Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts On Insurgencies Two

The first one was well received and I really enjoyed writing it. I've been thinking on the topic again recently. In no particular order.

One thing I find incredibility amusing is that so many folks who could be called wanna be insurgents (lets face it the difference between a freedom fighter/ patriot and and terrorist is if they are on or against your side) completely ignore fitness. I like the term insurgent largely because it is relatively judgment neutral. You see the old school videos of the Michigan militia or whatever and it is usually a bunch of fat old guys standing there shooting rifles. Seriously insurgents do not fight static fights. They initiate an ambush or blow a bomb or conduct a raid and get away really fast before a large group of better armed and supported individuals comes to kill them. This usually means being able to move on foot quickly for some distance. If you are 40 pounds overweight you will not be able to get away and you will die. Insurgency is a very Darwinian business and that doesn't go well for fatties and idiots.

Onto the topic of idiots. A man, or I guess a woman, has got to know his limitations. This means being careful and choosy about the kind of fight they get into. They need to pick a fight with the right group of individuals or in a place that suits their capabilities, ideally some combination of both. They also need to pick a fight that they can get away from. Unless you're down with the whole suicide thing you need a real solid exit plan.

In terms of numbers and weapons insurgents always face bad odds. However if 3 insurgents with knives find an occupier in a dark alley it doesn't matter that his side has the overall odds in their favor. The same could be said if a section or platoon sized element of insurgents hits a squad sized patrol and gets away fast enough to miss the QRF.

As some folks mention to me not everybody is in their 20's or 30's and physically fit. I would submit to you that there are a lot of lot of 40 and 50 often with numerous poorly treated wounds from decades of almost constant warfare. Those 40-50 something year old insurgents are giving our boys in Afghanistan hell but they are in shape. Saying that you are older and thus in horrible shape is an excuse, sorry but it's true. For a person with a truly (not you are obese and go figure your joints aren't handling the weight well) destroyed knee or back, some kind of other medical problem, etc the idea of being an active rifleman in an insurgency while it has a certain mystique just isn't realistic. That is OK though.....

Why is that OK? Well the first reason is that it's life. If you have MS then running all over the place doing direct action stuff just isn't realistic. If you have a destroyed knee then hiking 20k through the night to get to a perfect point to mortar a small outpost isn't realistic either. However unlike the "every man is a rifleman and we will fight together" propaganda reality is that only part of an insurgencies total participants are active combatants in the traditional sense. So there is still a role for people who can't go running and gunning, in fact there are many roles. How are there many roles you ask?

Think of our modern conventional forces. They are not composed entirely of Infantrymen and Armor guys but in fact there are numerous other units and jobs, some of which have almost nothing to do with killing people, blowing stuff up and holding territory.

Insurgencies would need explosives efforts, logistics people, medical folks, intelligence and many other types of skills. A 55 year old ER doctor with a huge gut and bad knees is more valuable than a squad or even a section of fit 20 year old guys who can carry a rifle. A boringly average 40 year old woman who had a mediocre job in local government and was able to remember stuff from work, write it down at home and pass it to the right people could be a huge intel asset. A guy who is able to discretely bring continuous if modest donations (from his buddies at the country club or the shooting range or church or whatever) coming in could keep the shooters in the field.

Even the most boring guy with no real skills could help by offering to run an occasional short term safe house. Meeting them at a good bland place and pulling into the garage before the people get out and them staying out of the front room with the open window would be all the security that is needed.  All that would be needed is a bed or a cot, a stocked fridge/ pantry and some form of entertainment. Cable TV or a good stash of books and games would be sufficient. Most likely they would just sleep a lot and sit around. This would be a bad one for somebody with kids because even if coached they have no mental filters. Your 6 year old daughter talking about the strangers who come over for a few nights occasionally would cause real problems. This one would be best left to those without kids in the home.

Even a grandma who was willing to let somebody stash stuff in a false wall in the spare bedroom could be of a real help. Maybe she is just helping out or maybe she gets a few bucks now and then. Lots of inner city drug people keep their stash in the home of a seemingly innocent and unconnected family. The rent is paid and they let people drop off and pick up packages.

