Friday, December 14, 2007

What Do Che Guevara And The CIA Have In Common? (COIN: CARL)

They have both written manuals on staging a revolution! The good people at the Combined Arms Research Library have made available online both Guevara's 1961 text, "Guerrilla Warfare" (direct download here) and the CIA's 1984 book used by the Contras titled, "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare" (direct download here).

The two texts overlap only in areas. Guevara's book is a more complete manual for the revolutionary while the CIA text is more about crafting the message of the revolutionary forces. There are, however, a number of interesting sections that will resonate with today's COIN specialists. I found Guevara's section on intelligence (which he begins with a quote from Sun Tzu: Know yourself and your adversary and you will be able to fight a hundred battles without a single disaster.) to be the most interesting. Here are a few highlights:

  • "Nothing gives more help to combatant forces than correct information. This arrives spontaneously from the local inhabitants, who will come to tell its friendly army, its allies, what is happening in various places; but in addition it should be completely systematized."
  • "Men and women, especially women, should infiltrate; they should be in permanent contact with soldiers and gradually discover what there is to be discovered."
  • "The peasants, not accustomed to precise battle language, have a strong tendency to exaggerate, so their reports must be checked."
The CIA manual contains a number of interesting nuggets as well:
  • "Every member of the struggle should know that his political mission is as important as, if not more important than, his tactical mission."
  • "Armed propaganda in small towns, rural villages, and city residential districts should give the impression that our weapons are not for exercising power over the people, but rather that the weapons are for protecting the people..."
  • "Cover ("Facade") Organizations. The fusion of several organizations and associations recognized by the government, through internal subjective control, occurs in the final stages of the operation, in close cooperation with mass meetings."
  • "Control Of Mass Demonstrations. The mixture of elements of the struggle with participants in the demonstration will give the appearance of a spontaneous demonstration, lacking direction, which will be used by the agitators of the struggle to control the behavior of the masses."
  • "Too often we see guerrilla warfare only from the point of view of combat actions. This view is erroneous and extremely dangerous. Combat actions are not the key to victory in guerrilla warfare but rather form part of one of the six basic efforts. There is no priority in any of the efforts, but rather they should progress in a parallel manner. The emphasis or exclusion of any of these efforts could bring about serious difficulties, and in the worst of cases, even failure. The history of revolutionary wars has shown this reality."
By far, my favorite part of this text, however, is in the appendix which seeks to acquaint the revolutionary with the rhetorical practices of anaphora, prolepsis and preterition (among others). You kinda have to see it to believe it...

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