The asuang ruse is part of the legend of Edward Lansdale

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

I could have sworn that I’d blogged about the asuang ruse before, but I guess I first heard the story before I started blogging:

When the Philippine army was fighting an insurgency by communist Hukbalahap rebels shortly after the second world war, it seized on some clever tactics to get inside its enemies’ heads.

In areas where the “Huks” were active, an army psychological warfare squad would spread stories that an asuang (vampire) was loose in the hills. The psywar squad would then set up an ambush, quietly grabbing and killing the last man in the patrol, puncturing his neck with two holes, and draining the corpse of blood before returning it to the trail. Superstitious Huks would then desert the area.

The asuang ruse is part of the legend of Edward Lansdale, the US Air Force officer and intelligence operative who played a central role in counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines, and later during two tours in Vietnam. Lansdale, who coupled his cloak-and-dagger gambits with nation-building operations — what today is called “soft power” — is now the subject of a capacious biography by the war historian Max Boot.

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