09 June 2006

guerrilla warfare

Although there are some current Administration officials that are out of hand rejecting the views of Congressman Murtha's viewpoint that we should withdraw from Iraq it might be interesting to get into the mind of the a guerrila fighter.

"What is basic guerrilla strategy? Guerrilla strategy must be based primarily on alertness, mobility, and attack. It must be adjusted to the enemy situation, the terrain, the existing lines of communication, the relative strengths, the weather and the situation of the people.

In guerrilla warfare, select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack; withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision. When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws. In guerilla strategy, the enemy's rear, flanks, and other vulnerable spots are his vital points, and there he must be harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted and annihilated. Only in this way can guerrillas carry out their mission of independent guerrilla action and coordination with the effort of the regular armies. But, in spite of the most complete preparation, there can be no victory if mistakes are made in the matter of command. Guerilla warfare based on the principles we have mentioned and carried out over a vast extent of territory in which communications are inconvenient will contribute tremendously towards ultimate defeat of the Japanese and consequent emancipation of the Chinese people.

A careful distinction must be made between two types of guerrilla warfare. The fact that revolutionary guerrilla warfare is based on the masses of the people does not in itself mean that the organization of guerrilla units is impossible in a war of counter-revolutionary character. As examples of the former type we may cite Red guerilla hostilities during the Russian Revolution; those of the Reds China; of the Abyssinians against the Italians for the past three years; those of the last seven years in Manchuria, and the vast anti-Japanese guerrilla war that is carried on in China today. All these struggles have been carried on in the interest of the whole people or the greater part of them; all had a broad basis in the national manpower and all have been in accord with the laws of historical development. They have existed and will continue to exist, flourish, and develop as long as they are not contrary to national policy.

The second type of guerrilla warfare directly contradicts the law of historical development. Of this type, we may cite the examples furnished by the White Russian guerrilla units organized by Denikin and Kolchak; those organized by the Japanese; those organized by the Italians in Abyssinia; those supported by the puppet governments in Manchuria and Mongolia, and those that will be organized here by Chinese traitors. All such have oppressed the masses and have been contrary to the true interests of the people. They must be firmly opposed. They are easy to destroy because they lack a broad foundation in the people.

If we fail to differentiate between the two types of guerrilla hostilities mentioned, it is likely that we will exaggerate their effect when applied by an invader. We might arrive at the conclusion that 'the invader can organize guerrilla units from among the people'. Such a conclusion might well diminish our confidence in guerrilla warfare. As far as this matter is concerned, we have but to remember the historical experience of revolutionary struggles.

Further, we must distinguish general revolutionary wars from those of a purely 'class' type. In the former case, the whole people of a nation, without regard to class or party, carry on a guerrilla struggle that is an instrument of the national policy. Its basis is, therefore, much broader than is the basis of a struggle of class type. Of a general guerrilla war, it has been said: 'When a nation is invaded, the people become sympathetic to one another and all aid in organizing guerrilla units. In civil war, no matter to what extent guerrillas are developed, they do not produce the same results as when they are formed to resist an invasion by foreigners' (Civil War in Russia). The one strong feature of guerrilla warfare in a civil struggle is its quality of internal purity. One class may be easily united and perhaps fight with great effect, whereas in a national revolutionary war, guerrilla units are faced with the problem of internal unification of different class groups. This necessitates the use of propaganda. Both types of guerrilla war are, however, similar in that they both employ the same military methods.

National guerrilla warfare, though historically of the same consistency, has employed varying implements as times, peoples, and conditions differ. The guerrilla aspects of the Opium War, those of the fighting in Manchuria since the Mukden incident, and those employed in China today are all slightly different. The guerrilla warfare conducted by the Moroccans against the French and the Spanish was not exactly similar to that which we conduct today in China. These differences express the characteristics of different peoples in different periods. Although there is a general similarity in the quality of all these struggles, there are dissimilarities in form. This fact we must recognize. Clausewitz wrote, in On War: 'Wars in every period have independent forms and independent conditions, and, therefore, every period must have its independent theory of war.' Lenin, in On Guerrilla Warfare said: 'As regards the form of fighting, it is unconditionally requisite that history be investigated in order to discover the conditions of environment, the state of economic progress and the political ideas that obtained, the national characteristics, customs, and degree of civilization.' Again: 'It is necessary to be completely unsympathetic to abstract formulas and rules and to study with sympathy the conditions of the actual fighting, for these will change in accordance with the political and economic situations and the realization of the people's aspirations. These progressive changes in conditions create new methods.'"

