Friday, September 13, 2013

Leaderless Resistance

The topic of leaderless resistance is really popular with a certain group within certain communities. After Max Velocity and John Mosby talked I may as well jump in with my unsolicited .02 cents.

As to the most vocal promoters of 'Leaderless Resistance' (LR)I have a couple of observations. Before discussing these observations I have to say the folks involved, who I will not name but you probably know, are good and right minded people.

My first observation is the individuals who are promoting 'Leaderless Resistance' lack any meaningful experience in guerrilla warfare. To expound they generally lack significant experience  in warfare period. They are a textbook definition of ignorance on the topic. [For the uninitiated my working definition of ignorance is "lack of knowledge/ experience in a particular topic". Ignorance is not a particularly bad thing, everyone is ignorant of something. This contrasts with stupidity which is just being an all around buffoon.] These individuals just don't know what they don't know which is understandable. Though for reasons that escape me the LR crowd make the mistake of opening their mouths on the topic to show their ignorance instead of learning from folks in the know or simply talking about something else.

Next the LR crowd seriously suffer from confirmation bias. In their readings and selection of stuff to quote and talk about context is lacking with only parts that agree with their overall perspective being meaningfully considered. It goes something like this. We have 5 people who will be called A-E. A writes something that B comments on. C links to B's writings as support of his thoughts. D and E slightly disagree on some topics but concur with the broad strokes. It boils down to a few people, who just don't know what they are talking about are all listening to each other.

Anyway I've said my peace on the individuals who most actively promote LR. Onto the concept itself.

In no particular order:

-My biggest issue with the discussion to date is that we are looking at LR vs a pretty doctrinal guerrilla group using a cellular structure with a supportive axillary and a chain of command (cell, city, district, state, nation or whatever) in a binary way. To me that is a real oversimplification that leads to all sorts of assumptions, exaggerations and confusion. I look at a true LR scenario of a person going all Rambo/ Chuck Norris or a small group going Red Dawn as one side of the spectrum and a full on cellular structure like the IRA or Free French during WWII as the other end. Between these two extremes groups would progressively grow in size and organization.

-LR utterly fails to consider the all important Principle of Warfare that is Mass.  The hard truth is that a squad or platoon fighting together toward a common goal will be able to destroy a bunch of tough individuals all doing their own thing. To break it down more simply; if I bring 3 friends to help stomp a person them having a dozen really tough friends sleeping at home, working, at the gym and traveling or whatever is irrelevant. I win and they lose. I win since we brought overwhelming force which was applied at a decisive place/ time. Since we are talking Principles of Warfare LR also very arguably fails Objective, Maneuver (hard to cover yourself), Economy of Force and Unity of Command.

-When we discuss whether LR can be effective we need to define what success will look like. Along these lines I will submit that potential success of a person or three acting alone is going to be much more local, smaller and arguably more symbolic than operational when compared to larger groups working together towards a common goal. LR can be successful in a 'kill a commie for mommy' or Pastunwali/ blood feud type way. If success is avenging the death of a loved one by killing several bad guys there is a reasonable chance of attaining it. On the other hand if success is defined as pushing the bad guys out of your AO in order to establish a free democratic government based on the Constitution LR likely isn't getting it done.

- In the big picture to me the most pure form of individual LR is not a plan. Quite frankly LR is what a person does if they want to act but do not have a network in place when the balloon goes up. An individual doesn't know anybody and has no established relationships with useful (in a guerrilla sense) people so they slit a drunk soldiers throat one day, plant a bomb in an enemy government building the next week, snipe a Company Commander in 2 weeks, IED a vehicle in a month. You get the idea.

-There really aren't any successful big picture (win vs kill a bunch of guys before they kill you) of LR. The lack of successful examples says a whole lot about LR's future potential.

-My past article 9 Considerations for the Lone Wolf is worth revisiting for folks who want to go it alone.

Cannot think of anything else to add to the conversation so I am going to wrap it up.


Aesop said...

LR creates what von Clauswitz referred to as "friction", and what most PSGs refer to as a serious PITA.

Friction can stall a behemoth.

But it can never rout one.

One person, let alone a small, autonomous group, can do something; to say otherwise is to be ignorant of all human endeavor.
Lee Harvey Oswald and three bullets had more of an effect on US geopolitics than Nikita Kruschev did with the entire Soviet war machine at his beck and call. And yet the Soviet Union still fell.

So whatever that something is, it probably will never end in a ticker-tape parade after a decisive strategic victory, by itself.

In any event, people can only do what they can, where they are, with what they've got.
Which leaves much beyond squad-level activities anytime largely to the realm of sci-fi and daydreams, come the day.

If there was some Rebel Alliance of liberty with an air force training at a secret base squirreled away somewhere, most of us would've run off to join it by now. Fact is, there ain't any such thing.

riverrider said...

well first, there aren't enough mosby's in the world to pull off a successful campaign against the regime. thats the first thing we need to get thru our collective head. we might have a little better luck if a state/states secede,lending political legitimacy to the resistance....second, how you guys define success is an issue. lr can be hugely successful at tieing up huge amounts of regime resources. doing so long enough makes them look stupid and the people lose faith pretty quickly. i call that success. war of attrition has its value, as well as breaking the will of the regime forces. lr might not win the war, but may make it winable by the mosbys of the world. it beats doing nothing.

AM said...

Every successful insurgency has a leader. From George Washington to Mao and Ho Chi Minh the story is the same.

To believe that leaderless resistance is a viable option is to throw out the lessons of the past and embrace foolishness.

And one good trainer can make a difference. George Washington couldn't have done it without Baron Von Steuben.

Harry Flashman said...

I enjoyed the post and the comments. I had not heard much of this prior to reading the post today.

One thing I know from reading about WW2. In most places, as far as the local peasants were concerned, "partisan" and "bandit" were synonymous. For instance, if the Chetniks came to town you ran out and assured them you were a good fascist. If the Tito guys showed up, you ran out and assured them you were a good communist. What you really wanted was for any of them to go away and not steal your pig, beat your ass, or take off with your daughter.

Aesop said...

Von Steuben needed a general and an army.

Chicken and egg.

It's kind of like listening to Sir Bedevere explain to King Arthur and the other knights how the Trojan Rabbit would work.

As near as I can tell, AM's laudable mission is to try and create as many half-decent fire teams and squads as he can, so that should something larger become necessary, not only can they defend themselves, but there's some decent pickings to form anything larger should the need present itself.

And I defer to those more intimately acquainted, but isn't the entire point of an A-team to serve as the cadre and S-section for a Bn, from the top down? And the lead time to make an A-team is, IIRC, measured in dog years?

So the first part of the recipe for that salad, always, is "plant a garden".

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