Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor.
The Spanish word "guerrilla" is the diminutive form of "guerra" ("war"). The term became popular during the early-19th century Peninsular War, when the Spanish and Portuguese people rose against the Napoleonic troops and fought against a highly superior army using the guerrilla strategy. In correct Spanish usage, a person who is a member of a "guerrilla" unit is a "guerrillero" ([ɣeriˈʎeɾo]) if male, or a "guerrillera" ([ɣeriˈʎeɾa]) if female.
The term "guerrilla" was used in English as early as 1809 to refer to the fighters (e.g., "The town was taken by the guerrillas"), and also (as in Spanish) to denote a group or band of such fighters. However, in most languages guerrilla still denotes the specific style of warfare. The use of the diminutive evokes the differences in number, scale, and scope between the guerrilla army and the formal, professional army of the state.
Guerrilla warfare is a type of asymmetric warfare: competition between opponents of unequal strength. It is also a type of irregular warfare: that is, it aims not simply to defeat an enemy, but to win popular support and political influence, to the enemy's cost. Accordingly, guerrilla strategy aims to magnify the impact of a small, mobile force on a larger, more-cumbersome one. If successful, guerrillas weaken their enemy by attrition, eventually forcing them to withdraw.
Tactically, guerrillas usually avoid confrontation with large units and formations of enemy troops, but seek and attack small groups of enemy personnel and resources to gradually deplete the opposing force while minimizing their own losses. The guerrilla prizes mobility, secrecy, and surprise, organizing in small units and taking advantage of terrain that is difficult for larger units to use. For example, Mao Zedong summarized basic guerrilla tactics at the beginning of the Chinese "Second Revolutionary Civil War" as:
"The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.":p. 124
At least one author credits the ancient Chinese work The Art of War with inspiring Mao's tactics.:pp. 6–7 In the 20th century, other communist leaders, including North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh, often used and developed guerrilla warfare tactics, which provided a model for their use elsewhere, leading to the Cuban "foco" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan.
In addition to traditional military methods, guerrilla groups may rely also on destroying infrastructure, using improvised explosive devices, for example. They typically also rely on logistical and political support from the local population and foreign backers, are often embedded within it (thereby using the population as a human shield), and many guerrilla groups are adept at public persuasion through propaganda. Many guerrilla movements today also rely heavily on children as combatants, scouts, porters, spies, informants, and in other roles, which has drawn international condemnation (although many states also recruit children into their armed forces).
There is no commonly accepted definition of "terrorism", and the term is frequently used as a political tactic by belligerents (most often by governments in power) to denounce opponents whose status as terrorists is disputed.
Contrary to some terrorist groups, guerrillas usually work in open positions as armed units, try to hold and seize land, do not refrain from fighting enemy military force in battle and usually apply pressure to control or dominate territory and population. While the primary concern of guerrillas is the enemy's active military units, terrorists largely are concerned with non-military agents and target mostly civilians. Guerrilla forces principally fight in accordance with the law of war (jus in bello). In this sense, they respect the rights of innocent civilians by refraining from targeting them. According to the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies, terrorists do not limit their actions and terrorise civilians by putting fear in people's hearts and even kill innocent foreigners in the country.
Irregular warfare, based on elements later characteristic of modern guerrilla warfare, has existed throughout the battles of many ancient civilizations. The growth of guerrilla warfare in the 20th century was inspired in part by theoretical works on guerrilla warfare, starting with the Manual de Guerra de Guerrillas by Matías Ramón Mella written in the 19th century and, more recently, Mao Zedong's On Guerrilla Warfare, Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare, and Lenin's text of the same name, all written after the successful revolutions carried by them in China, Cuba and Russia, respectively. Those texts characterized the tactic of guerrilla warfare as, according to Che Guevara's text, being
"used by the side which is supported by a majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defense against oppression".
The Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu, in his The Art of War (6th century BC) or 600 BC to 501 BC, was the earliest to propose the use of guerrilla warfare. This directly inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla tactics were presumably employed by prehistoric tribal warriors against enemy tribes. Evidence of conventional warfare, on the other hand, did not emerge until 3100 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Since the Enlightenment, ideologies such as nationalism, liberalism, socialism, and religious fundamentalism have played an important role in shaping insurgencies and guerrilla warfare. The Moroccan national hero Mohamed ben Abdelkrim el-Khattabi, along with his father, unified the Moroccan tribes under their control and took arms and resistance against the Spanish and French invaders of the early 20th century. For the first time in history, tunnel warfare was utilized alongside modern guerilla tactics which caused considerable damage and annoyance to both of the invading armies in Morocco. 
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, widely regarded as the "father of guerrilla warfare", devised the Fabian strategy which was used to great effect against Hannibal Barca's army. The strategy would further influence guerrilla tactics into the modern era.
