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Thread: Ireland 1919-1921

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    Default Ireland 1919-1921

    Over Christmas I read a couple fascinating new books on the Anglo-Irish Conflict of 1920-1921. Both focus on military intelligence in a counter-insurgency situation, but from the guerrillas' standpoint.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/se...hn%20Borgonovo

    Basically they're an excellent guide to what the British did wrong during that campaign.

    It seems like this was a classic insurgency, yet I hadn't really read much about it before. I'm wondering if anyone has any other good titles from that Irish conflict?

    Thanks,

    Remo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Remo View Post
    Over Christmas I read a couple fascinating new books on the Anglo-Irish Conflict of 1920-1921. Both focus on military intelligence in a counter-insurgency situation, but from the guerrillas' standpoint.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/se...hn%20Borgonovo

    Basically they're an excellent guide to what the British did wrong during that campaign.

    It seems like this was a classic insurgency, yet I hadn't really read much about it before. I'm wondering if anyone has any other good titles from that Irish conflict?

    Thanks,

    Remo

    I've got a book about the history of the IRA that I bought in Shannon, Ireland about 2 years ago. When I get home I'll post the title.

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    Default Chap 6 Compound War

    I did this as a history lesson about 4 years ago:
    The Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921:
    "Britain's Troubles - Ireland's Opportunities"
    John T. Broom, Ph.D.


    To comprehend how the Irish struggle involved Compound Warfare, one needs to understand that in the Irish struggle, British "imperial overstretch" (i.e., the effect of imperial commitments) replaced and compensated for Compound Warfare's usual supporting main force. British worldwide military commitments "the overstretch" prevented the British from massing sufficient forces in Ireland to overwhelm the guerrilla forces. This situation was the result of Britain's requirement to garrison a far-flung empire, its provision of forces for the League of Nations newly mandated territories, and the sustaining of an occupation force for the German Rhineland. In addition, the British government faced public pressure to reduce the unprecedented size of the British Army and to control costs in the wake of a very expensive global war. By 19 May 1920, the entire British strategic reserve was thirty-seven battalions, garrisoned in Britain. The theory of Compound War puts for that the synergy achieved when a guerrilla force works in concert with a conventional force against a larger occupying force. The commander of the "compound" force of regulars and guerrillas achieved greater "leverage" that compounds the effects of his massed conventional forces and dispersed unconventional forces against an enemy unprepared to deal with both at the same time. That is to say that the occupying commander must mass his own forces to deal with the rebel conventional threat when at the same time he needs to disperse his forces to maintain control against the unconventional. Put another way, the theory of Compound Warfare reflects much of the underlying tensions in the Contemporary Operational Environment or even much of what challenges U.S. commanders today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This essay by Dr. John T. Broom on the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921 is one section of an anthology by the Combat Studies Institute. It and the remainder of the anthology are available at the CSI web page. That said I will let the author explain why his essay on the Irish Troubles fits the mold for compound war.

    This essay describes the successful struggle of Irish nationalists to win their independence from Britain shortly after World War I. The Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21, of all the cases in this volume, is perhaps the least likely candidate for compound warfare analysis. There is no conventional force on the Irish side, no apparent safe haven, no major power ally. From a technical standpoint, some analysts might not wish to characterize the Anglo-Irish conflict as a case of compound war. Nonetheless, the Irish insurgency is fascinating and instructive when considered from a compound warfare perspective. Close inquiry suggests that ultimately it was a combination of pressures much like those of fortified compound warfare that brought the British, though more powerful than the Irish, to capitulate. The British in Ireland faced both a resistant population and flying columns in the countryside. These columns were not a regular force but compelled a degree of concentration that was difficult for British forces to sustain because of the simultaneous need to disperse to control the population throughout the country. British commitments elsewhere in the world also made it hard for the British to concentrate forces on the Irish problem. Public opinion in Britain, opposed to extreme measures, may have functioned as a substitute for a safe haven for the Irish nationalists. Sympathetic world opinion gave the Irish effort some of the leverages of a major power ally. Apparently, the combination of all these pressures, closely akin to the fortified compound warfare pattern, induced the British, despite their far greater resources, to give in.


    Best

    Tom

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    Tom, yes I just finished reading that portion of the paper it is an excellant source( I Have almost finished the paper some paper!) also you posted the table of contents from this months issue of Military Review there is an article about Intel in coin as used by the Brits in Ireland. i think it is a more modern time period but I would check it out.

