The April edition of Commentary magazine has a most interesting article on counterinsurgency, discussing the French experience in Algeria and the strategy developed by a French colonel, David Galula.
Galula's subsequent book, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, laid out the blueprint for success in this form of warfare. From the start, Galula had discarded the assumptions governing conventional conflicts. A decisive battlefield victory of the kind familiar from World War II, he saw, would never work against indigenous, loosely organized, but deeply committed insurgencies like the FLN. As he had learned from watching the British mount successful counterinsurgencies in Malaya and Greece, neither heavy casualties, nor the loss of weapons and bases, nor even the loss of leaders would stop the rebels. Ultimately, indeed, "military action [was] but a minor factor in the conflict."
Some 600 "specialized administrative sections" were set up, each headed by army officers to oversee civil as well as military affairs. The new structure finally allowed the French army to use effectively its superior numbers (including 150,000 loyal native troops, more than a third of the total) and conventional military hardware. Helping to put the guerrillas on the defensive were such tactics as the division of troops into "static" and "mobile" units to deal with terrorist outbreaks; the use of helicopters for counterinsurgency operations; and construction of a 200-mile, eight-foot-high electric fence (the so-called Morice Line), which shut down the FLN's sources of support from neighboring Tunisia. By January 1960, the war that many had considered lost three years earlier was virtually won.
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