Monday, October 18, 2010


A counterinsurgency strategy, originally adopted by the British in Palestine, that employs small, self-contained  paramilitary units called countergangs that engage an adversary with unorthodox tactics. In 1947 the target  was the Irgun and the Stern Gang, Jewish terrorist groups that resorted to abduction and the bombing of civilians. Pioneered by Gen. Sir Bernard Fergusson, the Palestine Police deployed two teams of 10 men each, led by Alistair McGregor and Roy Farran, but the organization was disbanded following the murder of an Irgun suspect, Alexander Rubowitz. Farran was charged with his murder and acquitted, leaving the crime  unsolved. Countergang tactics were refined further during the Mau-Mau campaign in Kenya, where hooded defectors identified fellow terrorists. The policy of removing suspects to detention camps far from their villages served to reduce the power of the ringleaders, who were tracked relentlessly in the bush by small, specially trained teams that achieved better success than the more conventional deployment of large-scale sweeps conducted by regular infantry.
The development of unorthodox tactics in Kenya and in the Malaya Emergency, where “white areas” were established entirely free of the influence of Chinese insurgents, played a role in the defeat of the Indonesian guerrillas in Borneo. However, although the principles expounded by Brigadier Frank Kitson in Low-Intensity Operations became recognized as an essential component in modern warfare, they were rejected by U.S.  strategists who invited Sir Robert Thompson to advise on pacification of the villages in Vietnam.