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posted
The Israelis vs the British.
The Viet Cong (or the Taliban) vs the US.
And countless other conflicts where a small group held out against a large professional army.

How did they do it?
What books are worth reading that explain it?
I'm interested in historical works as well as manuals.

What's out there that's worth reading?

Bruce





"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
-PJ O'Rourke
“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to try to enslave a people that wants to remain free."
-Niccolo Machiavelli

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -Mencken
 
Posts: 4148 | Location: NV | Registered: October 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Little ray
of sunshine
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Determination




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 50113 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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As the smaller faction you just have to be more committed than the bigger faction. And willing to bleed them at any and all opportunities over the long run.

In VN the American public got tired of the death count of our buys.

Same thing in AFG , not so much as the numbers but the timespan and mission creep.

If we had wanted to win either situation all we had to do was be willing to flatten the place and not care with public response or be bothered with how many of them were killed- in fact, the more the better. Which is key. You have to keep on killing them until they decide they don’t want to die. But in the AFG their value of life is different than we do-because they go to heaven if they die in the line of duty during a fight with the infidel



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“ You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

 
Posts: 8511 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Most if not all underdogs that eventually find success against incredible odds do so because they simply refuse to give up. They learn from their mistakes along the way, they don’t repeat those mistakes and they keep moving towards their goal.

JHE888 is right, if you boil it down to its elemental form it is determination and refusal to quit.
 
Posts: 18168 | Registered: April 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I know the Israelis used the British sense of fair play, decorum, and morality against them. They knew that if they pushed the British until the only way to win was to violate every rule they had for themselves, they would win and the Brits would leave.
Hamas has found out that they can't play that game with the Israelis because they don't have that defect. It's about survival. They don't have any place else to go so nothing is off the table, even though they are a nation of laws. The Israeli courts routinely judge actions as "necessary" that violate norms and laws because the alternative is "noble suicide".

Bruce





"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
-PJ O'Rourke
“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to try to enslave a people that wants to remain free."
-Niccolo Machiavelli

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -Mencken
 
Posts: 4148 | Location: NV | Registered: October 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
Determination


Plus tactics. I want to learn about both.

Bruce





"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
-PJ O'Rourke
“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to try to enslave a people that wants to remain free."
-Niccolo Machiavelli

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -Mencken
 
Posts: 4148 | Location: NV | Registered: October 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Was it Ho Chi Minh (or maybe one of his generals) that said the biggest mistake the US made was shipping its troops home just when they had been in country long enough to become extremely effective?

The mistakes and mismanagement of that war form a pretty damn long list. Ultimately it comes down to a simple problem. You fight a war to win and you win by completely and totally destroying your enemies will and ability to wage war. The US failed spectacularly at this in Vietnam. You could say it was due to not wanting to risk a nuclear war with Russia but why engage an enemy if you are not willing to fight completely and totally?
 
Posts: 18168 | Registered: April 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Info Guru
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You forgot to mention one of the greatest David vs Goliath epics. These little backwoods colonies that faced off against the greatest empire the world had seen, with the best army and navy in the world.

Read “Washington: A life” https://www.amazon.com/Washing...id=1623208800&sr=8-3



“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
- John Adams
 
Posts: 29162 | Location: In the red hinterlands of Deep Blue VA | Registered: June 29, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
His Royal Hiney
Picture of Rey HRH
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The Moros in the Philippines, an Islam people have never been conquered by the Spaniards, the Japanese, the Americans, or the Filipinos. The Philippine government finally gave them regional autonomy. But they still ply their cottage industry of kidnapping for ransom.

The 45 ACP was supposedly developed specifically to fight Juramentados who were Moro Kamikaze pilots minus the planes. Link

One of the known tactics they use is underground tunnels to either retreat from advancing enemies or to attack them from behind.

They knew their land very well and often favoring to fight at night. (I don't know how much that is with NVG nowadays.)



"It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual." Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946.
 
Posts: 16485 | Location: The Free State of Arizona - Ditat Deus | Registered: March 24, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Staring back
from the abyss
Picture of Gustofer
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Guerilla warfare. It's pretty hard to defend against it, particularly when you don't know who the enemy is.

One uniformed army against another is a piece of cake. One uniformed army against civilians/or maybe not, is not so easy. We've seen it in every conflict since WW2 and, I would argue, we lost every one of them.

