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Thread: Special Warfare - 1962

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Special Warfare - 1962

    Special Warfare - 1962 - Small Wars Journal Blog

    Okay, you remember back a few years when those trying to figure out counterinsurgency were snapping up all available copies of Galula’s 1964 Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice and breaking out the popcorn to watch the 1967 movie The Battle of Algiers. Well, now circulating amongst those tasked for figuring out “Irregular Warfare” comes the 1962 US Army "booklet" entitled Special Warfare – with an introduction by President John F. Kennedy. So here, SWJ brings you another blast from the past...

  2. #2
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean


    Excellent find. I shall print and read with pleasure. Considering we had MRAPs in 1950, my guess there'll be nothing new, but fascinating all the same!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    DeRidder LA


    I used DV Rattan's piece several years ago as a history lesson. And I interveiewed MG (ret) DV Rattan in 1986 concerning his adventures as an advisor in the Congo in 1964--he was with the Belge/Merc convoy that entered Stanleyvile from the south.

    No not much has changed but a lot of new terms. Which honestly does not bother me if it allows us to resurface or sustain older ideas that remain relevant.


  4. #4
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    There is one thing that has changed, and it is not a new form of warfare, it is the power of the new information age that is fueling "globalization."

    The principles of sound counterinsurgency as understood in 1969 are still sound in 2009. Nothing has changed about the underlying principles of this type of populace driven internal conflict (IMHO).

    What has changed is that rare is the leader running such a heavy handed dictatorship so as to be able to control information. N. Korea, and perhaps a couple others. Tactics of "isolating the populace" are no longer valid, and counterinsurgents have a much more difficult task than they had 40 years ago as they now absolutely must address the underlying civil flaws of governance that gave rise to conflict, as no amount of suppression of insurgent himself will be adequate to attain a temporary peace as it once was. The insurgent will still be beaten locally, but now he knows with certainty that others are out there, unsuppressed that support his, or similar causes, and he draws strength from this knowledge.

    The other new factor is the rise of non-state actors like AQ, that can now wage unconventional warfare to join and enflame disparate local causes like only state actors could previously. They also are able to do this relatively immune from the time tested DIME tools of statecraft to control such actions among fellow states. A dynamic leader with a powerful ideology like Hitler needed to first attain control of a state in order to have significant impact. Today attaining a state creates an Achilles heel and is to be avoided by such. Bin Laden knows this full well and has no desire to soon abandon the "legal sanctuary" of his current status.

    Even quasi-state actors like Hezbollah appreciate this, intentionally not taking on an offical status that would enhance their vulnerability. Once we fully appreciate this as well, we will soon disasemble these virtual sanctuaries that we have created.

    There are second order effects as well. The concept of "friendly dictators" as allies must be retired as well. It worked well in its day, when that leader could support our national interests in exchange for some concession, and be expected to control his own populace as part of the deal. No more. Much of the violence we face today, I fear, are the result of these lingering arrangements from our Cold War "partnerships" with such men. With full access (or even partial access) to information, populaces understand now the nature of these arrangements, and where they lose out to the benefit of their leadership, they are striking back. When the legitimacy of ones failed government is drawn not from the governed, but from some foreign power, that foreign power must expect to be on the target list for phase one of that nation's insurgency. Best to understand such attacks for what they are, and not simply interpret them as terrorist attacks by people who hate us, or adhere to a different religion. They just know they can not achieve justice at home, until the break the support from abroad.

    So, the principles of this manual are certainly as sound today as the day they were written, but it is incumbent on us to apply them appropriately to the world we live in today.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  5. #5
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    South of Mason Dixon Line

    Default There you go again Bob...

    When the legitimacy of ones failed government is drawn not from the governed, but from some foreign power, that foreign power must expect to be on the target list for phase one of that nation's insurgency. Best to understand such attacks for what they are, and not simply interpret them as terrorist attacks by people who hate us, or adhere to a different religion.
    Bob, for example, Afghanistan until 9/11 only had support from one nation, Pakistan.

    Pakistan, from my time there until after 9/11 primarily relied on Communist China, not on the US.

    Religious terrorism is it's own self justifying process and I have to again politely but strongly disagree with your view here.

  6. #6
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Smile Straying from the topic?

    I have moved two posts on this thread, by Bob's World and George S., to the more appropriate thread on Afghanistan / Pakistan:

    This thread started IMHO to disperse somewhat. (PM to both sent).


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    For those who enjoyed the SW read, here's another one published around the same time: What is Counterinsurgency?
    Reproduced beow is an announcement of the Army's new counterinsurgency program as it appeared in the April 1962 issue of the Octagon, a publication of Headquarters U.S. Army VIII Corps, Austin Texas.

    ....General Herbert B. Powell, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Continental Command, told the more than 200 conferees that it is mandatory that all Army personnel be thoroughly familiar with counterinsurgency and that all soldiers will be given information and instruction on the subject....

  8. #8
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Great little flap at the time.

    I met Walker when we went to Little Rock to get the Kids in School. He was the OIC of the Operation as Cdr, Arkansas Military District. He was a trip; good to work for, though -- told you what he wanted and left you alone. No nitpicker he...

    I recall a few years later reading several of his little diatribes and thinking "Darn, one of the good guys and he's totally lost it."

  9. #9
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I think this was the General that Lee Harvey Oswald tried to assassinate before he shot President Kennedy.

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