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Guerrilla warfare as a continuum[ edit ] Simplified guerrilla warfare organization An insurgencyor what Mao Zedong referred to as a war of revolutionary nature, guerrilla warfare can be conceived of as part of a continuum.
In ancient times these actions were often associated with smaller tribal policies fighting a larger empire, as in the struggle of Rome against the Spanish tribes for over a century. In the modern era they continue with the operations of insurgent, revolutionary and terrorist groups.
The upper end is composed of a fully integrated political-military strategy, comprising both large and small units, engaging in constantly shifting mobile warfare, both on the low-end "guerrilla" scale, and that of large, mobile formations with modern arms. In between are a large variety of situations — from the wars waged against Israel by Palestinian irregulars in the contemporary era, to Spanish and Portuguese irregulars operating with the conventional units of British General Wellington, during the Peninsular War against Napoleon.
Guerrillas can operate as small, scattered bands of raiders, but they can also work side by side with regular forces, or combine for far ranging mobile operations in squadplatoon or battalion sizes, or even form conventional units.
Based on their level of sophistication and organization, they can shift between all these modes as the situation demands. Successful guerrilla warfare is flexible, not static. In Phase One, the guerrillas earn population's support by distributing propaganda and attacking the organs of government.
In Phase Two, escalating attacks are launched against the government's military forces and vital institutions. In Phase Three, conventional warfare and fighting are used to seize cities, overthrow the government, and assume control of the country.
Mao's doctrine anticipated that circumstances may require shifting between phases in either directions and that the phases may not be uniform and evenly paced throughout the countryside.
Some authors have stressed this interchangeability of phases inherent in this model and guerrilla warfare more generally, especially as applied by the North Vietnamese guerrilla.
However, some contemporary guerrilla warfare may not follow this template at all, and might encompass vicious ethnic strife, religious fervor, and numerous small, 'freelance' groups operating independently with little overarching structure.
These patterns do not fit easily into neat phase-driven categories, or formal three-echelon structures Main Force regulars, Regional fighters, part-time Guerrillas as in the People's Wars of Asia. Some jihadist guerrilla attacks for example, may be driven by a generalized desire to restore a reputed golden age of earlier times, with little attempt to establish a specific alternative political regime in a specific place.
Ethnic attacks likewise may remain at the level of bombings, assassinations, or genocidal raids as a matter of avenging some perceived slight or insult, rather than a final shift to conventional warfare as in the Maoist formulation. Guerrillas need not conform to the classic rural fighter helped by cross-border sanctuaries in a confined nation or region, as in Vietnam but now include vast networks of peoples bound by religion and ethnicity stretched across the globe.
It is also different from the activities of pirates or robbers. Such criminal groups may use guerrilla-like tactics, but their primary purpose is immediate material gain, and not a political objective. Guerrilla tactics are based on intelligenceambushdeceptionsabotageand espionageundermining an authority through long, low-intensity confrontation.
It can be quite successful against an unpopular foreign or local regime, as demonstrated by the Cuban RevolutionAfghanistan War and Vietnam War.
A guerrilla army may increase the cost of maintaining an occupation or a colonial presence above what the foreign power may wish to bear. Against a local regime, the guerrilla fighters may make governance impossible with terror strikes and sabotage, and even combination of forces to depose their local enemies in conventional battle.FROM THE DESK OF DIRECTOR.
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