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) operation involves actions taken by the recognised government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it. In the main, the insurgents seek to destroy or erase the political authority of the defending authorities in a population they seek to control, and the counter-insurgent forces seek to protect that authority and reduce or eliminate the supplanting authority of the insurgents. Counter-insurgency operations are common during war, occupation and armed rebellions. Counter-insurgency may be armed suppression of a rebellion, coupled with tactics such as "hearts and minds" designed to fracture the links between the insurgency and the population in which the insurgents move. Because it may be difficult or impossible to distinguish between an insurgent, a supporter of an insurgency who is a non-combatant, and entirely uninvolved members of the population, counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic, or otherwise situational distinction between insurgents and non-combatants.
Theorists of counter-insurgency warfare have written extensively on the subject since the 1950s and 1960s but as early as the 1720s the third Marques of Santa Cruz de Marcenado (1684–1732) wrote that insurgencies were often the result of state failure and that the goal of those fighting the insurgents should be to seek the people's "heart and love". The two most influential of scholars of counter-insurgency have been Westerners whose job it had been to fight insurgents (often colonised people). Robert Thompson fought during the Malayan Emergency and David Galula fought during the Algerian War. Together these officers advocated multi-pronged strategies to win over the civilian population to the side of the counter-insurgent.
The widely distributed and influential work of Sir Robert Thompson, counter-insurgency expert of the Malayan Emergency, offers several such guidelines. Thompson's underlying assumption was that the counter-insurgent was committed to improving the rule of law and bettering local governance. Some governments, however, give such considerations short shrift. These governments are not interested in state-building and in extreme cases they have carried out counter-insurgency operations by using mass murder, genocide, terror, torture and execution. Historian Timothy Snyder has written, "In the guise of anti-partisan actions, the Germans killed perhaps three quarters of a million people, about 350,000 in Belarus alone, and lower but comparable numbers in Poland and Yugoslavia. The Germans killed more than a hundred thousand Poles when suppressing the Warsaw Uprising of 1944."
In the Vietnam War, the Americans "defoliated countless trees in areas where the communist North Vietnamese troops hid supply lines and conducted guerrilla warfare", (see Operation Ranch Hand). In the Soviet–Afghan War, the Soviets countered the U.S.–backed Mujahideen with a 'Scorched Earth' policy, driving over one third of the Afghan population into exile (over 5 million people), and carrying out widespread destruction of villages, granaries, crops, herds and irrigation systems, including the deadly and widespread mining of fields and pastures.
Some writers on counter-insurgency warfare emphasise the more turbulent nature of today's guerrilla warfare environment, where the clear political goals, parties and structures of such places as Vietnam, Malaysia, and El Salvador are not as prevalent. These writers point to numerous guerrilla conflicts that centre around religious, ethnic or even criminal enterprise themes, and that do not lend themselves to the classic "national liberation" template.
The wide availability of the Internet has also caused changes in the tempo and mode of guerrilla operations in such areas as coordination of strikes, leveraging of financing, recruitment, and media manipulation. While the classic guidelines still apply, today's anti-guerrilla forces need to accept a more disruptive, disorderly and ambiguous mode of operation. According to David Kilcullen:
Insurgents may not be seeking to overthrow the state, may have no coherent strategy or may pursue a faith-based approach difficult to counter with traditional methods. There may be numerous competing insurgencies in one theater, meaning that the counterinsurgent must control the overall environment rather than defeat a specific enemy. The actions of individuals and the propaganda effect of a subjective "single narrative" may far outweigh practical progress, rendering counterinsurgency even more non-linear and unpredictable than before. The counterinsurgent, not the insurgent, may initiate the conflict and represent the forces of revolutionary change. The economic relationship between insurgent and population may be diametrically opposed to classical theory. And insurgent tactics, based on exploiting the propaganda effects of urban bombing, may invalidate some classical tactics and render others, like patrolling, counterproductive under some circumstances. Thus, field evidence suggests, classical theory is necessary but not sufficient for success against contemporary insurgencies.
Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a social reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.
In the 1960s, the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara developed the foco (Spanish: foquismo) theory of revolution in his book Guerrilla Warfare, based on his experiences during the 1959 Cuban Revolution. This theory was later formalised as "focal-ism" by Régis Debray. Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus for popular discontent against a sitting regime, and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilise and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements.
