Archive for the 'Military' Category


Civilian Soldier

I was browsing some of Jeff Cooper’s commentaries and found this which dovetails nicely with the current subject. Enjoy!

In studying into the background material for the forthcoming Babamkulu Enterprise in Africa next year, I have gone rather deeply into the two startling British reverses in 1881 at Laing’s Nek and Majuba Hill. (We plan to visit the sites next May.) These two incidents took place on adjoining terrain within three days of each other and point to lessons which should have been learned a century ago, but still have not got across to many people who should know about them.

Consider the “butcher’s bill.” At Laing’s Nek the British attacked a Boer defensive position at a crest of a saddle (nek is what we would call a saddle in the American West) with about 450 men, following a small but violent artillery preparation. They were repulsed with a loss of 150 dead – against 14 for the Boers. On the occasion immediately following, the British seized Majuba Hill by means of a night march involving something over 500 soldiers. In the morning, they were thrown off the hill by a Boer force of about the same size. In this action the British lost 280 dead, including their commanding general. The Boers lost one man, plus another who died some days later of his wounds.

Now, just what was going on here? This was a rifleman’s war, and the people on both sides used personal weapons of about the same character – breech loading single-shots using large-caliber black-powder cartridges rather similar to the American 45-70. In the first instance, the British were attacking and they were smashed. In the second instance, the British were defending and they were also smashed. Wherein lay the advantage? Odd as it may seem, it is my opinion that this tremendous disparity in efficiency derived from the fact that the British were soldiers and the Boers were civilians.

The British troupers were “soldiers of the Queen” from the Kipling period in India. They dressed well, marched well and did not lack for courage. What they did not do was shoot well. They were given pretty good guns and they were taught to load them, shoot them, and maintain them, more or less by the numbers, but being taught to shoot on the range in the military is not the same as being brought up with a rifle.

The Boers were by no means soldiers. They were pioneer farmers and the sons of farmers. They were reluctant to slaughter their own livestock when the countryside provided them with unlimited game. Their ammunition was always scarce and hard to come by. They had learned from childhood to hit what they shot at – every time. They shot to put meat on the table, and they shot on Sunday afternoons for prizes. Across the board, they may have been the finest body of marksmen ever fielded by any nation at any time. Their marksmanship was practical marksmanship, such as I have been endeavoring to teach throughout the latter half of my life. They seemed to have understood fully the basic rule of the rifleman, which is only hits count. (Funny how that principle was brought back to us from Grenada and Panama.)

The British had organization, discipline, resupply, signals and some artillery support. The Boers had their rifles, their horses, their biltong and their skill. They had no uniforms and they had only the vaguest sense of organization. The British regarded them as a bunch of uncouth, ignorant, illiterate peasants who could never stand up to the might of the British Empire.

And see the results! Using approximately equal weapons, the civilians shot the soldiers to pieces – on both offense and defense.

The lessons that ought to be learned here, I think, are three. First, men fight their very best when they fight to defend their homelands against a foreign invader. Second, when it comes to imparting of skill the public sector can never equal the private. Third, marksmanship is an art to be cultivated rather than a commodity to be issued.

And, just think of it, the British never complained to the media about being outgunned!


Hutaree Militia And Che Guevara

I was waiting to post on this until some of the information was more established as the first reports are fairly reliably wrong. First report I read was that they were being arrested due to threats against muslims. Now the official story is that they were planning to kill cops.

First off, I think that a name is important. Hutaree. Supposedly means Christian Warrior and as an aside I’d like to know in what language that is. Names are important as they will be remembered down the road and become rallying cries like “Remember the Alamo!” Remember the Hutaree doesn’t have the same ring however and it would be hard to have a rebellion rise up around it. Perhaps if they dropped the “ee” at the end? Then the cry would be “Remember the Hutars” which of course would be pronounced “Hooters” and if ever there were a cry to rally around, that would be it. I mean, hooters regularly get a rise out of guys and the revolution would be over in a short period of time, tho no doubt many guys would be confused as to just what they were fighting for.

But on a more serious note, I have some doubts. The official story is that this group was planning this for two years? Seriously? Thats an awful long time to plan something so simple. Kill one person, wait a week, kill a bunch more then retreat and make a stand? That doesn’t require two years planning. Also, they were contemplating killing police for two years, but offered up no resistance when those same police came to arrest them? I don’t think so. It seems HIGHLY unlikely to me that of 9 members, all of whom are supposedly plotting copicide, not one makes a stand and are all meekly arrested.

Oh, and then there is the timing of the whole thing. Nothing quite like bombing an aspirin factory finding terrorists just in time to save yourself from being impeached deflect the populaces attention from the government takeover of two industries in a week, health care and student loans.

But lets look at some mistakes they made, assuming the official story is correct:

They were looking to spark a rebellion:
That won’t happen with violence perpetrated initially by the civilians. Look at the following quote from Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare

Naturally, it is not to be thought that all conditions for revolution are going to be created through the impulse given to them by guerrilla activity. It must always be kept in mind that there is a necessary minimum without which the establishment and consolidation of the first center is not practicable. People must see clearly the futility of maintaining the fight for social goals within the framework of civil debate. When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken.
In these conditions popular discontent expresses itself in more active forms. An attitude of resistance finally crystallizes in an outbreak of fighting, provoked initially by the conduct of the authorities.
Where a government has come into power through some form of popular vote, fraudulent or not, and maintains at least an appearance of constitutional legality, the guerrilla outbreak cannot be promoted, since the possibilities of peaceful struggle have not yet been exhausted.

(emphasis mine)
Che brings up an important point and something that we can see from our successful rebellion from England. We tried to work within the system and exhausted all peaceable options and only then was armed resistance a tool that the people would accept. The was the point our Founding Fathers were at when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. They had exhausted all reasonable means and saw no other way to have their concerns heard but to separate from their parent country.

The Hutaree also made their plans too widely known:
At least nine people have been arrested at this point. That is really more people than should be involved in an urban/suburban cell. To quote again from Che:

[The suburban guerrilla band] ought not to number more than four or five men. The limitation on numbers is important, because the suburban guerrilla must be considered as situated in exceptionally unfavorable ground, where the vigilance of the enemy will be much greater and the possibilities of reprisals as well as of betrayal are increased enormously.

Apparently the ex-wife of the leader, Captain Hutaree, was not being paid chilimony and yet she knew of their intent? Yeah. Not an overly bright leader if all is as the media has it. And if the media indeed has it right, it casts another doubt about their ability to do real harm.