Guerrilla By Charles W. Thayer

Although Mr. Thayer's perspective is an interesting one due to his experience as an O.S.S. officer in Yugoslavia during World War II, most of the examples he used in this book were common currency, and treated in somewhat more detail, by other writers and editors (Franklin Mark Osanka, et. al.) at roughly the same time. The one part of this book that impressed me was at the very end, where the author called for the establishment of an irregular warfare command which in large part would have been along the same lines as SOCOM. I am unaware of any earlier recommendation as far-reaching, and Mr. Thayer definitely deserves credit for that, at least. Guerrilla This book ought to be required reading in history. While the examples may be seen to be dated (this came out in 1963- at the height of Vietnam/Malaya/Sarawak/Oman) the lesson are still quite evident. This book also see all through the lens of the Cold war, but even so the clear focus will be a help to any who want to understand asymmetrical warfare. Thayer goes over the Revolutionary/Guerrilla warfare oeuvre, pointing out what works and what doesn't, from Terror to Insurgency and other areas in between- all in a political sense. His message is the obvious one, the political is the real struggle- the military is just the method. I wish more people would read this before they approached the news. It would help comprehension in the American political sphere for sure. Guerrilla Although the subject has been treated in greater depth, this is probably the best 200 pages available on the big picture of insurgency. The focus is on the basis of insurgency and the methods of countering it systemically. Even though it was written 50 years ago (just after the Bay of Pigs, and before the major US involvement in Vietnam), it holds up very well in light of our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Guerrilla Bar none the best book I ever read on the subject of guerilla warfare. Guerrilla As a book on guerrilla warfare, there are definitely better texts. Thayer combines Clauswitz, Mao, and his own experiences as a liaison officer in WW2 to arrive at a hesitant mix of platitudes about the need to offer something to civilian populations, judge the political 'temperature of the waters', and relentlessly pursue guerrilla forces. He's not wrong, but the topic has been treated in more depth by others. Like so many others, Thayer is unable to square the circle of what causes modern liberal technocratic citizens are be willing to die for, and the institutional position of unconventional warfare vis-a-vis balances of power in the US government.

That said, as a historical artifact his book is fascinating. It was written in 1963, at the fulcrum of the Vietnam War, and for all the criticism above, Thayer is definitely asking the right questions about what America should be doing in the region. So what was this career officer, diplomat, and expert in unconventional warfare doing at this crucial period in history? Hiding out in Majorca to avoid a Senate investigation into allegations of homosexual behavior and Communist leanings.

Oh, that's why we totally screwed up in Vietnam. Guerrilla

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