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Understanding Revolutionary Warfare
AUTHOR Major Dennis I. Merritt, USMC
CSC 1990
SUBJECT AREA Foreign Policy
                        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
THESIS:  A major trend in warfare during the 20th Century has been
a shift from conventional warfare with its large, heavily equipped
armies to guerrilla operations in support of revolutionary warfare.
U.S. policy makers and military leaders have been slow to recognize
and understand that significant trend.  The Vietnam War pointed out
the tragic consequences of not knowing our enemy.  Revolutionary
warfare has been a powerful force in the world during the past
fifty years, and all indications are it will continue to shape the
future.   Therefore,  it is essential for civilian and military
leaders to have some knowledge of revolutionary warfare theory,
strategy, tactics, and causation.
DISCUSSION:   The historical origins of revolutionary warfare go
back centuries.  However, the theory and practice of revolutionary
war-fare is really a 20th Century development.  Marx and Engles
provided some early strategic guidance (mobilize the masses) while
Lenin and Trotsky worked out many of the tactical considerations
(only negotiate to gain time; a strong organization is a must).
The most influential revolutionary, nevertheless, was Mao Tse-tung
who espoused the importance of protracted struggle, strength of
will, and political considerations over military action.  In other
words,  revolutionary warfare is much more than just guerrilla
warfare.  Revolutionary warfare has a political goal or objective
and seeks to completely overthrow the social, political,  and
economic order.   Guerrilla  warfare  is  but  one tool  used by
revolutionaries to gain their objectives.  Therefore, defeating a
revolutionary war movement requires a broader approach than just
the military option.
CONCLUSION:  Despite much progress made in the last decade toward
understanding unconventional warfare,  there are still  too many
civilian and military leaders who do not know the true nature or
meaning of revolutionary warfare.  As a nation, we must do better.
Another Vietnam would be more than tragic, it would be criminal.
THESIS STATEMENT.  A major trend in warfare during the 20th Century
has been a shift from conventional warfare with its large, heavily
equipped armies to guerrilla operations in support of revolutionary
warfare.  U.S. policy makers and military leaders have been slow
to recognize and understand that significant trend.  The Vietnam
Revolutionary warfare has been a powerful force in the world during
the past fifty years, and all indications are it will continue to
shape the future.  Therefore, it is essential for civilian and
military leaders to have some knowledge of revolutionary warfare
theory, strategy, tactics, and causation.
I.      Introduction
        A.  Changing nature of warfare      
              1.  Compounds task of knowing enemy
              2.  Conventional to unconventional warfare
        B.  World War II catalyst for change
              1.  Nuclear weapons
              2.  Collapse of colonial system
              3.  Communist ideology
              4.  Revolutionary warfare theory
                   a.  Strategy--Marx and Engles
                   b.  Tactics-- Lenin and Trotsky
                   c.  Application of theory--Mao
II.     Revolutionary warfare
        A.  Complex, confusing 
              1.  Terminology
              2.  Emotional issue
              3.  Importance of doctrine, strategy, tactics
              4.  Military theorist focus on Europe (conventional)
        B.  What is revolutionary warfare, what is it not
              1.  Not guerrilla warfare
              2.  Diverse--no two alike
III.    Historical examples
        A.  Sun Tzu
        B.  Zealots
        C.  American and French Revolutions
        D.  Why examples not true revolutionary warfare
IV.     Guerrilla/revolutionary warfare difference
        A.  Spanish example
        B.  Importance of political objective
        C.  Guerilla warfare tool of revolutionary warfare
V.      Tactical application of theory
        A.  Use of elements of power
        B.  Use of violence
        C.  Legitimacy of government a target
        C.  Vulnerable societies
VI.     U.S. policy options
        A.  Understand risks
        B.  Support allied/friendly governments
        C.  Support democratic revolutionary movements
VII.    Importance of understanding problem, taking action
     Know yourself and know your enemy.  Virtually every military
organization in existence today knows the importance of mastering
those too principles.  They are basic truths that if ignored will
certainly  lead to defeat.  They are also more easily talked about
than practiced.  The ever changing nature of warfare only compounds
the difficult task of truly knowing yourself, much less the enemy.
