History of guerrilla warfare: Wikis


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The history of guerrilla warfare stretches back at least since Classical Antiquity, when many strategies and tactics were used to fight foreign occupation that anticipated the modern guerrilla. An early example was the hit-and-run tactics employed by the nomadic Scythians of Central Asia against Darius the Great's Persian Achaemenid Empire and later against Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire. The Fabian strategy applied by the Roman Republic against Hannibal in the Second Punic War could be considered another early example of guerrilla tactics: After witnessing several disastrous defeats, assassinations and raiding parties, the Romans set aside the typical military doctrine of crushing the enemy in a single battle and initiated a successful, albeit unpopular, war of attrition against the Carthaginians that lasted for 14 years. In expanding their own Empire, the Romans encountered numerous examples of guerrilla resistance to their legions as well.[1] The success of Judas Maccabeus in his rebellion against Seleucid rule was at least partly due to his mastery of irregular warfare.

The victory of the Basque forces against Charlemagne's army in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, which gave birth to the Medieval myth of Roland, was due to effective use of a guerrilla principles in the mountain terrain of the Pyrenees. Mongols also faced irregulars composed of armed peasants in Hungary after the Battle of Mohi. In the 15th century, Vietnamese leader Le Loi launched a guerrilla war against Chinese.[2] One of the most successful guerrilla wars against the invading Ottomans was led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg from 1443 to 1468. In 1443 he rallied Albanian forces and drove the Turks from his homeland. For 25 years Skanderbeg kept the Turks from retaking Albania, which due to its proximity to Italy, could easily have served as a springboard to the rest of Europe.[3] In 1462, the Ottomans were driven back by Wallachian prince Vlad III Dracula. Vlad was unable to stop the Turks from entering Wallachia, so he resorted to guerrilla war, constantly organizing small attacks and ambushes on the Turks.[4] During The Deluge in Poland guerrilla tactics were applied.[5] In the 100 years war between England and France, commander Bertrand du Guesclin used guerrilla tactics to pester the English invaders. The Frisian warlord and freedom fighter Pier Gerlofs Donia fought a guerrilla against Philip I of Castile[6] and with his co-commander Wijerd Jelckama against Charles V.[7][8]

During the Dutch Revolt of the 16th century, the Geuzen waged a guerrilla war against the Spanish Empire.[9] During the Scanian War, a pro-Danish guerrilla group known as the Snapphane fought against the Swedes.Shivaji started guerrilla warfare against the Mughals and other powers in 1645 leading to establishment of the Maratha state in 1674, sowing seeds of what would become the last great empire(Maratha empire) in pre-British India. In the 17th century Ireland, Irish irregulars called tories and rapparees used guerrilla warfare in the Irish Confederate Wars and the Williamite war in Ireland. Finnish guerrillas, sissis, fought against Russian occupation troops in the Great Northern War, 1710-1721. The Russians retaliated brutally against the civilian populace; the period is called Isoviha (Grand Hatred) in Finland.


Vendéan Counter-Revolution

From 1793-1796 a revolt broke out against the French Revolution by Catholic royalists in the Department of the Vendée. This movement was intended to oppose the persecution endured by the Roman Catholic Church in revolutionary France (see Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution#The Revolution and the Church) and ultimately to restore the monarchy. Though ill-equipped and untrained in conventional military tactics, the Vendéan counter-revolution, known as the “Royal Catholic Army,” relied heavily on guerrilla tactics, taking full advantage of their intimate knowledge of the marsh filled, heavily forested countryside. Though the Revolt in the Vendée was eventually “pacified” by government troops, their successes against the larger, better equipped republican army were notable.

Works such as “La Vendée” by Anthony Trollope (http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/8vend10.txt ), G.A. Henty’s “No Surrender! A Tale of Rising in the Vendée” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20091/20091-h/20091-h.htm) detail the history of the revolt.

