietnamese during the Tet holi- With his unit isolated in difficult
day in 1968. These were all instances ofterrain, its small detachments off hunt-
underestimation, by professionals, of an
ing guerrilla bands, his supply columns
irregular or unconventional force.
falling into costly ambushes, his respon-
It is often the man fighting the sibility extended to protecting nearby
guerrilla face to face who accurately towns and villages, the commander
measures the enemy's true worth and becomes only too aware that he is
the real threat he poses. Fiction often
fighting a different war. An important
comes close to the truth. Kippling'spart of this different war is the role of
poem "Fuzzy Wuzzy" can be used in the population and the counterguer-
this context as a dated but valid ex- rilla 's relations with the people.
ample of an experienced, regular sol-
The People. Nationalism, tradition,
dier's assessment of his guerrilla ene-
mies:
ethnic ties, historical precedents, politi-
cal attitudes, and the general psycho-
We took our chanst among logical state of a people help to deter-
the Kyber 'ills, mine its basic conduct within or on the
The Boers knocked us silly fringes of a guerrilla war.
at a mile, T.E. Lawrence estimated, with keen
The Burman gave us insight into the Arab culture and charac-
Irriwaddy chills, ter, that he needed only 2 percent of
An' a Zulu impi dished us the population actively involved in the
up in style: Arab revolt to achieve success if the

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 29

guerrilla becomes overwhelming, build-


remaining 90 percent remained passively
sympathetic. 3 ing into a form of psychosis that can
The difficulty and eventual failure
explode at the slightest provocation: the
refusal of a villager to respond to a
experienced by the Chinese-dominated
rebels in Malaya was due, in part,question;
to the a road blocked by an oxcart;
fact that the majority of thethe Malay
sight of food stocks that might be
population was hostile or, at theavailable
least, to the enemy.
The results of such a fixation can
in passive opposition to their activities.
If, as Mao states, the people are the from the complete destruction of
range
water in which the guerrilla fish a village
must to unwarranted beatings and
swim, it is no less true that the counter-
useless arrests. Thus the counterguer-
rilla in
guerrilla must bait and cast his line 's bait becomes tainted, his chum
the same water for a catch of useless,
prime and his hook floats unheeded in
importance-intelligence information.
an empty sea.
Without intelligence information a
In January 1953 the writer landed on
counterguerrilla force is a piece of coast
the central of South Vietnam with
machinery minus an essential part. Franco-Vietnamese
But Forces whose task it
intelligence information must come
was to retake the town of Tuy Hoa. The
from the people, and the counterguer- town had been under Vietminh control
rilla must find the best mix of chum to for several years. A major psychological
bring them closer to his line. Sound warfare effort was mounted during this
government, civic action programs, land landing, but much of its effect was
reform, medical assistance, and guaran- wiped out by the behavior of the troops
teed security can all go into the mix, involved. The following incident was
but the proportions must be correct. typical of the operation at Tuy Hoa:
Guerrilla experts Peter Paret and A dusty road leading between the huts
John Shy state that: was cluttered with woven paniers
covered with tiny shrimp and red
Although there may be a limited role peppers drying in the sun. Old women
for counter-guerrilla guerrillas, the moved among the paniers, shaking
great weakness of the mobile striking them occasionally to bring the damper
forces-imperfect tactical intelligence- shrimp or peppers to the surface. As
is better corrected by the creation of we watched, a jeep full of government
local militia. But neither pro-govern- troops careened around a corner and
ment guerrillas nor militia can be effec- braked to a stop a foot from the
tive without firm popular support. And paniers. A young soldier jumped from
this leads to the second concern of the jeep. He strode forward kicking the
counter-guerrilla forces: good troops paniers right and left, scattering the
employing proper tactics cannot make shrimp and peppers in the dust. When
up for an unsound government and he had cleared the path the jeep
political base. 4 followed along behind him, crushing
some of the paniers under its wheels.
Troop behavior can be as importantThe soldier jumped back into the jeep
to the counterguerrilla commander asand it roared off. Stooping, the old
women patiently began salvaging their
any program of civic action in reaching
the people. The more widespread thescattered shrimp and peppers, replacing
them in their battered paniers. 5
guerrilla movement, the more difficult
and frustrating are the daily operationsLater, a village elder explained the
arrival and behavior of the Vietminh.
for the individual counterguerrilla. The
"They came with much rice and rare
hunt drags on through tortuous terrain,
under conditions of extreme physical medicines. They helped us till the fields
hardship, with the sniper or the mineand they left our young women
alone."6
taking a daily toll of dead and wounded.
The desire to strike back at the A good civic action program can be