As Clausewitz writes in On War and Mao quotes in his Guerrilla
Warfare:   "Wars  in  every  period  have  independent  forms  and
independent conditions, and, therefore, every period must have its
independent theory of war."1
     Take, for example, the major changes in warfare that have
taken place just since the end of World War II.  It is evident that
warfare has shifted away from conventional wars fought by large
heavily equipped armies to unconventional wars commonly referred
to as guerrilla wars.  "Indeed, virtually every year since World
War II has seen at least one revolutionary conflict underway in the
third world."2  In fact, a complete listing of these wars would
probably fill several pages.  Some of the more widely known are:
Malaya, Kenya, the Congo, Algeria, Cuba and Vietnam.
    Despite the evidence,  some might deny that the nature of
warfare has fundamentally changed.  After all, they would argue,
if there  is a real war (read:  NATO vs Warsaw Pact),  conventional
warfare would once again dominate.  Those people cannot be lightly
dismissed.  The United States dares not dismiss the threat from the
U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact allies.   They are, despite their
current move toward liberalization and democratization, the only
force that can quickly bring about the destruction of the United
States.  Still others argue that successful revolutions require
large conventional forces using conventional tactics to bring a 
revolutionary conflict to successful fruition.    The  Peoples
Republic  of  China  and  North  Vietnam  certainly  used  large
conventional forces to nail down their revolutions.
      Those points are well taken; however, the actual theory and
practice of warfare in today's world environment does seem to have
dramatically changed.  What is commonly called guerrilla warfare,
but in actuality is revolutionary warfare,  has indeed changed
warfare and made knowing your enemy even more difficult.  There are
many reasors for that change,  but  there  are  three  that  seem
particularly significant.  First, nuclear weapons have made large
conventional wars too costly to contemplate. (That does not mean,
of course, that we should not be prepared to meet that threat--that
would be fool hardy.)  Second, World War II set the stage for the 
collapse of the colonial system.  Colonies all over the world, even
though militarily weak, demanded independence and were prepared to
fight for it.  Third, the post World War II popularity of Communist
ideology encouraged the poor and disenfranchised in many third
world countries to attempt armed insurrection.  That does not,
despite the fact that current world events have shown Communist
ideology to be bankrupt, negate the powerful--but tragic--influence
it had on world events.
     Has revolutionary warfare, propelled by the reasons delineated
above, become the dominate form of modern warfare?  It seems clear
that the answer is yes.  Certainly the evidence supports that
contention; its difficult to ignore the more than twenty such wars
fought in the last fifty years.  That is not to suggest, however,
that the U.S. completely restructure its forces to fight such wars.
The primary threat still remains the U.S.S.R.  and  its  nuclear
arsenal.   It does suggest, though, that much more needs to be
learned about the theory and practice of revolutionary wars and the
people associated with it.
      It is difficult to imagine a more complex, emotionally charged
subject  than  revolutionary  warfare.  There is  disagreement  on
virtually every aspect of revolutionary warfare to include its
definition.   For instance, many civilian officials as well as a
good number of military people believe revolutionary warfare is
just another name for guerrilla warfare,  partisan warfare,  or
terrorism, all of which many people tend to lump under the heading
of low-intensity conflict (LIC).   Is there a real difference
between the types of warfare commonly found at the lower end of the
spectrum of conflict or are the arguments just over semantics?