Napoleonic Wars

"Wherever we arrived, they disappeared, whenever we left, they arrived — they were everywhere and nowhere, they had no tangible center which could be attacked."
Prussian officer during the Peninsular War, while fighting with French regulars against Spanish guerrillas [10]

In the Napoleonic Wars many of the armies lived off the land. This often led to some resistance by the local population if the army did not pay fair prices for produce they consumed. Usually this resistance was sporadic, and not very successful, so it is not classified as guerrilla action. There are three notable exceptions, though:

Siege of Saragossa : The assault on the San Engracia monastery.
  • In Napoleon's invasion of Russia of 1812 two actions could be seen as initiating guerrilla tactics. The burning of Moscow after it had been occupied by Napoleon's Grand Army, depriving the French of shelter in the city, resembled guerrilla action insofar as it was an attack on the available resources rather than directly on the troops (and insofar as it was a Russian action rather than an inadvertent consequence of nineteenth-century troops' camping in a largely abandoned city of wooden buildings). In a different sense, the imperial command that the Russian serfs should attack the French resembled guerrilla tactics in its reliance on partisans rather than army regulars. This did not so much spark a guerrilla war as encourage a revengeful slaughter of French deserters by Russian peasants.[11] Meanwhile, Fieldmarshal Kutuzov permitted than-Hussar Leutenant-Colonel Denis Davydov to open the Partisan War against the French communications. Davydov, Selyavin, Figner an others are since known in Russia as the 'Partisan Rangers of the Year '12' (Russian: Партизаны [Отечественной войны 18] '12-го года). They were successful in their operations making the French troops unable to fight or even move, because of food and ammunition shortage, and not just because of the Russian Winter as is usually stated.
  • In the Peninsular War Spanish guerrillas tied down tens of thousands of French troops and killed hundreds of thousands. The continual losses of troops caused Napoleon to describe this conflict his "Spanish ulcer". This was one of the most successful partisan wars in history and was where the word guerrilla was first used in this context. The Oxford English Dictionary lists Wellington as the oldest known source, speaking of "Guerrillas" in 1809. Poet William Wordsworth showed a surprising early insight into guerrilla methods in his pamphlet on the Convention of Cintra:
  • "It is manifest that, though a great army may easily defeat or disperse another army, less or greater, yet it is not in a like degree formidable to a determined people, nor efficient in a like degree to subdue them, or to keep them in subjugation–much less if this people, like those of Spain in the present instance, be numerous, and, like them, inhabit a territory extensive and strong by nature. For a great army, and even several great armies, cannot accomplish this by marching about the country, unbroken, but each must split itself into many portions, and the several detachments become weak accordingly, not merely as they are small in size, but because the soldiery, acting thus, necessarily relinquish much of that part of their superiority, which lies in what may be called the engineer of war; and far more, because they lose, in proportion as they are broken, the power of profiting by the military skill of the Commanders, or by their own military habits. The experienced soldier is thus brought down nearer to the plain ground of the inexperienced, man to the level of man: and it is then, that the truly brave man rises, the man of good hopes and purposes; and superiority in moral brings with it superiority in physical power.” (William Wordsworth: Selected Prose, Penguin Classics 1988, page 177-8.)


Irish War of Independence and Civil War

IRA Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence.

The wars between Ireland and the British state have been long, and over the centuries have covered the full spectrum of the types of warfare. The Irish fought the first successful 20th century war of independence against the British Empire and the United Kingdom. After the military failure of the Easter Rising in 1916, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) resorted to guerrilla tactics involving both urban guerrilla warfare and flying columns in the countryside during the Irish War of Independence of 1919 to 1921. The chief IRA commanders in the localities during this period were Tom Barry, Dan Breen, Liam Lynch, Seán Mac Eoin, and Tom Maguire.

The IRA guerrilla was of considerable intensity in parts of the country, notably in Dublin and in areas such as County Cork, County Kerry and County Mayo in the south and west. Despite this, the Irish fighters were never in a position to either hold territory or take on British forces in a conventional manner. Even the largest engagements of the conflict, such as the Kilmichael Ambush or Crossbarry Ambush constituted mere skirmishes by the standards of a conventional war. Another aspect of the war, particularly in the north-eastern part of the province of Ulster, was communal violence. The Unionist majority there, who were largely Protestant and loyal to Britain were granted control over the security forces there, in particular the Ulster Special Constabulary and used them to attack the Nationalist (and largely Catholic) population in reprisal for IRA actions. Elsewhere in Ireland, where Unionists were in a minority, they were sometimes attacked by the IRA for aiding the British forces. The extent to which the conflict was an inter-communal one as well as war of national liberation is still strongly debated in Ireland. The total death toll in the war came to a little over 2000 people.

