Asprey Robert B. - War in the Shadows Volume 1


Author : Asprey Robert B.
Title : War in the Shadows Volume 1 The Guerrilla In History
Year : 2002

Link download : Asprey_Robert_B_-_War_in_the_Shadows_Volume_1.zip

Perhapss unfortunately, the modem writer has slipped away from the habit of justifying a work of non-fiction to the reader. While some books require none, others do and this is one. War in the Shadows is an attempt to explain the Vietnam conflict in the historical terms of guerrilla warfare. It is not a history of guerrilla war-that would be a multivolume effort. It is an attempt to place the role of guerrilla warfare in history in order to give the interested reader a perspective heretofore denied him, and one I believe essential to an understanding of the conflict that has so confused, embittered, and divided intelligent people not only in America, but throughout the world. What is guerrilla warfare? It is a type of warfare characterized by irregular forces fighting smallscale, limited actions, generally in conjunction with a larger political-military strategy, against orthodox military forces. The word guerrilla means little war, and its use stems from the duke of Wellington's Iberian campaigns (1809-13), when Spanish-Portuguese irregulars, or guerrilleros (also referred to at the time as partisans and insurgents), helped drive the French from the peninsula. In its simplest form, it is primitive people dressed in skins and armed with sticks and stones fighting in defense of home and country. It is traditionally a method of protest employed to rectify real or imagined wrongs levied on a people either by a foreign invader or a ruler. Most of the great conquests of history included guerrilla actions; many were in large part pacification campaigns. Darius, Alexander, and Hannibal all fought guerrilla warfare. This was both rude, as against the Scythians, and sophisticated, as when Hannibal unsuccessfully tried to bring the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus to battle-thus the birth of Fabian tactics. The Romans fought guerrilla warfare for over two hundred years in Spain before the birth of Christ (a crisis in this campaign is the reason our calendar year commences on the first of January) . Norman crusaders came up against quasi-guerrilla opposition from the Seljuk Turks in Syria; Edward I fought what were essentially pacification campaigns in Wales and Scotland. In time, guerrilla warfare became a useful adjunct to a larger, politicalmilitary strategy-a role in which it complemented orthodox military operations, real or intended, either inside enemy territory or in areas seized and occupied by an enemy. Early classic examples of this role occurred in the Silesian wars (1741-45); in the American revolution, in which southern irregulars (relying heavily on terrorist tactics) helped drive Cornwallis from the Carolinas to defeat at Yorktown; and in Spain and Russia, where guerrillas helped to defeat Napoleon's armies. But guerrilla and quasi-guerrilla tactics have also been used traditionally in a third role, an aggressive role, as witness such predatory barbarians as the Goths and Huns, who began the destruction of the Western Roman Empire; or the later Magyars, who conquered Hungary; or the Vikings, who overran Ireland, England, and France; or the Mongols, who won China and terrified central Europe. While certain details of these various campaigns are lacking, ancient chroniclers have described barbarian organization and tactics and, most important, the development of countertactics. Byzantine writings, in particular, show a firm grasp of the subject, including political implications. The ancient record is valuable on three counts. First, it is interesting in its own right as establishing the thread of guerrilla and quasi-guerrilla tactics and even strategy in the history of warfare. Second, the tactical record suggests that orthodox generals who adapted conventional tactics to meet the guerrilla challenge usually prospered while those who failed to do so suffered defeat. From Darius onward, we find commanders cursed with an arrogance of ignorance often compounded by arrogance of power-terms we shall use again-and we find their soldiers and peoples paying a heavy cost in consequence. Third, the political record suggests that even the most valid counterguerrilla tactics provided transitory victory that gained meaning only when exploited politically by the ruler's putting his own house in order. Here again we find plentiful examples of an arrogance of ignorance compounded by arrogance of power, with resulting misery and frequently loss of kingdom and even empire. The reader will be surprised, I believe, to learn the historical progression of guerrilla warfare in more recent times to its exalted state as the major instrument in today's revolutionary wars. Tactically, the record is as impressive as it is tragic, and generally repeats the trend set in ancient campaigns despite the earnest writings of a few to educate the many. The political element is even more important. Ancient campaigns never entirely lacked a political consideration (except on the part of barbarians, who were generally more interested in booty than conquest), but only in the nineteenth century did it become intrusive and only in the twentieth century predominant over military action. Primitive peoples, and some not so primitive such as the Boers, still fought guerrilla wars for traditional reasons. But, slowly, guerrilla warfare evolved into an instrument to achieve specific, usually revolutionary political goals, as witness the Mexican revolution. Lenin clearly recognized guerrilla warfare as a military means to a political end, and Mao Tse-tung further defined its role in an agrarian context. Ho Chi Minh successfully synthesized this thinking to fit his particular situation, and he was fortunate enough to have a military genius, Vo Nguyen Oiap, translate desire to deed. Yet it would be wrong to grant Communists a monopoly on guerrilla warfare. Kenya Mau Maus, Greek Cypriotes, and Algerians were free of Communist connections, yet all used revolutionary war to gain political ends. For a very long time Western statesmen and military leaders have overlooked the significance of this predominant political element. The late Bernard Fall, an expert on Southeast Asia who was killed in Vietnam, aptly wrote in a preface to Roger Trinquier's frightening book on revolutionary warfare : American readers-particularly those who are concerned with today's operations in South Vietnam-will find to their surprise that their various seemingly "new" counter"insurgency gambits, from strategic hamlets to large-scale pacification, are mere rehashes of old tactics to which helicopters, weed killers, and rapidfiring rifles merely add a new dimension of speed and bloodiness without basically changing the character of the struggle-nor its outcome, if the same political errors that the French have made are repeated. Dr. Fall failed to add that the final French effort in Vietnam repeated not only many of the tactical "gambits" of history, but also many of its political errors. A historical sampling of guerrilla warfare, then, should claim more than academic interest, for within the context of our day a knowledge of this history, even if sharply abridged, is vital to the understanding and further study of a disturbing fact: For a number of reasons, guerrilla warfare has evolved into an ideal instrument for the realization of social-political-economic aspirations of underprivileged peoples. This is so patently true as to allow one to suggest that we may be witnessing a transition to a new era in warfare, an era as radically different as those which followed the writings of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and Mahan. This particular development, however, is more difficult to grasp, partly because of the dichotomy in political thought nurtured by a vast economic gulf between have and have-not countries, and partly because of incredible technological advances which have resulted in such sophisticated· and. awesome weapons as the H-bomb-thus creating the military paradox of destructive impotence. A part of the total impact of today's "people's war" or "wars of national liberation" may be explained by the frustration of rich and powerful nations possessing highly scientific weapons systems which either cannot be employed because of moral-political considerations or are technically unsuitable for fighting in a particular environment. So long as conventional commanders fail to adapt organization, techniques, and tactics to meet the guerrilla challenge instead of trying to convert it to orthodox challenge, these revolutionary campaigns will prosper. Even when properly challenged, however, they do not lend themselves to an exclusive military "solution," which at best is ephemeral. The words "winning" and "victory'' diminish i.ij. meaning as we face the awesome political~conomic challenge that, to date, many of our leaders, particularly military commanders, seem unable to comprehend-despite manifold lessons of history. ...

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