       Naturally, arguments over semantics should not drive or
hinder our efforts to understand important concepts.  Nevertheless,
it is important to define revolutionary warfare to some degree so
that policy makers and concerned citizens have a common base or
reference from which to build a useful dialogue that deepens under-
standing.  In other words, the doctrine, strategy, tactics and
psychology of revolutionary warfare have to be understood to effec-
tively counter or assist revolutionary warfare movements.  (More
will be said about the often ignored concept of assisting revolut-
ionary movements later in this paper.)  Without that understanding
of revolutionary warfare "means and ends", the U.S. risks making
fundamental mistakes that will frustrate or defeat its future
attempts to promote democracy, peace and prosperity in the world
     Just what is revolutionary warfare;  and, perhaps just as
instructive, what is it not?  Finding a simple, straight forward     
answer to those questions is difficult if not impossible.  Even
many standard reference books are silent on the matter.  JCS Pub.1,
for instance, is mute on the subject.   Worse yet, there is no
definition to be found in the dictionary.  What can be found in the
dictionary  is  this  entry:     "Revolutionary War see American
Revolution."  As alluded to earlier in this paper, the drought of
a formal definition can be traced to the changes in warfare that
have evolved since World War II.  Military theorists focused on a
potential European war and studied the problems of how to fight
large conventional forces.  They were slow to turn their attention
to the small but active wars spreading around the globe.  And, when
they did refocus on the actual shooting wars, there was a tendency
to disregrd other causative factors and concentrate on solving 
purely military problems--mostly at the tactical level.   In his
Guerrilla Warfare, Mao quotes Lenin:
        As  regards  the   form  of  fighting,  it  is
        unconditionaly  requisite  that  history  be
        investigated  in  order  to  discover  the
        conditions  of environment,  the  state  of
        economic progress, and the political ideas that
        obtained, the national characteristics, customs
        and degree of civilization... it is necessary
        to  be  completely  unsympathetic  to  abstract
        formulas and rules and to study with sympathy
        the conditions  of  the  actual  fighting,  for
        these  will  change  in  accordance  with  the
        political  and  economic  situations  and  the
        realization of the people's aspirations. These
        progressive changes in conditions create new
 Vietnam is a good example of what happens when that advice is
ignored.  For the most part, the U.S. military took the view that
finding  and  destroying guerrillas, or relatively small regular
forces using guerrilla tactics, were the keys to winning the war.
To highlight that fact, Vietnam was widely labeled and referred to
as a  "guerrilla war" by civilian and military officials alike.
In truth, the enemy conducted a revolutionary war and simply used
guerrilla warfare as one of their tools to accomplish their
political, social and economic goals.
     Obviously, as  we  have  just  seen, the  question  of what is
revolutionary warfare cannot be satisfactorily answered by simply
concentrating on  military theory and practice.  Rather, a true
understanding of revolutionary warfare requires a much more complex
approach.  That does not mean, however, that the military role in
revolutionary warfare is insignificant or should be ignored.  But,
military action is only one tool or option at the disposal of a
revolutionary movement.  To gain an appreciation for how, why and
when the revolutionary uses the military tool to further his
interests, one must understand the ideological and psychological
background of the members of a specific revolutionary movement.
Finally, the  underlying social, political and economic conditions
of a country or region that spawned the revolutionary attack on the
incumbent system must be thoroughly understood.
     Although it is imperative to keep in mind that each revolu-
tionary  movement is influenced by unique conditions and  cir-
cumstanaces and should be viewed through its own specific set of
prisms,  we  can  reasonably  assert  that  theory  has  played  an
important role in the development of revolutionary warfare.  To do
otherwise would require us to ignore the large body of theoretical
writing produced by such men as Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Che
Guevara  and  many  others.   Consequently,  a  brief historical
examination of that theory may be profitable to our understanding
of revolutioanry warfare.
     The emergences of revolutionary warfare and its attendant body
of theory is a relatively recent historical development"...largely
because it is so closely associated with two aspects of modernity-
-industrialism and  imperialism."4  That  is not to say, however,
that  revolutionary  warfare  is  a  totally  new  concept.   Its
historical origins go back centuries.
        Students of Asian cultures have argued that
        more  than  two  millennia  ago  Sun  Tzu, the
        Chinese military philosopher,  formulated the
        strategic principles of revolutionary warfare-
        -attack weakness, avoid strength, be patient.5
 In fact, history is awash  with examples of  rebellions, coup-d-
etats, revolts and guerrilla wars.  Jews that called themselves
Zealots fought for an ideology against the Romans in Judaea during
the 1st Century. History tells us they committed suicide at Masada
rather  than  surrender.   The  Middle  Ages  saw  numerous  peasant
revolts and noble uprisings.  Later, and probably more familiar to
many,  the  American  and  French  Revolutions  of  the  18th Century
helped  change  the  course  of  history.   But  were  they  true
"revolutionary" wars that have captured the worlds attention in the
20th Century.  For example, some would characterize the American
revolution as an essentially conventional war:
        During the American War of Independence both
        sides made a serious effort to keep warfare
        within conventional forms and limits. American
        provincial  leaders  had  seized  power from
        British officials in most areas even before
        the   outbreak    of    fighting,    so   the 
        "revolutionary"   nature   of   warfare   was 
        minimized, and only at the very outset, along
        the frontier zones, and again during the last
        years in the South, did violence take on the
        popular, irregular character of revolutionary
Coming on the heels of the American Revolution, the French version
had a profound impact on western civilization.  And, while "polit-
ical  ideology  became  linked  to  revolutionary  violence"7   the
Revolution was not a revolutionary war in the "modern sense."  Mass
citizen armies were not used to topple the French government--they
were used to defend France against her external enemies.