By mid 1921, the military and political costs of maintaining the British security forces in Ireland eventually proved too heavy for the British government. In July 1921, the UK government agreed to a truce with the IRA and agreed to meet representatives of the Irish First Dail, who since the 1918 General Election held seventy-three of the one hundred and five parliamentary seats for the island. Negotiations led to a settlement, the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It created the Irish Free State of 26 counties as a dominion within the British Empire; the other 6 counties remained part of the UK as Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army split into pro- and anti-Treaty factions with the Anti-Treaty IRA forces losing the Irish Civil War (1922–23) which followed. The partition of Ireland laid the seeds for the later Troubles. The Irish Civil War is a striking example of the failure of guerrilla tactics when used against a relatively popular native regime. Following their failure to hold fixed positions against an Irish Free State offensive in the summer of 1922, the IRA re-formed "flying columns" and attempted to use the same tactics they had successfully used against the British. However, against Irish troops, who knew them and the terrain and faced with the hostility of the Roman Catholic Church and the majority of Irish nationalist opinion, they were unable to sustain their campaign. In addition, the Free State government, confident of its legitimacy among the Irish population, sometimes used more ruthless and effective measures of repression than the British had felt able to employ. Whereas the British executed 14 IRA men in 1919-1922, the Free State executed 77 anti-treaty prisoners officially and its troops killed another 150 prisoners or so in the field (see Executions during the Irish Civil War). The Free State also interned 12,000 republicans, compared with the British figure of 4,500. The last anti-Treaty guerrillas abandoned their military campaign against the Free State after nine months in March 1923.

World War I

In a successful campaign in German East Africa, the German commander Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck fought against the numerically superior allied forces. Even though he was cut off from Germany and had few Germans under his command (most of his fighters were African askaris), he won multiple victories during the East Africa Campaign and managed to exhaust and trouble the Allies; he was undefeated up until his acceptance of a cease-fire in Northern Rhodesia three days after the end of the war in Europe. He returned to Germany as a hero.

A major guerrilla war was fought by the Arabs against the Ottoman Turks during the Arab Revolt (1916–1918).

Another guerrilla war opposed the German Occupation of Ukraine in 1918 and partisan and guerrilla forces fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites during the Russian Civil War. This fighting continued into 1921 in Ukraine, in Tambov province, and in parts of Siberia. Other guerrillas opposed the Japanese occupation of the Russian Far East.

World War II

Soviet partisan fighters behind German lines in Belarus in 1943. At least 5,295 Belarusian settlements were destroyed by the Nazis. In total, one-quarter of the Belarusian population were killed in the war.[12]

Many clandestine organizations (often known as resistance movements) operated in the countries occupied by German Reich during the Second World War. These organizations began forming as early as 1939 when, after the defeat of Poland, the members of what would become the Polish Home Army began to gather. A guerrilla movement in Ethiopia was formed to rout out Italian forces as early as 1935. Other clandestine organizations operated in Denmark, Belgium, Norway, France (Resistance), France (Maquis), Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, Yugoslavia (Royalist Chetniks), Yugoslavia (Partisans), Soviet Union, Italy, Albania and Greece. From the second half of 1944, the total forces of the Yugoslav Partisans numbered over 800,000 men organized in four field armies, which engaged in conventional warfare.[13] By 1944 the Polish resistance was thought to number 400,000.[14] Many of these organizations received help from the British operated Special Operations Executive (SOE) which along with the commandos was initiated by Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze." The SOE was originally designated as 'Section D' of MI6 but its aid to resistance movements to start fires clashed with MI6's primary role as an intelligence-gathering agency. When Britain was under threat of invasion, SOE trained Auxiliary Units to conduct guerrilla warfare in the event of invasion. Even the Home Guard were trained in guerrilla warfare in the case of invasion of England. Osterly Park was the first of 3 such schools established to train the Home Guard.
Not only did SOE help the resistance to tie down many German units as garrison troops, so directly aiding the conventional war effort, but also guerrilla incidents in occupied countries were useful in the propaganda war, helping to repudiate German claims that the occupied countries were pacified and broadly on the side of the Germans. Despite these minor successes, many historians believe that the efficacy of the European resistance movements has been greatly exaggerated in popular novels, films and other media.

Contrary to popular belief, in the Western and Southern Europe the resistance groups were only able to seriously counter the German in areas that offered the protection of rugged terrain. In relatively flat, open areas, such as France, the resistance groups were all too vulnerable to decimation by German regulars and pro-German collaborators. Only when operating in concert with conventional Allied units were the resistance groups to prove indispensable.

All the clandestine resistance movements and organisations in the occupied Europe were dwarfed by the partisan warfare that took place on the vast scale of the Eastern Front combat between Soviet partisans and the German Reich forces. The strength of the partisan units and formations can not be accurately estimated, but in Belorussia alone is thought to have been in excess of 300,000.[15] This was a planned and closely coordinated effort by the STAVKA which included insertion of officers and delivery of equipment, as well as coordination of operational planning with the regular Red Army forces such as Operation Concert in 1943 (commenced 19 September) and the massive sabotage of German logistics in preparation for commencement of Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944.[16]

When the U.S. entered the war, the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) co-operated and enhanced the work of SOE as well as working on its own initiatives in the Far East.