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30 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

completely ruined by poor troop


appliedbe-bribery was "one of the most
havior, while a faltering civic action counterinsurgency weapons
effective
program can be saved by proper be-to government."?
available
havior on the part of counterguerrilla
As in the purely military aspect of
forces. Care must be taken, however,
guerrillatooperations, new methods have
insure that the hard cutting edgeto be of a
developed to meet a particular
counterguerrilla force is not blunted bywhen working with the popu-
situation
overconcentration on civic action proj-
lation. Sir Gerald Templer's use of the
ects that should be the prime responsi-
village questionnaire during the Malayan
bility of paramilitary or nonmilitary
insurgency was such an innovation.
organizations. British troops entered a village in a
It is easier to hand candy to children
zone of guerrilla operations, distributed
and pass blankets to civilians than it is
questionnaires to each house, and asked
to track the guerrilla through the
thejungle,
people to tell what they knew about
and although the counterguerrilla mustactivities and the identity of
guerrilla
be aware of his role as a friend and
those supplying the rebels with food.
protector of the population, he must
Each villager then had to deposit his
not forget his primary role asquestionnaire,
the completed or not, in a
liquidator of a guerrilla movement. sealed box. The box was personally
The prime benefit an effective coun-
opened by General Templer in the
terguerrilla force can offer to the popu-
presence of a few trusted Malayan
lation is security. With guaranteed notables. It was thus impossible for the
security the people will be more willing Min Yuen assassination squads to iden-
to come forward with information. But
tify those individuals who actually gave
security is much more complicated thanproductive information. The first use of
throwing a temporary ring of riflementhe questionnaire resulted in the arrest
around a village. Populations involved inof 30 Chinese directly or indirectly
a guerrilla war situation want trueinvolved with the rebels.^ This method
security. Not only security against raidsbroke the psychological barrier of fear
and extortion by the guerrilla, but also that had made normal intelligence
against mistreatment by governmentgathering all but impossible.
forces and the armed bands that often
The diverse nature of guerrilla war
proliferate on the fringes of an insur-
calls for extreme flexibility on the part
gency.
of the counterguerrilla. He must think
A counterguerrilla leader who
like his enemy, have an understanding
promises security and cannot provide it
of the enemy's problems and psycho-
will have a very difficult time obtaining
logical attitudes, and be gifted with an
support from the people, no matter how
inordinate amount of patience.
lavish his civic action program.
Simple justice and hardhead ed real- The Patience Factor. Perhaps no one
ism are two essential attributes in the quality is more essential to the makeup
struggle for a populations' support. Theof a competent counterguerrilla force
late President Magsaysay of the Philip-and its leaders than patience. The coun-
pines based his campaign against theterguerrilla is an amalgam of social
Huk rebels on a well-conceived civic worker, detective, policeman, and
action program. But the measure ofhunter.
his He must be at ease in civic
success as a counterguerrilla leader action,
was expert in sifting useful details
his ability to blend the open, socialfrom a bulk of irrelevant information,
improvement projects with efficient just and firm as an arm of the law, and
clandestine countermeasures. President skilled in tracking, outwaiting, and liqui-
Magsaysay once stated that judiciously dating his enemy.