     At first glance, it appears the distant past offers up many
examples of revolutionary warfare.  And, indeed, some elements of
revolutionary  warfare theory can be traced back to an earlier time
and  place.    For  instance,  past  wars  have  been  fought  for
ideological reasons, for economic reform and for the purpose of
reshaping the social order.   Furthermore, guerrilla warfare and
popular  support  are not  unique  to modern  revolutionary  warfare.
But, to truely understand the essence of revolutionary warfare we
must look to the more recent past.
        Of  course  violent  popular   protest   and
        uprisings have dotted European history...but
        only  a  century or so ago did the  idea  of
        revolutionary warfare, considered as a set of
        formidable problems with specific strategic
        solutions, begin to take shape and acquire
   It  was  Marx  and  Engles  that  provided  the  early  strategic
guidance and who..."were among the first to analyze the problem of
mobilizing and employing armed force to defeat the police and army
of the capitalist and ruling classes."9   Later, Lenin and Trotsky
worked out many of the tactics that became successful:  never trust
the government to act fairly; negotiate to gain time only--con-
cessions are never permanent; a strong organization is a must; show
no mercy--destroy  the  government  army  first,  then  the   state.
Finally,  the  most  influential:   "However  much  we  may  seek  it
elsewhere, the basic text for ideas about revolutionary war is the
writings of Mao Tse-tung."10  Just a few of his contributions to
revolutionary  theory  were:    emphasized the political over the
military; protracted struggle--time is a weapon that favors the
revolutionary; popular support is crucial to success; revolution
requires  hard  work  and  tough  mental  preparation;  practical
application of theory is as important as theory.
     As can be seen from the discussion above, revolutionary theory
is not for the light of heart.    Whats more, an in-depth study of
the subject further reveals a certain diversity.  Lenin believed
revolution had to begin in urban centers.  Mao felt revolution
should spring from rural areas and would require a long preparation
period.  Che also believed revolution should start in the country
side but thought military action used in the early stages of a
revolution could succeed and thus negate the need for a long
preparation period.   Carlos Marighella preached early military
action within the urban setting.
     Is  it  possible, for  all  its  complexity  and  diversity, to
derive a useful definition  of  revolutionary  warfare?  The answer
is  a  qualified  yes.   Most  of  the people who have  written and
thought  about  the  subject  would  probably  accept  the  following
        Revolutionary warfare is never confined within
        the bounds of military action.  Because its
        purpose is to destroy an existing society and
        its institutions and to replace them with a
        completely new structure, any revolutionary war
        is a unity of which the constituent parts, in
        varying importance, are military, political,
        economic, social, and psychological.11
     To clear up any lingering doubts about what revolutionary
warfare is and what it is not, it may be useful to point out the
difference between guerrilla warfare and revolutionary warfare.
They are not one and the same.  As an interesting aside, it was
during the Wars of the French Revolution that the term "guerrilla"
was coined in English.  The word comes to us from the Spanish word
for "little war."   After Napoleon invaded and conquered Spain, many
of  her  people  took  up  arms  against  the  French  invaders.  The
Spanish guerrilla's lacked weapons and numerical strength to fight
conventional battles  and so developed what we now call hit and run
tactics or guerrilla warfare.
