Guerilla Warfare

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Guerrilla Warfare

The term guerrilla (Spanish, "little war") originated in the early 19th century during the Peninsular war when, after the defeat of Spain's regular forces, Spanish irregulars and civilians rose up against the French occupying forces. The practice of guerrilla warfare, however, dates from antiquity; for example, the Bible tells of the Israelite conquest of Canaan, led by Joshua, involving harassment and ambush of the enemy. Later Jewish resistance to foreign rule was expressed in the series of fierce guerrilla operations against the Romans in the 1st century AD; led by the Zealot sect, this revolt was climaxed by the seizure of Masada and the massacre of the Roman garrison there in AD66. Lacking the numerical strength and weapons to oppose a regular army in the field, guerrillas avoid pitched battles. Instead, they operate from bases established in remote and inaccessible terrain, such as forests, mountains, and jungles, and depend on the support of the local inhabitants for recruits, food, shelter, and information. The guerrillas may also receive assistance in forms of arms, medical supplies, and military advisers from their own or allied regular armies. The tactics of guerillas are those of harassment. Striking swiftly and unexpectedly, they raid enemy supply depots and installations, ambush patrols and supply convoys, and cut communication lines, hoping thereby to disrupt enemy activities and to capture equipment and supplies for their own use. Because of their mobility, the dispersal of their forces into small groups, and their ability to disappear among the civilian population, guerrillas are extremely difficult to capture. Guerrilla warfare has figured prominently in the history of North and South America, from the slave revolts against the Portuguese and Dutch in Brazil in the 17th century to the ranger raids behind Union lines led by the Confederate solider John Singleton Mosby during the American Civil War. In early 19th century...
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