How to Beat Guerillas

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The biggest asset most guerilla movements have, James Dunnigan notes, is the reluctance of professional soldiers to pay attention to the well-known rules for beating guerillas:

  • Travel Light.
  • Keep to the Bush and Boondocks.
  • Know Your Enemy.
  • Offer Generous Terms.
  • Offer a Viable Alternative Political Solution.
  • Protect the People.
  • Negotiate.

When all else fails, there are still… other options:

A century ago, Britain invented concentration camps to deprive Boer guerillas of support from friendly farmers. Most anti-guerilla operations sill make use of the ancient practice of taking (and sometimes killing) hostages. The hostages are usually relatives of the guerillas, especially those who are known to be particularly close to their families (some guerilla leaders could care less what you do with their kinfolk, so you have to choose your hostages carefully.) Torture is also considered a useful tool in some cases, although the real solution here is to simply get more skillful interrogators. Some of these tactics, like taking hostages, is frowned upon in most Western nations, but is still used widely in places like South Asia and the Middle East. In Pakistan, the chief suspect in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, was convinced to surrender after some of his kin were taken hostage by the Pakistani government. If you are fighting a movement that is threatening to use nuclear or chemical weapons against you, unpalatable measures become less so.

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