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    A friend of mine just finished writing a ~25 page paper on ireland as insurgency, and it seems pretty interesting, how michael collins was setting up a parallel financial structure by day and ordering assassinations of british officials by night. I'll ask him about it, see if he has it posted anywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    I've got a book about the history of the IRA that I bought in Shannon, Ireland about 2 years ago. When I get home I'll post the title.
    Even I should have figured this one out. It's called Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA by Richard English

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    Thanks for posting about my little scribbling :-)

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    Default Old thread, new life

    Well I didn't even know this thread existed, although there I have added several posts on Northern Ireland and recommended some books.

    The Military Review cited by Slap in January 2007 is undoubtedly: Brian A. Jackson, "Counterinsurgency Intelligence in a 'Long War': The British Experience in Northern Ireland," Military Review, 2007. It is available, free, on:http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Military...228_art011.pdf

    Have a look at this thread, with several book lists:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=897

    The current thread on Northern Ireland is:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=3576
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-13-2011 at 09:00 PM.
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    I would like to report a good movie with Liam Neeson, Michael Collins (1996)

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    Default Intelligence covered

    War on the Rocks has a good review of 'Michael Collins and the Anglo-Irish War: Britain’s Counterinsurgency Failure' by J.B.E. Hittle (Potomac Books, 2011):http://warontherocks.com/2014/01/les...glo-irish-war/

    The emphasis is on intelligence, from the review:
    The basic value of this book to most U.S. national security specialists are lessons they should seriously consider regarding intelligence and counterintelligence practices during counterinsurgency operations anywhere.
    Link, don't forget you can order via SWC on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159...tpwaronthec-20
    davidbfpo

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    Default Shift in Irish Public Opinion

    David:

    Nice find; it caused me to lookup a question that is reflected by this statement on the second page of the book review:

    Brits, in sharp contrast, found few native-born Irish who were willing to help penetrate Sinn Fein and IRA cells. Many who volunteered to help had lived outside the homeland quite long and lost touch with potentially lucrative contacts. Wholesale murder of Dublin’s Metropolitan Police Detective Force concurrently decimated members who knew leading rebels by sight. The residue predictably became reluctant to risk their lives after odds against success sagged precipitously.
    No doubt that the Brits had few indigenous Irish (whether Gaelic-, Norman- or Anglo-Irish) so committed on their side in (say) 1918-1919 as to be penetration agents.

    I've thought from time to time about the shift in attitude from (say) 1914 to the 1918-1919 period. In 1914, it was common for Irishmen to flock to the colors, and many Irish before that were professional military - e.g., my grandfather's first cousin's husband was a member of the 18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars, and his father was Royal Navy.

    Another book review I found today partially answers my question - and in the context of Cork (from which my direct line comes, and where Michael Collins lived); Thomas Fitzgerald, Rebel Cork, reviewing John Borgonovo, The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918 (2013):

    In 1914 Cork city was known as “Loyal Cork”; within ten years the city and county would be rechristened “Rebel Cork”. This change in designation owed much to the fact that during the decade in question Cork saw more military action and experienced more bloodshed than any other county in Ireland. Some of the most traumatic events of the period, such as the burning of the city centre, the Kilmichael ambush and issues around possible sectarian murders, have long made Cork a topic of interest to historians.

    John Borgonovo’s study focuses on the city’s experience of war and political turmoil between 1916 and 1918. It is the first in a proposed trilogy: the second and third volumes will deal with the 1919-21 and 1922-23 periods respectively. In this first book Borgonovo details the changes the city experienced in the final two years of the Great War. The greatest of these was the growth in popular support for a new wave of young nationalists and the eventual widespread rejection of Irish Parliamentary Party constitutionalism in favour of the more radical politics of Sinn Féin.

    ... Borgonovo’s perspective is confined to Cork City but, partly because of this, his study casts an interesting light on some long established questions associated with the period. Prominent among these are: What was the link between the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence? What were the results of the attempt to introduce conscription? Was it the 1916 Rising or the failures of the Irish party to achieve results in the 1916 convention that doomed constitutional nationalism? What were the significant differences between the IPP and Sinn Féin? In Borgonovo’s book these questions are considered again from the perspective of the country’s third largest city.
    The answers to these questions are complex and the entire review should be read; but here is the bottom line:

    In Borgonovo’s view it was the failure of the Irish Party and British ineptitude, together with the Easter Rising, that swung public opinion. The rising certainly provided a banner for Sinn Féin to campaign under. In 1924 PS O’Hegarty wrote that it was the 1916 Rising not Sinn Féin which won voters. Borgonovo comments that “the Easter Rising planted a seed in many young minds that eventually blossomed into physical force republicanism”. He also notes that the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Cork used the Volunteers as an instrument to advance men who believed in physical force, because the brotherhood was unsure if Sinn Féin would support physical force.
    So, there is more to it than the 1916 executions of a relatively few revolutionaries; but that was the spark that Collins et al were able to use in igniting the dry wheat field a couple of years later.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 01-24-2014 at 11:59 PM.

