View Full Version : 'Can a Popular Inurgency Be Defeated?'

02-14-2007, 04:45 PM
This is an article in the current March 2007 Military History Magazine. Written by John Tierney Jr.

The question he asked was 'Can a Popular Inurgency Be Defeated?' His answer in short was Yes. His article focuses on the efforts of Col Edward Lansdale USAF (former OSS) and Ramon Magsaysay Philipine Defense Minister to defeat the 'Huk' rebellion.

I couldn't find a web link but the Mag can be found on newstands. It was a good read and another example of what can work.

HistoryNet.com only links you to the website of the magazine not the article.


Bill Moore
02-15-2007, 06:40 AM
I would like to hear the jist of the article, at least a couple of supporting arguments. The insurgency in the Philippines was isolated from outside support, and I'm not so sure it had popular support. The people were frustrated with the government, but the guerrillas didn't offer much, and were also abusive of the people. Where an insurgency is normally a competition between the insurgent and government for the populace, both failed initially. When Magsaysay become SECDEF (then President), COL Lansdale found a brother in arms, and the government quickly implemented programs to win the population over. Unless corrected by the many history bluffs on this page, I think classifying the insurgency (during that time period) as popular is a misclassification.

Statistically if 11% of the population supports the insurgency, it is considered a serious crisis, where outside intervention will probably be required to defeat it. If 15% of the population supports the insurgency, then it is unlikely that the government will win at that point. I'm sure there are numerous variables, such as the unity of the insurgent movement, outside support to the government, etc., but I am not aware of any popular insurgencies that were defeated outside the reach of the Iron Curtain. Within the Iron Curtain severe population control measures were implemented, and while I don't the popularity of the revolts in Hungary and elsewhere, I think they would have been defeated anyway. Again more variables, who defeated them? The Russion military? The Hungarian military?

More to the point is the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan considered popular? It is probably safe to say that well over 15% of the population is united in opposition to our presence, but I doubt it is a unified resistance, so does that number mean anything?

02-15-2007, 01:05 PM
"The eventual defeat of the Huk insurrection in 1953 was largely the work of one of the greatest political-military combinations in history: the American, Lansdale, and the brilliant Philippine defense minister, Ramon Magsaysay. The two developed the tactical and technical devices that turned a losing and frustrating counterinsurgency into a political warfare machine that defeated the Philippine Communists in less than two years." pg 54.

"In retrospect, the Huk insurgency...was a true popular rebellion." pg 59.

"Magsaysay and his American adviser ended the insurgency by employing even more popular measures, combined with police-style battle tactics." pg 59.

I hope these clips help, the article is well written and brings forth some good ideas. It is not offered as a panacea.


Bill Moore
02-15-2007, 01:29 PM
Troufion, thanks for the clips, you convinced me to go out and find the magazine. Bill