Chapter 2: Fundamentals of Resistance and Insurgency
The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. Mao Zedong
Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move. Sun Tzu
Separate definitions exist for resistance movements and insurgencies within the DOD and various academic communities. However, within this document, the two terms convey a strategy of insurrection. Planners broadly use the term “insurgency” to describe the concept of achieving aims through a strategy of armed conflict and subversion against an indigenous government or occupying power. Planners use the term “resistance movement” to convey a unique type of insurgency that focuses on the removal of an occupying power. The difference in terminology is important to the concept of UW, because planners must understand the significant differences in dealing with a resistance movement that forms in response to an occupying power, and an insurgency that grows over time out of discontent for an oppressive regime. Planners generically use the term “resistance” to categorize the activities of a resistance movement or insurgency.
Insurgents are inherently indigenous. There remains confusion regarding external support elements, such as foreign fighters. Even when the U.S. forces or foreign fighters support an insurgency or resistance movement, planners should not categorize them as part of the insurgency. Planners should categorize these elements as enablers, facilitators, advisors, or supporters.
WHY POPULATIONS RESIST
2-1. Resistance generally begins with the desire of individuals to remove intolerable conditions imposed by an unpopular regime or occupying power. Feelings of opposition toward the governing authority and hatred of existing conditions that conflict with the individual’s values, interests, aspirations, and way of life spread from the individual to his family, close friends, and neighbors. As a result, an entire community may possess an obsessive hatred for the established authority. Initially, this hatred will manifest as sporadic, spontaneous nonviolent and violent acts of resistance by the people toward authority. As the discontent grows, natural leaders, such as former military personnel, clergymen, local office holders, and neighborhood representatives, emerge to channel this discontent into organized resistance that promotes its growth. The population must believe they have nothing to lose, or more to gain. Key to transitioning from growing discontent to insurrection is the perception by a significant portion of the population that they have nothing to lose by revolting and the belief that they can succeed. In addition, there must be a spark that triggers insurrection, such as a catalyzing event that ignites popular support against the government power and a dynamic insurgent leadership that is able to exploit the situation. Figure 2-1, page 2-2, defines words critical to understanding resistance movements.
2-2. People who outwardly follow their normal mode of existence conduct clandestine resistance. This type of resistance is organized and controlled and conducts the following activities as groups and individuals:
Traffic in contraband.
2-3. Individuals and groups who train along military lines perform overt resistance. Planners refer to this militant arm of the resistance movement as the guerrilla force. These elements make no secret of their existence or their objectives. However, resistance leaders compartmentalize the specific relationship of the guerrilla force to other components of the resistance movement to prevent compromise of the entire movement.
2-4. Each insurgency or resistance movement has its own unique characteristics based upon its strategic objectives, operational environment, and available resources. Insurgencies normally seek to change the existing social order and reallocate power within the country. Typical insurgent goals include:
Removal of the established governing authority, whether an indigenous regime or occupying military power.
Establishment of an autonomous national territory within the borders of a state.
Extraction of political concessions that the movement cannot attain through nonviolent means.
2-5. The structure of an insurgency or resistance movement is similar to an iceberg (Figure 2-2, page 2-4). Most of the structure is below the surface, and only the peak is visible. In building a resistance structure, insurgent leaders give principal attention to the development of a clandestine supporting infrastructure. This infrastructure works—
Among the citizens in rural villages, towns, and urban cities.
Within the military, police, and administrative apparatus of government.
Among labor groups and students.
DYNAMICS OF SUCCESSFUL INSURGENCIES
2-6. JP 3-24, Counterinsurgency Operations, lists eight dynamics of an insurgency. JP 3-24 includes internal support and organizational and operational patterns. FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, lists six dynamics of an insurgency. FM 3-24 does not include organization and operational patterns. However, SF continue to use organization as one of the dynamics of an insurgency to understand the form, function and logic of insurgent movements.
2-7. Seven dynamics are common to most successful insurgencies. These dynamics provide a framework for planners to analyze insurgencies. It is some combination of these dynamics that will generally transform popular disconnect into an organized and effective movement.
2-8. A group committing random political violence is not an insurgency. In an insurgency, the group is committing directed and focused political violence. It requires leadership to provide vision, direction, guidance, coordination, and organizational coherence. The insurgency leaders must make their cause known to the people and gain popular support. Their key tasks are to break the ties between the people and the government and to establish credibility for their movement. The leaders must replace the government’s Chapter 2 legitimacy with that of their own. Their ability to serve as a catalyst that motivates and inspires others to have faith in their cause is vital to the movement’s growth. Their ability to organize and willingness to distribute power across the organization is vital to the long-term success of the movement. Organizations dependent upon key charismatic personalities to provide cohesion and motivation for the movement are vulnerable to disruptions if the enemy removes or co-opts those players.