Insurgents need continued sources of revenues to operate. They have got to eat, purchase arms and ammunition and do all sorts of stuff that costs money. Typically this money comes from either outside donations (from a foreign power or well funded friends like the Saudi's) or coercing the local populace. Robbery, kidnapping and other general criminal behavior is also often employed to get funds to continue the fight. There is a reason that now and then you hear about some extremist group getting arrested for robbing a bank. It isn't that they want to rob banks parse but that they need money to fund future operations. That doesn't mean those are the only options. A small part time operation could require minimal funding because the participants have normal jobs support themselves that way. They would also have the advantage of good cover. Instead of being the 4 guys who live in an apartment, don't seem to have jobs and come and go at odd hours it would be Jim the accountant and his wife Sally the home maker, members of the Elks lodge and solid members of the community. Of course their OP Tempo would be a lot slower because no matter how motivated you are a normal job and life would greatly limit time to fight those darn occupiers. Also these folks would not be the backbone of a successful insurgency but that doesn't mean they couldn't be valuable members, particularly if they had access to Intel, useful skills or deep pockets.

As a final thought it might not be a bad idea to keep some stuff stashed though for survivalists that is old hat. Of course it is all but impossible to stockpile enough stuff to sustain an insurgency forever but it wouldn't be too hard to get a good start. Pretty hard to spend a couple days doing a recon without chow and if there is a way to shoot people without bullets I don't know what it is. Ammo that you can get now with the only limiting factor being your ability to pay might be next to impossible to get if through normal channels if supplies were interrupted due to restrictions because of a conflict. A couple hundred bucks worth of ammo now could be enough to do a lot of damage later.

Well I could talk on this topic for some time but I've got to go to bed.


Anonymous said...

People have been way to focused on slaughter their neighbors as of late I fear.

I only hope that if the worst happens . . . that we are even better men then the Founding Fathers.

Mayberry said...

Us old fat guys can be a treacherous lot if given half the chance...

Commander_zero said...

I'd like you to read "Wars of National Liberation" by Moran. It covers most of the post WW2 revolutions and whatnot and is fascinating reading. Especially enlightening are reading about Cuba and Algeria's revolutions. Castro, especially, is a study in how even the lamest revolutionary can be a winner if your government-in-power is corrupt and tottering. The major lesson in reading the book is that if you look at every single successful revolution since WW2, they were all won because the 'mother countries' lost in the courts of public insurgency, it appears, wins on its own...they always(!) win with outside help...from the French assistance in the American revoultionary war to the Chinese in the Korean War. its an excellent book and a good study in how and why insurgencies can be won and lost.

Chief Instructor said...

Great post. Knowing your limitations and playing on your individual strengths is so important - regardless of the issue at hand.

Commander Zero hit a key item in his comment - the whole "public opinion" deal. Hearts and minds.

You MUST have a propaganda machine. Look at how our last two administrations sold us on health care - Bush with the Medicare scam, and Obama with Obamacare. It's for the children. It's for the old folks. It's foor the poor!

Americans who believe in the Constitution have got to mount a similar, heart-string-pulling campaign to be successful.

Brass said...

Negative on the propaganda, unless it means exposing the enemy for what it is.

If a movement has to appeal to emotions rather than reason in order to exist, it doesn't deserve to exist. If unvarnished truth isn't enough to win people over to a just cause, those people are liabilities.

Emotion is a fickle wind. Reason is a solid foundation.

Suburban Survivalist said...

A good skill to learn for someone with limited mobility (huge gut, wasted knees, or other reasons) is long-range shooting/sniping. Ideally most would be such riflemen, but if you feel you'll need to be a shooter even though speed isn't an option, reaching out better be. Another useful position for the mobility challenged might be operating a comms hub. And so on...

For a book about lesser known insurgencies the U.S. has fought in, I suggest Max Boot's, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.

Anonymous said...

All good points - the person that assists and supplies freedom fighters is just as brave as they are. Their risk is no less, just more comfortable. If they are found out, the authorities treat them nearly as bad - they will have EVERYRTHING of value taken away from them and likely incarcerated as well.

Chief Instructor said...

Emotion is a fickle wind. Reason is a solid foundation.

That assumes you're dealing with a reasonable populous. The vast majority of Americans take what they hear from the Main Stream Media as gospel. What they say, most people believe.

It is just like a business. You may have the best widget in the world, but if no one knows why they should choose you over the other guy, the other guy is going to win.

Propaganda is essential.

Brass said...


If you're not dealing with a reasonable populace, you're putting people on your side who will turn on you the second it doesn't "feel good" anymore.

I don't want emotional weathervanes working for my cause.

I'm going to rephrase what I said before: a movement that can't survive except by appealing to emotion is a movement that should not survive.

2heavy said...

+1 on the chiefs point. I agree that mental conditioning is essential. Brass has got tunnel vision. Big picture , there are useful idiots who can't be trusted operationally but fill in gaps strategically if that makes since.

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