Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review: Wars of National Liberation by Daniel Morgan

Commander Zero loaned me this book with the conditions that it is eventually returned and I share my thoughts on it. Figured a book review is as good of a way as any to share my thoughts. So here we go.

Good:
Comprehensive- This book talks about a whole lot of different conflicts. China, Algeria, French in Indochina, Jews vs the Arab world I, II, III, IV, Vietnam and touched on themes of African and South American conflicts.

Well Researched- The guy definitely knew what he was talking about. The sheer amount of research put into this book is impressive.

Brought home key themes- Successful insurgencies have safe havens behind international borders, foreign support and tend to be fighting against unmotivated outside forces. Stuff I have talked about before.

Bad:
Bounces Around- This book seems to have sort of gone regionally then by time but could have been organized better. Specifically a set framework for discussing conflicts and another for battles would have been a huge help to this book.

Dove deep into some random conflicts/ battles but light in other probably more applicable ones. Talked a lot about Korea which was a pretty conventional fight. Also went deeply into a few other conventional battles. There really wasn't any rhyme or reason here. It was almost like they just made some old work fit into this project. They failed to really be descriptive enough to make sense when they tried to go deep too fast relying heavily on small diagrams Either needed to go deeper into battles or just stick to themes.

Ugly:
Misses significant conflicts like Chechnya and Northern Ireland. Also the Israelis vs the PLO (instead of the conventional fights vs the Arab world) would have been good. Some really useful stuff could have come from this.

Briefly and half heartedly mentioning Afghanistan in what they try to pass off as a closing. The Afghan war vs the Soviets is a great case study for a whole lot of information. The books failure to meaningfully discuss the Soviet Afghan War is almost irredeemable. It would be like talking pistol development through the 18th century and not mentioning Colt.

Sorely needed a good conclusion. Seriously they were going through the case studies then had a half halfhearted confusing chapter that vaguely mentions Afghanistan and mumbles about some other stuff and the book just ends.

Discussion: I got a lot out of the part on China which is a chapter of history I wasn't well informed on. The pieces on conflicts I was more familiar with were good and usually had an interesting new tid bit or three.  For a nonfiction book it managed to be informative while staying lively enough to stay interesting which is a definite balancing act.

This book would probably be on my fairly short list for studying insurgencies/ guerrilla war. It probably wouldn't make the top 5 but would definitely be in the top 10.

Overall assessment: Buy and read. The price on Amazon is like 7 bucks. I got stuff out of this book and considering my study of the field is pretty solid and I have some decent practical experience that says something.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts On Insurgencies #8: Fundamentals of a Successful Insurgencies 101

It became apparent to me after a discussion with an invisible that I needed to take a step back in this series. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that most folks here have not spent a good portion of their live training for or being personally involved in an insurgency. We should discuss the fundamentals of a successful insurgency.

I am not saying that every insurgency must have each of these elements or it will not be successful. There are a certainly examples out there which do not fit every criteria but most tend to fit them if loosely. In no particular order.

Obviously some group or subset of a state needs to be unhappy with the current governmental system. Not just kinda unhappy but enough so to fight a war they may well die in. Taking a step back it isn't so much that there need to be people willing to take up arms but conditions that lead to people being willing to take up arms.

Some of these people will be active fighters. For every active fighter there are a few supporters or axillary types helping make things work.  These folks are involved to varying degrees. Some are full time intel, logistics or C2 types filling your conventional staff functions. Others may be a farmer who gives an old cow to feed some fighters or a Grandma with a big house who loves to feed and look after a bunch of teenage and early 20 something boys. For every person who actively aids insurgents they need a bunch of people who just keep quiet. The neighbor who sees something and goes about his business or the apathetic local cop who doesn't search for insurgents very hard.

For an insurgency to build from an initial nucleus to a group that has a real chance the government has to have problems. Maybe it is a backwards corrupt nepotistic regime, maybe it is an aging dysfunctional empire, maybe the economy is toast or the government is distracted by war. The reason for this is that functional governments can eventually use the stick and or carrot to decrease the total amount of people willing to take up arms. Eventually this makes insurgencies peter out until an 'acceptable level of violence' which varies from place to place. There are bombings and high amounts of murders in a lot of places but that is just normal.

