is a form of irregular warfare
in which small groups of combatants
, such as paramilitary
personnel, armed civilians
, or irregulars
, use military tactics
, petty warfare
, hit-and-run tactics
, and mobility
, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military
Guerrilla warfare during the Peninsular War, painted by Portuguese artist Roque Gameiro. The term "guerrilla" was coined during this conflict, which occurred in the early 19th century.
Although the term "guerrilla warfare" was coined in the context of the Peninsular War
in the 19th century, the tactical methods of guerrilla warfare have long been in use. In the 6th century BC, Sun Tzu
proposed the use of guerrilla-style tactics in The Art of War
. The 3rd century BC Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus
is also credited with inventing many of the tactics of guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare has been used by various factions throughout history and is particularly associated with revolutionary movements and popular resistance against invading or occupying armies.
focus on avoiding head-on confrontations with enemy armies, instead of engaging in limited skirmishes with the goal of exhausting adversaries and forcing them to withdraw. Guerrilla groups often depend on the logistical and political support of either the local population or foreign backers who do not engage in an armed struggle but sympathize with the guerrilla group's efforts.
The term guerrilla
was used in English as early as 1809 to refer to the individual fighters
(e.g., "The town was taken by the guerrillas"), and also (as in Spanish) to denote a group or band
of such fighters. However, in most languages guerrilla
still denotes the specific style of warfare. The use of the diminutive
evokes the differences in number, scale, and scope between the guerrilla army and the formal, professional army of the state.
The Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu
, in his The Art of War
(6th century BC), was one of the earliest to propose the use of guerrilla warfare.
This inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare.
Guerrilla tactics were presumably employed by prehistoric tribal warriors against enemy tribes.
Evidence of conventional warfare
, on the other hand, did not emerge until 3100 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Since the Enlightenment
, ideologies such as nationalism
, and religious fundamentalism
have played an important role in shaping insurgencies and guerrilla warfare.
Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja
used guerrilla techniques in his war against British East India Company between 1790 and 1805. The term guerrilla war was coined in English in 1809 after the Pazhassi revolt against the British. Arthur Wellesley
was in charge to defeat his techniques but failed.
The Moroccan national hero Abd el-Krim
, along with his father, unified the Moroccan tribes under their control and took up arms against the Spanish and French invaders during the early 20th century. For the first time in history, tunnel warfare was used alongside modern guerrilla tactics, which caused considerable damage and annoyance to both invading armies in Morocco. 
and Tom Barry
(early 20th century) both developed many tactical features of this combat system during the guerrilla phase of the Irish War of Independence
. Collins developed mainly Urban guerrilla warfare
tactics in Dublin city
the Irish capital, these tactics in which small IRA units (3 - 6 guerrillas) quickly attacked a target and then melted back into civilian crowds frustrated the British enemy who often killed Irish civilians in revenge for attacks on British Crown Forces, which just made more Irish people support the Irish Republican Army
guerrillas. The best example of this is Bloody Sunday on 21 November 1920
, when Collin's assassination unit known as The Squad
wiped out a group of British intelligence agents known as Cairo Gang
early on the morning (14 were killed, six were wounded), some regular officers were also killed in the purge. Later on in the afternoon, a British force of mixed units took revenge shooting at a crowd at football match in Croke Park
killing fourteen civilians and injuring 60 others.
In west County Cork
Tom Barry was the commander of the IRA West Cork brigade, fighting in west Cork was rural and the IRA fought in much larger units than their comrades in urban areas. These units were called Flying columns
That engaged British forces in large battles, usually between 10 - 30 minutes. The Kilmichael Ambush
in November 1920 and the Crossbarry Ambush
in March 1921 are the most famous examples of Barry's flying column casing large casualties to enemy force.
Strategy, tactics and methods
Guerrilla warfare is a type of asymmetric warfare
: competition between opponents of unequal strength.
It is also a type of irregular warfare: that is, it aims not simply to defeat an enemy, but to win popular support and political influence, to the enemy's cost. Accordingly, guerrilla strategy
aims to magnify the impact of a small, mobile force on a larger, more-cumbersome one.
If successful, guerrillas weaken their enemy by attrition
, eventually forcing them to withdraw.