Bandit-warfare Badge (Bandenkampfabzeichen) was a World War II decoration of Nazi Germany awarded to members of the Army, Luftwaffe, Order Police, and Waffen-SS for participating in rear-area security operations, the so-called Bandenbekämpfung (bandit fighting). The badge was instituted on 30 January 1944 by Adolf Hitler after authorization/recommendation by Heinrich Himmler.Bushwhacker
Bushwhacking was a form of guerrilla warfare common during the American Revolutionary War, American Civil War and other conflicts in which there were large areas of contested land and few governmental resources to control these tracts. This was particularly prevalent in rural areas during the Civil War where there were sharp divisions between those favoring the Union and Confederacy in the conflict. The perpetrators of the attacks were called bushwhackers. The term "bushwhacking" is still in use today to describe ambushes done with the aim of attrition.Bushwhackers were generally part of the irregular military forces on both sides. While bushwhackers conducted well-organized raids against the military, the most dire of the attacks involved ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. In areas affected by bushwhacking, the actions were particularly inflammatory since they frequently amounted to fighting between neighbors, often to settle personal accounts. Since the attacks were non-uniformed, the government response was complicated by trying to decide whether they were legitimate military attacks or criminal, terrorist actions.Drive-by shooting
A drive-by shooting is a type of assault that usually involves the perpetrator firing a weapon from within a motor vehicle and then fleeing. Drive-by shootings allow the perpetrator(s) to quickly strike their target and flee the scene before law enforcement is able to respond.Foco
The foco theory of revolution by way of guerrilla warfare, also known as focalism (foquismo [foˈkismo]), was formulated by French intellectual and government official Régis Debray, whose main source of inspiration was Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara's experiences surrounding his rebel army's victory in the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus (in Spanish foco) for popular discontent against a sitting regime and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilize and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements by the late 1960s.Guerrilla Warfare (album)
Guerrilla Warfare is the second studio album by the New Orleans hip-hop group Hot Boys, released July 27, 1999 on Cash Money Records. It was an instant hit, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums selling 142,000 copies in its first week, and remains their most successful album as a group and with Cash Money Records.
Produced by Mannie Fresh, Guerrilla Warfare contains the lead single, "We On Fire", which was placed at #49 on the Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles. Other charting tracks include "I Need A Hot Girl" which also peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100.Guerrilla Warfare (book)
Guerrilla Warfare (Spanish: La Guerra de Guerrillas) is a military handbook written by Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Published in 1961 following the Cuban Revolution, it became a reference for thousands of guerrilla fighters in various countries around the world. The book draws upon Guevara's personal experience as a guerrilla soldier during the Cuban Revolution, generalizing for readers who would undertake guerrilla warfare in their own countries.
The book identifies reasons for, prerequisites, and lessons of guerrilla warfare. The principal reason to conduct guerrilla warfare within a country is because all peaceful and legal means of recourse have been exhausted. The most important prerequisite for conducting guerrilla warfare in a country, is the popular support of its people for the guerrilla army. With respect to the book's subject, Che asserted that the success of the Cuban Revolution provided three lessons: popular forces can win a war against a regular army, guerrillas can create their own favorable conditions (not needing to wait for ideal conditions to take shape), and: in underdeveloped America, the basic place of operation for a guerrilla army is the countryside.Guerrilla warfare in the American Civil War
Guerrilla warfare in the American Civil War followed the same general patterns of irregular warfare conducted in 19th century Europe. Structurally, they can be divided into three different types of operations—the so-called 'People's War', 'partisan warfare', and 'raiding warfare'. Each has distinct characteristics that were common practice during the Civil War years (1861–1865).Guevarism
Guevarism is a theory of communist revolution and a military strategy of guerilla warfare associated with Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a leading figure of the Cuban Revolution who believed in the idea of Marxism–Leninism and embraced its principles.History of guerrilla warfare
The history of guerrilla warfare stretches back to ancient history. While guerrilla tactics can be viewed as a natural continuation of prehistoric warfare, the Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu, in his The Art of War (6th century BCE), was the earliest to propose the use of guerrilla warfare. This directly inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare. Communist leaders like Mao Zedong and North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh both implemented guerrilla warfare in the style of Sun Tzu, which served as a model for similar strategies elsewhere, such as the Cuban "foco" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. While the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare originate in the 20th century, irregular warfare, using elements later characteristic of modern guerrilla warfare, has existed throughout the battles of many ancient civilizations.On Guerrilla Warfare
On Guerrilla Warfare (simplified Chinese: 论游击战; traditional Chinese: 論游擊戰; pinyin: Lùn Yóujĩ Zhàn) is Mao Zedong’s case for the extensive use of an irregular form of warfare in which small groups of combatants use mobile military tactics in the forms of ambushes and raids to combat a larger and less mobile formal army. Mao wrote the book in 1937 to convince Chinese political and military leaders that guerilla style-tactics were necessary for the Chinese to use in the Second Sino-Japanese War.On Protracted War
On Protracted War (simplified Chinese: 论持久战; traditional Chinese: 論持久戰; pinyin: Lùn chíjiǔ zhàn) is a work comprising a series of speeches by Mao Zedong given from 1938 May 26 to June 3 at the Yenan Association for the Study of the War of Resistance Against Japan. In it, he calls for a protracted people's war, as a means for small revolutionary groups to fight the power of the state.
