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The Masters of Irregular Warfare in Insurgents, Raiders, AND Bandits

A look at a handful of masters at irrgeular warfare and what they had to contrbute to our present understanding of its role in combat.

INSURGENTS, RAIDERS, AND BANDITS: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World, John Arquilla, Rowman and Littlefield, 2011, 310pp, index,notes

The biographies and contributions of the last 250 years of masters of insurgent warfare are desribed in John Arquilla’s book, from Major Robert Rogers of Rogers Rangers who laid down the rules for irregular warfare, demonstrated their effectiveness with the St Francis raid against the Abanaki, and managed to convince the Redcoated British regulars they needed to adapt to Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam who adapted Mao’s guerrilla teachings into a style that combined insurgency in the rural and urban centers of South Vietnam.

There’s Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck who tied up British forces during World War Two in present-day Kenya with small units blockading invasion forces and reserve units ready to rush in.

There is also Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya who fought post-Soviet takeover of his small country with swarm tactics while nearly unsung Revolutionary War hero General Nathaniel Greene beat the British in the later years of the war when they switched to a Southern strategy, feeling they had stronger support in the South, raids by irregulars like Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion with formal battlefield strategy.

Lawrence of Arabia’s Arab revolt challenged the Turkish occupiers through dyanmiting of the railline to Mecca without actually closing it, while ambushing Turkish units, even as Allenby’s conventional British forces barrelled through up the coast to Damascus.

Abd el-Kadar led an insurgency against the French in 19th century Algeria, unifying Arabs and leading them on rapid Bedouin-style hit-and-run raids on French forces untiol al-Kadar controlled two-thirds of the country.

Charles Lockwood, the admiral who commanded the US Pacific submarine fleet, represents a naval approach to irregular warfare, the fleet of subs sent out singly to attack Japanese shipping, successfully destroying half the Japanese Imperial Navy and two-thirds the Merchant Marine.

There are more, including Garibaldi, Wingate, de Wet, Nathan Bedofrd Forrest, and the Russian nemesis to Bonaparte, Davydov.

Excellent book.

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