British soldiers waged a guerrilla war against Japanese forces in Burma. Chindits were formed into long range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines. A similar American unit, Merrill's Marauders, followed the Chindits into the jungle in 1943.

Baltic anti-soviet campaigns

After World War II, during the 1940s and 1950s, thousands of fighters in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (see Forest Brothers, Latvian national partisans, Lithuanian partisans (1944–1953)) participated in unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against Soviet occupation.[17] In Lithuania guerrilla warfare was massive until 1958 and the last fighter in Estonia was discovered and killed in 1978.

Northern Ireland conflict

In the late 1960s the Troubles began again in Northern Ireland. They had their origins in the partition of Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. They came to an end with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The violence was characterised by an armed campaign against the British presence in Northern Ireland by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, British counter-insurgency policy, and attacks on civilians by both loyalists and republicans. There were also allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces, and to a lesser extent, republicans and both British and Irish security forces.[18][19][20][21][22]

Although both loyalist and republican paramilitaries carried out terrorist atrocities against civilians which were often tit-for-tat, a case can be made for saying that attacks such as the Provisional IRA carried out on British soldiers at Warrenpoint in 1979 was a well planned guerrilla ambush.[23] However media coverage of the attack was overshadowed by their killing of Louis Mountbatten and three other people on a fishing boat in Sligo on the same day. The Provisional Irish Republican Army, Loyalist paramilitaries and various anti-Good Friday Agreement splinter-groups could be called guerrillas but are usually called terrorists by governments of both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland governments. The news media such as the BBC and CNN will often use the term "gunmen" as in "IRA gunmen"[24] or "Loyalist gunmen".[25] Since 1995 CNN also uses guerrilla as in "IRA guerrilla" and "Protestant guerrilla".[26] Reuters, in accordance with its principle of not using the word terrorist except in direct quotes, refers to "guerrilla groups".[27]

Europe since 2000

The Greek Marxist 17 November disbanded around 2002 following the capture and imprisonment of much of its leadership.

Currently, the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC) continues to exist.

The ongoing war between pro-independence groups in Chechnya and the Russian government is currently the most active guerrilla war in Europe. Most of the incidents reported by the Western news media are very gory terrorist acts against Russian civilians committed by Chechen separatists outside Chechnya. However, within Chechnya the war has many of the characteristics of a classic guerrilla war. See the article History of Chechnya for more details.

In Northern Ireland, the Real Irish Republican Army and the Continuity Irish Republican Army, two small, radical splinter groups who broke with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, continue to exist. They are dwarfed in size by the Provisional IRA and have been less successful in terms of both popularity among Irish republicans and guerrilla activity: The Continuity IRA has failed to carry out any killings, while the Real IRA's only attacks resulting in deaths were the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 civilians, a booby trap torch bomb in Derry which killed a former Ulster Defence Regiment soldier, and a 2009 attack on a Northern Ireland military installation which killed 2 British soldiers and wounded several others.


American Revolutionary War

While the American Revolutionary War is often thought of as a guerrilla war, guerrilla tactics were uncommon, and almost all of the battles involved conventional set-piece battles. Some of the confusion may be because Generals George Washington and Nathanael Greene successfully used a strategy of harassment and progressively grinding down British forces instead of seeking a decisive battle, in a classic example of asymmetric warfare. Nevertheless the theater tactics used by most of the American forces were those of conventional warfare. One of the exceptions was in the south, where the brunt of the war was upon militia forces who fought the enemy British troops and their Loyalist supporters, but used concealment, surprise, and other guerrilla tactics to much advantage. General Francis Marion of South Carolina, who often attacked the British at unexpected places and then faded into the swamps by the time the British were able to organize return fire, was named by them The Swamp Fox. However, even in the south, most of the major engagements were set-piece battles of conventional warfare. However the guerrilla tactics in the south were a key factor in the prevention of British reinforcement to the north, and that was a decisive factor in the outcome of the war. See also Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, for another American Revolutionary War example.