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 31

In the winter of 1952, Vietminh facture that were lashed to it. The
units were pressing hard around the Vietminh dead sprawled over the cases
Catholic town of Phat Diem in the Delta of bloodstained ammunition or floated
of Tonkin. Regular French units, sup- face down in the water. Later, as dawn
ported by Catholic Militia, had tried broke, the commando section boarded
repeatedly but with little success to halt their trucks and departed.9
the infiltration of heavy weapons and Within 24 hours, making use of
ammunition. The enemy continued to intuition, knowledge of the enemy, and
crush isolated Catholic Militia units, technical expertise, they had located the
execute village leaders, and install their most likely route of infiltration. They
own people in key positions. In despera- had then invested their great fund of
tion the local French commander, a patience. Lying quietly in the mud at
proud, tradition-bound, Spahi officer, the edge of the river, chewing on sticky
called for help. It came in the form of a rice in lieu of smoking cigarettes, they
small section from the Commando had waited. Their investment had paid
d'Indochine. off with considerable profit.
The section was made up of French Americans, as "doers," anxious to
and Vietnamese commandos led by aget on with the job and eager to
young captain of mixed blood. Theyproduce results, often find the patience
were in startling contrast to the dashingfactor a difficult technique to master in
Spahi officers from the local armored counterguerrilla operations.
unit who watched the new arrivals with
condescension and slight curiosity. American Attitudes. In a positive
The commandos worked in trousers sense Americans can justifiably ap-
secured over canvas shoes with rubber proach the problems of counterguerrilla
action with a solid base of historical
bands. They wore wool shirts covered
by one or two dark sweaters. The only experience. The Kentucky rifleman with
items of uniform one could call regula-his own scalping knife was certainly a
tion were the black berets pushed down counterguerrilla. Roger's Rangers adopt-
on their foreheads. ed the tactics of their elusive enemy and
For four nights they straggled out atcarried out a highly successful form of
dusk toward the deserted villages andthe "search and destroy" mission. 19
rice paddies. Each morning they re- On the other hand, Americans today
turned, uncommunicative and smeared stand with both feet solidly planted in
with mud. an age of massive technological develop-
On the fifth night a searing rattle ofment where science and the computer
distant small arms fire awoke the sleep- offer challenges and solutions thought
ing Spahis. Lights flashed on in sector impossible a few short years ago.
headquarters. There was excited shout- Here, in a sense, lies the problem.
ing, the revving of motors, and theGuerrilla movements have a way of
grinding of gears as the Spahis and theirthumbing their noses at modern tech-
armored cars prepared to go to the aid nology. Computers can count votes, but
of the commandos. they have yet to analyze a man's politi-
But the commandos were safe. The cal sympathy or emotional involvement
in
infiltrators were dead. Two sampans a cause. Nor can modern science
were floating, bottom up, down a nar-change, through gadgets and highly
row river. Three others had nosed in sophisticated machinery, the basic task
among the bamboo. The young com-of the counterguerrilla--to track and
mando captain was examining the raft eliminate his enemy, often in a situation
his men had swum out to retrieve and of personal confrontation.
the two heavy mortars of Chinese manu- To fight guerrillas one must know

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32 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