-Mao Tse-Tung, "Guerralla Warfare" Translated by Brigadier General Samual B. Griffeth (USMC retired) 1961

Now read the following article:
South Asia
Jun 9, 2006
Taliban take the fight to the country
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN border areas - The Taliban movement has evolved beyond its guerrilla struggle into an organized widespread rebellion. It has fully matured in southern Afghanistan and is heading north toward Kabul and beyond, all the way drawing on growing popular support.

"Don't consider the present [insurgency] movement as Taliban only. This is a mass mutiny against the foreign presence, and all common Afghans are solely responsible for that," Gul Mohammed, a Taliban commander, explained to Asia Times Online in an interview in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province in Afghanistan.

Gul Mohammed's views are not exaggerated. They confirm exhaustive ATol on-the-ground-investigations and reports over the past few months. And this week, the Senlis Council, a London-based international security and policy advisory think-tank, reached a similar conclusion.

"Helmand [where the Taliban have a strong foothold] is an early warning of what the whole of Afghanistan could become if a radically different approach is not taken in the coming months," the Senlis Council, an independent group actively engaged in work in Afghanistan, said in its report.

"The United States unilaterally bombing Kandahar undermined the civilian population's support for the [Hamid] Karzai government," the council said. "The recent riots in Kabul were also an example of the increasing hostility of the Afghan people towards the international community."

Gul Mohammed picked up the point: "Americans crashed our gates and the sanctity of our houses. They disrespected our traditions and gave Christian missionaries a free hand to operate in Afghanistan. We just explained these features to the masses, who are our brothers and sisters."

Mullah Gul Mohammed Jangvi (the last name means "warrior"), to give him his full name, was the commander of the Taliban at Pul-i-Khumri in central Afghanistan when the US attacked in 2001. When the Taliban retreated from Kabul in the face of the invasion, he took refuge in Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual capital.

In 2003, he was betrayed to US forces, arrested and taken to Bagram Base near Kabul, where he was tortured and then coerced into joining the Jaishul Muslim, a proxy US outfit established among the Taliban in an attempt to dislodge Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

But soon after Gul Mohammed was released, Jaishul Muslim evaporated and he rejoined the Taliban, along with 1,600 men. He is now one of the main commanders in the Qalat and Helmand area.

The US invested millions of dollars to built a support system in this region, which included buying the loyalties of local warlords, establishing proxy organization such as Jaishul Muslim, appeasing local tribes by releasing their men from Bagram Base, and recruiting local youths for the Afghan National Army.

However, when this year's spring offensive by the Taliban started, the whole scheme fell apart like a house of cards, with the chief beneficiary of the elaborate investment being the Taliban.

"Before the present [spring] campaign, we had adopted a strategy to educate the masses about the high-handedness of the Americans. Whenever we entered any village, we surrounded the whole area and asked the people to gather in a nearby mosque," said Gul Mohammed.

"We then told the people that they are under foreign occupation and there is a need to stand up against the foreign forces. We distributed night messages [a traditional Afghan way of spreading information] and passed on our messages through audio cassettes and computer disks."

Gul Mohammed maintained that the Taliban would continue their twofold strategy - military and political - and expressed confidence that soon the movement would reach into northern Afghanistan and foreign forces there would be very much under attack, as they are in southern Afghanistan.

"At present we have made Kandahar, Qalat and Helmand our strategic nucleus, where we have completely debased the enemy. There are seven main districts in Kandahar which are completely in our hands. Soon we will intensify our suicide operations throughout Afghanistan, and then you will see how the Afghan administration will collapse," said Gul Mohammed.

This is substantiated by the Senlis Council report: "About 80% of the population in Helmand supports the Taliban. The British troops [who are to replace US troops] will need to regain control, and for this they will need a different approach. That approach will have to be to listen to people and their needs."

The report continued, "The perception of the local people has changed ... they now see the Taliban as acceptable. So actually the Taliban are about to win the battle for the hearts and minds of the local population."

Gul Mohammed is of the same view: "In the next stage, ethnic groups from the Tajik and Uzbek communities will join hands in our struggle and foreign forces will not have any option except to leave Afghanistan.