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    Default Can sparks be contained if not extinguished?

    JMM99 in his post above commented (cited in part):
    No doubt that the Brits had few indigenous Irish (whether Gaelic-, Norman- or Anglo-Irish) so committed on their side in (say) 1918-1919 as to be penetration agents.

    I've thought from time to time about the shift in attitude from (say) 1914 to the 1918-1919 period. In 1914, it was common for Irishmen to flock to the colors, and many Irish before that were professional military...

    (Later) So, there is more to it than the 1916 executions of a relatively few revolutionaries; but that was the spark that Collins et al were able to use in igniting the dry wheat field a couple of years later.
    I have read a little on Irish history in this period (1900-1921) and it is clear that there was considerable loyalty to the Crown across Ireland at the time of declaring war in 1914 - touched upon in the recently read 'Sleepwalkers; How Europe Went to War in 1914. There had been a royal visit to Ireland a few years before 1914, with extensive public participation. Yes there had been a persistent strain upon the Anglo-Irish relationship, with a small minority favouring violence and the election of nationalist MPs to the Westminster parliament.

    In 2013 I read a fascinating article in the journal Intelligence and National Security (Vol. 28 No.4) 'The British State and the Irish Rebellion of 1916: An Intelligence Failure or a Failure of Response' by Geoff Sloan. Amidst all his points there are references to the availability of informers up to the Easter Rising; civilian informers mainly for the police (RIC and Dublin Met Police) and for the Royal Navy (which had several bases).

    Yes the Easter Rising was a shock to the public, not the government as Sloan argues. When prisoners were led away they were not cheered.

    It appears a lot of Irish opinion changed when a 'few revolutionaries' were executed, although my suspicion is that many became neutral towards the "men of violence" and once the British reverted to military coercion the majority shifted their way. The 1919-21 rebellion was not pleasant; although what followed was even more "no holds barred".

    Given Irish history and the crude, coercive reaction to the 'Easter Rising' and what followed years later it is an achievement that the nationalist 'spark' failed to ignite wider public support for a long time.

    Sloan points out that effective action was taken to prevent any 'Rising' beyond Dublin and interning the leaders was an option beforehand.

    Incidentally the commemoration of Ireland's war dead from both world wars has only recently become acceptable in the Irish Republic. Not to forget the PIRA bombing of a Remembrance Sunday parade @ Einniskillen - a "legitimate" target.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Pointers

    Just attended a two day conference 'How Terrorist Groups 'Learn': Innovation and adaptation in political violence' at the British Academy, London and the post-1919 conflict featured.

    Researchers should check the writings of Dr William Sheehan, a historian:http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-...-sheehan.shtml

    Here is one not-so happy review:http://www.theirishstory.com/2011/06.../#.VYW-jVI0piU

    Not his book, another's on the "Black & Tans" and the 'auxiliaries' recruited by the British, a very controversial unit:http://www.drb.ie/essays/dogs-of-war
    davidbfpo

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    Default The Boys of the Old Brigade – The IRA Third Northern Division

    Thread re-opened for a couple of updates, only this one today.

    An article id'd via Twitter and an aspect of the war that does not appear here on a quick skim. It includes details on the deaths in what was to be Northern Ireland:
    From July 1920 until October 1922, the risk of violent death was ever-present for nationalists in Belfast. During that period, 280 Catholics were killed in the city, of whom 21 or 8% have so far been identified as members of the IRA....
    It opens with:
    When discussing the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, one is more likely to think of the streets of Dublin or the mountains of Cork and Kerry than of Belfast. For many years the 3rd Northern Division was little studied, either in terms of its composition or its activities – the IRA in Belfast and the surrounding areas is not one of the best-known guerrilla formations in the Irish revolutionary period. However, it was one of the formations most directly affected by perhaps the defining event of twentieth century Ireland: partition.
    A range of new sources, particularly those in the Military Service Pensions Collection of Military Archives, now enables us to put together a detailed picture of the IRA in the north through the War of Independence, partition and the Civil War.
    Link:http://www.theirishstory.com/2018/06...thern-divsion/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-07-2018 at 10:18 AM. Reason: 19,319v today
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