COIN in History
In this section we examine insurgencies and counter-insurgency campaigns in history as, indeed, this is where so many valuable lessons can be learned. Articles in here can range from the first recorded efforts of Rome to put down revolts, insurrections and rebellions through to the relatively late history of post-1945 Vietnam, Malaya or Afghanistan for that matter. The Chinese have a wonderful saying which translates as 'there is nothing new under the sun' when applied to how human beings behave and treat one another. This is most aptly applied to the study of small wars, insurgencies, terrorism and the counters to these violent plagues. Nevertheless, political expediency, such as 'casualty-avoidance,' in our time has led to the deliberate and willful ignoring of historical lessons and these were lessons paid for with much blood and not a little treasure. For example, America's engagement in the Vietnam wars brought forward whole libraries of superb and hard-fought for ideas for successfully countering insurgents and guerrillas yet they have been ignored for the most part in our time. They are now being 'relearned-in-pain' in places like Afghanistan but at a cost in frustrations and delays that threaten entire campaigns. Historical articles, from how to train local police forces to protecting villagers are the meat of this valuable section.
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The Cuban South African Clash
By Pierre van der Walt circa 2008
On 26 October 1975 the first Cuban soldier to die on African soil, one of six to die that day, was killed at Luimbale, Huambo province, Angola, by Combat Group Foxbat, a fighting force consisting of a battalion of Unita soldiers and a squadron of South African armoured cars, led by career officers of the South African Defence Force in disguise during a war that was not taking place.
The Rhodesian COIN Experience
By Trent Blair
From 1965 to 1980, the Rhodesian government fought a counteinsurgency (COIN) against a pair of communist foes while facing immense international political and economic pressure. Despite incredible military success Rhodesia lost the war.
This article will discuss its COIN efforts and the impact of international sanctions on Rhodesia's military and political efforts. Additionally, Rhodesian COIN will be contrasted with Sir Robert Thompson’s five principles of COIN.
Indian Fighter: The Counterinsurgency Waged by General George Crook
By William Stroock
During his two tenures as commander of the Department of Arizona, General George Crook waged a smart, and when necessary, brutal counterinsurgency against the Apache Indians. Crook deftly split off members of hostile Apache bands, negotiated them back onto the reservation, and relentlessly hunted those that remained in the field. By the end of his first term as commander, Crook had brought the entire Apache tribe onto reservations. Only incompetence and corruption on the part of the Indian Agency prevented the onset of real peace between the United States and the Apache nation.
The Philippine War, 1899-1902, and the Western Way of War
201003_MH520M_The Western Way of War
Dr. John Broom
The Philippine War, 1899-1902, pitted the neo-imperialist United States against Philippine nationalists in a West-East clash featuring a Western nation embodying the classic elements of the Western Way of War, using non-Western Way of War tactics against Eastern nationalist movement. The United States exhibited an adaptability that allowed it to combine conventional Western philosophy, tactics, techniques, and procedures with experience in irregular warfare gained during its fight against Native Americans on the American western frontier to fight first a conventional war then rapidly adjust to an enemy that was forced to fight a guerrilla war. In this fashion, it exemplified the Western Way of War linked to its own ‘manifest destiny.”
Southern Strategy: The regular and partisan campaign of Nathanael Greene
By William Stroock
After George Washington, General Nathanael Greene was the best officer in the Continental Army. When Washington needed a general to rescue the desperate southern situation, he chose the already battle-hardened Rhode Island Quaker. Upon taking command of the Southern Department, Greene waged a unique campaign, using his army of regulars to screen the various partisan forces operating in the Carolina backcountry. Without winning a pitched battle, Greene exhausted Cornwallis’s army, leading him in a fruitless chase across the Carolinas and forcing him to fight a series of bloody battles of attrition.
Tao, Clausewitz and Counterinsurgency
By Terry Tucker
Taoism might be defined as the basic, eternal principle of the universe that transcends reality and is the source of being, non-being, and change Clausewitz is, and has, formed the bedrock of our being. Similarly the US military has developed and evolved its being over the course of time with definite points in its history in which change was widely recognized as necessary; for instance the historical debacle of Task Force Smith during the Korean War, an vignette that serves to illustrate the significance of failure in preparedness.