American Civil War

Irregular warfare in the American Civil War followed the patterns of irregular warfare in 19th century Europe. Structurally, irregular warfare can be divided into three different types conducted during the Civil War: 'People's War', 'partisan warfare', and 'raiding warfare'. The concept of 'People's war,' first described by Clausewitz in On War, was the closest example of a mass guerrilla movement in the era. In general, this type of irregular warfare was conducted in the hinterland of the Border States (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and northwestern Virginia), and was marked by a vicious neighbor against neighbor quality. One such example was the opposing irregular forces operating in Missouri and northern Arkansas from 1862 to 1865, most of which were pro-Confederate or pro-Union in name only and preyed on civilians and isolated military forces of both sides with little regard of politics. From these semi-organized guerrillas, several groups formed and were given some measure of legitimacy by their governments. Quantrill's Raiders, who terrorized pro-Union civilians and fought Federal troops in large areas of Missouri and Kansas, was one such unit. Another notorious unit, with debatable ties to the Confederate military, was led by Champ Ferguson along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Ferguson became one of the only figures of Confederate cause to be executed after the war. Dozens of other small, localized bands terrorized the countryside throughout the border region during the war, bringing total war to the area that lasted until the end of the Civil War and, in some areas, beyond.

Partisan warfare, in contrast, more closely resembles Commando operations of the 20th century. Partisans were small units of conventional forces, controlled and organized by a military force for operations behind enemy lines. The 1862 Partisan Ranger Act passed by the Confederate Congress authorized the formation of these units and gave them legitimacy, which placed them in a different category than the common 'bushwhacker' or 'guerrilla'. John Singleton Mosby formed a partisan unit which was very effective in tying down Federal forces behind Union lines in northern Virginia in the last two years of the war.

Lastly, deep raids by conventional cavalry forces were often considered 'irregular' in nature. The "Partisan Brigades" of Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Hunt Morgan operated as part of the cavalry forces of the Confederate Army of Tennessee in 1862 and 1863. They were given specific missions to destroy logistical hubs, railroad bridges, and other strategic targets to support the greater mission of the Army of Tennessee. By mid-1863, with the destruction of Morgan's raiders during the Great Raid of 1863, the Confederacy conducted few deep cavalry raids in the latter years of the war, mostly because of the losses in experienced horsemen and the offensive operations of the Union army. Federal cavalry conducted several successful raids during the war but in general used their cavalry forces in a more conventional role. A good exception was the 1863 Grierson's Raid, which did much to set the stage for General Ulysses S. Grant's victory during the Vicksburg Campaign.

Federal counter-guerrilla operations were very successful in preventing the success of Confederate guerrilla warfare. In Arkansas, Federal forces used a wide variety of strategies to defeat irregulars. These included the use of Arkansas Unionist forces as anti-guerrilla troops, the use of riverine forces such as gunboats to control the waterways, and the provost marshal military law enforcement system to spy on suspected guerrillas and to imprison those captured. Against Confederate raiders, the Federal army developed an effective cavalry themselves and reinforced that system by numerous blockhouses and fortification to defend strategic targets.

However, Federal attempts to defeat Mosby's Partisan Rangers fell short of success because of Mosby's use of very small units (10–15 men) operating in areas considered friendly to the Rebel cause. Another regiment known as the "Thomas Legion," consisting of white and anti-Union Cherokee Indians, morphed into a guerrilla force and continued fighting in the remote mountain back-country of western North Carolina for a month after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. That unit was never completely suppressed by Union forces, but voluntarily ceased hostilities after capturing the town of Waynesville on May 10, 1865.

In the late 20th century several historians have focused on the non-use of guerrilla warfare to prolong the war. Near the end of the war, there were those in the Confederate government, notably Jefferson Davis who advocated continuing the southern fight as a guerrilla conflict. He was opposed by generals such as Robert E. Lee who ultimately believed that surrender and reconciliation were better than guerrilla warfare.

See also Bushwhackers (Union and Confederate) and Jayhawkers (Union).

Latin America

In the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, the populist revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata employed the use of predominantly guerrilla tactics. His forces, composed entirely of peasant farmers turned soldiers, wore no uniform and would easily blend into the general population after an operation's completion. They would have young soldiers, called "dynamite boys", hurl cans filled with explosives into enemy barracks, and then a large number of lightly armed soldiers would emerge from the surrounding area to attack it. Although Zapata's forces met considerable success, his strategy backfired as government troops, unable to distinguish his soldiers from the civilian population, waged a broad and brutal campaign against the latter.

In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Latin America had several urban guerrilla movements whose strategy was to destabilize regimes and provoke a counter-reaction by the military. The theory was that a harsh military regime would oppress the middle classes who would then support the guerrillas and create a popular uprising.