Unless you are willing to go in and rape, pillage, and kill everything, you are destined to lose. Just ask the Brits a couple of hundred years ago. Our standing army didn't stand a chance against their's.


________________________________________________________

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy." Winston Churchill
 
Posts: 16637 | Location: Montana | Registered: November 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Green grass and
high tides
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It is because the large army cannot adapt. They are on foreign turf and they never apply the basic rule that goes back to the beginning. You need to be more brutal than your enemy and committed to total victory.
Those things allow the smaller more adaptive adversary the ability to exist and ultimately outlast (ie: defeat) the larger better supplied and armed counterpart.

It is not overly complex



"Practice like you want to play in the game"
 
Posts: 16010 | Registered: September 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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All great insights and commentary.
A few more texts would be awesome!
I would like to read up, off Forum.

Bruce





"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
-PJ O'Rourke
“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to try to enslave a people that wants to remain free."
-Niccolo Machiavelli

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -Mencken
 
Posts: 4148 | Location: NV | Registered: October 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
An investment in knowledge
pays the best interest
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As taught at the U.S. War College, throughout history there are 2 ways to win a war:

1. Material Domination / Destruction
2. Negate the Will to Fight

Smaller adversaries concentrate on #2 to defeat larger enemies capable of #1: material domination and destruction of yours.
 
Posts: 2757 | Location: Mid-Atlantic | Registered: December 27, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Main Thing Is
Not To Get Excited
Picture of wishfull thinker
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quote:
Originally posted by RNshooter:

The Viet Cong (or the Taliban) vs the US.

How did they do it?
What books are worth reading that explain it?
I'm interested in historical works as well as manuals.

What's out there that's worth reading?

Bruce


This is Viet Nam centric mostly, but here's a thought or two:

Small Wars Journal

A Bright Shining Lie, By Neil Sheehan

Hue, 1968, by Mark Bowden (wrote Black Hawk Down, too. another fun fest.)

The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien, looking through a soldiers eyes,

Matterhorn ( a novel) or his non-fiction equivilent, The Way we go to War now. by Karl Milantes

Fields of Fire, another novel that tells the tale, by Jim Webb former SecNav and Marine grunt
Smile (always smile when you call them grunts)

The Sorrow of War, by a Vietnames whose name I no longer recall but the book is still in print.

Dien Bien Phu by General Giap (the guy that pulled it off)

Lessons learned from Field Operations in Viet Nam- a series of manuals produced during the war occasionally available in used book stores or military book sites. Out of Print but still out there.

Or a slightly altered path, Guerrilla War by Che Guevara


_______________________

 
Posts: 5709 | Location: Washington | Registered: November 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Alea iacta est
Picture of Beancooker
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quote:
Originally posted by old rugged cross:
You need to be more brutal than your enemy and committed to total victory.


This right here. The US Military has been forced to be too politically correct. All the diversity, and an ever growing and more difficult rules of engagement, make it so we cannot just go take care of business.

We can no longer be more brutal. Until we can, these conflicts will drag on.



quote:
Balzé Halzé:now I see that you're about as bright as a black hole, and twice as dense. Good lord.
The “lol” thread
 
Posts: 2934 | Location: Staring down at you with disdain, from the spooky mountaintop castle.  | Registered: November 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I found it fascinating to learn that even during WWII, Roosevelt and Eisenhower were always intensely concerned with US casualties and public perception and opinion on the deaths of soldiers, sailors, and marines. I always figured it was WWII and the U.S. public figured it was go time, no matter what. Not so much, keen planning strategically to limit casualties through superior air power, artillery, and fire support. A notable exception seems to be tanks, until very late in the war.
 
Posts: 3155 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: March 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Don't Panic
Picture of joel9507
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You're asking about asymmetric warfare. Here are a couple of useful links to get you started:

Wikipedia: Asymmetric warfare

quote:
Academic authors tend to focus on explaining two puzzles in asymmetric conflict. First, if "power" determines victory in conflict, then why would weaker actors decide to fight stronger actors? Key explanations include:

Weaker actors may have secret weapons;[3]
Weaker actors may have powerful allies;[3]
Stronger actors are unable to make threats credible;[4]
The demands of a stronger actor are extreme;[4]
The weaker actor must consider its regional rivals when responding to threats from powerful actors.[5]

Second, if "power", as conventionally understood, conduces to victory in war, then how is the victory of the "weak" over the "strong" explained? Key explanations include:

Strategic interaction;
Willingness of the weak to suffer more or bear higher costs;
External support of weak actors;
Reluctance to escalate violence on the part of strong actors;

Internal group dynamics;[6]
Inflated strong actor war aims;
Evolution of asymmetric rivals' attitudes towards time.[7]

Asymmetric conflicts include both interstate and civil wars, and over the past two hundred years have generally been won by strong actors. Since 1950, however, weak actors have won a majority of all asymmetric conflicts.[8]


Among the Google-feast of links, I found a 1991 study from the Army War College you might find interesting:
ASYMMETRIC WARFARE: AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
 
Posts: 13916 | Location: North Carolina | Registered: October 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A great book about the Korean War that I recommend is The Coldest Winter.
 
Posts: 12772 | Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA | Registered: October 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Back, and
to the left
Picture of 83v45magna
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quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
Determination


**** relevant scene starts at 6:37 ****
 
Posts: 5906 | Location: Dallas | Registered: August 04, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Official Space Nerd
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quote:
Originally posted by MikeinNC:

In VN the American public got tired of the death count of our guys.


This was the Vietnamese strategy - bleed us until we quit. There is a story of an American Colonel (or something) speaking with his North Vietnamese counterpart at the end of the war. The US Col stated "You know, you never defeated us on the field of battle." To which the Vietnamese replied "That is true, but it is also entirely irrelevant." The VC did not fight to 'win.' They fought to 'not lose.' There is a difference.

The Japanese tried this strategy in WWII. From the middle of 1943 onward, Japan KNEW they could never win a straight-up military conflict with the US/Brits/Everybody else. So, they tried to make every victory so painful and costly in terms of lives and treasure that we would give up short of invading Japan. They failed, because in the 1940s, the US public had the resolve to persevere in spite of horrendous casualties. By the 1960/70s, the US had lost this resolve. Also, the US (the government AND the military) applied stupid and ineffective tactics and strategies in Vietnam, dooming any chance of victory.

There is an enduring myth that the Johnson administration micro-managed the war, preventing the military from winning. The military did nothing wrong, and its gallant efforts were foiled by forces beyond its control in the political realm (at least one Vietnam War book I've read had the author state blatantly that the "US military did nothing wrong"). Now, this myth is partly true, as the government DID meddle excessively. BUT, the military branches (all branches, even my beloved Air Force) made their fair share of stupid mistakes. General Robin Olds mentioned quite a few in his biography "Fighter Pilot."

For example, the military was obsessed with 'mission/sortie counts.' There was a bomb shortage at one point, so instead of sending out 2 aircraft loaded with a normal load of 4 bombs each, they would send out 4 aircraft, each armed with two bombs. This way, they could state they launched 4 sorties instead of only 2. I think the USAF and US Navy were also in competition with each other to see who could 'launch the most sorties.' Hence, it was therefore more important to send large numbers of aircraft up than to actually achieve any effective results.

Lance Sijan is an Air Force hero, and is still the only USAF Academy graduate awarded the Medal of Honor. Yet, his aircraft was destroyed over Vietnam by faulty bomb fuses, which detonated right after the aircraft he was flying in (he was a pilot, but was flying in the back as a Weapons Systems Officer on this mission) released them. Who knows how many good men died and/or went into captivity due to faulty weapons/hardware. . .

The US was also grossly ill-equipped to fight a 'tactical' war. The aircraft we used (F-105, F-4) were designed for a nuclear conflict. The F-105 was loved by its pilots, yet over half of them ever built were lost over Vietnam. They lacked redundant flight control systems, as they were never intended to face AA fire (they were designed for nuclear missions over Eastern Europe, where they were not expected to encounter ground fire). The F-4 turned out to be a great multi-role fighter, but even then, the US had to train its pilots how to dogfight, since EVERYBODY knew that dogfighting was a thing of the past ("every pilot an ace" with beyond-visual-range missiles).

Oh, and the missiles were crap. Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles were tested at high altitude over the American deserts. They were designed to destroy Soviet bombers high over Canada. Well, the steamy jungles of Vietnam at low level were MUCH different conditions, and the missiles often just didn't work. Oh, and US planes didn't have guns (no dogfighting; no need for guns). On a good day, US missiles had something like a 25-33% hit probability. Eventually, these bugs were worked out and US pilots learned to fight effectively. But, a LOT of good men died before the services would learn these lessons and fix their weapons.

