The Efficacy of Insurgency in Modern America – Part 2, by Just A Dad

(Continued from Part 1.)

Insurgencies can be won in many ways, “including overthrow of the government, successful annexation of independent territory, a marked recognition of minority rights or property rights, or, for the purposes of this study, dramatic political success.” (Connable & Libicki, 2010) Within the United States one could win an insurgency by utilizing a number of the following approaches, or all of them. Ensuring property rights that have been taken by the current government are reinstated. Guaranteeing that regardless of race, color, creed, or religion one would be fully accepted as long as they followed the basic tenets given. Guaranteeing all persons have equal voice and getting rid of the currently bloated overreaching government as it exists now. Reinstating the complete total rights of all felons who were incarcerated for “victimless” crimes. Reducing, dismantling or completely changing the current system of laws. Any one or all of these could be incorporated into the initial statements released to people to gain support.

Keeping these commitments would be essential to the success of the venture.

A successful insurgency in the United States would require a large base of disenfranchised individuals in reasonable location to each other to support it. For example, the U.S. Civil War of the 1860s is the best example of this, though the initial belligerents failed. The Northern states gained an upper hand when they utilized what is known today as virtue signaling to rally support. By freeing only the slaves in those states that were in rebellion, Lincoln destabilized the South. And with the massive influx of recruits in the form of Europeans fleeing famine alongside the industrial ability of the North and you have a recipe for disaster that the South was unable to overcome. Such issues would need to be avoided for any modern insurgency to survive and win in the United States. Obviously, slavery is no longer an issue. However, there are other issues that could and would be used in the same way today.

Zambri notes: “In many cases, governmental institutions could not keep pace with societal change, leading to disorder and instability. This instability left societies vulnerable to insurgent influences. Insurgents could thus take advantage of this flux to gain popular support, by promising alternatives to the government. The government, unable to ameliorate the problems of the population, would increasingly be isolated and weakened. ” (Zambri, et al., 2017) This single phrase explains how a group could effectively engage in insurgency against the current government of the United States. Current state governments of world powers are bloated monstrosities that fail in almost every metric to engage the public. In fact the current sitting government (elected individuals) hold some of the worst approval ratings in history, and yes, this is all of them not just one party or branch.

Successful insurgency requires the same items that successful business requires: Hard work, money, support, and luck in timing.


Understanding the population of the region where one decides to form the base for an insurgency is absolutely essential to its success. Attempting to draw support from middle and upper-class individuals in largely urban environments would see negative results. Drawing support from working-class but poor urbanites and rural working-class would have far better results. This is why many insurgencies that have been successful were based originally in the ghettos and rural areas of the nations that they eventually claimed. Having a gifted statesman (this includes men and women) at the helm would be essential. Magnetic personalities would be the greatest asset in today’s world of social media.

Self-Restraint in Use of Force

Use of force should be avoided whenever possible, simply because this would have negative effects on the population and would be difficult, though not impossible, to maintain and win in the long term. Control of major ports of entry, supply lines, and communication hubs.

It would be essential to control communications. The utilization of ham radios and rotating communication approaches would make it difficult for the military and police to dominate the radio spectrum. Using small unit tactics to disrupt government supply lines and terminate political figures and high ranking desk-bound commanders could help assist in fomenting dissension in their own ranks. Understanding that this would be attempted against us would also be necessary to prepare for. One popular approach could be spreading the leadership between several individuals using a line of succession similar to what exists in the United States military and in the Federal executive branch. Unlike the government approach, this would be known and accepted but not recorded and specifics should be kept closely guarded.

All governments move slower than individuals. However, most governments hold an overwhelming amount of power as well. Using quick strikes a coup could be successful in the United States because so many active-duty troops are deployed abroad. This would however mean potentially reducing the effectiveness of the coup due to lack of support garnered. If you were able to whip up support quickly without hinting at objectives including a coup and then rely on that support after the coup, it could be highly successful. Again, it comes back to understanding human nature and current cultural and societal approaches. Current political views within the United States are all supportive of some form of government, the differences are simply a matter of which government is supported, and by whom.

Physical rebellion against the current government of the United States, indeed any modern government across the world would be difficult with untrained or under-trained rebels. But this would not be impossible, and in fact would likely be far easier than many believe it could be. Again, it is essential to understand the needs of a modern military and police force, specifically in the United States. In the following section, we will look at several specific areas including, individual physical ability, monetary ability, supply ability, leadership ability, and the driving forces for both sides.

Considering Police Forces

Civilians in the United States are in some respects quite well trained. In fact, those individuals most likely or able to carry arms in defiance of the government in an armed capacity will be quite well trained. While their overall physical ability will be as a general rule far less than of the average military unit, issues like added weight and reduced stamina are actually very short-lived problems. It would only take a few weeks or even days in some cases to reduce added weight and build necessary muscle mass. Small arms training is arguably better among civilians. While special military and law enforcement units do receive training that puts them far above most other competitors, these units are numerically irrelevant. In some of the most recently available headcounts provided by government statistics we see that police personnel in the United States number around 1 to 1.5 million sworn officers. Of this number, there are around 686,000 full-time officers. (Duffin, 2018)

Looking at the numbers available we quickly see that special tactical units such as SWAT teams are found in approximately 61% of the departments around the nation. Another 31% participate in multi-agency SWAT teams and 9% have no access to SWAT teams. Of those who have teams, 90% are part-time members of SWAT teams, 3% are full-time members. (“National Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) study”, 2013) Large urban areas, cities with populations over one million, generally have the best trained, supplied, and funded SWAT teams. Rural and suburban areas generally rely on inter-agency cooperation and mixed-use teams and tend to have less training, with more resources going toward training SAR teams, e.g., Search and Rescue. Many of these teams have civilian volunteers at their core. In fact, many sheriff and smaller police departments rely on community volunteers for tasks such as traffic control duty and administrative tasks.

Police Policy Differences

Law enforcement in the United States operates per their own state charters/constitutions. This means that except for centralized reporting or the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) most departments operate with their own individual written or unwritten policies. While sworn officers are mandated to uphold state laws, they are not always required to uphold federal laws as well. This means that an officer from New York City, while having similar training, will not be following the same approaches that an officer from Los Angeles will be. Recent changes to this can be seen with the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security, all departments now have liaisons from DHS within them which allows for ease of transition into more centralized approach if a State of Emergency is called. This is, however, with very few exceptions seen as unimportant by many officers.

Firearms training within law enforcement generally occurs twice a year with an average of 15 hours annually per officer. The same study, report shows that armed civilians tend to train an average of 23 times a year or twice a month. (Grossi, 2017) The United States military on the other hand does have significantly more training in combat applications. While not all troops receive regular ongoing or intensive training, the specialty units within all branches of service receive training that is equal to that of many national-level competitors within the firearms community. Current estimates for personnel assigned to all branches of the United States military services is 2,141,200. Of these, 1,281,900 are on active duty. Quantifying current numbers of special operations troops is more difficult. The number is small: Somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 in all branches of service.

These aforementioned numbers include administrative as well as hands-on warfighters.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 3.)

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