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Armed Revolution Possible, Not So Difficult" by Bill Bridgewater
The only "newsies" that I have ever met that I didn't believe wasted oxygen by breathing were Dickey Chappell and Bernie Fall, both of whom were killed in Viet Nam because they believed that you couldn't report battles in the field from a bar in Saigon.
It is not easy to admit that a newsie stopped me cold the other day in the middle of one of their silly interviews. He had asked me to enumerate the reasons that I believed to be valid to support the private ownership of firearms.
We did not disagree over personal protection; he even admitted that hunting is legal in every state. But, when I stated that I believed that the founding fathers intended that we be armed against the possibility of our own central government overstepping its bounds, he quite bluntly asked me if I thought that an armed American citizenry had a snowball's chance in hell in an uprising against our own federal government.
Now, when was the last time you put some really serious thought into that proposition? Not counting the slaughter of the American Indians, we have not seen a serious effort to pit Americans against Americans since the end of the War Between the States that ended 130 years ago.
Is there even a shred of possibility that an armed citizenry could succeed against the strongest military power on Earth today?
Perhaps we should review the years 1960-1975 again. The United States blindly stuck its oar in the muddied waters of Viet Nam very shortly after the French got their heads handed to them on a platter and were invited not to be a colonial power in Viet Nam any more.
Finally, we found ourselves in the position of guaranteeing the survival of an independent South Viet Nam when the Northern part of the country made it clear that they were interested in reuniting the country under their particular brand of socialism.
For a decade and a half, we changed the leadership of South Viet Nam quite regularly; increased the pressure on the Johnson thumbscrews; bombed, quit, bombed, quit, ad infinitum; quantified the war; and finally turned it into an electronic war. At home we kept telling the citizens that we were just about to win decisively and elected another president to drive crazy with this goofy little war.
Finally the president declared that all was over and the troops could come home.
But they did not return home in triumph with the bugles blaring. They came home with their tails between their legs just like every other defeated army in the history of the world. And the reason that they did so, my friends, was that the world's most powerful nation got its backside severely whipped by a small, backward, agrarian nation who started the war against us with an assortment of ancient bolt-action rifles, no lines of support, no manufacturing base, and no infrastructure that the country absolutely depended upon.
It is not a joke that they made sandals from cut-up truck tires - it's the truth. They fought the only kind of war they could hope to fight and win successfully - a guerrilla war.
They had two good models: the American colonies against the British in our war for against a superior foe was escalated to a fine art by the world's finest light cavalry.
Twice the North Vietnamese allowed themselves to be suckered into main force set-piece battles, and they got cut into ribbons for doing it. Otherwise, they stuck to General Giap's plan of guerrilla warfare to the finish.
The North finally *did* get to mass their troops and tanks during their final sweep to victory into Saigon.
Why did this happen? Why did the world's most powerful nation get its teeth kicked in and sent home in disgrace? Because we forgot our very own origins! We forgot that we were the ones who hid behind logs, berms, and bushes and shot British troops and their mercenaries as *targets of opportunity* while denying our opponents a target of any kind.
We used the skills of the mountain and plains Indians against an Army that was trained in only one form of combat. We refused to engage in the British methods of combat until we had superior forces and the odds were highly in our favor.
General Vo Nuyen Giap did exactly the same thing against us in the 1960s and 1970s while we used our superior firepower and technology to create ten million deaf monkeys and water buffalo. We defoliated tens of thousands of acres of jungle forest to prove that Giap's troops weren't there. We constructed every kind of trap known to mankind to capture and destroy divisions of enemy troops where there weren't any.
We very patiently fought a European theater-type of warfare against a steadfast foe who fought a completely different kind of war that simply made our complex weapons systems useless. By inflexibly insisting on doing it our way, we lost the whole shooting match to a man who played it his way and won.
Meanwhile, on the exact opposite side of the globe, another shooting match was gearing up that pitted the second most powerful nation in the world against an enemy whose armament consisted of ancient bolt-action rifles, who had no lines of support, no manufacturing base and no infrastructure that the nation depended upon.