Some sort of a safe haven is very helpful for insurgents. This safe haven is very important for insurgents to train, rest and plan and conduct a variety of logistical efforts. These safe havens can be due to political boundaries the insurgents can cross that the opposing force is unable to cross at least in a widespread regular way. Vietnam as well as the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border are good examples of this. Other times a safe haven can be due to an area's isolation in terms of rough geography, lack of improved all weather roads and low population densities. Areas outside aside from the AF/PAK border in Afghanistan fall into this category. The longtime Philippine insurgency  and the FARK in the jungles of Columbia are also examples.

Without this safe haven motivated governments can eventually wear down an insurgent group or at least prevent them from regrouping, recovering and training. This means they are not healing up injured fighters or training new ones which makes it hard to build numbers and win. Some sort of a (relative) safe haven is just about impossible for insurgents to do without.

Outside assistance is very important. It is cool to think about a bunch of guys running to the hinter boonies with rifles and fighting the big mean government but it is just not that simple. To keep things going insurgents need money, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and often outside training. Admittedly money can handle most of those problems if the insurgents can get enough of it. For a long time during the good old Cold War a group could pretty much bet on assistance from whichever side didn't have a relationship with the regime they are trying to topple. Since the Cold War has ended it has become a lot more dicey but wide open. Islamic groups can get solid funding from various Gulf State groups. Other folks may have relationships that work for various reasons.

Those are the big ones that come to mind based on my formal and informal education on the topic as well as real world experiences. As always input is welcome but please try to keep it on topic. I hope that some of you get something out of this post.

Have a nice day,
Ryan


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Magpul- Reality Check


Watch this video. If you do not have the time or interest to watch the whole thing please watch from about 9:10 to 11:00.  Develop and improve skill sets. Harden your body, mind and heart.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”


-Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale
 
I believe this was a quote of the day some time back but I stumbled into it again and thought it worthy of the repost. Think about it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question Of The Day

Dear TOR:

What is a wooby? What is a bivy? Thanks.
-Saddle Tramp

Saddle Tramo, Thank you very much for the questions. I am consistently suprised about how rarely I get questions. I think part of it is that there is a very macho streak in many survivalists so that unless they will actually die (Excuse me but where do you keep the Israeli bandages? I have a bit of a gunshot wound and could really use one.) I like questions because they show me that someone is TRYING TO LEARN. Any time one person has the guts to actually ask a question there are surely 5 folks who didn't know what was being talked about and were embarassed to ask.

A bivy is a water resistant/ proof bag that goes over your sleeping bag to keep you warmer and dry in inclimental weather. Here is an example of one. They vary in size and exact patterns. Some are just a waterproof sack which goes over your sleeping bag and zips all the way up. Some have a small pole or two to kind of get the bag off of your head. Personally I can say the waterproof sack style bivy takes a little bit of getting used to; though the first time it really raint it is amazing how quickly you will pull the top cover all the way over your head. Unless you are truly clostrophobic (sp) I would say the ones with the poles aren't necessary. The advantage of a bivy sack instead of a tent is that it is much lighter. A bivy weights a couple pounds which is a heck of a lot less than most tents. Also they are a lot more compact.

A wooby is properly called a poncho liner. Here is a picture of them. They are a light quilted nylon/ poly blanket which is quite warm for it's weight and rolls up pretty compact (about the size of the big family sized Campbells soup can) They can in theory be attached by the little strings on the side on the inside of a poncho but I don't recall ever actually seeing anyone do that but I think it was a big thing back in Vietnam. In the last decade or so people just use them as blankets.

As the story goes they are called woobies because you would be cold without it. I bring one to every Army overnight trip I go on. They are great for slipping into your sleeping bag's stuff sack to make it a bit warmer or to put into an assault pack for a mission. In cold weather (below 35ish) a woobie alone will not keep you comfortable but it will be the difference between being somewhat cold and tossing and turning all night and slipping into the danger zone.

Also you have just until early Saturday morning to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Seriously you can get a whole bunch of free ammo for no money and a very modest investment of a few minutes of your time so hurry up and enter. Even if you don't have a good use for ammo cans you can just get a whole bunch of buddies to vote for you and win that way. Seriously enter already.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taking Over A Town: I Call Bull Spit

This recent article on survivalblog reminded me of something I have been meaning to write. There are always bunches of ideas floating around in my head and often it takes a post somewhere that touches on the topic to remind me that I had a strong opinion/ article idea.

I grew up on Westerns. When I was in my mid teens and we got non antenna TV Dad and I would often pass windy and rainy winter days by watching the Western Channel. With rare exceptions there were only a few different plots. One of those plots was taking over a town.