While these movements did destabilize governments, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, and Peru to the point of military intervention, the military generally proceeded to completely wipe out the guerrilla movements, usually committing several atrocities among both civilians and armed insurgents in the process.

Several other left-wing guerrilla movements, sometimes backed by Cuba, attempted to overthrow US-backed governments or right-wing military dictatorships. US-backed Contra guerrillas attempted to overthrow the left-wing elected Sandinista government of Nicaragua, though most of these groups should be considered mercenary juntas rather than rooted guerrillas. The Sandinista Revolution saw the involvement of Women and the Armed Struggle in Nicaragua.


South African War

Boer guerrillas during the Second Boer War.

Guerrilla tactics were used extensively by the forces of the Boer republics in the First and Second Boer Wars in South Africa (1880–1881; 1899–1902) against the invading British Army. In the First Boer War, the Boer commandos wore their everyday dull-coloured farming clothes. The Boers relied more on stealth and speed than discipline and formation and, being expert marksmen using smokeless ammunition, the Boer were able to easily snipe at British troops from a distance. So the British Army relaxed their close-formation tactics. The British Army had changed to Khaki uniforms, first used by the British Indian Army, a decade earlier, and officers were soon ordered to dispense with gleaming buttons and buckles which made them conspicuous to snipers.

In the third phase of the Second Boer War, after the British defeated the Boer armies in conventional warfare and occupied their capitals of Pretoria and Bloemfontein, Boer commandos reverted to mobile warfare. Units led by leaders such as Jan Smuts and Christian de Wet harassed slow-moving British columns and attacked railway lines and encampments. The Boers were almost all mounted and possessed long range magazine loaded rifles. This gave them the ability to attack quickly and cause many casualties before retreating rapidly when British reinforcements arrived. In the early period of the guerrilla war, Boer commandos could be very large, containing several thousand men and even field artillery. However, as their supplies of food and ammunition gave out, the Boers increasingly broke up into smaller units and relied on captured British arms, ammunition, and uniforms.

To counter these tactics, the British under Kitchener interned Boer civilians into concentration camps and built hundreds of blockhouses all over the Transvaal and Orange Free State. Kitchener also enacted a scorched earth policy, destroying Boer homes and farms. Eventually, the Boer guerrillas surrendered in 1902, but the British granted them generous terms in order to bring the war to an end. This showed how effective guerrilla tactics could be in extracting concessions from a militarily more powerful enemy.


Second Sino-Japanese War

Despite a common misconception, both Nationalist and Communist forces maintained active underground resistance in Japanese-occupied areas during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Even before the outbreak of total war in 1937, partisans were already present in Manchuria hampering Japan's occupation of the region. After the initial phases of the war, when large swaths of the North China Plain rapidly fell to the Japanese, underground resistance, supported by either Communist sympathizers or composed of disguised Nationalist soldiers, would soon rise up to combat the garrison forces. They were quite successful, able to sabotage railroad routes and ambush reinforcements. Many major campaigns, such as the four failed invasions of Changsha, were caused by overly-stretched supply lines, lack of reinforcements, and ambushes by irregulars. The Communist cells, many having decades of prior experience in guerrilla warfare against the Nationalists, usually fared much better, and many Nationalist underground groups were subsequently absorbed into Communist ones. Usually in Japanese-occupied areas, the IJA only controlled the cities and railroad routes, with most of them countryside either left alone or with active guerrilla presence. The People's Republic of China has emphasized their contribution to the Chinese war effort, going as far to say that in addition to a "overt theatre", which in many cases they deny was effective, there was also a "covert theatre", which they claim did much to stop the Japanese advance.

Israel and the West Bank & Gaza

European Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic violence (especially Russian pogroms) immigrated in increasing numbers to Palestine. When the British restricted Jewish immigration to the region (see White Paper of 1939), Jewish immigrants began to use guerrilla warfare against the British for two purposes: to bring in more Jewish refugees, and to turn the tide of British sentiment at home. Jewish groups such as the Lehi and the Irgun - many of whom had experience in the Warsaw Ghetto battles against the Nazis, fought British soldiers whenever they could, including the bombing of the King David Hotel. They also conducted attacks against Palestinian civilians, and prepared the infrastructure for the coming 1948 conflict.

The Jewish irregular forces were fighting the British Empire, which had just emerged victorious from World War II. Some of these groups were amalgamated into the Israel Defence Force and subsequently fought in the 1948 War of Independence.

