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Ian F. W. Beckett
Modern Insurgencies and Counter Insurgencies
Guerrillas and their Opponents since 17502
Park Square, Milton Park Abingdon, Oxon, OX 14RN, 2001
The genre of this book is warfare and history where much of details available on
Insurgencies and counter- insurgencies are included. The author Ian F.W. Beckett is a
well-qualified professor in the field of military history in the USA to write this book. He
has written many books including The Great War (1914-1918), A Nation in Arms: A
Social Study of the British Army in the first world. The overall goal of the author of this
book is to survey of asymmetrical military operation since 1750. The book contains nine
chapters including root causes for insurgencies and counter-insurgencies referring to the
many examples in history.
United State former president John F. Kennedy himself identified communistinspired insurgency as a ‘major form of politico-military conflict equal in importance to
conventional warfare’ in between 1960 and 1963. As Ian Beckett correctly pointed out,
there are many causes for insurgencies. Such as religiously motivated, socio-economic
discrepancies, lack of political recognition, slavery, and invasion of smaller countries on
political objectives.
The author describes the military and ideological aspect by referring to the few
key characters in the history. These revolutionary leaders are Mao Zedong, Amilcar
Cabral, Vo Nguyen Giap and Che Guevara. In fact, three individual guerrilla leaders are
also mentioned as a thoroughly modern understanding of the political and socioeconomic potential of an insurgency, namely Nestor Makhno, Augusto Sandino and
Tomas Edward Lawrence. Among them, one of the influential theorists of the twentieth
century is Lawrence emphasis that military aspect of guerrilla warfare, believed victory
would result from the key factors of mobility, security, time and doctrine. Therefore, it is
believed that with the beginning of the Second World War some theorists and
practitioners had recognised the possibility of using guerrilla techniques in the pursuit of
overtly political ends
The book emphasises the tactics used by the insurgencies. Such as tactics used in
open area and mountains area. Moreover ‘Hit and Run’ tactics used by the insurgencies
also explain in details in this book. Nevertheless, he also emphasises that with the change
of environment tactics also changed. For an example, Ian Beckett bringing out ‘Internet’
and ‘economic’ as a new mode of an operand. Almost all the tactics are known to
Guerrilla warfare has been employed somewhere by someone else to prevent irregular
operations: systematic terror, burning villages etc.
This book contains Guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgencies throughout the
British, French, German, Dutch and Portuguese empires, the efforts of the Soviet Union
to co-operate guerrilla operation everywhere for communist empires. Most of the details
abstract from the American civil war, Napoleonic war. Meantime Ian Beckett provides
details on a failure of Guerrilla war due to various factor. For example Lack of
organization, betrayal and government support. This evidence that guerrilla operation
exists with the help of political support.
Ian Beckett argues that urban guerrillas create more challenges to the opponents.
Because modern tactics of guerrilla based on urbanization. Meantime they gain lots of
support from the villages. Such as intelligence etc. Therefore, it is highly vulnerable to
attack urban insurgencies. When it come to the modern world most of the conflict one
way or another related to the political and natural resources. Their goal varies. They may
act according to the political decision. In this aspect, Ian Beckett failed to provide
sufficient details. Lack of information will create the vacuum of the book. Meantime he
repeatedly applies his own adaptation of the counter-insurgency tactics extracted by
Robert Thompson who is British success against the communist insurgency in Malaya as
a principle for resolving the conflict. He emphasis that winning the heart and minds
campaign as a precondition for military victory over the insurgency.
Ian Beckett felt that sometime over confidence by when analyse the situation
given. Because, some mass killing, genocide done by the well-known government force
are reluctant to have a legal procedure. Nevertheless, insurgents awarded death.
Therefore, this is more bias to western who broke the law. Even he never mentions the
root causes of the conflicts in details. Modern insurgency is more sophisticated. They
have more connection beyond the territory. They are well organized. Therefore to resolve
the conflict like this need more reconciliation, more rehabilitation more connection
among citizen.