Lessons for Iraq in the Communist insurgencies (letter)by Michael GleesonNews Weekly
, October 23, 2004
In relation to Iraq, the United States should examine the lessons of the insurgencies in South-East Asia in the 1960s.
The Communist victory in South Vietnam was obtained by the use of terror at village level.
During the three years, 1957 to 1959, the number of Government officials, their wives and children murdered by the communists were 200, 1,200 and 2,500.
In 1960, the figure soared to 4,000, and then went on rising, sometimes reaching more than 100 deaths each day.
Once this level of political murder is reached, it is almost impossible to get anyone to publicly oppose the insurgents at village or town level.
A large and well-armed police force, backed up by highly disciplined infantry troops and fast-moving heavy armour, is necessary to allow administrative officials to sleep in safety in the villages and towns.
During the Communist insurgency in Malaya, from 1948 to 1960, the strength of the police forces was raised from 9,000 to 60,000; and crack British troops, such as the Gordon Highlanders, as well as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, were sent in to assist the police.
An excellent account of the defeat of the insurgency in Malaya in contained in The Long, Long War
by Richard Clutterbuck (Cassell).
The lesson for Iraq is that we must expect the insurgency to employ terror as a means of intimidating the population, and to force the withdrawal of Coalition forces.
This challenge can be met through the use of sufficient military force, by attempting to separate the insurgents from their base of support, and through political reform which undermines the legitimacy of the insurgency.
This requires continued support from the people in Australia, America and Great Britain, until the back of the insurgency is broken.Michael Gleeson,