Recommended Books on Guerrilla Warfare.

In this «blog» I present since a long time ago, a list of «recommended books on military theory «, that is very visited. I have to admit, as a deficiency, that in it I have not included any book on the guerrilla warfare. The actual, historical and social importance of the irregular war phenomenon is unquestionable. And, nowadays, almost all the «guerrillas» are easily called «terrorist». It was what the colonial powers were doing with the national movements of liberation in the 40s, 50s and 60s of last century. It was what Napoleon’s Frenchmen did in Spain since 1808. Spoiling with it the objective and theoretical approach that must preside any serious approximation for the liquidation and popular eradication of the rebellious armed «outbreak». I want to correct now the mistake and to specially extend my commentary on the topic.


The guerrilla warfare is so ancient as the humanity. Probably it arose simultaneously and successively in numerous human primitive dispersed settlements. In those somebody, not necessarily a coward or a weakling, decided not to risk being suffered wounds and mutilations, so frequent and shared, in the so called «singular fights». So he attacked his enemy, waiting for him ambushed and by means of an unexpected cudgel blow.

These intelligent actions were also the first stammering applications of the so called «maneuver warfare«. In which we try to surprise and to overcome the enemy from a «position» or «attitude» of advantage. For, finally and achieving the decision, to finish off him or, at least, to give him in to our will. This latter inevitable part is the one that sometimes neglects too much the «theory» of the «maneuvers warfare». Without accepting clearly and completely that both expressions are opposite and complementary, but not antagonistic, «forms», as both reins of a horse cart, of the better called «modern warfare«.

During the World War II and in the following stage called of «decolonization of the peoples», the guerrillas had a spectacular bloom, through all the continents and in almost all the types of political systems. It turned into the fighting way of the weakest militarily speaking. And it turned out to be often effective. This established its freedom fighting «halo», a bar and armchair romanticism and a mirror of a certain generational unconformity. Nowadays, at the ever present guerrilla war, some overseas theoretic call it pompously and pedantically «asymmetric warfare». They are the same experts who also call it the «fourth generation warfare«. As if they had discovered the phenomenon of the «social political irregular military warfare». And they return to put in the side of the villains, without any exception, as the colonialist nations did in the 40s, 50s and 60s of last century, to whom tackle it.

The Terrorists and Legitimate Belligerents in the Guerrilla Warfare.

Terrorist is who systematic and deliberately uses the physical violence against non military or non fighters enemy personal targets. Looking with it to extend the fear, the discouragement, the paralysis or the ruin to a whole society, an ethnic group, a social national demarcation. The terrorist makes of the enemy unarmed civilians his principal goals. For the high benefit that he obtains this way for his interests, in hurts, mutilations and deaths, and the high safety that these actions carry to him during their execution. The terrorist is usually a religious or ideological fanatic. The cognitive twisting that suffers, derived from his amoral perversion, makes him to perceive in a very special, subjective and faulty way, the facts and the objective elements that define and frame, the always complex conflicts and sociological realities of the countries, religions and races.

It appears immediately in the irregular political military revolt, the problem of the legitimacy of the armed belligerency. Not everyone that rise up in arms, to defend some ideas or to protect some rights or some people, makes it legal and legitimately. The Conventions of Geneva and of The Hague establish some juridical procedures that frame the legal legitimacy of the armed fighting.

The irregular forces must go uniformed, carrying their weapons at sight and commanded by their chiefs. Is this sufficient? Well, no. Some groups of armed drug-traffickers also go this way. It is necessary also that the guerrillas, the national guard, the Home Guard, the self-defense forces of the people or of the territory, etc. do it in name and authorized by a established state. That occupies with sovereignty, at least, a part of his national territory. This condition is so restrictive that, during the Second World War, only the partisans or Soviet guerrillas fulfilled this requirement.

On the other hand, the fact that they are illegal fighters or not legally recognized, does not directly and socially assimilate them to bandits or criminals. This way, often, in altars of the social peace and of not enraging the civil protracted armed fighting, the governments agree to carry out their counter guerrilla campaign, without exasperate the used military methods and the spirits of the persecuted ones.

The more recommended books.