A Brief Biography of Sir Robert Grainger Ker Thompson
Based on Thompson’s Autobiography - Make for the Hills - Memories of Far Eastern Wars - London: Leo Cooper, 1989
By Dennis Dickson
Because of his military and government careers and book publications, Robert Thompson (1916-1992) became an influential figure in post-World War II counterinsurgency analysis. He fought in Burma during World War II, served in the Malayan civil service from 1946 to 1960, and played a significant role in Malaysian independence and the defeat of its communist insurgency.
Guerrillas in the Mist / Hmong Resistance Continues in Laos
By Dr. Tom Marks
It is an upbeat Hmong resistance patrol that moves into our position in "Xaignabouri" Province, Laos.
The operation has gone well. decimated first by the blast from a homemade claymore, then hit with small arms, the communists suffered four dead.
Medieval Masterpiece: Edward I’s Counterinsurgency in Wales
By William Stroock
Edward I, King of England from 1272 to 1307, can be ranked as one of the greatest military commanders of the Middle Ages. His war against Wales in the second half of the 13th century was more than just a conquest; it was a triumph of military planning, logistics and counterinsurgency. In each of three Welsh crises (1277, 1282, and 1294), he acted with deliberate speed, dispatching reinforcements to the border marches while patiently gathering an army at Chester, his forward staging area.
Victory in Lebanon: Operation Peace for Galilee
By William Stroock
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 is often viewed as a mistake and a bloody quagmire. In fact, Operation Peace for Galilee was an Israeli victory which brought peace to northern Israel for a generation. The Israelis triumphed despite having to overcome several unique problems, including rough terrain, fanatical terrorist resistance, and elite Syrian commando teams.
Thailand: Anatomy of a Counterinsurgency Victory
by Thomas A. Marks, Ph.D.
For students of war, historical cases relevant to the present United States counterinsurgency in Iraq are plentiful, though not always immediately obvious. The Vietnam War is a case in point. That conflict provides numerous lessons regarding counterinsurgency, but many of them have been overlooked because analysts typically study the war as if it were a purely local affair, occurring amidst a regional vacuum. They forget that the fighting in Vietnam was only part of a wider regional struggle encompassing other national theaters of operation.
The Counter Revolutionary Sir Robert Thompson - Grand Master of Unconventional War
by Tom Marks
War has a way of producing unexpected consequences. When Hong Kong fell to the onrushing Japanese legions on Christmas Day 1941, a Royal Air Force reservist, Robert Thompson, escaped and
began a year behind enemy lines in China. Subsequently, having rejoined friendly forces, he was able to put his burgeoning knowledge of guerrilla operations to further use on both the 1943 and 1944 Wingate operations in Burma, where he won the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. Thus began the schooling of the man now generally acknowledged in the West as its foremost practitioner of couter-revolutionary warfare.
The Russian Disaster in Chechnya 1994-1996
For more than a decade, the Russian Federation waged a bloody, ruthless war against the breakaway province of Chechnya. The conflict, which has never really ended, reduced the Chechen capital, Grozny, to ruins, and killed tens of thousands of Chechens and Russians alike. The war saw the Russian army and Ministry of the Interior (MVD) wage conventional and unconventional warfare against Chechen fighters, who themselves turned to outright terrorism against Russian civilians. In many ways, the Chechen war of the 1990s was a harbinger of things to come in the next decade as the war pitted a conventional army against a loosely organized corps of jihadist fighters who used urban terrain to negate the Russian’s tremendous firepower advantage.
Agrovilles & Strategic Hamlets: Prescription for Afghanistan?
Some three years ago now, I had an opportunity to discuss, at some length, the issue of protecting the Afghan populace from the Taliban insurgents and related al-Qaeda terror. Of particular importance was the fact that this discussion took place with one of my students who was with US Special Forces in Afghanistan and he was directly involved with the local application of efforts to achieve security for the populace. Our discussion focussed, primarily, on the fact that there was an historic tool that had permitted security to be established in past counter-insurgency campaigns and this, of course, was none other than the strategic hamlet.
