Why Not Learn To Fight Guerrillas From Vietnam Instead Of Cuba Or The United States?
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Guerrilla warfare is not just a tactic or a strategy but a matter of mentality, and only those who are good as guerrilla fighters are capable of understanding it and mount effective counter insurgency operations.
Sometimes, the meaning of guerrilla warfare is misinterpreted as terrorism and vice versa; sometimes, real COIN or COunterINsurgency operations take place, and sometimes those are designed just to look like them in order to advance other political or commercial goals like gaining influence over specific countries, sell them weapons, etc. that of course, will not necessarily fit well within a COIN scenario but will certainly produce handsome profits.
There are some historically-proven cases of nations that have used guerrilla - and sometimes terrorist - tactics effectively and then performed good and efficient COIN operations as conventional forces against irregulars: Vietnam, after fighting essentially as a nation in arms using a typical long-term guerrilla strategy went on to oust Pol Pot and its Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia - or Kampuchea, if you prefer -; they succeeded beyond anyone's expectations and its neighbouring country got rid of a nightmarish government.
But there are many cases of countries that have failed utterly in their attempts to fight guerrilla as well as terrorism, and the most notable is that of the United States because it was defeated in Vietnam, is being defeated in Iraq and those regimes and countries that they have "advised" on COIN operations almost never attained reasonable degrees of success.
Latin America is a region where the U.S.A. has "advised" more than a regime that fell catastrophically: Batista's Cuba and Somosa's Nicaragua are just two examples. Colombia is a half-a-century-long fiasco no matter how much advice, helicopters, rifles or uniforms they get from their U.S. allies.
The case of Nicaragua is interesting in this regard, for Somoza fell after receiving a good deal of advice and support from the United States, and then the sandinistas got defeated by the U.S. and Honduras backed "Contras" despite the fact that the Cubans and Soviets went to "advice" Daniel Ortega and his supporters. And in cases like El Salvador and Guatemala, while doubtlessly guerrillas and terrorists were defeated militarily, the abuses in terms of human rights violations were so profound that it is only fair to say that if not a victory, the leftist fighters and ideologists attained remarkable success.
In order to be fair, one has to say that we shall not forget the Cuban fiascos at Angola and Grenada, where they also failed in their attempts at pocket imperialism much like their loathed neighbours a little up north.
In other words, nations could well do without the "advice" of most "experts" in the field of unconventional warfare and counter insurgency operations because their expertise seems to end like the hand shake of a bear. There are very few countries that could show a resume of effectiveness in this department, and in this sense I would suggest that instead of wanting U.S. or Cuban expertise in this matter, strategist should go to Vietnam and talk to their military because they have shown to have really clear ideas about the issue.
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