     Guerrilla  warfare,  as  practiced  by  the  Spanish  against
Napoleon's occupation force, illustrates the difference between
guerrilla warfare and revolutionary warfare.   The  fundamental
difference between the two revolves around political motives or the
lack there of:
        Conventional  war  rarely  challenges  the
        political  system;  even  "unconventional"
        partisan war usually seeks the preservation of
        that system or restoration of the status quo
        ante--revolutionary war aims at the liquidation
        of  the  existing  power  structure  and  at  a
        transformation in the structure of society.12
 Protection of home, hearth and life were primary motives along with
a desire to restore national sovereignty.  The Spanish guerrilla's
were not interested in changing the social, political or economic
order inside Spain.   They lacked a revolutionary objective which
gives meaning to a revolutionary war.  On the other hand, Mao Tse-
tung clearly understood the purpose of guerrilla operations when
word within the context of revolutionary was:  "Military action is
a method used to attain a political goal."12
      From the above discussion, it is apparent that there is a
substantial difference between guerrilla warfare and revolutionary
warfare.  Revolutionary warfare defines the "ends" to be achieved
in terms of political or social goals.  On the other hand, guerril-
la warfare is but one of the "means" to achieve the goals or "ends"
of revolutionary warfare.  Mao, in his Guerrilla Warfare, put it
very succinctly:
        These guerrilla operations must not be con-
        sidered as an independent form of warfare. They
        are but one step in the total war, one aspect
        of  the  revolutionary  struggle... without a
        political    goal,   guerrilla   warfare  must  
     The historical example of the Spanish briefly sited above
helps to delineate guerrilla warfare while differentiating it from
revolutionary warfare. Revolutionary warfare is a much more complex
and  all  encompassing  concept.   The  distinction  drawn  between
guerrilla and revolutionary warfare is not inconsequential.  The
implications are clear--any country that develops and designs a
counter-insurgency  strategy  based  primarily  around  defeating
guerrilla forces completely ignores the true nature and scope of
the threat.  It is analogous to eating an apple then discarding and
ignoring the core.  Eating an apple is quick and satisfying to eat,
but the core contains seeds that can often produce more apples.
     Revolutionary  warfare  has  sprung  upon  the  world  with  a 
vengeance.  Few would doubt that it has played an important role
in shaping world events during the 20th Century.  Unfortunately
for Anerica, most revolutionary wars during the past fifty years
were inspired or sponsored by groups, idealogies, and nations
hostile  to  the  interests  of  the  United  States.  Because  U.S.
government  officials, both  civilian  and  military, were  slow  to
recognize revolutionary warfare as a distinct form of warfare with
its  own  attendant  theory, the nation was committed to  a  war  in
Vietnam it did not understand and thus could not win.  We simply
did not know our enemy.
     An understanding of revolutionary warfare theory and strategy
certainly  helps  to  reduce  that  knowledge  gap.   But  equally
important, policy makers and military leaders need to understand
how that theory is applied to completely close the knowledge gap.
An in-depth examination of the tactics and techniques associated
with revolutionary warfare is beyond the scope of this paper, but
a brief discussion will hopefully give the reader some appreciation
of how theory is applied.
     Revolutionary warfare is an attempt by a group or organization
to throw out of power the recognized government and replace it with
a government of its own.  In so doing, the revolutionary group will
invariably  try  to  reorder  the political, social, and  economic
structure of the country.  The leadership of the movement will
usually  be  small  in  number  and  come  from  the  elite  class  of
educated, politically  aware  members  of  society.   Mao,  Lenin,
Trotsky, and Che, just  to  name  a  few, were  all  from  the  elite
classes  of  their  societies.  Although  the  specific  strategy  and
tactics will  differ  in  each  case (urban vs rural for instance),
the  revolutionaries  will  attempt  to  use  political, economic
social, psychological, and  military  means  to  destroy  the  very
fabric of society.  Most revolutionaries are arrogant--one of their
weaknesses--and believe they know whats best for the people.
     To accomplish their goal of overthrowing the government, the
revolutionaries will try to separate the people from the government
thereby  destroying  the  legitimacy  of  the  government.    The
government, on the other hand, will try to keep the loyalty of the
people.  The people, after all, bestow legitimacy to one side or
the other because they pay the taxes, grow the food, support the
cause and provide the soldiers each side needs.  That means, for
all intents and purposes, the people become the battleground.  The
people, to put it in Clausewitzian terms, are the center of gravity
in revolutionary warfare.
