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U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)

Chapter II. Organization.

Section I

General												2-1
The mission											2-2
Factors to be considered in estimating enemy strengths						2-3
Relative strength										2-4
Enemy courses of action										2-5
Own courses of action										2-6
The decision											2-7
Supporting measures										2-8
Campaign and operation plans									2-9

2-1. General. -- a. It has been stated in the previons chapter that the President, as the Chief Executive, makes the decision which initiates small war operations and that this decision is promulgated through the regular channels to the commander of the intervening force. Upon the receipt of instructions from higher authority, it is incumbent on each commander in the chain of command to make an estimate of the situation to determine the best course of action and how it is to be carried out.

b. This estimate follows the general outline of a normal "Estimate of the Situation" although certain points which are peculiar to small war operations should be emphasized. In particular decisions must be made as to: the composition of the staff; the size of the force required to accomplish the mission, or how to employ the force available most advantageously; the proportion of the infantry, supporting arms and services best suited for the situation; and the requisition and distribution of special weapons and equipment which are not included in the normal organization but which are considered necessary.

c. If sufficient information of the probable theater of operations has not been furnished, maps, monographs, and other current data concerning the country must be obtained, including information on the following: past and present political situation; economic situation; classes and distribution of the population; psychological nature of the inhabitants; military geography, both general and physical; and the military situation.

2-2. The mission. -- In a major war, the mission assigned to the armed forces is usually unequivocal--the defeat and destruction of the hostile forces. This is seldom true in small wars. More often than not, the mission will be to establish and maintain law and order by supporting or replacing the civil government in countries or areas in which the interests of the United States have been placed in jeopardy, in order to insure the safety and security of our nationals, their property and interests. If there is an organized hostile force opposing the intervention, the primary objective in small wars, as in a major war, is its early destruction. In those cases where armed opposition is encountered only from irregular forces under the leadership of malcontents or unrecognized officials, the mission is one of diplomacy rather than military. Frequently the commander of a force operating in a small wars theater of operations is not given a specific mission as such in his written orders or directive, and it then becomes necessary for him to deduce his mission from the general intent of the higher authority, or even from the foreign policy of the United States. In any event, the mission should be accomplished with a minimum loss of life and property and by methods that leave no aftermath of bitterness or render the return to peace unnecessarily difficult.

2-3. Factors to be considered in estimating enemy strength.---

a. Political status. -- (1) In the majority of our past small wars operations, intervention has been due to internal disorder which endangered foreign lives and property, or has been undertaken to enforce treaty obligations.

(2) In the first instance, the chaotic condition usually has been brought about as a result of the tyrannical measures adopted by the party in control of the government, by the unconstitutional usurpation of power by a political faction for the sake of gain, or because of intense hatred between rival factions which culminated in a revolt against the recognized government. As the result of such action, a state of revolution existed which was detrimental to internal and external peace and good will. The intervening power was faced usually with one of two alternatives; either to intervene between the warring factions, occupy one or more proclaimed neutral zones, and endeavor by pacific or forceful action to make the rival parties accept mediation and settlement of the controversy; or to assist, by pacific or forceful action, one side or the other, or even to support a new party, in the suppression of the disorders.

(3) In the second instance, that of enforcing treaty obligations, the immediate cause of intervention usually has been the neglect and repeated refusal of the local government to carry out its obligations under the terms of a commercial or political treaty. The intervening forces sought, by show of force or by actual field operations, to enforce those obligations. If such action was unsuccessful, the intervening power in some cases deposed the party in control and established a de facto or de jure government which would carry out the provisions of the treat. This often resulted in active opposition by the ousted party against the intervening forces who were giving aid, force, and power to the new government.

(4) It is evident from the above that the internal political organization of the country concerned, the strength of the forces which may oppose the intervention, and the external obligations of the country as a member of the family of nations, should be carefully considered in the estimate of the situation. In addition the estimate must include the probable effect which the intervention will have upon the public opinion of the citizens of the intervening power and upon the good will of other countries. The latter, in particular, is of great importance since the friendship and trade relations of countries which are not sympathetic to the intervention may be alienated by such action.

b. Economic status and logistic support avaiilzble. -- The ability of a hostile force to oppose the intervening force may be limited by the availability of subsistence, natural resources, finances, arms, equipment, and ammunition. The forces opposing the intervention often live off the country by forcing contributions of money, subsistence, and other supplies from the peaceful inhabitants, or by donations from local civilians sympathetic to their cause. Even though the country concerned may be heavily indebted to their own citizens as well as to foreign powers, funds are often diverted from the state treasury or may be received from foreign sources for the purchase of modern arms and munitions of war. As a result, the intervening force usually finds the forces opposing them armed and equipped with modern weapons and capable of sustaining themselves in the field for an unlimited period. This is especially true if, as is usually the case, the hostile forces resort to guerrilla warfare.