The Falcon missile was also a piece of crap. It had a seeking head that had a 1-minute 'warm up time.' Well, a LOT can happen in 1 minute, and a pilot doesn't always have that minute to prep. It also went useless after a couple minutes, meaning a pilot could not prep the missile in advance. Many kills were lost because of this (again, this was fine for intercepting bombers over Canada). They also had a contact fuse, meaning it had to make a direct hit. In one case, a Falcon missile flew about 1-3 feet over the cockpit of a NVA fighter without exploding. Probably scared the crap out of the pilot, but otherwise did no harm.

An EXCELLENT book describing the stupidity of the US approach to Vietnam is "Vietnam: A History," by Stanley Karnow.


quote:
If we had wanted to win either situation all we had to do was be willing to flatten the place and not care with public response or be bothered with how many of them were killed- in fact, the more the better. Which is key. You have to keep on killing them until they decide they don’t want to die. But in the AFG their value of life is different than we do-because they go to heaven if they die in the line of duty during a fight with the infidel


Well, Vietnam was a complicated situation. We were afraid to invade the country (which would have been the ideal approach) since we were (justifiably, IMO) concerned that China AND the USSR would react violently to such a move. So, we could not invade (and the North knew it), and we were limited to bombing them only. Once invasion was off the table, the Vietnamese could hunker down and wait us out, while bleeding us dry. It didn't much matter to the North Vietnamese how many people we killed. They were not motivated by losses/death like we were. This miscalculation sparked the 'body count' obsession the US (especially SecDef McNamara) had - the military and govt thought if we killed enough of the enemy, they would quit. Well, this was a flawed assumption.

Heck, the Tet Offensive in 1968 was a ghastly defeat for the Viet Cong (the insurgents operating in South Vietnam). This effectively neutralized the Viet Cong for the remainder of the war. Yet, this 'victory' cost the US far more than North Vietnam. From this point onward, the US public and press became demoralized, and realized just how much the govt had been lying to them. Some prominent media guy (Cronkite, I think) reacted to the staggering US losses at Tet, saying "What is going on - I thought we were winning?" Tet was the beginning of the end for the US in Vietnam. From then onward, US popular support continued to slide, and there was no coming back.


Honestly, I don't see any way we could have defeated the North. The South was utterly incapable of defending itself. The only good exit strategy we had was to set up the South so it could defend itself, so the US could withdraw and hand the war off to the South. But, no matter how many missions we flew, how much military gear we gave them, or how many victories we won for them, the South's govt and military was utterly corrupt and ineffective. It is an historic irony that the same country, divided by a line on a map, had people with such different mentalities. The South was lavished with equipment, assistance, and support, yet failed to defend its own territory. South VN officers were busy playing favorites, gaining personal and professional advancement and enrichment (war profiteering), while they seemed afraid or unwilling to actually fight. People gained rank and position based not on ability, but on personal connections and the 'good old boy network.' The North, on the extreme other hand, fought to the death equipped with bicycles and a handful of rice, antique weapons, and they fought to the death. Once the US pulled out, the South collapsed like a soggy cardboard box.

I can't remember who said it, but a US commander stated something to the effect that if he had a battalion of North Vietnamese (instead of South Vietnamese), he could win the war in a month.

So, in the case of Vietnam, the US could not win. The US also was afraid to admit defeat and pull out. This was due in large part to the (dis-credited) 'domino theory.' This stated that if we allowed Vietnam to fall to communism, the rest of the region would follow, resulting in a crushing defeat to the world-wide forces of communism. This was an incredible motivational factor for the US (we didn't realize at the time the theory was flawed).

With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been in EVERYBODY's best interest (the US, North and South Vietnam, everybody in the region) had we just let the North take over the South. All we did was prolong the inevitable, while killing and wounding millions of people on all sides. We 'broke' the US military, as a sense of disillusionment set in that wasn't overcome until the First Gulf War in 1991 (it was stated at the time that the US redeemed itself and finally exorcised the 'ghosts of Vietnam').


As for Israel, they are God's chosen people. Do NOT mess with God's chosen people. That goes for the arabs AND for the major western powers. If the US ever forsakes Israel, we are doomed.

Speaking of Israel, God said: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
- Genesis 12:1-3



Fear God and Dread Nought
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Jacky Fisher
 
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