     To subvert the government and intimidate the the people, re-
volutionaries will attempt to set up a shadow government at both
the national and local level.  They will use that organization to
try an convince or coerce the people into supporting them.  Mean-
while, they will undermine the political, social, and economic
systems from within and without.  They will try to create as much
dissent and discontent among the population as they can.  They will
use violence to terrorize certain segments of the population in
order to demonstrate the government is powerless and to reinforce
the general feeling of insecurity  among the people.
     The incumbent government, if it is not careful, can overreact
trying to get control of the situation.  If the government resorts
to  violence, particularly  indiscriminate  violence,  they  will
quickly loose the support of the people.  The revolutionaries, of
course, will  try  to  trick  and  trap  the  government  into  using
excessive force  because  it  is  to  their  advantage  to  see  the
government  discredited.   Another tactic the government has to be
wary of when faced with a totalitarian revolutionary threat is the
cynical  use  of  negotiations and coalition power sharing by the
enemy.   Seldom,  if  ever,  have  revolutionaries  entered  into
negotiations in good faith.  Negotiations are a tool used to stall
and wait out rough times.   "In  fact, a country  in the midst of
revolution that believes totalitarians negotiate in good faith is
a country doomed to extinction."15
     If the strategy and tactics employed by revolutionaries are
to succeed, the society must be vulnerable.  There is no mystery
to determining what countries are at risk.  Such countries are
usually poor and have large populations that limit or reduce any
economic gains.   The modernization process itself often places
psychological stress on the population because of cultural and
value changes that cause uncertainty and instability.  Lack of
internal unity in many countries once ruled by colonial powers
creates huge cultural problems because borders were drawn without
regard for religious, ethnic, language, or geographic reasons.
Other countries have small but powerful elites that resist change
in order to keep their special status or wealth.  Finally, any
government  that  tolerates  or  abets  large  scale  injustice  or
corruption is vulnerable to revolution.
     Given the assumption that U.S. leaders better understand the
strategy, tactics, and causes of revolutionary wars than they did
before and during the Vietnam War, is it likely or wise for the
U.S. to get involved in future such conflicts?  The "wise" portion
of the question is arguable, but the "likely" half of the question
has to be--sooner or later.  The U.S. is, after all, a superpower
with allies that count on her and national interests that demand
attention.  Or, as  better stated in the National Security Strategy
of the United States:
        "Fortress  America"  is  an  obsolete  concept.
        Such a policy would be dangerously misguided
        and self-defeating.  Solidarity with our allies
        multiplies the strength of all.  It permits a
        sharing of responsibilities and it reminds us
        that the cause of democracies is, after all,
        one of our most fundamental goals.16
As just about every thinking person realizes, the nations of the
world are too interdependent and the interests of the United States
too far reaching for America to hide behind her ocean moats.  Not
only should the United States not hide, she should not hesitate to
assist other nations or peoples who share or wish to share the
enduring values we as a nation hold dear--"values such as human
dignity, personal  freedom,  individual  rights,  the  pursuit  of
happiness, peace and prosperity."17
     So, it is not only likely the United States will assist other
nations in the future, it is an obligation we as a people should
not shirk.  The question still remains though, can we assist others
wisely.  And, perhaps just as important, will the American people
support that assistance?  The answer to both questions is yes.
Certainly the end result of the Grenada operation improved the lot
of her people while also serving our national interests.  The
operation also had the widespread support of the U.S. population.
Another operation that had the support of the American people was
the  1989  intervention  in  Panama.   The  vast  majority  of  the
Panamanian people welcomed the U.S. military with open arms.
David Broder wrote in the Washington Post:  "Panama represents the
best evidence yet that, 15  years  after  the  Vietnam  War  ended,
Americans  really  have  come  together  in  recognition  of  the
circumstances in which military intervention makes sense."18
     Here we should exercise some caution and take care not to fall
back into the mind set that got us mired down  in  Vietnam.   We 
should remember the value of humility and refrain from thinking
of ourselves as morally, politically or militarily superior to
others.   Out military and civilian leaders need to educate the
public on what the Grenada, Libyan, and Panamanian operations were
and what they were not.   They might have been LIC operations, but
they most certainly were not examples of revolutionary warfare.