The book calls for small assaults on Japanese supply lines instead of large confrontations on the battlefield. The book was highly criticised by the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), which considered the book, along with Mao's theory, an excuse for avoiding fighting against Japan. The Communist Party justified that the book did not deny the effectiveness of the big battles carried out by the Nationalists but provided an alternative means of resistance before the Chinese army became powerful.
Once the Chinese army became powerful enough, the Communist Party explained, the guerrilla warfare aspect of the strategy should be de-emphasized, and conventional forces should take over the primary prosecution of the war.People's war
People's war, also called protracted people's war, is a Marxist military strategy first developed by the Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong (1893–1976). The basic concept behind People's War is to maintain the support of the population and draw the enemy deep into the countryside (stretching their supply lines) where the population will bleed them dry through a mix of mobile warfare and guerrilla warfare. It was used by the Communists against the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II and by the Chinese Soviet Republic in the Chinese Civil War.
The term is used by Maoists for their strategy of long-term armed revolutionary struggle. After the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979, Deng Xiaoping abandoned People's War for "People's War under Modern Conditions", which moved away from reliance on troops over technology. With the adoption of "socialism with Chinese characteristics", economic reforms fueled military and technological investment. Troop numbers were also reduced and professionalisation encouraged.
The strategy of people's war was used heavily by the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War. However protracted war should not be confused with the "foco" theory employed by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution of 1959.Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare
Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas) was a manual written by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the Nicaraguan Contras, who were involved in a civil war with the Nicaraguan government. It was revealed by the Associated Press on October 15, 1984. The ninety-page book of instructions focused mainly on how "Armed Propaganda Teams" could build political support in Nicaragua for the Contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence. The manual also discussed assassinations.
The ICJ case Nicaragua v. United States found that the publication of this manual had "encouraged acts ... contrary to general principles of humanitarian law."
However, the CIA claimed that the purpose of the manual was to "moderate" the extreme violence already being used by the Contras.Punji stick
The punji stick or punji stake is a type of booby trapped stake. It is a simple spike, made out of wood or bamboo, which is sharpened and heated. Punji sticks are usually deployed in substantial numbers. Punji sticks are banned from use as weaponry under the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.Revolutionary base area
In Mao Zedong's original formulation of the concept of people's war, a revolutionary base area (Chinese: 革命根据地 gémìng gēnjùdì) is a local stronghold that the revolutionary force conducting the people's war should attempt to establish, starting from a remote area with mountainous or forested terrain in which its enemy is weak.
This kind of base helps the revolutionary conducting force to exploit the few advantages that a small revolutionary movement has—broad-based popular support can be one of them—against a state's power with a large and well-equipped army.Stay-behind
In a stay-behind operation, a country places secret operatives or organizations in its own territory, for use in the event that an enemy occupies that territory. If this occurs, the operatives would then form the basis of a resistance movement or act as spies from behind enemy lines. Small-scale operations may cover discrete areas, but larger stay-behind operations envisage reacting to the conquest of entire countries.Trou de loup
In medieval fortification, a trou de loup (French for "wolf hole"; plural trous de loup, also commonly referred to as a tiger pit in the East) was a type of booby trap or defensive obstacle. Each trou de loup consisted of a conical pit about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) deep and 1.2 to 2 m (3.9 to 6.6 ft) wide at the top. At the bottom of the pit, a sharpened punji stick (wooden stake) would be hammered in. In some cases, the pit was concealed by light cover of wicker and a layer of soil.
Trous de loup might be found singly as a trap (in which case they were always concealed), or in a dense pattern with no gaps between pits, used as an obstacle in front of a defended position.
A field of trous de loup could be made most effective if subsequently flooded to a shallow depth, which would conceal the pits, make their sides slippery, and add the risk of drowning.
Sometimes rotting meat or feces would be smeared onto the points to cause serious infection and quite often death.Urban guerrilla warfare
An urban guerrilla is someone who fights a government using unconventional warfare or domestic terrorism in an urban environment.Yank Levy
Bert "Yank" Levy (October 5, 1897 – September 2, 1965) was a soldier, military instructor and author/pamphleteer of one of the first manuals on guerrilla warfare, which was widely circulated with more than a half million published. He served with irregular forces in several parts of the world in the 1920s and 1930s, most notably in the Spanish Civil War, and was a significant figure at the Osterley Park training school for the British Home Guard during World War II. Similar combat training was provided to forces in the United States and Canada, and he was an itinerant lecturer and provocateur on the subject.