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General Considerations in Unconventional Warfare Theory

September 8, 2012
(Originally published on the old blog in February, 2012–J.M.)
Unconventional warfare is a doctrinal military term covering a wide spectrum of military and paramilitary activities, generally carried out by irregular forces. For purposes of the contemporary American resistance movement (I will forthwith refer to this “movement” as the American Constitutional Liberty Resistance, or ACLR, for lack of a better term. ARM would work, if it hadn’t already been taken and misused), the term should be considered to encompass guerrilla warfare (GW), sabotage, subversion, intelligence activities, and information operations (IO) including psychological operations (PSYOPs) in support of resistance activities.
Guerrilla warfare is simply one aspect of a resistance movement’s activities. GW is comprised of paramilitary operations conducted by irregular, local indigenous personnel against technologically-superior regime forces in denied areas. It is the overt military aspect of a resistance movement. The urbanization of American society, like most of the world, has led to significant necessary changes within the doctrinal requirements of UW/GW. The emphasis has, in many cases, and will continue to, shift away from rural guerrilla operations towards more urban-centric guerrilla operations in built-up areas. This paradigm shift does not discount the feasibility of rural-based guerrilla warfare elements, but does tend to create a role reversal in many operational areas, as the rural-based guerrilla element supports the operations of the urban guerrilla force, rather than the historical precedent of vice-versa.
Sabotage is an act or acts, which are intended to disable or destroy the ability of regime security forces to operate effectively by damaging critical infrastructure support such as war materials, premises, or utilities, including human and material resources. Sabotage may be the most efficient, and/or only available means to attack and destroy specific targets beyond the ability of the conventional weapons typically deployed by resistance forces. Sabotage selectively neutralizes enemy capabilities with minimal manpower, material demands, and collateral damage.
Subversion is any activity developed and carried out in order to undermine the strength and moral of a regime. All three aspects of a resistance movement—guerrilla force, subversive underground, and auxiliaries—will contribute directly, or indirectly, to the subversive activities of the resistance, but the clandestine nature of subversion activities mandates that the subversive underground performs the bulk of the activity. Subversion is doctrinally defined as an effects-based targeting of human terrain assets.
Intelligence activities incorporate overt, clandestine, and covert collection efforts, and the assembly and dissemination of available information resources for operational planning. Target analysis of potential resistance movements should utilize the doctrinal CARVER format, and satisfy stated operational requirements, while reducing the risk to resistance operatives at the tactical level.This detail forms the backbone of effective resistance intelligence activities.
Information operations, including psychological operations in a resistance movement focus on two aspects. First is the demoralization of regime forces through the application of propaganda and education of the illegality of their actions under constitutional law. The second is developing and building increased rapport between the resistance movement and the local civilian populace, in order to garner the requisite material, political, and psychological support for the resistance.
UW operations require proficiency on the part of active resistance movement cadre in training development and execution, direct-action small-unit combat operations, sabotage, intelligence activities, and information operations before hostilities openly occur. This will allow the dedicated resistance cadre to act as force-multipliers by training and leading newly recruited and developed resistance operatives in the wake of the commencement of open hostilities. Until these hostilities develop, it is imperative that the resistance cadre wait for the appropriate “operational sweet spot” to develop. A resistance potential must already exist (I would argue that we are already there. Even the statists in power have declared the American people to be “pre-revolutionary,” evidence by the DoJ’s ongoing attempts to demonize innocuous activities and interests shared by large segments of the American civilian populace).
The government’s inability to meet the legitimate needs of the people, combined with its intransigent unwillingness to abide by the constitutional restraints of our republican system, has caused widespread frustration and dissatisfaction. People have lost faith in and respect for the legitimacy of the government.
Socio-economic and/or political conditions must exist that divide or weaken the regime’s mechanisms to exert control over the civilian populace. Historically, this has been indicated by factional/ethnic discord within the military/security forces apparatus of the regime, geographical realities, combined with technological weaknesses that preclude positive central command-and-control of those forces, and a general refusal on the part of the civilian populace to pay attention to the edicts of the regime government, combined with a resultant inability or unwillingness on the part of security forces to retaliate against the civilian populace.
