Guerrilla Warfare

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  • S. Vikaram Kumar asked: In the book on Guerrilla Warfare, what was Mao referring to when he talked of interior lines, exterior lines and enemy's rear?

    Vivek Chadha replies: Mao and other strategists have spoken of interior and exterior lines as part of their strategy to defeat an adversary. In Mao's context, he applied this thought from the position of a larger though poorly trained army pitched against a numerically inferior but better-trained Japanese force. He realised that with "tactical speed", which is conduct of operations at greater levels with speed, he would be able to hit the Japanese at a number of vulnerable points along the periphery of their positions, maintaining an offensive character of operations. The control over interior lines, which are better coordinated through communication inter-linkages and cohesion, would subsequently require a strategic victory to finally defeat an enemy after it has been suitably weakened.

    In order to easily represent it diagrammatically, it can be seen as:

    The rear is considered as the area behind the enemy lines in a case where the gulf of defences and resources point in the opposite direction.

    Time Factor in Insurrections

    May 2008

    Conceptualisations of Guerrilla Warfare

    Guerrilla warfare is not a new phenomenon and history is witness to its repeated occurrence. In the modern era, it acquired prominence during the Napoleonic Wars which led to an examination of its role by leading nineteenth-century thinkers including Clausewitz, Jomini, Marx and Engels. Over the course of the subsequent century, the concept and practice of guerrilla warfare was integrated within social, economic and political programmes that aimed to overthrow established authority and transform society through an armed struggle.

    April 2003

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