February 28, 2021

The Efficacy of Insurgency in Modern America – Part 3, by Just A Dad

(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)

Military Training

Standard training for United States military troops is commonly called boot camp, basic training, or some variation of this. This training takes place at any one of several forts and bases around the United States. It lasts between 8 and 10 weeks depending on which service branch is entered. All members of all branches receive basic firearms training using standard-issue rifles/carbines. Any additional training occurs depending on your rating, duty assignment, and abilities.

Handgun training is relatively rare in the U.S. military except for some members of units with handguns in their Tables of Organization and Equipment (TO&Es). Even those officers and NCOs issued handguns rarely get training equivalent to that of police departments in the United States. This is simply due to the roles required for each type of organization. In the military, handguns are considered backup weapons. But for police departments, they are primary weapons. Law Enforcement is not meant to be an assault force, while the military is. Handguns are defensive tools with limited range and stopping power while a rifle or carbine is far more suited to active combat situations.

Basic training in the military is a mixture of classroom learning, physical fitness, and a much smaller emphasis on firearms and tactics. Again, these are areas that are expanded based on duty assignment or individual abilities of the soldiers. More in-depth training in these areas tends to take place in additional qualification schools, over time. [JWR Adds:  Only a very small number of military service members ever receive sniper training.] More importantly, basic training and police academies are designed to institute in the soldiers and police officers obedience to their commanding officers, organizational rules, and the rule of law. Individual thought is not appreciated in the common soldier or police officer. Rather, that is allowed and sometimes promoted only when individuals gain in rank. This is a weakness and a strength for both military and Law Enforcement in the United States.

There are only a limited number of advanced-trained military and law enforcement in the United States. It is these units would be used to strike at known insurgent targets. To prevent being located and attacked, insurgents would need to restrict their radio communications and adopt a largely disconnected cellular organization. This could make it impossible to field larger units to combat.

For insurgents, striking at regular units would have only limited benefits. It would be better to instead strike at leaders — both elected and appointed. Several cells might briefly work together to strike at special counterinsurgency teams. This would mean a greater likelihood of taking casualties. However, it would also help lead to assistance from within by regular troops and law enforcement. It should be assumed that there is a percentage of military and law enforcement that would either refuse or even actively work with insurgents if they were ordered to pacify the United States as a whole. Disarming the citizenry is blatantly unconstitutional, so many in both the military and law enforcement would balk at it.

Civilian training in the United States is extremely uneven While there are hundreds of shooting schools teaching tens of thousands of people annually in the United States, the vast majority of gun owners have never taken a course of training. Some of them are former military and others are former law enforcement. Others compete in a variety of firearms-based competition. But even more of them engage in informal training that is equal to and even superior to that seen in all but the most advanced units of the military and law enforcement agencies. This author and other civilians have worked as civilian contractors training military and law enforcement in a variety of disciplines following the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. Prior to these attacks the military and law enforcement mandates were more structured and were not as interested in insurgency and counterinsurgency tactics.


American civilians tend to be extremely individualistic in their thoughts and action. This is both a strength and a weakness. Unlike many nations where citizens are expected to bow and scrape to authority, the United States holds a unique position. In a paper titled, Tooth to Tail Ratio, it was concluded that a force of 13.26 troops per one thousand of local population was the minimum size needed to counter any widespread insurgency.  This was based on historical precedent, with a minimum of 4.1 devoted to police duties and the rest of the force devoted to other tasks, as needed. (McGrath, 2007) In the United States we have 330,000,000+ citizens. Of these, roughly 40% of adult citizens own an estimated 395,000,000+ firearms.

To ensure compliance within the borders of the United States per current doctrine; 4,375,800 military and law enforcement would be needed. Of this number 1,353,000 would be necessary as active police. This is a similar number to what currently exists in the United States today with regards to active duty law enforcement. There would be a need for greater recruiting to meet the needs of a mission to disarm the population of the United States. Of course, this would mean that what currently keeps soldiers fighting and law enforcement operating would need to change as well. After all, this is the United States, by definition a far more difficult target for pacification than any other nation on the planet, except perhaps China, India, or Russia.

Armed, But Showing Restraint

Where civilians in the United States would hold the greatest advantage would be in terms of propaganda. For instance, recent events in Virgina have shown that far more individuals are committed to personal freedom than had been previously thought. The experiment run by the current governor and elected officials has shown that heavy-handed approaches are not acceptable to Americans. Several thousand protesters — many of them carrying firearms –attended a mass rally and there was no violence. These were untrained, and unorganized individuals that were all able to resist the urge to create havoc at a time and location that they could have in fact caused significant damage. This was essentially Leaderless Resistance in action, with individuals remarkably showing great restraint.

Where civilians fall off is in terms of funding, surveillance, and reach. Certainly, as has been seen around the globe historically and in modern times, analog approaches to surveillance and communications work surprisingly well for insurgents and rebels. That said, the United States military and law enforcement community command thousands of drones that can be flown semi-autonomously or remotely-controlled. In many cases, these military UAVs can mount munitions such as Hellfire missiles that are designed to reduce collateral damage while inflicting maximum damage on targets. In addition, the United States has the largest air force and navy in the world. None of these are things that civilians have access to in the United States.

Where civilians shine is access to transportation, communication, local support, construction, and more. In fact, without civilian infrastructure the military would collapse under its own weight. A large number of those individuals designing, manufacturing, operating, and maintaining these systems are also gun-owning, rights-supporting Americans. So this would make it difficult to ensure uninterrupted services for the rest of the population. Currently in the United States, much of the population that is not included in the legal firearms owning community relies on the services provided by the law-abiding firearms owning community. If these services were interrupted by the government, it could turn public perception and sympathy against the government itself. If the insurgents used this and launched a campaign of propaganda as well as stored these services for the population, it would go a long way towards toppling the government.

Quickly Replaceable Leadership

Leadership is another area of importance. All armies require leaders. Remove these and the armies become ineffective. This is a historical reality. Insurgencies do not require academy-educated leaders.  While leaders exist within all movements, insurgencies rarely have assigned and irreplaceable leaders. The best insurgencies will often resemble a Medusa. Cut off the head of one leader and 3 or 4 more will quickly replace him. This is something that modern military and law enforcement are constantly worried about. The results of this can be seen in Mexico today with the large number of small drug cartels having grown up filling the spots vacated by somewhat larger and more centrally-governed organizations in the 1990s.

Gang task forces constantly battle this problem, as does the military with the resurgence of various factions of terrorist organizations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria to name just a few places. There is the added problem of creating folk heroes and martyrs. While some may cry for dead soldiers and police officers, they are often seen by a majority of the public as individuals who simply die doing their jobs. But civilians killed and accused of domestic terrorism almost always garner popular support after death that sometimes is larger than what the individuals enjoyed before.

So it is my belief that insurgency can be effective in the United States. Certainly, there would be a plethora of things that would need to occur to make this successful. However, at this time and for the near future insurgency could be very effective — regardless of the abilities of the military and law enforcement.


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Original Source