cerned. Since World War II, guerrillas have won most frequently in regions of less than average slopes. Vegetative cover, as proxied by rainfall, has no discernible bearing on the outcome of little wars. The slope factor proved to be consistently significant through a battery of tests, except when duration of the wars was used to measure guerrilla viability in a linear regression model. Among the methods used, discriminate analysis is the most appropriate for the task in hand. The significance of the negative relationship between slope and winning is clear in this. The control variables do, indeed, turn out to be of secondary importance according to this test. Those that proved to be of some significance include both the elements of the human landscape--road density--and elements of the local geopolitical setting-- popular support and the availability of sanctuary. Overall, the lack of a simple, singular outcome from these tests seems to support the contention that the specifics of time, place and circumstances overwhelm any general pattern.

The association of winning with low slopes and the lack of a significant relationship between the duration of wars and slope suggests that, although guerrillas can survive for a long time in a variety of landscapes, when it comes to seizing power, they must come out of the hills and woods and contest for the heavily populated flatlands that are usually the national core.


CONCLUSION

What tips the balance of numbers in war is the will and ruthlessness of the protagonists. In the early 1940s Japan easily contained the 400,000 Red Chinese guerrillas with 250,000 men. On the other hand, a few people employing terror as a weapon can cause a lot of grief--as the IRA has demonstrated for twenty years. The balance in these affairs is more than purely one of destructive power. There was a current of opinion that the British Army could eradicate the IRA, if they acted as ruthlessly as the Red Army did in the 1920s when it extirpated the Whites using Tukhachevski's tactics. In the 1920s in Ireland, however, the British military experienced the reaction that stepping up the intensity and violence of counterinsurgent operations recruited directly for the opposition. The Soviets obviously pondered this problem in determining to withdraw their imperial reach in Asia and Europe.

Clearly the external circumstances, local details and chance that come into play in determining the final outcomes of violent conflicts make any attempt at formulation and quantification highly conjectural. Nevertheless, a leader of guerrillas as perceptive as Lawrence of Arabia ( 1957) wrote "the algebraical factors are in the end decisive." In this he was referring to factors calculable in similar terms to those presented here. Thus, it is worthwhile pursuing the issue along these lines to discover the boundary conditions on the balance of superiority at least.

-134-

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Terrain and Tactics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Tides in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • 1 - Military Geography 1
  • References 3
  • 2 - Some Third World Wars 5
  • References 30
  • 3 - The Lie of the Land 31
  • Reference 39
  • 4 - The World at War 41
  • References 68
  • 5 - Geography of Revolution 71
  • References 85
  • 6 - The Geography of Battles 87
  • References 103
  • 7 - Classic Spatial Ploys 105
  • References 111
  • 8 - Terrain and Tactics 113
  • References 123
  • 9 - Guerrillas and Counterinsurgency 125
  • Conclusion 134
  • References 135
  • 10 - War in Cities 137
  • References 148
  • 11 - Northern Ireland 149
  • References 161
  • 12 - Fighting in the Landscape and Fighting for a Place 163
  • References 167
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 183
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