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The Non-State Soldier in History

Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D. Instructor American Military University

Some Basic Terminology

1. There was no state: Prior to the rise of nation states in modern history (Europe, 19th century), societies were ruled by kings, warlords, tribal chiefs, dictators, oligarchs, aristocrats, and occasionally democratically elected leaders. 2. Non-State soldiers: Let us not get to caught up in this term: state. Modern states support terrorists and non-state soldiers. Moreover, the non-state soldier of today may be the state soldier of tomorrow (ex: The Taliban had a state in Afghanistan during the 1990s). 3. Soldier: This term is used as part of our definition in that the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of the non-state soldier (NSS) are far more developed, skilled, organized, and properly executed than other violent actors: criminals, terrorists, rioters, protestors, etc. However, the NSS may use some or all of the aforesaid tactics and peoples in order to achieve the designated goal.

The Non-State Soldier

Definition: This course is a study of militant foreign ethnic/religious groups not outwardly affiliated with a sovereign state. A broad definition allows us to study the many groups, their context, and their characteristicsindividually and collectively.

Female Tamil Tigers operating in Sri Lanka

Main Objective: Control the State

The main objective of the non state soldier is to control the state. The destruction, degradation, or defeat of the state is essential.

Historical Periods*
1. The pre-modern period: revolts, civil wars, revolutions, and guerrilla wars (prior to the 20th century). 2. The Partisan fighter in History (18th to the 20th century) 3. The terrorist as a modern phenomenon (19th and 20th century) 4. The Age of the Communist revolutionary (post-WWII era) 5. The modern non-state soldier (present)

Robert the Bruce, circa AD1300

* Note that these time periods are arbitrary and capture general trends and developments.

Common Characteristics in All Historical Periods

The following characteristics of the non-state soldier can be found in all historical periods. 1. Survivability. Avoidance of direct contact and conflict with superior forces. 2 Deception, concealment, and spying. Reliance on the covert realm for survival, information, and operations. 3. Exploitation of terrain. Using terrain effectively in sanctuary, operations, and exfiltration. 4. Population leverage. Using the population as a force multiplier and a foil against the enemy. Using the population as an effective network of communication, supply, sanctuary, information, and recruitment.

Pre-Modern and Ancient Period

1. Sun Tsu. Ancient Chinese military general (722 -481 BC) who wrote The Art of War 2. Profound influence on Mao Zedong and his development of guerrilla warfare 3. Emphasized the art of asymmetrical warfare: psychological operations and effects, elusiveness, intelligence and spying, deception, avoidance of direct contact with superior forces, maximizing terrain and environmental conditions, and survivability.

Partisan Period (18-20th century)

1. Standing Armies. Large, well-trained,
organized, and professional armies in the 18th to 20th centuries dominated conflicts as the main elements and instruments of policy and force. 2. Partisan fighters. Small units or bands conducted guerrilla warfare alongside and supporting these main armies. Although similar to the modern guerrilla, the partisan was a minor player, considered far secondary in importance. 3. Success: sometimes these combatants in the little war (guerrilla) had huge effects, such as defeating Napoleon Bonaparte in Spain. (see Juan Martin Diez)

Juan Martin Diez

Terrorist as a Modern Phenomenon 19th and 20th Centuries

1. Popular discontent with industrialization and rapidly changing social and economic conditions created unrest in Western Europe and the transatlantic world, which radicals exploited to their benefit. 2. Growing media, communications, technology, and travel networks furthered the ability of radicals to spread their ideology and organizations. 3. Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto provided the ideological impetus and cohesion for radical and terrorist activity. 4. Major shift in targeting based upon the notions of collective guilt, collective punishment, and positive effects of targeting women, children, and civilians. These groups/targets became main efforts of terrorists such as Communists, radical socialists, anarchists, and Syndicalists.

Death of President William McKinley by an Anarchist (Sept. 6, 1901)

Age of the Communist Revolutionary, 1945-1991

Historical Context of the Rise of Communism in the Post WWII Era

1. Decline of imperial powers (British,
French, Dutch, Portuguese, etc.) created a power vacuum that the Communist stepped into globally. 2. The Soviet Union provided enormous resources for guerrilla movements around the globe. 3. Weaponization. The availability of weapons, training, sanctuary, and supply aided non state soldiers and often gave them a qualitative edge over the state. [For example, the availability of the AK-47 and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) ]

Refinement of the military tactics of the Non State Soldier

Arguably, Mao Zedongs guerrilla warfare tactics were a revolution in military thought, particularly for the non state soldier. Maos Thought created a practical and deadly plan for non state soldiers to defeat the state. TTPs. Intelligence, operations, supply, information operations (propaganda), and kinetic targeting, all advanced exponentially and that against the state.

The Modern Non State Soldier: (Present)

1. No major preparation stage needed for an insurgency (unlike the Communist revolutions) 2. No hierarchical command structure or fixed command structure. Insurgent commanders can move about without remaining in a fixed location. 3. Small unit/cell activity. No need to mobilize large numbers or transition to large conventional army (classic war of the flea) 4. Hybrid threat: Use of conventional, asymmetrical, criminal, and terrorist methods and groups as force multipliers. Exploitation of natural and man made disasters. 5. Reliance on criminal, black market, social, youth, and other networks that penetrate society vertically and horizontally. 6. Utilization of low-risk tactics such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Indirect Fire (IDF).

1. Each period of history was unique in that the non-state soldier/guerrilla operated against established authority with varying degrees of ability, leadership, and success, an outcome determined by context, skill, and leadership. 2. In general, the non-state soldier has increased in capacity, operability, and effectiveness due to the access to technology, refinement of skill, and decline of the monopoly of power held by the state. 3. Common characteristics are evident in all antigovernment elements (non state soldiers): secrecy, exploitation of terrain and environment, reliance on the population for sanctuary, intelligence, and supply, and avoidance of direct contact with superior forces (survivability).

Suggest Readings
1 Macabbees, 1maccabees.html Lenin, V.I. Guerrilla Warfare, archive/lenin/works/1906/gw/index.htm Mao Zedong, On Guerrilla Warfare, 012-18%20%20Mao%20Tsetung%20on%20Guerrilla%20Warfare.pdf Marighella, Carlos, Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla, http:// Sun Tsu, The Art of War, (accessed 3 Aug 2011)

Contact Information

Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D.