Terrorism as a Component of Insurgency during the Era of Ngo Dinh Diem
The purpose of this paper is to peruse the history of the insurgent forces use of terrorism in South Vietnam during the Ngo Dinh Diem administration. As we shall see, the terror campaign became quite significant in the early 1960’s as the Viet Cong/NLF were desperately attempting to dislodge the grip that the Diem government had in the rural villages. But one should not forget the Communists never envisioned terror to be a stand-alone tool (such as the modern-day jihadists perceive it to be) even though it proved to be one of their most powerful. Instead, terror was simply part and parcel of an overarching campaign to wrest political legitimacy from the hands of Ngo Dinh Diem and place it squarely in their own. This is not to say that the Communists then, or now, held terror in low-esteem, as indeed – it would be hard to think of any historical Communist undertaking that did not rely on terror. History has made this plain: i.e., Communist parties, everywhere, simply used terror as an everyday method and that it was one amongst several tools that the frequently availed themselves of.
Insurgency and the American Civil War
Major Kenneth P. Williams USMCR (R)
No nation is immune to insurgencies from within, even the United States. The problems encountered in governing millions of diverse individuals, each with a unique opinion on the various issues facing the current government, are legion. The study of these insurrections, especially within our own borders, is vitally important to the understanding of the nature of insurgencies, how to handle them, and, hopefully, how to prevent them from mushrooming into wide-spread violence.
When an issue is as volatile and contentious as slavery was before the American Civil War, the situation becomes ripe for the emergence of violent insurgents. Even citizens of good repute and even members of congress are prone to follow their heated emotions rather than their intellect when confronted with these issues. Such was the case before, during, and after the Civil War as the nation grappled with the issues of state’s rights and slavery.
Sir Robert Grainger Ker Thompson and the ARVN: Perspectives from a British Counter-Insurgency Expert.
By Dr. Geoffrey DT Shaw
Robert Thompson’s name has become synonymous with counter-insurgency warfare and rightly so – as his ideas proved victorious in Malaya over the MCP (Malayan Communist Party) inspired insurgency; a failed revolutionary attempt that began in the immediate post-World War II era. Yet, this paper’s purpose is not to focus on this very current issue (i.e., that of COIN) but, instead, to examine Thompson’s perspective on the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, ARVN.
Japanese Biological Warfare in World War II: The Aftermath
Kenneth P. Williams
Close on the heels of the Allied victory in World War II victory there was a rush to reap the harvest of scientific knowledge from the fertile scientific minds in Germany and Japan. The war was over, yet peace remained elusive among the Allies. As the United States and Russia competed to gather once secret scientific knowledge from those defeated, distrust and animosity brewed–an evil
brew that would soon evolve into a Cold War.
Running a Country: The British Colonial Experience and its Relevance to Present Day Concerns
by Michael Crawshaw
The Defence Academy is the UK’s Defence’s higher educational establishment and comprises the Royal College of Defence Studies, Joint Services Command and Staff College, Defence College of Management and Technology, Advanced Research Assessment Group and Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre. It is responsible for post-graduate education and the majority of command, staff, leadership, defence management, acquisition, and technology, training for members of the UK Armed Forces and
MOD Civilian Servants, and for establishing and maintaining itself as the MOD’s primary link with UK
universities and international military educational institutions. It has three strategic partners – King’s College London, Serco Defence & Aerospace and Cranfield University – who provide academic and
facilities support and services.
The Long March: Mao’s Rise to Power 1934-1935
Kenneth P. Williams
Certain historic events tend to define a nation, creating a mythology that reflects a perceived ideal. Over time, scholars, storytellers, or the vanities of the victorious embellish the telling until the story becomes part of a creative history. The United States has experienced these events, such as Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Selma Alabama. The epic “Long March” completed by the Communist People’s Red Army in 1935 is such an event, an event that, even including the inevitable embellishments, has defined the Communist Party of China.
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