them. This implies a deep degree of action during the early 1950 's,
guerrilla
the myth of Malaya was born. American
personal involvement or total immersion
in an insurgency situation. In a officials,
psycho- watching the slow disintegra-
tion of
logical sense, most Americans seldom gothe French position in Indo-
china,
beyond getting their feet wet. flew to Malaya to see how a
This is
particularly true of the draftee successful
in Viet- counterinsurgency campaign
nam, but it also applies to thewas being handled and rushed back to
profes-
Saigon to urge the French to adopt the
sional Special Forces officer working
British methods.
with the Montagnards. Both men know
that they are serving a limited amount While certain procedures were ap-
of time and that their lives are not propriate for adoption, counterguerrilla
techniques, like certain wines, do not
bound to the people with whom they
travel well.
are working.
During the most dangerous and try- The British in Malaya had some
ing actions there is the mental re- prime assets: independence was around
assurance of another life and another the corner, and the government could
develop a firm national policy on the
land that constitutes a form of psycho-
future of the country; the Malay ma-
logical escape hatch. This can be posi-
jority of the population was opposed to
tive as a morale factor but negative to
total commitment. Although this was the Chinese-dominated rebels; the rebels
were isolated from any significant out-
true of the British soldier in Malaya and
side aid, and their sources of food
the French parachutist in North Viet-
supply were comparatively easy to
nam, it is particularly applicable to the
control. 11
American serving for 1 short year in
Vietnam. In addition, the British psychological
For every American commander who warfare effort concentrated on explain-
understands the guerrilla and guerrillaing to the Malay population that the
warfare there are still those who com- fight was not between Malayan Commu-
plain that the enemy will not "standnists and the security forces but be-
and fight" a posture that anyone with atween the Malayan people and Chinese
Communists. Thus the traditional
basic understanding of the guerrilla
would hardly find unusual. Raids Malayan antagonism toward the Chinese
against American military installations and distrust of Chinese motives played
and airfields carried out by Viet Conginto the hands of the government.! 2
commandos are often described as sneak Transplanting the techniques that
were successful in Malaya and expecting
attacks or terror raids. Such catch
phrases may be useful for propagandato thrive in Indochina proved to
them
purposes. They become dangerous be a delusion. Moving Chinese squatters
when, through repetition, the from
user their makeshift shacks on the edge
of the Malayan jungle and placing them
begins to believe them himself.
in an efficiently operated resettlement
Thus a highly successful, well-
village was considerably different from
planned commando action is labeled a
uprooting Vietnamese from their ances-
"sneak attack" with the implication
tral village and relocating them in a
that only through stealth and treachery
makeshift, inefficiently run refugee
was such a raid possible and the coun-
camp.
terguerrilla, if not alert, falls once again
Even more important, psycho-
into the psychological trap of under-
logically, was the fact that the Commu-
estimating his enemy.
nist-dominated Vietminh were, to the
The Myth of Malaya. In the hurried
average Vietnamese, a liberation army
search for a key to success in counter-
made up of Vietnamese fighting colo-

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 33

ning directly
nialism. No amount of propaganda or from Lao Kay, near the
imported techniques could convince
Chinese border, to Dien Bien Phu. They
them that independence was justalso immobilized 14 battalions of Viet-
around
minh regulars by their actions and were
the corner as long as the French Expedi-
of invaluable assistance in locating and
tionary Force remained in Indochina.
recovering hundreds of French pris-
Tribal Groups and Ethnic Minorities.
oners.! 5
Working with another people in combat-
Despite their loyal service, these local
ing an insurgency within their own
partisans were abandoned at the close of
territory brings new responsibilities and
the Indochina war. An unrealistic radio
problems for the counterguerrilla. This
message went out to these groups when
is especially true where Western cadres
the French and the Vietminh reached an
work with tribal groups and ethnic
agreement in 1954. They were to sur-
minorities. As guerrillas often render
operate
to the nearest authorities of the
from an isolated jungle or mountain
People's Army of North Vietnam. They
environment or, in more advanced
would then, supposedly, be treated as
phases of an uprising, move large units
prisoners of war. A minority of these
through the cover of jungle or moun-
men led by their French officers
tains, the inhabitants of such areas
managed to fight their way out of the
become important actors in the insur-
jungles of North Vietnam and Laos. The
gency drama.
remainder were not heard from again.
This has often been true in guerrilla Caught up in a struggle of sophisti-
war, and it was emphasized again during cated political theories and international
World War II when mountain people- intrigue, minority groups are often used
the Dyaks in Borneo, the Kachins in by both sides without understanding the
Burma, and the Meo in Indochina- issues at stake. Their service and loyalty
worked with Allied special forces as counterguerrillas are often based on a
against the Japanese.
highly personal relationship with the
The effectiveness of these small eth-
Western officers who may be acting
nic groups in guerrilla and counter- directly or indirectly as their com-
guerrilla operations is based on their manders. Much of this attitude is linked
knowledge of terrain, endurance, track- with a recent colonial past.
ing ability, courage, and determination When the 3rd Thai Battalion began
to eliminate unwelcome trespassers. In to disintegrate at Dien Bien Phu, one
Malaya the Senoi Praak, a small ab- whole company deserted when its com-
original force numbering not more than mander, Captain Guilleminot, was
300, killed more MRLA guerrillas dur- wounded. The Thais felt their bond of
ing the last 2 years of the insurgency fidelity to the French had been severed.
than the total accounted for by all other They had been fighting for Guilleminot
security forces. 13 and not for a vague government in
The local partisan groups in upper Saigon or the abstraction of the world
Tonkin and Laos organized by Frenchbattle between the "free world" and
officers of the GCMA14 during the "communism. "16
Indochina war reached a total strength The brutal but real dictates of politi-
of 20,000. The operations of these units cal necessity that force a counter-
permitted the evacuation without losses guerrilla leader to abandon those he has
of the fortified camp of Nasan, the led to the doubtful mercies of the
reconquest by Laos of the provinces of enemy or the vague promises of an
Phong Saly and San Neua without the unfriendly government can have a
help of regular troops, as well as the serious effect on the man involved both
interdiction of an important road run- as a person and as a soldier.

