CHESTER HAS MOVED!: What if they left? Mao and Guerrilla Warfare

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What if they left? Mao and Guerrilla Warfare

Much media hand-wringing has been heard in the last 48 hours about insurgents possibly escaping the city. How to take this? First a few quotes from Mao Tse-Tung, who successfully prosecuted a variety of guerrilla campaigns before bequeathing such lovely things as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to history [note: for an excellent film about these events, rent the movie, Huozhe (1994) ("To Live")]. I use the text of Mao's book translated by Brig. Gen. Samuel B. Griffith II, USMC, who had a PhD in Chinese military history from Oxford. Mao's text was written in 1937. Mao's political goal was the complete emancipation of the Chinese people from the Japanese. He states the fundamental steps necessary as these: 1. Arouse and organize the people. 2. Achieve internal unification politically. 3. Establish bases. 4. Equip forces. 5. Recover national strength. 6. Destroy enemy national strength. 7. Regain lost territories. Six full pages of this book are dedicated to the importance of establishing bases. Let's focus on that, as it is the most relevant to the Fallujah battle. Here are some further quotes: "The problem of establishment of bases is of particular importance." "The guerrilla base may be defined as an area, strategically located, in which the guerrillas can carry out their duties of training, self-preservation, and development. Ability to fight a war without a rear area is a fundamental characteristic of guerrilla action, but ths does not mean that guerrillas can exist and function over a long period of time without the development of base areas." And here we have the way to understand what is happening in Fallujah. The battle is accomplishing several goals: 1. Kill all those who fight us. 2. Eliminate a base of operations for terrorist and anti-Iraq forces. 3. Establish a representative government, politically friendly or part of the national government. 4. Allow Iraqi forces to participate in the battles and to build their warfighting skills, and the legitimacy of their government. 5. Defeat various means of insurgent media-strength: safe places to keep hostages; inflated casualty figures. 6. Destroy insurgent command and control networks. 7. Exploit intelligence. The insurgency now has no base in Fallujah. It will soon have no base in Ramadi or the other few towns where insurgents are massed. An insurgency without a base cannot survive. The only places that will be left for bases will be outside the country . . . Syria, Iran, etc, . . .


Blogger allie said...

Glad to see your site is going so well. Very interesting stuff. Hope Mrs. Chester and Pook are ok with all the time you spend on the internet : )

November 10, 2004 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

Good work as usual! Didn't know that apart from your obvious expertise in military matters, you also know Chinese film :-)

November 10, 2004 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Mark Tempest said...

Chester: Excellent site. You have been added to my link list.

Your references to Mao's thought are particularly relevant when put into the context that Wretchard provides over at Belmont Club ( concerning a pattern he discerns in the "insurgent" line of communications which place Fallujah as one terminus of the enemy logistics flow. The towns along the way are part of the "bases" you describe... well done!

November 11, 2004 at 5:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fellow has been kind enough to tell us where the bases are

"...Fallujah, Samaraa, Qaem, Baaquba, Hawijah, Tallafar, Heet, Saqlawyia, Ramadi, Anah, Rawa, Haditha, Balad, Beiji, Bahraz, Baladruz, and other cities and towns of Iraq, ... some areas in Baghdad and its suburbs such as Yusufya, Latifya, Abu Ghraib, and Mahmudya,..."

Much obliged to you, sir!

November 11, 2004 at 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re safe areas; Baghdad remains insecure for our forces and government officials. Enemy are training and equipping in government pay, the reason we don't allow them heavy weapons to defend themselves with.

Re war of attrition; The Fallujah battle alone has cost us a reported 126, or about 2% casualties, of engaged friendly forces. This in just 3-4 days against a rear-guard, demolition by combat of the town still ongoing after inflicting 1-3000 enemy casualties we hope. Although the enemy is hors de combat in conventional terms, we are forced to continue assymetric operations. Too early do declare strategic objectives accomplished, both cost and benefit unknown at this time.

I share your hopes for our troops success, and the peaceful development of Iraq, but our efforts depend in part on accurate understanding of conditions. It remains to be see who wears out first, the post or the post-hole.

Most of the elevated US and friendly casualties this week were incurred outside Fallujah. Sorry to be a downer, run the numbers yourself, correct me if I'm wrong.

If we ambitiously do this 2-4 more times by the end of December, where will we be? The operations list just filled in with Mosul. Will we have eliminated enough muj and their bases to dramatically slow enemy ops, because that's what we need, a dramatic, even transformational change in the election/security situation, not stabilization or slowed deterioration.

I think it is time to conceive that the elections will take place in an environment not unlike that which we are experiencing today, and figure out what that means for us and our Iraqi allies. This war has seen far too much wishful planning. What we see is what we got.

November 11, 2004 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair points you make. However, two thoughts that may or may not be valid:

First, given the limited amount of training needed for guys to conduct IED, mortar, and sniper attacks, seems like a 'base' can be partly virtual by conducting decentralized training, communication, and indoctrination over the internet and through religious institutions. Mosques and clan relationships become both points of supply, organization, and tactical initiative in a highly decentralized insurgency like the one in Iraq. Most of these guys seem smart enough to realize that massing for attack equals death.

Second, the country is awash with weapons with a well functioning retail network that can supply insurgents. A base for purposes of supply is largely unnecessary, simply because you can buy what you need off vendors who trade in arms. In short, the insurgents have privatized their support chain. As long as money flows into the country, the insurgents will have the wherewithal to conduct attacks like the ones we've seen. Their insurgency is not based on conquering territory as much as it is based on inflicting harm on Americans and destroying infrastructure that could provide revenue for the central government.

November 12, 2004 at 6:12 AM  

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