Tactically, guerrillas usually avoid confrontation with large units and formations of enemy troops but seek and attack small groups of enemy personnel and resources to gradually deplete the opposing force while minimizing their own losses. The guerrilla prizes mobility, secrecy, and surprise, organizing in small units and taking advantage of terrain
that is difficult for larger units to use. For example, Mao Zedong
summarized basic guerrilla tactics at the beginning of the Chinese Civil War
"The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.":p. 124
At least one author credits the ancient Chinese work The Art of War
with inspiring Mao's tactics.:pp. 6–7
In the 20th century, other communist leaders, including North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh
, often used and developed guerrilla warfare tactics, which provided a model for their use elsewhere, leading to the Cuban "foco
" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen
wrote the book Guerrilla War
in November 1938.
In addition to traditional military methods, guerrilla groups may rely also on destroying infrastructure, using improvised explosive devices
, for example. They typically also rely on logistical
and political support from the local population and foreign backers, are often embedded within it (thereby using the population as a human shield
), and many guerrilla groups are adept at public persuasion through propaganda
and use of force.
The opposing army may come to suspect of all civilians as potential guerrilla backers. Many guerrilla movements today also rely heavily on children as combatants, scouts, porters, spies, informants, and in other roles.
It has drawn international condemnation.
Many states also recruit children
into their armed forces.
Some guerrilla groups also use refugees as weapons
to solidify power or politically destabilize an adversary. The FARC
guerrilla war displaced millions of Colombians, and so did the tribal guerrilla warfare (against Soviets) in Afghanistan.
The civilian population living in the area might be suspected of having collaborated with the enemy and find itself displaced, as the guerrillas fight for territory.
Growth during the 20th century
The growth of guerrilla warfare in the 20th century was inspired in part by theoretical works on guerrilla warfare, starting with the Manual de Guerra de Guerrillas
by Matías Ramón Mella
written in the 19th century and, more recently, Mao Zedong's On Guerrilla Warfare
, Che Guevara
's Guerrilla Warfare
, and Lenin's text of the same name
, all written after the successful revolutions carried by them in China, Cuba and Russia, respectively. Those texts characterized the tactic of guerrilla warfare as, according to Che Guevara
's text, being "used by the side which is supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression".
rebel fighter in northern Niger, 2008
Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a social reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.
Comparison of guerrilla warfare and terrorism
Contrary to some terrorist groups, guerrillas usually work in open positions as armed units, try to hold and seize land, do not refrain from fighting enemy military force in battle and usually apply pressure to control or dominate territory and population. While the primary concern of guerrillas is the enemy's active military units, terrorists largely are concerned with non-military agents and target mostly civilians. Guerrilla forces principally fight in accordance with the law of war (jus in bello
). In this sense, they respect the rights of innocent civilians by refraining from targeting them.
- ^ "guerrilla". Origin and meaning of guerrilla by Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
- ^ Leonard, Thomas M., Encyclopedia of the developing world, 1989, p. 728. "One of the earliest proponents of guerrilla war tactics is the Chinese master of warfare, Sun Tzu."
- ^ Snyder, Craig. Contemporary security and strategy, 1999, p. 46. "Many of Sun Tzu's strategic ideas were adopted by the practitioners of guerrilla warfare."
- ^ Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization, p.75, Oxford University Press, 1997
"Primitive (and guerrilla) warfare consists of war stripped to its essentials: the murder of enemies; the theft or destruction of their sustenance, wealth, and essential resources; and the inducement in them of insecurity and terror. It conducts the basic business of war without recourse to ponderous formations or equipment, complicated maneuvers, strict chains of command, calculated strategies, timetables, or other civilized embellishments."
- ^ a b Laqueur, Walter (1976). Guerrilla Warfare: A Historical & Critical Study. Transaction Publishers. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-76-580406-8.
- ^ Joseph J. Ellis (2004). His Excellency. Vintage Books. pp. 92–109. ISBN 978-1-4000-3253-2.
- ^ Laqueur, Walter (1976). Guerrilla Warfare: A Historical & Critical Study. Transaction Publishers. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7658-0406-8.
- ^ James Grant Duff (2014). The History Of The Mahrattas. Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 376. ISBN 9781782892335.
- ^ Boot, Max (2013). Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present. Liveright. pp. 10–11, 55. ISBN 978-0-87140-424-4.
- ^ Ferriter, Diarmaid. "Diarmaid Ferriter: Bloody Sunday 1920 changed British attitudes to Ireland". The Irish Times.
- ^ "Bloody Sunday 1920: new evidence". 12 February 2013.
- ^ Tomes, Robert (Spring 2004). "Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare" (PDF). Parameters. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2010.