"We have made southern Afghanistan a hell for foreign forces. There is little media coverage on our activities, otherwise [people would know] we are far ahead of the Iraqi resistance. There is not a single day when the Taliban don't carry out an operation against foreign forces.

"In the last two months we launched 20 successful attacks against foreign forces in which they lost men and assets. For instance, a recent incident happened in Maroof district of Kandahar in which we targeted a military convoy in which two tanks and eight US [foreign troops] were killed. The media did not mention this operation," Gul Mohammed said with some satisfaction.

Gul Mohammed said the Taliban had stored a lot of weapons before the US invasion, which they were now using, including Stinger missiles.

Again, the Senlis Council report confirms this. "We're talking about attacks being conducted every day. We're talking about a rise in suicide bombings, from five in 2004 to 21 in just the first semester of 2006. We're talking of a sophistication of terror techniques used, for example in the explosive devices used. So there is definitely a change in the way the insurgents are organizing their operations."

The rise in insurgency activity is admitted by General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "In the last two months, the Taliban have been conducting larger attacks this year than they did during the same time last year.

"The problem for the Taliban is that as they have gotten larger groups together, they have become much bigger targets. And they have lost about 300 Taliban in the last two months during those operations. So the Taliban are a tactical problem for the coalition in Afghanistan. [But] the coalition in Afghanistan is a strategic problem for the Taliban," said Pace.

Gul Mohammed, however, maintained that the real asset for the Taliban was the mass support they already had, and which was increasing multifold.

"The Americans bombed Panjwai [a district of Kandahar province], where innocent civilians were killed. The Taliban did not sustain a single injury in that incident. However, the way the Americans brutally bombed the area brought cascading effects. People turned against the Americans with conviction. There were 18,000 soldiers in Kandahar in the Afghan National Army. After the bombardment, it was reduced to 7,000 as the rest left the army in anger.

"The more they oppress Afghans, the more the reaction generates against the Americans. The same happened with Soviet Russia [in the 1980s], and ultimately it was defeated in Afghanistan and collapsed. The same will happen with the Americans," Gul Mohammed predicted.

Caught in the crossfire
For Merajuddin, a 29-year-old welder, and Mohammed Din, a 45-year-old farmer, both from Panjwai, their lives have been turned upside down.

Both belong to the Ishaqzai tribe and fled to Chaman, Pakistan, with their families, like dozens of other families from their home town, after the US bombing of Panjwai recently in which more than 50 civilians were killed.

"We saw an end-of-time sort of situation," said Merajuddin. "It is true that the Taliban had came to our area, but they left. The US got information and send aircraft 24 hours after the Taliban left. From 11pm to 5am aircraft constantly bombed Talaqan, the district headquarters.

"Initially they released gases which [put] many of us in an unconscious-like condition, and then they bombed the area. It looked like aircraft were static in the air for hours, and they showered bombs," Merajuddin said.

"As soon as the bombing ended, foreign troops took positions. They never allowed us to look after affected families. Instead, they took away the wounded men to interrogate them. The incident prompted us and other Afghan families to leave the area and take refuge in Pakistan," Merajuddin said.

Migration of tribes symbolizes the seriousness or depth of any crisis in Afghan history. When tribes leave their places in bulk, it shows that they would participate in a prolonged war. "The Americans walk into our houses when they feel like. Neither do they ask permission nor are we in a position to stop them. They think all Afghans are Taliban. They entered in areas where only women live," Mohammed Din said, adding that the behavior of the Afghan National Army was even worse.

"They are given a free hand to humiliate us. They come to search for Taliban in our houses and eat our food and take away blankets and even money from our pockets," said Mohammed Din. "Nobody wants to leave his place, but we were forced to do so. Here in Pakistan, we will do some labor jobs to make our two ends meet," Mohammed Din maintained. "And we won't leave here until the foreign forces leave Afghanistan."

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan, Asia Times Online. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.
(Additional reporting by Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service.)

So, my question is this? If we can't adapt our tactics and continue to make the same historical mistakes that Mao pointed out years ago then how long how will the body count go before we adapt our tactics or withdraw. Withdrawal of forces would lead to the Power vacuum that Bush 1 worried about and no one can project the effects. Again, I'm not writing this to make a case for withdrawal. I'm merely stating that the methods being used against us have proven successful to guerrilla fighters in the past and we should do something different.

Yes, I realize that I started talking about Iraq and ended with an article on Afghanistan....but I think you can see the parallels between both.

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