The «Partisan Warfare» book of the academician Otto Heilbrunn treats extensively the complex phenomenon of the guerrilla war, up to reaching the depth of an Treaty on the topic. It is based on the Communist model and, more particularly, on its Asian outbreaks in the middle of the last century: Mao’s China and the experience of the Vietminh of Nguyen Giap against the Frenchmen, the Americans and his compatriots.

This is profitably completed with the two volumes’ work «War in the Shadows» by Robert Asprey. That treats through not very long chapters the guerrilla war along the numerous and different historical stages. And that dedicates a big enough extension to the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences. Probably because they are more contemporary and there exists on them more material.

I, in my military theory book «On the Nature of War», dedicate a sufficient annex to expound out the tactical, operative and strategic aspects of the guerrilla warfare. And those of the effective counterguerrilla multiple and diverse fighting. Basing on the facts described by these and other authors.

With all this, we will have a rich theoretical base of the social, political and military mechanisms of the guerrilla warfare. And of the war sustained in multiple fronts against this kind of irregular armed fight. And a sufficient, but very wealth-producing reference, by its brushstrokes and specific circumstances, of the path of the phenomenon that we treat. With its intermittent and recurrent appearance along the History.

In another level, it is also very interesting the book «Guerrilla Warfare» by the general Georgios Grivas (alias, Dighemis, name of war). Why? For several reasons. The National Organization of the Cypriot Fighting or Ethniki Organosis Kipriahou Agonos (more known between ourselves as E. O. K. A.), organized and carried out for forty six and a half months, an independent nationalist guerrilla campaign. That was alien to the numerous communist experiences «of national liberation» of the epoch. These last very rarely were appearing before their peoples, precisely and openly, as «Marxists Leninist». They did so in Greece between 1946 and 1949 and in Malaysia between 1947 and 1960. And, in both cases, they were defeated and liquidated. And, precisely, by the British Army.

The Cypriot guerrilla was a guerrilla limited to a small, too small country, with an extension of only 9300 Km2. One of the initial conditions that Mao Zedong was claiming for the beginning and later strengthening of the guerrillas, was that their country had depth, extension. That allowed the guerrillas to establish thier first refuge bases, in zones protected by its inaccessibility. The Cypriots carried out a difficult guerrilla war, for the scanty of the countryside, their limited resources (approximately 600 thousand inhabitants, and a part was the Turkish community), the force of the enemy and the lack of good hiding places, circumscribed principally to Troodos’s volcanic clump, at the south of the island and with great mining wealth, crowned by the mount Olympus of 1953 m. of altitude. The daily Londoner «Daily Herald» published that a marshall, three generals and forty thousand British soldiers were not capable of defeating the EOKA. It seems that the marshal Montgomery declared that «the EOKA was strategically unbeatable». Finally, the Greek Cypriots did not obtain the Enosis, or political union with Greece, but the independence of their island from Great Britain.

Why did Cypriots triumph? Because the Greek Cypriot people was firmily and culturaly tied and melted (in this help the undubitable support of the Ortodoxian Church, directed by Nicosia’s Archbishop Macarius, later the first President of the Pepublic of Cyprius) to his scanty, effective, motivated and long-suffering guerrillas. And so, in spite of the fact that the Turkish Cypriots collaborated with the British and that the EOKA had to distract in several moments part of her scanty resources to neutralize them. The guerrilla elementary action groups were formed by 4 to 6 men; those who could hide together and without cohesion loses in the group. For the major actions 2 or 3 guerrilla groups were meeting for and coordinating by a superior operational command. Because their guerrilla organization was sufficient, well constructed and very flexible. Because their commands knew their weaknesses, which were great, and so defined a strategic sufficient goal: To get and keep a military suitable and indefinite pressure, by means of military actions, sabotages, propaganda and popular actions, destined to tire and discourage the British and their Government. Grivas, in his «General Plan for the Revolutionary Action in Cyprus» was emphasizing, «it is not necessary to believe that we, by means of this way and procedures could get a material and total defeat of the English forces in Cyprus. We rather look for their moral defeat, harassing and upsetting them in such a way that, ultimately, we obtain the objective of the fighting. That was until the end our strategic goal. We owe the success to the fact of having stuck firmly to it».