- ^ Van Creveld, Martin (2000). "Technology and War II:Postmodern War?". In Charles Townshend (ed.). The Oxford History of Modern War. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 356–358. ISBN 978-0-19-285373-8.
- ^ Mao Tse-tung, "A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire", Selected Works, Eng. ed., FLP, Peking, 1965, Vol. I.
- ^ a b McNeilly, Mark. Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare, 2003, p. 204. "American arming and support of the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan is another example."
- ^ Detsch, J (11 July 2017). "Pentagon braces for Islamic State insurgency after Mosul". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- ^ Child Soldiers International (2016). "A law unto themselves? Confronting the recruitment of children by armed groups". Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- ^ United Nations Secretary-General (2017). "Report of the Secretary-General: Children and armed conflict, 2017". www.un.org. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- ^ Child Soldiers International (2012). "Louder than words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers". Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- ^ Allan, Pierre; Stahel, Albert A. (1983). "Tribal Guerrilla Warfare against a Colonial Power: Analyzing the War in Afghanistan". The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 27 (4): 590. doi:10.1177/0022002783027004002. ISSN 0022-0027. JSTOR 173887. S2CID 154827887.
- ^ "Guerrilla war displaces millions of Colombians - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com.
- ^ Guevara, Ernesto; Loveman, Brian; Thomas m. Davies, Jr (1985). Guerrilla Warfare. ISBN 9780842026789.
- ^ Guevara, Ernesto; Davies, Thomas M. Guerrilla Warfare, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997, ISBN 0-8420-2678-9, p. 52
- ^ Emmerson, B (2016). "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism" (PDF). www.un.org. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- ^ Halibozek, Edward P.; Jones, Andy; Kovacich, Gerald L. (2008). The corporate security professional's handbook on terrorism (illustrated ed.). Elsevier (Butterworth-Heinemann). pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-7506-8257-2. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- ^ Williamson, Myra (2009). Terrorism, war and international law: the legality of the use of force against Afghanistan in 2001. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-7403-0.
- ^ Sinclair, Samuel Justin; Antonius, Daniel (7 May 2012). The Psychology of Terrorism Fears. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-538811-4.
- ^ Rowe, P (2002). "Freedom fighters and rebels: the rules of civil war". J R Soc Med. 95 (1): 3–4. doi:10.1258/jrsm.95.1.3. PMC 1279138. PMID 11773342.
- ^ "The Differences Between the Guerrilla Warfare and Terrorism". 25 September 2017.
- Asprey, Robert. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History
- Beckett, I. F. W. (15 September 2009). Encyclopedia of Guerrilla Warfare (Hardcover). Santa Barbara, California: Abc-Clio Inc. ISBN 978-0874369298. ISBN 9780874369298
- Derradji Abder-Rahmane, The Algerian Guerrilla Campaign Strategy & Tactics, the Edwin Mellen Press, New York, USA, 1997.
- Hinckle, Warren (with Steven Chain and David Goldstein): Guerrilla-Krieg in USA (Guerrilla war in the USA), Stuttgart (Deutsche Verlagsanstalt) 1971. ISBN 3-421-01592-9
- Keats, John (1990). They Fought Alone. Time Life. ISBN 0-8094-8555-9
- MacDonald, Peter. Giap: The Victor in Vietnam
- The Heretic: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito.
- Oller, John. The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-306-82457-9.
- Peers, William R.; Brelis, Dean. Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America's Most Successful Guerrilla Force. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1963.
- Polack, Peter. Guerrilla Warfare; Kings of Revolution Casemate,ISBN 9781612006758.
- Thomas Powers, "The War without End" (review of Steve Coll, Directorate S: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Penguin, 2018, 757 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXV, no. 7 (19 April 2018), pp. 42–43. "Forty-plus years after our failure in Vietnam, the United States is again fighting an endless war in a faraway place against a culture and a people we don't understand for political reasons that make sense in Washington, but nowhere else." (p. 43.)
- Schmidt, LS. 1982. "American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945". M.S. Thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. 274 pp.
- Sutherland, Daniel E. "Sideshow No Longer: A Historiographical Review of the Guerrilla War." Civil War History 46.1 (2000): 5-23; American Civil War, 1861–65
- Sutherland, Daniel E. A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (U of North Carolina Press, 2009). online
- Weber, Olivier, Afghan Eternity, 2002
Look up guerrilla
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Last edited on 13 May 2021, at 09:16
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.