Regardless of the general dissatisfaction of the civilian populace towards the regime’s policies, a resistance movement has little chance of success against a regime that has a well-organized, connected, and effective security forces apparatus. The existance of a successful security apparatus leaves little opportunity for the organization and execution of the core clandestine and/or covert auxiliary support for a resistance guerrilla campaign.
The civilian populace must possess not only a general will to resist passively, but also the intestinal fortitude to bear significant hardships that result from the typically repressive counterinsurgency measures practiced by tyrannical regimes. A population that has been subjected to long-term brutality or psychological indocrination espousing the supremacy of the regime, by an otherwise benign government will not likely possess adequate willpower to sustain long-term struggle, especially as their neighbors start disappearing in the middle of the night, while their favored “leaders” tell continue to preach that the tyranny and violence is to safeguard their security.
Resistance will, initially be non-violent, as it should be. At a local level, great strides can be made through coordination of efforts to ostracize government agents and representatives, legally or illegally evading taxes to reduce the ability of the government to continue to provide unconstitutional functions, and other forms of civil disobedience, including protests, sit-ins, and non-compliance with official directives of an unconstitutional nature. Stepping up to violent resistance will initially include subversion, sabotage, and ultimately, direct-action guerrilla warfare against regime security forces. Historically oppressed peoples have resorted to non-violent resistance initially, only resorting to violence if their demands are not met, if regime security forces respond to non-violence with violent repression (both of which we are currently witnessing in the government responses to the leftist protests of the Occupy Wall Street movement), or if nudged towards violent action by subversive cadre. If the societal conditions are repressive enough, or the repression increases, unorganized resistance efforts will coalesce into a resistance movement.
A resistance movement must be capable of integrating the civilian populace’s moral indignation at their repression, with their actual willingness to accept the kind of mental and physical hardships, as well as the risk of actual bodily harm and/or death on behalf of that indignation. It is imperative, even during the preparatory phases of a resistance movement, that the resistance develop and conduct an intensive and extensive psychological operations campaign to help move the disillusioned segments of society away from passive resistance towards providing active support to the resistance, either by providing supplies, food, shelter, transportation, or even simply information of intelligence value. These efforts to increase the public’s dissatisfaction with the behavior and policy of the regime should strive to simultaneously portray the resistance movement’s philosophy as a viable and desirable alternative. Without developing this psychological support from at least large segments of the general public, there is no way for the resistance to function clandestinely or coverty, as the public will continue to follow the dictates of their “leaders,” to report any “suspicious behaviors.” This is THE central facet of any successful resistance.
In almost every historical example of successful resistance to tyranny by a moral resistance element, the rebellious factions have faced a civilian populace with a small but active minority who ardently supported the regime as being incapable of doing wrong, as well as an equally ardent faithful minority who actively supports the aims and goals of the resistance movement. These two groups will generally not have their opinions changed on the matter, regardless of the PSYOPs campaigns of the regime or the resistance. The large, uncommitted mass in the middle; those who don’t really care either way, should be the target of resistance element PSYOPs campaigns. In order for the resistance to succeed, they must develop a way to convince the large, emotionally uncommitted majority of the public to support the resistance, or at the very least, to accept it as a legitimate alternative authority to the established regime. The reality is, most human beings WANT some sort of guidance. Explaining to them that they need to do whatever they want to do is not going to elicit support from the majority. Providing a “shadow government” that provides the minimum necessary aspects of local governance, in the form of security/police protective services will go further to establish support within the populace than telling them that they’re “on their own.”
As will be seen later, there are fortunately, many opportunities, even during the preparatory phases of resistance, for a movement to conduct these types of PSYOPs. Well-written blogs that manage to convey the valuable messages of liberty, self-reliance, responsibility, and the truth of constitutional governance, in an entertaining, engaging, and educational manner, are one simple example of these types of PSYOPs efforts. Posting flyers, speaking at political events, purchasing radio ads, and face-to-face conversations with people all provide oppoprtunities for the resistance to prepare the psychological battle space in advance, to gain the popular support necessary for successful execution of irregular warfare.