Though the Russians were determined that *they* would not be sent home with their tails between their legs, the Afghans were paying particular attention to those tactics that had worked so well for General Giap against the American forces. Even with the advantage of being able to totally ignore world opinion and to essentially ignore the opinions of its own citizens, Russia followed us down the long winding trail to disgrace by doing exactly what we had done in Viet Nam.
High-ranking politicians (some of them in uniform), with absolutely no idea what was going on in the day-to-day conduct of both wars, made stupid decisions and then stuck by them despite advice to the contrary from both American and Russian on-scene commanders.
The Russian methods of combat - mass maneuver and firepower - that were developed against Napoleon and Hitler proved no more successful than our methods against an aggressively waged guerrilla war.
Both major enemies failed to fight the enemy that they faced. Both, in fact, fought an historical enemy who was not present on the field of battle. Both of these superior armies truly believed that superior strength and technical abilities would win the day. Both major armies believed that time was on their side and was working against their foe. Both were totally wrong because they underestimated the growing dislike of the supposedly neutral or "friendly" indigenous forces whose cities, villages, towns and homes were being destroyed by the ongoing flow of large-scale battles by the two major armies.
Whatever the levels of dispute between the Vietnamese, the American forces eventually became the common enemy simply because of the massive damage they were doing in behalf of the south. Exactly the same thing transpired in Afghanistan. The Russians became the common enemy and went home in defeat.
Our armed forces used everything in our weapons inventory in our effort to win except nuclear devices. So did the Russians. They even used some chemical weapons that we didn't try.
What does all this have to do with the question the newsy asked me? Everything.
A revolution could be waged against the current American government far easier than you might imagine without careful examination. Consider:
- The sheer numbers of firearms of all kinds in the hands of the American public would have made the American commanders in Viet Nam quake in their boots. We're not talking junk equipment here, either. The average deer hunter with a .270 or .308 could give a platoon of regular troops more grief than they want. There was a special on the tube recently about military armaments on sale in the black market (including Stingers).
- The population base from which revolutionaries could be recruited is *massive* - 250 million.
- There are literally millions of well-trained men who served as officers and NCOs who learned face-to-face how guerrilla warfare works. They haven't forgotten it, either.
- There are millions of young men out there with military training and experience with weapons of every conceivable kind, who would make top-quality guerrilla troops.
- Every one of the 100 counties in the state of North Carolina could field at least one full company that would be formidable in capability. If one assumes that North Carolina is no more capable than other states, that could amount to 180 divisions. These potential rebel troops would be fast-moving light infantry, with the capability of melting into the general population when necessary.
American,military leaders would be in the position of having an inventory of high-tech weapons that they would be dependent upon your son or nephew to use against you. There would be no enemy states in which you could say that any weapon could be used against the rebels. They would be from each and every state and major city.
By the same token, there would be no sanctuary for the federal troops anywhere in the land. No matter where stationed, they would be subject to attack and harassment. The infrastructure on which the federal government depends would be rather easily disrupted by those who live there. Airfields and major lines of communications could be shut down and kept down for days at a time. Disruption of supplies to major bases and to centers of government would be simple. You don't have to cut them off, just keep them hungry.
The federal government would be denied the use of all their major weaponry because they would still "own" the cities and villages. How do you justify bombing your own city just because there is a rebel company in it? One bombing would be the biggest recruiting drive ever for the rebel forces.
Now just how powerful do those 12 Army divisions and those three Marine divisions really look to you? Just how scary is the Air Force against America? What will the Navy do, shell all coastal cities? I don't think so.
One of these days a truly charismatic individual is going to walk out of the heartland of America and point out that the Declaration of Independence has never been repealed and that it *requires* all citizens to rise up against an oppressive government. With the current attitude toward our government and the people who populate it, a massive groundswell of support for throwing the current crop to the dogs and starting over again might not be so difficult.
As for the *ability* of the American citizens to successfully wage a guerrilla war on their own government, the likes of which this world has never seen nor contemplated before, I am absolutely convinced that it could be done, and a lot more swiftly than many might believe possible. How many highly-capable long-range snipers can your county put together?
Reprinted in "The Bullet Trap" by permission from Bill Bridgewater, "Alliance Voice", August 1994