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34 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

The officers of the French list


Armyis merely a sampling of guerrilla
action in an era of relative international
who revolted against their government
in April of 1961 were products peace.
of such
a psychological shock. An officer While
of the it is difficult to predict exactly
SASI7 expressed the feelingwhat of direction
his future guerrilla fighting
comrades when he stated: "I think of all may take, the lessons of Algiers and,
those who were massacred in Indochina more recently, Saigon, indicate the ex-
for having believed in France, after tent of the real problem posed by the
having won them to France's side, after urban guerrilla.
promising not to abandon them ... of
The Urban Guerrilla. There is per-
those in Tunisia, true to the end, of
those in Morocco ... "18 haps no entity quite so vulnerable to
guerrilla action as the modern city. It is
Although the revolt of French offi- easy to imagine what a well-coordi-
cers in 1961 was an extreme manifesta-
nated, violent guerrilla action could
tion of military discontent and political mean in terms of utilities destroyed,
uncertainty at the end of a colonial era, communications disrupted, administra-
much of the individual motivation was tive services paralyzed, and civilians
based on the personal feeling of havingterrorized, wounded, and killed.
abandoned or deserted those friends General Nemo, a leading French
with whom one had lived and fought.
theorist of revolutionary war, has accu-
No matter what nationalities are in- rately described the "fragility" of a
volved or what political situation exists,modern city:
the counterguerrilla leader must main- In Europe the complex social life
tain a realistic understanding of his renders the different elements depen-
responsibilities in working with tribal dent on one another. The Administra-

groups and ethnic minorities and an tive machine and the economic organi-
zation are cogs in a complex system
awareness of the psychological and which it is relatively easy to block. The
human consequences brought on by any higher degree to which a country has
sudden change in policy or political evolved, and the more complex its
accommodation. structure, the more opportunities it
offers for subversive action . . . the
V--THE FUTURE European countries are fragile. 2
In an urban atmosphere the guerrilla,
It is time to realize that most like a chameleon, must undergo changes
modern war is guerrilla in character. to fit his new environment. He is so
-Maj. Gen. Orde C. Wingatclclosely integrated with the people that
his enemy will have a difficult time
During World War II active guerrilla
isolating him from support and informa-
warfare became the immediate concern
tion. On the other hand, his proximity
of field commanders on both sides of
to the authorities and his unavoidable
the conflict. It was no longer the sole
exposure to many individuals will make
domain of a small group of experts nor him extremely vulnerable to detection
was it limited to a specific geographic and betrayal.
location.
The urban guerrilla may also face a
Since World War II guerrilla warfare more subtle and complicated set of
has remained a constant in a world psychological pressures than the guer-
undergoing rapid political change. rilla
In a operating from a mountain base.
period of nuclear deterrence, guerrillas
His presence in a city may put him in
have been active in Greece., Morocco,
close touch with his family, tempting
Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Laos,
him to carry out repetitive personal
Vietnam, Bolivia, and Venezuela. This
contacts of great danger. Involvement in

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 35

terrorist activities may force himtude


to beof
a the people, as mentioned pre-
continual witness of the suffering
viously, is the key to intelligence pro-
caused by his action. curement.