c. Geographical features. -- That part of the estimate of the `situation which considers the geographical features of the theater of operations is fully as important in small wars as in a major war. It covers the general terrain features, the geographical divisions of the country as fixed by relief, suitable debarkation places, the character and suitability of routes of communication, the distribution of population, the location of principal cities, the political divisions of the state, and the strategical and tactical aspects of the frontiers. The location and extent of plain, plateau, and mountain regions, and of open, wooded, or jungle areas will affect the organization, equipment, and field operations of the intervening force. If a state of revolution is the basic cause of intervention, the political divisions within the country are particularly important and may in themselves, determine the strategic plan of operation. Of special significance, also, are those areas in which the majority of foreign citizens and interests are concentrated, since the establishment of neutral zones and similar protective operations usually will be initiated in those localities.

d. Climatic condition. -- Climatic conditions in the probable theater of operations will affect the organization, clothing, equipment, supplies, health, and especially the operations of the intervening forces. A campaiegn planned for the dry season may be entirely different from one planned for the rainy season. This is particularly true in countries where the road system is primitive, or where dependence is placed on river transportation for the movement of troops and supplies. Weather conditions during certain seasons of the year may increase the difficulties of combat operations in the theater of operations, but if properly evaluated, they should not be considered as insurmountable obstacles.

e. Information and security service of the enemy. -- It can be stated as an accepted premise that, in small wars, the intelligence service of the opposing forces will be superior initially to that of the intervening force. From the point of view of the intervening power, the intervention is usually considered a friendly effort to assist the occupied country to reestablish peace and order within its boundaries. From the viewpoint of the majority of the citizens of the occupied country, however, this action by an alien power is an unfriendly one. Although the majority of these inhabitants will not actively oppose the intervention, many of them will indirectly assist the native forces with information relative to the movements of the intervening forces. This is especially true of those citizens who have relatives among the native forces operating in the field. To off-set this situation, recourse must be had to propaganda clearly stating the definite purpose of the intervening forces in order to show the friendly aid that is being offered to the country. Friendships should be made with the inhabitants in an honest and faithful endeavor to assist them to resume their peaceful occupations and to protect them from the illegal demands made upon them by the malcontents. The liberal use of intelligence funds will be of assistance in obtaining information of hostile intentions. Secrecy and rapidity of movements, the distribution of false information regarding proposed operations, and the use of code or cipher messages will aid in preventing the hostile forces from gaining information of contemplated movements of our own forces. Routine patrols must be avoided. An effort must be made to learn the terrain and to become familiar with and utilize every road and trail in the theater of operations. Above all, an active and aggressive campaign against the hostile forces in the field is the most effective method of destroying their intelligence servicel. A guerrilla band which is constantly harassed and driven from place to place soon loses contact with its own sources of information; it becomes confused and its intelligence system breaks down. AS the occupation continues, superiority in this respect will gradually be obtained by the intervening forces.

f. Material characteristics. -- Irregulars in small wars are not encumbered with modern supply loads or other impediments which reduce the speed at which troops can march. Their knowledge of the terrain and their mobility permits them to move quickly and safely to avoid combat and then to launch an attack against a defenseless village or some isolated outpost. In the past, these irregulars have been armed with old types of weapons, most of which have been considered obsolete, while the intervening forces have been equipped with superior modern weapons. Due to the ease with which modern arms and equipment can be obtained from outside sources, it can be expected that, in the future, irregulars will have weapons and equipment equally as effective as those of the intervening forces. Except for aviation, therefore, the decided advantage in arms and equipment enjoyed by intervening troops in the past will seldom obtain in the future.

g. Composition, condition, and disposition of enemy forces. -- When the intervening forces initially enter a small wars country, they usually find the opposing elements organized into fairly large groups If these large groups can be engaged and decisively defeated, armed opposition to the intervention may be brought to an end and an early peace achieved. If this fails, the larger groups either retire to more remote areas, or are dispersed into numerous small bands which remain in the same general locality, and the action becomes one of protracted guerrilla warfare. h. Racial characteristics, morale, and skill. -- The leadership of the opposing forces in small wars must not be underestimated. Very often the opposition is led by men who have been trained in the United States or European military schools and who have had much experience in practical soldiering in their specialized type of warfare. Irregular forces in active operations always attract foreign soldiers of fortune of varied experience and reputation whose fighting methods influence the character of opposition encountered. (For further details, see Section III, Chapter I, "Psychology.")

24. Relative strength. -- After considering the strength of your own forces, always keeping the mission of the force in mind, the factors of the Enemy and Own Strength are compared in order to arrive at a definite conclusion as to the relative combat efficiency of the opposing forces.