As discussed earlier in this paper, revolutionary warfare takes
years if not decades to defeat.   And, as Bernard Fall so adeptly
        I have emphasized that the straight military
        aspects,  or  the  conventional  aspects  of
        insurgency,  are  not  the  most  important.
        ...Whether  it  is  the  Congo, Viet-Nam  or
        Venezuela, is totally irrelevant.  Whether we
        have the "body count," the "kill count," the
        "structure count," or the "weapons count"--
        these are almost meaningless considerations in
        an insurgency.19
To win revolutionary wars it will take all the elements of national
power--political, social, economic, and military.  It will require
that the American people, the U.S. Congress, and the news media
support the effort.
     A successful effort will also require the government facing
a revolutionary threat to take a good hard look at their internal
situation.  There is no substitute for a strong, efficient, fair
police.    Corruption  in  government  has  to  be  held  in  check.
Fighting guerrillas with masses of men and equipment will not work.
The government will have to get and keep the trust of their people.
Most  important  of  all, a  revolutionary  war  movement  cannot  be
beaten unless the people have some stake and incentive to put forth
the necessary sacrifice and effort to defeat the revolutionaries.
     Know your enemy and know yourself.  Simple words that are hard 
to live by.  Nevertheless, making an honest effort at applying
those words can pay great dividends in the future for the United
States.  Remember, revolutionaries make mistakes and fail.  Bernard
Fall once again:
        Some of these wars, of course, can be won, as
        in the Philippines, for example.  The war was
        won there not through military action (there
        wasn't a single special rifle invented for the
        Philippines,  let  alone  more  sophisticated
        ordnance)  but  through  and  extremely  well-
        conceived Civic Action program and, of course,
        a good leader--Magsaysay.20
     Asked to define or describe revolutionary warfare, the average
American citizen would probably give a blank stare.  A relatively
small percentage might not be able to define revolutionary warfare
but  would  at  least  attempt  to  give  what  they  consider  an
example--probably  the  American, French  or  Russian  Revolutions.
Guerrilla warfare would probably be the favorite answer of most
responding, and terrorism would be the likely answer of a few
others.  In other words, most Americans would be unable to define
or describe the most significant military and social trend of the
20th  century.   That  lack  of  understanding  exists  despite  the 
tremendous impact revolutionary warfare has had on American society
during the last thirty years.  One only has to mention Vietnam,
Nicaragua, Cuba, and Afghanistan to develop an appreciation for the
effect  revolutionary  warfare  has  had  on  the  domestic  and
international relationships of the United States.  Obviously, our
democratic  form  of  government  demands  an  informed  citizenry.
Therefore, civilian and military officials as well as concerned
citizens must come to grips with revolutionary warfare if we are
to make rational, prudent decisions on national security issues.
To do less only increases the prospect that we as a nation will
fail to understand the forces that shape our world and, eventually,
lose control of our own destiny.
 1.  Mao Tse-tung, Mao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare.  Translation
        and Introduction by BGen Samuel B. Griffith, USMC (Ret.),
        (Frederick A. Praeger, New York, (1962), p. 49.
 2.  Hans H. Heymann, Jr. and W.W. Whitson, Can and Should the
        United States Preserve A Military Capability for
        Revolutionary Conflict?, (Rand Corporation, Santa Monica,
        CA, 1972), p. 5.
 3.  Mao Tse-tung, p. 49.
 4.  John Shy and Thomas W. Collier, "Revolutionary War," Makers of
        Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age,
        (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1986) p. 822.
 5.  Shy and Collier, p. 823.
 6.  Shy and Collier, p. 823. 
 7.  Douglas M. Craver,"Evolution of Revolutionary Violence,"
        History of Revolutionary Warfare, Vol. I, (United States
        Military Academy, West Point, New York, 1984) p. 6-4.
 8.  Shy and Collier, p. 823.              
 9.  Shy and Collier, p. 822.              
10.  Shy and Collier, p. 838.              
11.  Mao Tse-tung, p. 7.              
12.  Heymann and Whitson, p. 54.
13.  Mao Tse-tung, p. 89.
14  Mao Tse-tung, p. 41 and 43.
15.  William H. Burgess III and Peter F. Bahnsen, "Twelve Rules for
        Obtaining U.S. Support," Military Review, (Jan 1990) p. 62.