If his campaign drags on, the controls


Coastal, Delta, and Riverine War.
and severe measures applied by the movements have often been
Guerrilla
authorities may tend to irritate the
closely tied to the sea and inland water-
people and eventually draw the popula-
ways. They have depended on the sea as
tion away from the guerrilla as he
a supply route and liaison channel and
becomes the cause of their discomfort
on the swamps and rivers to assure an
and privation.
unobtrusive, sure method of transport
The work of the counterguerrilla also
and internal communication.
becomes highly complicated in urban
Arms and supplies landed clandes-
operations. He moves and fights in a
tinely over beaches or in hidden inlets
jungle of property. Restrictions multi-
have supplied guerrilla forces in the
ply, many of his weapons become
Spain of 1808 and in today's Vietnam.
unusable because of political or humani-
Control of the waterways has always
tarian reasons, and his prerogatives are
limited. been an important objective for both
guerrilla and counterguerrilla.
Street and house-to-house fighting in
When one examines the coastal,
time of war in an evacuated city is
difficult. The same type of fighting in a delta, and river systems on a world map
it is not difficult to see how future
civilian-occupied city is not only diffi-
cult, it multiplies the strain and frustra- guerrilla campaigns may be concen-
trated in coastal or fluvial zones. From
tion experienced by the counterguer-
rilla. the mangrove swamps of the West Afri-
Troops called into a city can consti- can coast to the Chonos Archipelago of
tute an element that is psychologically Chile, to the island maze of Indonesia,
divorced from the population and out- waterways provide certain advantages
side the context of a city's life. Their over the classic mountain or jungle base.
Isolation is reduced because the lines
presence tends to exaggerate the impor-
tance of a guerrilla movement, and it of communication are improved. The
can trigger fear, if the population is guerrilla can use the water as a roadway.
against the movement, or hate, if they The multiplicity of supply points will
support it. work to his advantage. He no longer has
The counterguerrilla is also faced to depend on a hazardous, easily inter-
dicted mountain trail or the telltale
with the possibility that the guerrilla
who is captured or killed in full view of airdrop. His supplies, orders, and equip-
the population has a much better ment can come in a swift patrol boat or
chance of becoming the movement's an innocent-looking pirogue.
martyr than he would have had if his Coastal swamps, jungled inlets, and
capture or death had occurred in a multiple river systems provide him with
jungle ambush. as much cover as a mountain stronghold
Because an urban guerrilla's action with the added advantage that escape
requires precise planning, split second routes are more easily available. In this
timing, and dependable liaison, the new location he avoids some of the
elimination of the movement's com-physical and psychological detriments
mand element within a city can behea had faced hidden in the mountains.
decisive factor in the eventual dis- Food becomes a question of simple
integration of a guerrilla campaign.
fishtraps and not one of mule-delivered
Quick, accurate intelligence information
rations. Medical supplies arrive directly
from outside the country, and their
is essential, and the psychological atti-

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36 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

transit is from supplier to user with


ground
noagainst which day-to-day devel-
need of a long, clandestine, opments
cross- can be measured, psychological
country transit. attitudes weighed, and operational
The riverine guerrilla may also decisions
bemade.
able to maintain his influence more Villages suddenly deserted along a
readily on a greater number of people specific
as stretch of river; unexpected
sullenness on the part of normally
population centers are often in lowland
locations in close proximity to river friendly fishermen; elaborate delays in
mouths and seafronts. the formalities of greeting by elders of a
Riverine operations pose new prob- coastal hamlet; a sudden increase in the
lems and requirements for the counter- number of women fishing off a specific
guerrilla. Small patrol craft, no matter village; all of the small signals that might
how well armed or armored, are ex- otherwise go unnoticed become impor-
tremely vulnerable as they move along a tant when interpreted from such a base
waterway past banks thick with jungle of knowledge.
growth or hidden in high swamp grass. During the Indochina war French
"Reconnaissances up narrow creeks authorities organized the 5th Mobile
in launches or boats are fraught with Security Brigade. This small unit, offi;
danger," a British commander stated, cered by Eurasians and with a number
referring to the West African campaigns of ex-Vietminh in their ranks, patrolled
of the late 1800's, "and the best way to the inlets and small streams leading in
carry these out is to scout the bush on and out of the Saigon River. They
each side in advance of the boat. "3 operated at night in pirogues without
Such scouting may not be possible or
BIOGRAPHIC SUMMARY
practical, but it is true that constant
liaison with the shore is essential to
Mr. Howard R.
insure up-to-date intelligence and ade- Simpson holds a bach-
quate security. elor's degree from San
If naval forces are carrying out river- Francisco College and
is a graduate of the
ine counterguerrilla action, it is a prac- U.S. Naval War Col-
tical as well as psychological necessity lege. He has had con-
that their link with the land be firmly siderable experience
established. The waterborne counter- as an observer of guer-
rilla action. In the
guerrilla's understanding of the man he
French-Indochina conflict he served as a war
is fighting must extend beyond the
correspondent for the U.S. Information
boundaries of shoreline or riverbank.
Agency covering seven major campaigns in
North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and Laos,
A river winds through a countryside
including Nason and Dien Bien Phu. He
like an artery through a human body.
accompanied Thai partisans on operations
To treat an artery the physician must
near Lai Chan, observed the work of Com-
know the body, sense its reactions, and
mando, d'Indochine in the Tonkin Delta, and
watch closely for changes. The riverine
was with the Catholic Militia during heavy
Vietminh
counterguerrilla must be alert in the attacks on Phat Diem in November