It basically goes like this a fairly large group of say 12-40 bad guys show up in a town and ride roughshod over the sheriff and push people around generally doing whatever they want, until the hero comes......The thing is that in real life a loner who has a questionable past but is pure of heart with a white hat who is lightning fast with a Colt .45 doesn't show up. Also more importantly towns wouldn't need one anyway. They can take care of themselves pretty well.

If you think of the bank robbers of that era they did not stick around in an isolated town with their speed of drawing and shooting a 6 gun securing their safety. They grabbed as much cash as they could quickly and rode out of town (hopefully for them) before getting shot to ribbons by farmers and store keepers with rifles and shotguns. Most of the reason people did this is that in the pre FDIC days, if a bank got robbed the money people kept in it was gone. Nowadays average people have little to no incentive to get involved in this sort of crime but if the money in the bank/ grain in the silo/ whatever was essential to the towns very survival people would not just stand by.

I remember in one book Louis Lamour gave his opinion on that plot. Basically he talked about how it would never work and was totally rediculous. There were just too many veterans of the Civil War and the Indian Wars and too many guns in the hands of the townspeople. Some things have not changed. It is often difficult to wrap ones head around how many guns are privately owned by every day, law abiding average Americans. Not everyone is a gun enthusiast with a Glock/Sig sticker on their car but Americans own a ridiculously awesome amount of guns.

This reminds me of my late Grandfather. He was a normal professional guy, pillar of the community, member of the Kiowas and all that stuff.  In their nice normal home in a mid sized town he had a snubby .38, a full sized .357mag, a couple shotguns, a couple .22's and a bolt action rifle. Also one of my old Scout Masters comes to mind. Somehow when I was a bit older we got to talking about worst case scenarios. This Vietnam vet and normal retired guy casually mentioned that he had 4 AK-47's and 10 cases of ammo for them stashed away, as well as enough rimfire for a lifetime of small game. Few veterans I know are without a firearm and most have some sort of a defensive pistol as well as a defensive rifle (mostly AR's in this generation), not to mention whatever sporting arms they own.

Once you start looking at how many people are veterans, cops, hunters or just plain angry rednecks there are a lot. Thanks to the almost 10 year long GWOT we have a lot of young veterans and those Nam era guys are still around, heck a few Korea and WWII vets are still alive and kicking.  There were simply way too many armed, trained and experienced individuals in even the smallest town of say 750 people a lethal proposition.

I can only speak with some measure of experience about the Pacific Northwest and the Deep South as I have lived there. In either of those places there is probably more firepower in 3 or 4 city blocks than any group of bikers/ raiders would want to deal with.  A couple of smart local cops or city officials who are either veterans themselves, which is pretty common or have the basic sense to listen to those with applicable military experience could easily make the juice not worth the squeeze.

People talk about how the gloves would be off when it comes to dangerous, violent criminals (alone or in groups) doing whatever they want. That is true but those folks pretty much do what they want now, if they followed the rules they would not be dangerous violent criminals. The real game changer in the criminal to citizen relationship would be that the gloves would be off for the citizens. The idea of a group of bikers storming into town on screaming Harleys and taking over is the stuff of bad 60's era movies. Citizens and cops have a pretty good idea who the scumbags are, they are just currently bound by rule of law. I can see law and order societies, sheriffs posses, healthy reserve police forces and maybe just strait up vigilantes becoming the norm if things get bad. If you add up the police force, the local gun club, the Elks lodge, angry rednecks and all the veterans in a town of 750-2,000 there are ample numbers to make some thugs seek a weaker target.

If things were bad enough that nationwide law and order were gone and biker gangs could act without any fear of legal consequences they would likely meet a volley of rifle fire about a quarter mile from town. A biker on the move with a rifle or submachine gun (being a crook means you can ignore firearms laws which is a plus) would be no match for a deer hunter in a fighting position with a scoped flat shooting rifle, especially at a couple hundred yards.

Personally I see this sort of roving biker gang being a real issue for travelers, isolated farms, ranches and retreats. Without a serious plan to get outside reinforcements a group of 6-15 adults would have a very hard time dealing with a group of 1-2 dozen armed hard core criminals, especially if a couple of them had even minimal military training. I would be a lot more worried about relatively small groups doing what amounted to home invasions on steroids than some mobile mega gang a la Mad Max.
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