No safe place.
Due to the continued plunge into “The War on Terror” and the different conflicts the West has started, become involved with, or prolonged; a series of terms have lost their meaning. The meanings are important. It is fundamentally impossible to understand the nature of many of today’s conflicts because the terms defining them are muddled and lead people to believe a cookie cutter response is appropriate.
The response that may destroy an organization engaging in guerrilla warfare will strengthen a terrorist group. In some cases a certain response can turn a guerrilla group into a terrorist group. The tactics used to disrupt a terrorist group will typically have little or no impact on a mature guerrilla group. Understanding the definitions of political violence are essential to understanding a world steeped in it.
One of the overriding questions when discussing an insurgency within the United States has always been the debate over how the military would respond. Those who hope for the military to break ranks and join the resistance will be disappointed. Those who would believe the military will employ surgical strikes to remove dissidents through technology will be surprised. The American people don’t have to guess how the US military would respond any longer. Two respected academics chose to war game a scenario using the United States Operating Concept (2010) as a guide.
The first thing to understand about an insurrection is that it isn’t terrorism. The terms are often used interchangeably by the media, but there is a significant difference.
This article was prompted by a reader question. It was a simple question, but the phrasing of the question made me take notice. So much of what I write in regards to tactics is for people who already have a good base of knowledge. This wasn’t a question about how to perform a technically advanced maneuver. It wasn’t posed by a militant. It was posed by a mom. “Will you write an article on how to survive an insurrection?” The question isn’t about how to fight and win an insurgency. It wasn’t about how to overthrow a government or complete some revolutionary goal. It was simply asking how to make it through.
These guidelines are for people who don’t want to become involved. They are for those who are simply getting caught in the crossfire of the revolutionary fervor circling the globe. Many of those I asked for input for this article were a bit snippy. Statements like “they should get training” or “they need to pick a side” were common. As I have pointed out repeatedly in articles dealing with insurgency, untrained or undedicated people do one thing really well in combat: die. It’s not our place to force people into conflict. More importantly, we need to remember why these revolutions occur and why militants take the stands they do. A John Adams quote springs to mind:
The term “martial law” is thrown around so much that it seems to have lost its meaning. Martial law is military control of normal judicial functions. It doesn’t mean a curfew is in effect. It doesn’t mean the militarization of police. It requires military involvement. The threat of martial law is a cornerstone of many theories about designs for the United States.
Martial law will not occur in the United States. Period. The number of troops required to enact martial law is astronomical. In a recent article, the number of troops necessary to establish counter-insurgency operations in the United States was discussed.