16.  National Security Strategy of the United States, The White
        House, (Jan. 1986) p. 2.
17.  National Security Strategy of the United States, The White
        House, p. 3.
18.  David S, Broder, "Panama:  An Intervention That Made Sense,"
        The Washington Post, (Jan. 14, 1990) p. B7.
19.  Bernard B. Fall, "Theory and Practice of Insurgency and
        Counterinsurgency," History of Revolutionary Warfare Vol.
        1, (United States Military Academy, West Point, New York,
        1984), p. 9-8
20.  Fall, p. 9-9.
Beals, Carleton,  The  Nature  of  Revolution,  Thomas  Y. Crowell
        Company, New York, 1970.
Broder, David S., "Panama:  An Intervention That Made Sense," The
        Washington Post, (Jan 14, 1990), p. B7.
Burgess, Willian H. and Bahnsen,  Peter F., "Twelve Rules for
        Obtaining U.S. Support," Military Review, (Jan 1990),
        p. 61-71.
Burton, Anthony, Revolutionary Violence, Crane, Russak & Company,
        New York, 1978.
Cooper, Bert H., "Malaya (1946-1960)," History of Revolutionary
        Warfare, Vol. IV, (United States Military Academy, West Point,
        New York, 1984), p. 2-1 to 3-1.
Fall, Bernard B.,  "Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Count-
        insurgency," History of Revolutionary Warfare, Vol. I,
        (United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, 1984),
        p. 9-1 to 10-1.
Gall, Norman, "The Legacy of Che Guevara," History of Revolutionary
        Warfare, Vol. VI, (United States Military Academy, West Point,
        New York, 1984), p. 3-1 to 4-1.
Guevara, Che, Che Guevara On Guerrilla Warfare, with Introduction
        by Major Harries-Clichy  Peterson,  USMCR.   Frederick  A.
        Praeger, New York, 1961.
Heymann, Hans H. and Whitson W. W., Can and Should the United
        States Preserve A Military Capability  for  Revolutionary
        Conflict?  (Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, Ca., 1972), p. 5.
Holt, Jimmie F., Lieutenant Colonel (P), US Army, "LIC in Central
        America:  Training Implications for the US Army," Military
        Review, (Mar 1990), p.2-16.
Kelly, George A., "Recipe For Action:  LA GUERRE REVOLUTIONNAIRE"
        History of Revolutinary Warfare, Vol.  IV, (United States
        Military Academy, West Point, New York, 1984), p. 155-170.
Moss, Robert, "Urban Guerrilla Warfare" History of Revolutionary
        Warfare, Vol, VI, (United States Military Academy, West Point,
        New York, 1964), p. 4-1 to 5-1.
National Security Strategy of the United States, The White House,
        (Jan 1988).
Paret, Peter, French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina  to
        Algeria, Fredirick A. Praeger, New York, 1964.
Prosch, Geoffrey G., Lt.Col. US Army and Zais, Mitchell M.,  Lt.
        Col. US Army, "Americam Will and the Vietnam War,"  Military
        Review, (Mar 1990), p. 71-81.
Shine, Alexander P., "Abetting Democratic Revolution in the Third
        World," Parameters, Vol. XX NO 1, (Mar 1990), p. 38-48.
Shy, John and Collier, Thomas W., "Revolutionary War," Makers of
        Modern  Strategy  from  Machiavelli  to  the  Nuclear  Age,
        (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1986), p. 815-862.
Summers, Harry C., On Strategy:  The Vietnam War In Context, reprint
        from (Department of the Army, US Army War College, Strategic
        Studies Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.), by Command and
        Staff College, Education Center, MCDEC, Quantico, Va., 1983.
Tse-tung, Mao, Mao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare.   Translation
        and Introduction by BGen Samuel B. Griffith, USMC (Ret.),
        Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1962.
Woodmansee, J. W., Major, US Army, "Algeria (1956-62)," History of
        Revolutionary  Warfare,  Vol.  IV,  (United  States  Military
        Academy, West Point, New York, 1984), p. 97-130.

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