25. Enemy courses of action. -- The probable intentions of the opposing forces will depend a great deal, initially, upon the causes leading up to the intervention. In the majority of cases, their purpose will be to hold the area in which they are located as a section seceding from that part of the country which is first occupied by the intervening force. Even though under the control of a single leader, they will seldom oppose the landings or engage in offensive action, initially, against the forces of occupation. As the movement inland begins, strong defensive action can be expected from the larger hostile groups. When these have been dispersed, smaller bands or groups will operate actively not only against the intervening forces but also against the towns and population then under control of the latter. Finally, the opposition usLlaliy will degenerate into guerrilla warfare. So many small bands will be in the field that a definite conclusion as to the probable intentions of any one of them will be difficult to determine. Generally their intentions will be to make surprise attacks against the intervening forces in superior numbers and against undefended local villnges and towns. To offset such action, patrols must be strong enough in numbers and armament to withstand any anticipated attack or ambush, and the principal villages and towns must be given adequate protection. Further, by energetic patrolling of the area and rigorous pursuit of the hostile forces once contact is gained, the irregulars should be forced to disband completely or to move to more remote and less fertile areas. The pursuit of these small bands must be continuous.

26. Own courses of action. -- The intervening force commander must choose the best course of action to follow in order to accomplish his mission. This will necessarily result in a scheme of maneuver, either strategical or tactical. To accomplish this mission, it may be necessary to make a show of force in occupying the State capital, for often the history of the country will indicate that he who holds the capital holds the country. Again, he may be forced to occupy the principal cities of the country, or a certain area, the economic resources of which are such that its possessor controls the lifeblood of the country. More frequently, it will be necessary to initiate active combat operations against the large groups of opposing forces which occupy certain areas. The entire scheme of maneuver will frequently result in the occupation of the coastal area initially with a gradual coordinated movement inland, thus increasing the territory over which control and protection may be established. As this territory extends, it will be necessary to create military areas within it under the control to subordinate commanders. The area commander in turn will seek to control his area by use of small detachments to protect the towns and to conduct active operations against irregular groups until the area becomes completely pacified.

2-7. The decision. -- When the force commander has finally selected the best course of action and determined, in general terms, how it may be executed, he makes his decision, which consists of a statement of his course of action followed by how it is to be carried out, and why. The decision indicates the commander's general plan of action as expressed in paragraph 2 of an operation order. The basic principle underlying any decision in a small-wars operation is that of initiating immediately energetic action to disband or destroy the hostile forces. This action should hasten the return of normal peace and good order to the country in the shortest possible time.

2-8. Supporting measures. -- After the basic decision has been reached, the Force Commander must consider carefully the supporting measures which are required to put it into effect. The mission; the operations required to carry out the scheme of maneuver; the organization, armament, and leadership of the opposing forces; the terrain, geography, and climate in the theater of operations; the natural resources and routes of communication within the country to be occupied; all must be considered and all will affect the formulation of the campaign and operation plans. These factors will determine the size and composition of the commander's staff; the organization of the force; the type of infantry weapons and the proper proportion of aircraft, artillery, and other supporting arms and services required; and the administrative and iogistic details. When these supporting measures have been determined, the commander evolves his campaign and operation plans.

29. Campaign and operation plans. -- a. In military operations of small wars, strategical and tactical principles are applied to attain the political objective of the government. The political objective indicates the general character of the campaign which the military leader will undertake. The campaign plan indicates the military objective and, in general terms, the nature and method of conducting the campaign. It will set forth the legal aspects of the operations and the corelated authority and responsibilities of the force. If military government or some form of political control is to be instituted, the necessary directives are included in the campaign plan. This plan also indicates the general nature of employment of the military forces. It indicates what use, if any, will be made of existing native forces or of those to be organized.

b. The operation plan prescribes the details of the tactical employment of the force employed and the important details of supply and transportation of that force. It may indicate the territorial division of the country for tactical or administrative control. It provides also for the most efficient employment, maintenance, and development of the existing signal communication system. If the campaign plan calls for the organization of a native constabulary, detailed plans must be made for its early organization and training. If the campaign plan calls for the employment of local armed civilians or guards, or if such action is considered necessary or advisable, plans must be made for the organization, training, equipment, supply, clothing, subsistence, pay, shelter, and employment of such troops. If the mission calls for the supervision of elections, this plan must include the necessary arrangements for the nonmilitary features of this duty as well as the tactical disposition of the force in the accomplishment of the task.

c. Tactical operations of regular troops against guerrillas in small wars are habitually offensive. Even though operating under a strategic defensive campaign plan, regular combatants in contat with hostile forces will emphasize the principle of the offensive to gain psychological supremacy. Isolated forces exposed to possible attack by overwhelming numbers must be well protected in positions prepared to develop the greatest possible effect of their weapons. Reverses, particularly at first, must be avoided at all costs.

d. The initiation of a campaign before adequate preparations have been made, may well be as fatal in a small war as in regular warfare. Prolonged operations are detrimental to the morale and prestige of the intervening forces. They can be avoided only by properly estimating the situation and by evolving as comprehensive, flexible, and simple a plan as possible before the campaign begins.

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