Guerrillas, raiders and terrorists have existed throughout history and their methods offer valuable military lessons, especially in our modern era of unconventional wars.
Some wars are waged without large and well-organized armies but still make a huge impact. Consider the nineteen al-Qaeda hijackers in the US who managed to start the global “War on Terror” in 2001, or the groups of angry civilians during the Arab Spring who overthrew their repressive governments over the past two years.
According to John Arquilla, professor of Defence Analysis at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, similar “irregular” wars have happened in the past, although they received little attention in the history books. With his latest book Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World, which was published last year, he has tried to fill this gap. As he explains: ‘While everybody knows the great captains of traditional warfare like Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick the Great, nobody really knows the great captains of irregular warfare and it’s about time, especially in an age where there are two dozen wars going on around the world and not one of them is a conventional one.’
Who has heard of Robert Rogers, Francisco Espozy Mina or Vo Nguyen Giap? Arquilla argues these masters of irregular warfare played crucial roles during the emergence of the United States, the defeat of Napoleon in Europe and the success of the Vietcong in the Vietnam War. In his book, he tells their stories and that of fifteen other influential guerrillas, raiders, and counterinsurgents of the past 250 years.
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