same manner if his particular cure is 1952.


to He closely observed the Algerian insur-
work. gency and subsequent French withdrawal
when acting as Director of the USIA office in
The people ashore can be as impor-
Marseilles from 1959 to 1961. In 1964 he
tant to him as the picture on a radar
returned to Vietnam as an adviser to the
Prime Minister and to the Political Warfare
scope. A knowledge of their ethnic
Section of the Vietnamese Army. Mr. Simp-
background, culture, and tradition
son is currently serving as a Faculty Advisor
blended with an understanding of their and Consultant (USIA) to the President,
position in regard to a guerrilla move-Naval War College.
ment form the indispensable back-

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 37

pressures
motors. In two and one half years this and attitudes, a chapter was
devoted to the counterguerrilla.
unit killed or captured 420 Vietminh
officials and messengers without losing a page is being written, a front
As this
man dead or captured. Much of their
page dispatch in The New York Times
success was due to a deep knowledge of the fighting in Saigon in these
describes
their enemy and his character.4 words: "The tenacity of the enemy
A substantial contribution to the
continues to surprise top military
success of future riverine operations
spokesmen ... It also baffles the Ameri-
involving the guerrilla can come from cana and South Vietnamese ground
thorough understanding of the psycho- troops." The dispatch quotes an Ameri-
logical aspects active within a particular
can infantryman fighting through the
environment. Such a base of knowledge,rubble and dust on the outskirts of the
coupled with bold, simple, commando- city. "Every day we think we got him
type action may accomplish more than this time, and he keeps coming back. "5
any impressive array of new boats and
It would be too facile to explain such
technological equipment.
"tenacity" as a product of psychological
conditioning alone. The writer does
Conclusion. In examining guerrilla
movements, both past and present, thisconclude that a recognition of the
study has concentrated on the psycho- psychological aspects of guerrilla war-
fare is not only essential to an under-
logical influences affecting the guerrilla
and the importance of such influences standing of the problem but is often the
key
as factors in guerrilla action. Because he to success or failure in both guer-
is equally affected by psychological rilla and counterguerrilla operations.

FOOTNOTES

I--THE GUERRILLA AND HIS WORLD

1. Emesto Guevara, Che Guevaro on Guerrilla Warfare (New York: Praeger, 1961), p. 32
2. Karl von Clausewitz, On War (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1953), p. 461.
3. Jacques Duchemin, quoted in Roland Gaucher, Les Terrorists (Paris: Editions Alb
Michel, 1965), p. 262.
4. M. Korobeinikov, "Soviet Military Psychology," Soviet Military Review , April 1967,
39.

