DEFEATING COMMUNIST INSURGENCY, by Robert Thompson

DEFEATING COMMUNIST INSURGENCY, by Robert Thompson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:49 am

DEFEATING COMMUNIST INSURGENCY
by Robert Thompson
Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol 12, Nr 4, 1982. http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za

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Introduction

This book was written approximately 16 years ago and much of it is based on the experiences of the author obtained during the insurgencies in Malaya and Vietnam. The book is a study of the basic theories of communist insurgency and of counter insurgency as they operate on the ground and affect the population of a threatened country.

Much of what is propagated in this book have been experienced by the SADF during its struggle against insurgency. Some of the systems used in Malaya and Vietnam was also used in Rhodesia during their war. Some of the systems propagated eg Strategic Hamlets, although effective in Malaya, had still to be proven in Vietnam!

The following is a summary of some of the subjects mentioned in the book which has a relation to our own war and which has already been implemented or could still be implemented.

The Enemy

'The only person who really understands communism is the communist who understands it too late'. This quotation comes out of the Vietnam struggle and pinpoints the following question: What is the appeal of communism in south-east Asian communities, and why are young men in particular attracted to its cause? I think the same question can also be asked in respect of the African countries of today. Two further questions that can be asked is: How do communist guerrilla forces survive, and even threaten to prevail over, large-scale conventional forces supported by countries whose power, wealth and good intentions are seemingly invincible? And, above all how can they be defeated except at enormous cost in men, money, material and time without risk of general war?

Communist Subversion

Every insurgency, particularly a communist revolutionary one, requires a cause, and given a basic cause, many other issues can be tacked onto it, such as land for the landless, exploitation of labour on estates and mines, regional autonomy for ethnic minorities and political equality for immigrant races with the indigenous races. But above all the communist appeal is directed to the youth. For the intellectual there is the ideological appeal of communism; for the uneducated there is the appeal of change.

Communist Insurgency

The main prong of their attack is subversion supported by selective terrorism. If this fails they will have to use the second prong of their attack namely the 'armed struggle'. It is interesting to note that three types of recruiting methods are identified: the naturals, the converted and the deceived.

Principles of Counter-Insurgency

Five basic principles is named: First principle. The government must have a clear political aim: to establish and maintain a free, independent and united country which is politically and economically stable. Second principle. The government must function in accordance with law. Third principle. The government must have an overall plan. This plan must cover not just the security measures and military operations. It must include all political, social, economic, adminstrative, police and other measures which have a bearing on the insurgency. Above all it must clearly define roles and responsibilities to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure that there are no gaps in the government's field of action. Fourth principle. The government must give priority to defeating the political subversion, not the guerrillas. Fifth principle. In the guerrilla phase of an insurgency, a government must secure its base areas first.

Intelligence

Ideally there should be one single organisation responsible for all security intelligence within the country. The best organisation to be responsible for all internal security intelligence is the special branch of the police force rather than a completely separate organisation. In an insurgency the army is one of the main consumers of intelligence, but it should not be a collector except in so far as its units obtain tactical intelligence through their operations.

Information Services

As with intelligence, so with the information services. There needs to be a closely integrated effort so that the government speaks with one voice the task falls into two categories: information work directed at the insurgents and information work directed at the public. Not only do the two go together, but the first requires very close co-operation with the intelligence organisation. The aim of the first is to reduce the will of the insurgents to fight and to encourage surrenders, while the aim of the second is to rally the population to the side of the government and to encourage positive support for the government in its campaign.

Basic Operational Concepts

One of the basic principles is that the government must have an overall plan to co-ordinate all military and civil effort and to lay down priorities. The plan must also take into account the fourth and fifth principles that the main emphasis should be given to defeating subversion, not the guerrillas, and that the government must secure its ground, there will be four definite stages which can be summed up as clearing, holding, winning and won.

Conclusion

The author comes to the conclusion that a communist insurgency is not a 'People's Revolutionary War' but a revolutionary form of warfare designed to gain control over people and that it can be defeated if certain basic principles are followed. He argues that unless the underground political organisation which supports them is first broken.

Col KWJ. van Heerden
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