News reports and comments by the punditocracy continue to express amazement that a smaller, more poorly equipped and trained force can avoid being wiped out by the funded-as-much-as-all-the-rest-of-the-world US Army, this time in Iraq, while administration spokespeople continue to insist that the insurgency is in its “last throes.”
Choose the time and place of your battle. Car bombs, IEDs, ambushes.
Confuse the enemy. The US still doesn’t seem to know who the insurgents are.
The insurgents have an inherent advantage in the way the fight is defined: all they have to do is continue to provide chaos. The US has to provide order.
The insurgents have an inherent advantage in the way the fight is fought: they can hide among civilians. As the US fights through the civilians to find the insurgents, they send civilians to the side of the insurgents.
There are so many relevant quotes on the websites I’ve linked that I didn’t bother to take direct quotes.
The same thing happened, to the same puzzlement, in Vietnam. It also happened, with the Americans on the smart side, in the American Revolution. The British were equally puzzled and offended that the rebels wouldn’t stand in formation for setpiece battles.
Whether we call them fourth-generation warfare, insurgency, or terrorism, hit-and-run tactics by dedicated fighters clearly have an advantage over an occupying army, no matter how well that army is trained and equipped.
It’s important to recognize that, because that will determine the response. Or at least that’s what Sun Tsu and Clausewitz say.