II--GUERRILLA METHODS AND THE MIND

1. William C.G. Heneker, Bush Warfare (London: Rees, 1907), p. 196.


2. Alexander L. George, The Chinese Communist Army in Action (New York: Colum
University Press, 1967), p. 56-57.
3. Ibid., p. 89.
4. Alexander Orlov, Handbook of Intelligence and Guerrilla Warfare (Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1963), p. 169.
5. Viet Cong attacks or raids directed at hospitals are often carried out for the sole reason
of seizing drugs or kidnaping trained medical personnel.
6. Edgar M. Howell, The Soviet Partisan Movement , 1941-44 (Washington: U.S. Dept. of
the Army, 1956), p. 83.
7. Vo-nguyen-Giap, Dien Bien Phu (Hanoi: Editions en Langues Etrangères, 1964), p.
224-225.
8. Mao Tse-tung, On Guerrilla Warfare (New York: Praeger, 1961), p. 93.
9. Guevara, p. 19.
10. Howell, p. 145.
11. Author's interview with returned French prisoners, Saigon, February 1955.
12. Regis Debray, Revolution in the Revolution? (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967),
p. 67.

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38 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW

III-TERROR AND ITS EFFECT

1. Michel E. de Montaigne, Essays (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952), p. 26.


2. Jacques Soustelle, quoted in Brian Crozier, lhe Rebels (Boston: Beacon rress, 19ÖU)
176.
3. Menachem Begin, quoted in Gaucher, p. 234-235.
4. Secret Army Organization, a clandestine action movement dedicated to maintainin
French Algeria.
5. Now the National Assembly.
6. Gaucher, p. 209.
7. American University, Special Operations Research Office, Undergrounds in Insurgen
Revolutionary and Resistance Warfare (Washington: 1963), p. 233.
8. Roger Trinquier, Modern Warfare , a French View of Counterinsurgency (New Yo
Praeger, 1964), p. 114.
9. Letter from Frank Scotton to the author, 2 October 1967.
10. Gaucher, p. 297.
IV-THE COUNTERGUERRILLA

1. Paul Rosenzweig, The Book of Proverbs: Maxims from East and West (Ne
Philosophical Library, 1965), p. 43.
2. Louis Untermeyer, ed. Modern British Poetry , 5th ed. (New York: Harcourt
1942), p. 135.
3. James E. Cross, Conflict in the Shadows , the Nature and Politics of Guerrilla War
(Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963), p. 35.
4. Peter Paret and John W. Shy, Guerrillas in the 1960's (New York: Praeger, 1962), p. 44.
5. Howard R. Simpson, "A Dirty, Dangerous Business," Foreign Service Journal , April
1963, p. 49.
6. Ibid.
7. Cross, p. 34.
8. Edgar O'Ballance, Malaya: the Communist Insurgent War , 1948-1960 (Hamden, Conn.:
Archon Books, 1966), p. 122.
9. Howard R. Simpson, A Combat Correspondent s View, The National Observer, 13
May 1963, p. 14:1.
10. An unorthodox force, recruited from American colonists with Indian fighting experi-
ence, that carried out effective raids in enemy territory during the French and Indian wars.
11. John J. McCuen, The Art of Counter- Revolutionary War: the Strategy of Counter-
Insurgency (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1966), p. 319.
12. Robert Taber, The War of the Flea: a Study of Guerrilla Warfare Theory and Practice
(New York: Stuart, 1965), p. 172.
13. Sir Robert G.K. Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency (New York: Praeger,
1966), p. 153.
14. Groupements dc Commandos Mixtes Aeroporte.
15. Roger Trinquier, Modern Warfare, a French View of Counterinsurgency (New York:
Praeger, 1964), p. 109.
16. Bernard Fall, Hell in a Very Small Place (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966), p. 228.
17. Special Administrative Section.
18. Jean Yves Alqucr, quoted in Orville D. Menard, The Army and the Fifth Republic
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967), p. 48.

V-THE FUTURE

1. Orde C. Wingate quoted in Charlton Ogburn, Jr., The Marauders (New York: H
1959), p. 4.
2. J.M. Nemo, "The Place of Guerrilla Action in War, Military Review, November 1957, p.
104-105.
3. Hencker, p. 182.
4. Simon Mays, "Brigade Fluviale," Indochina Sud Est Asiatique, October 1953, p. 54.
5. Gene Roberts, Last Enemy Stronghold in Saigon Is Hammered, The New York limes,
11 May 1968, p. 1:4.

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GUERRILLA WARFARE 39

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