The single most important aspect of a successful insurgency is the viability of its message of grievance against the regime and the established status quo. This message must reach the civilian populace and it must resonate within their socio-economic, political, and philosophical/religious worldviews. The resistance must develop and voice a unified, coherent message of hope that can serve as a rallying call to the populace to join or at least, to support the resistance. It must also serve as a unifying force to align the many diverging interests and goals of the varied elements within the resistance movement itself.
A mob, committing random political violence, no matter how noble their aims, is not a resistance or an insurgency. It is a mob. A resistance movement is a political movement using directed and focused tactical violence, to achieve specific operational objectives in pursuit of a strategic goal. That strategic goal must provide the focus that will coalesce the resistance into a functional political movement that actually has a chance of success at achieving its aims. A movement that cannot develop a coherent ideology to present to the civilian populace and to provide a unifying moral basis for the resistance will never amount to anything beyond the armed bandits and brigands that the regime will attempt to portray them as.
Until all of these pre-conditions and more, can be achieved within and by the resistance, there is no reason, let alone chance of success, for a resistance movement to begin active hostilities in retaliation for perceived wrongs by the regime. All the guns and ammunition in the free world will not overcome the civilian populace’s reservations concerning un-affiliated armed groups in their midst attempting to change their comfortable status quo.
The ACLR possesses an advantage unique in the history of unconventional warfare, should the need arise in the future to actively engage a totalitarian regime in this country. For the first time in the history of insurgency, we not only possess individual fighting weapons on a level of parity with the regime, we possess ready access to the most advanced technology the regime possesses. Additionally, the knowledge that we will probably be required to engage hostile regime security forces in a guerrilla warfare environment provides us with the unparalleled opportunity to prepare for these challenges now, while the required logistical supplies are relatively readily available. The primary tasks of the auxiliary, and indeed, all factions of the resistance should currently revolve around:
  1. Procuring and stockpiling, in readily accessible, but secured caches throughout their area for future use by resistance forces. These may range from the obvious such as ammunition in common military calibers and staple storage foodstuffs, to the more mundane, such as high-quality outdoors clothing and boots (thrift stores and second-hand stores are a spectacularly good supply source for these) in various sizes. Anything that can foreseeably be applied by the resistance movement in the future provides critical leverage for the resistance to apply in the execution of their aims when conflict becomes impossible to avoid further.
  2. Preparing and dispersing written, recorded, and verbal information to further the preparatory phase of the resistance PSYOPs campaign. This may range from a blog on the internet (of which we have many, thanks to the efforts of many patriots more erudite than I am), radio spot advertising (such as Kerodin’s current efforts which we should all be supporting), speaking with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and even the surreptitious posting of flyers on bulletin boards in your neighborhood and community that deliver and support the message of the ACLR.
  3. Developing a solid network of fellow future auxiliary members in your community, to provide further active support for the resistance and the future development of a network of safehouses, transportation networks, and communications networks. This may involve everything from developing secret hiding places that facilitate hiding resistance personnel in the future, to developing the ability to utilize open-source, free-ware encryption technologies and field-craft techniques such as the use of dead-drops and other covert communications methods. It may be as simple as performing in-depth research into the smuggling methods used by criminal enterprises to move their products through controlled areas (one key thing to consider though is, if the information is available to the resistance from open-source information, it’s equally available to regime security forces. Realistically, learning effective smuggling methods might require interfacing with rather disagreeable people who are currently actively part of the criminal underground, to the extent necessary to earn and gain their trust in discussing these topics).
The structure of a successful resistance movement is best illustrated by the iceberg analogy. While the relatively small peak of the iceberg is visible (the effects of subversion, sabotage, and paramilitary combat operations), the massive bulk of the iceberg remains out of sight, below the surface (the development of a support infrastructure of the auxiliary). The task of the resistance cadre will, in the unfortunate event that the resistance transitions to an insurgency, be first focused on the development of this support infrastructure. Putting into place, the pieces necessary for the future support infrastructure, in case it becomes necessary, should be the primary focus of the resistance movement cadre.

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