Bangladesh Liberation War

Mukti Bahini (Bengali: মুক্তি বাহিনী "Liberation Army") collectively refers to the armed organizations who fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was dynamically formed by (mostly) Bengali regulars and civilians after the proclamation of independence for Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) on March 26, 1971. Subsequently by mid-April 1971 the former members of East Pakistan armed forces formed the "Bangladesh Armed Forces" and M A G Osmani assumed the command of the same. The civilian groups continued to assist the armed forces during the war. After the war "Mukti Bahini" became the general term to refer to all forces (military and civilian) of former East Pakistani origin fighting against the Pakistani armed forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Often Mukti Bahini operated as an effective guerrilla force to keep their enemies on the run. It has been compared to the French Maquis, the Viet Cong, and the guerrillas of Josip Broz Tito in their tactics and effectiveness.[28]

Bengal Insurgency and Maoists

The Bengal insurgency was the beginning of the rising of Maoists in eastern India. The Naxals, begun their People's War through radical students in the city of Calcutta, however it continues today, having its bases in rural India and an area which now covers half of the country. The area under maosist control has been viewed as a war zone and the group itself has been called the biggest threat to Indian Security by the Prime Minister.

Khalistan Movement

Khalistan movement was a movement initiated by the Sikhs of the Indian Punjab, backed by Pakistan and the US. The movement's aim was to separate and then combine the Indian Punjab with the Pakistani Punjab, creating Khalistan or Pure land. the Punjab region is of historical and religious significance for Sikhs and was contested during the separation of United India. Khalistan movements downfall begun with the now notorious Operation Bluestar in which the Indian Army attacked the most holy temple of the Sikhs i.e. the Golden temple at Amritsar. The army was also alleged to have captured and tortured Sikh youth. The Khalistan movement still has supporters across the world, mainly in Canada, and the British Sikh Community.

One of the proponents of the ideology are the Khalistan Zindabad Force, the leader of which Ranjit Singh is believed to be living in Lahore, Pakistan and has its support base in the Sikhs of Jammu.

The Taliban uprising

The Taliban uprising took place after Afghanistan's Invasion by Allied forces. As in the earlier wars against the British and Soviets, Afghan resistance to the American invaders took the traditional form of a Muslim holy war (Jihad) against the infidels.[29] Initially the Taliban took refuge in Pakistani Mountain areas and continue to move between Afghanistan and Pakistan, often evading Pakistani and NATO forces. The Taliban have now become a dominant role in the Afghan life once again. The Pakistani Government have been accused of supporting and/or turning a blind to the Afghan Taliban, while the Pakistani Government has accused NATO of doing the same. but know with pakistan deciding to fight the taliban. and with the help of local tribsman the taliban have been pushed back.

Vietnam War

Within the United States, the Vietnam War is commonly thought of as a guerrilla war. However, this is a simplification of a much more complex situation which followed the pattern outlined by Maoist theory.

The National Liberation Front (NLF), drawing its ranks from the South Vietnamese peasantry and working class, used guerrilla tactics in the early phases of the war. However, by 1965 when U.S. involvement escalated, the National Liberation Front was in the process of being supplanted by regular units of the North Vietnamese Army.

The NVA regiments organized along traditional military lines, were supplied via the Ho Chi Minh trail rather than living off the land, and had access to weapons such as tanks and artillery which are not normally used by guerrilla forces. Furthermore, parts of North Vietnam were "off-limits" by American bombardment for political reasons, giving the NVA personnel and their material a haven that does not usually exist for a guerrilla army.

Over time, more of the fighting was conducted by the North Vietnamese Army and the character of the war become increasingly conventional. The final offensive into South Vietnam in 1975 was a mostly conventional military operation in which guerrilla warfare played a minor, supporting role.

The Cu Chi Tunnels (Ðịa đạo Củ Chi) was a major base for guerrilla warfare during the Vietnam War. Located about 60 km northwest of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), the Viet Cong (NLF) used the complex system tunnels to hide and live during the day and come up to fight at night.

Despite the aggressiveness of the Vietnamese forces, the VietCong failed to achieve their objective. The defeat of the VietCong outlined the flaws of large scale guerrilla warfare over an extended time. These lessons were later exploited by SAS and Delta Force units during the Gulf War who worked in small teams instead of armies.

Throughout the Vietnam War, the Communist Party closely supervised all levels of the conflict. The bulk of the VC/NLF were initially southerners, with some distinctive southern issues and sensibilities. Nevertheless, the VC/NLF was associated with the Northern Lao Dong Party which furnished it with supplies, weaponry and trained cadres, including regular NVA/PAVN troops. The Southern Communist party, the Peoples Revolutionary Party (PRP) organized in 1962, to participate in the insurgency, and COVSN, Central Office for Southern Vietnam, which partially controlled military activity. The general replacement of CV irregulars with NVA troops supplanted the original VC goals with those proposed by the NVA. As the 1968 Tet Offensive was primarily a VC operation in which large numbers of VC fighters were killed, increasing the role of the NVA in the war effort.

