Guerrilla Warfare

by Capt C.A. Leader

. . . The whole question of guerrilla warfare is one I find most interesting. In our present concern with NATO and Southwest Asia, we as Marines seem not to talk about guerrilla warfare. This strikes me as ironic as the guerrilla seems one of the classic examples of inexpensive maneuver warfare. I also have the feeling that in our collective haste to put Vietnam behind us we have not critically examined and recorded the lessons learned there about the guerrilla. It will not be many more years before the most junior Vietnam veterans pass their 20th career year and we lose the bulk of their experience to retirement.

I worry, too, that Vietnam has caused us collectively to equate jungle warfare with guerrilla warfare. The issue is further confused by the semantics of the word “terrorist.” Yet the IRA, the Basques, the Afghans, and the Palestinians should remind us of both the many manifestations and environments in which the soldier may confront the guerrilla.

I would like to see HQMC or MCDEC sponsor symposiums on professional topics such as guerrilla warfare. The topic could be publicized and papers would be solicited not only from the Marine Corps but through other Services’ professional journals. The papers would be reviewed and the authors of the most interesting invited to attend the symposium. This would generate new [ideas and illustrate] the breadth of Marine Corps thought about fighting wars.