This is a set of tactics which were used frequently in the Vietnam War by the NVA.

Iraq (since 2003)

Many guerrilla tactics are used by the Iraqi insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition. Such tactics include the bombing of vehicles and human targets, suicide bombings, ambushes, sniper attacks, and traditional hit and run raids. Although it is unclear how many U.S. casualties can be attributed to insurgent guerrilla action because of the high numbers of non-combat related injuries and deaths being included in all available statistics of total coalition casualties, it is estimated that they have injured more than 18,000 coalition troops and killed over 3,900, including more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers. In addition the Sunni insurgents established de facto control over the Al Anbar Governorate and Diyala Governorate, over a third of Iraq's land [1]. Insurgent control was maintained despite a series of coalition campaigns; the worsening violence in Baghdad led to the recall of coalition forces, ensuring continued insurgent control. [2] [3][4]

List of historical examples

Successful guerrilla campaigns

Unsuccessful guerrilla campaigns

See also


  1. ^ Robert Brown Asprey (2008), "guerrilla warfare", Encyclopædia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/248353/guerrilla-warfare, retrieved 2008-12-17  
  2. ^ Le Loi And The Le Dynasty
  3. ^ Scanderbeg
  4. ^ Vlad The Impaler: Brief History
  5. ^ The reign of the Vasa dynasty (1587-1668) the wars with Sweden and the events of the Swedish Deluge
  6. ^ Geldersche Volks-Almanak Published 1853
  7. ^ Kalma, J.J. (1970). (ed.) de Tille. ed. Grote Pier Van Kimswerd. Netherlands. pp. 50. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.  
  8. ^ Kok, Jacobus (1791). "Pier Gerlofs Donia". Vaderlandsch Woordenboek. 24 (P–R). Amsterdam: Johannes Allart. pp. 17–21.  
  9. ^ Geuzen, or Gueux (Dutch history)
  10. ^ Guerrilla Warfare by John Talbott, Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1978 Issue
  11. ^ Book Fourteen: 1812 - Chapter III
  12. ^ "Khatyn" - Genocide policy | Punitive operations
  13. ^ Armies of Yugoslav Partisans and Yugoslav Army
  14. ^ Poland - World War II
  15. ^ The Partisan War
  16. ^ Министерство обороны Российской Федерации | 19 сентября в военной истории России
  17. ^ Could the Baltic States have resisted to the Soviet Union?; Crimes of Soviet Communists—Wide collection of sources and links about Guerrilla war in the Baltic states against Soviet occupation
  18. ^ CAIN
  19. ^ BBC News
  20. ^ BBC News
  21. ^ BBC News
  22. ^ BBC News
  23. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY: 27 : 1979: Soldiers die in Warrenpoint massacre". August 27, 1979. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/27/newsid_3891000/3891055.stm. Retrieved November 19, 2005.  
  24. ^ "BBC - History - War and Conflict". http://web.archive.org/web/20060114222029/http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/troubles/hungerstrikes/negotiations.shtml. Retrieved January 14, 2006.  
  25. ^ "CNN - Almanac - 27 November 1996". http://www.cnn.com/almanac/9611/27/. Retrieved November 19, 2005.  
  26. ^ "CNN - IRA splinter gang kills top Protestant guerrilla - December 27, 1997". http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/27/n.ireland.killing/. Retrieved November 19, 2005.  
  27. ^ "http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=584330&section=news". http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=584330&section=news. Retrieved November 19, 2005.  
  28. ^ WHY THE MOVEMENT FOR BANGLADESH SUCCEEDED: A military appreciation by Mumtaz Iqbal
  29. ^ Reason to hope Canadians don't repeat history in Afghanistan, Alan G. Jamieson, The Edmonton Journal, July 31, 2006
  30. ^ See, for example, the guerilla operations in the cordillera of Northern Luzon lead by then-COL Russell Volckmann, United States Army, who escaped from Corregidor in the last hours before the capture of the rest of its military defenders, and who wrote a memoir, (1954) [We Remained http://www.archive.org/stream/weremainedthreey011059mbp/weremainedthreey011059mbp_djvu.txt]. Volckmann was later promoted a general.

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