Mao Guerilla Tactics and Spider Holes

The Viet Cong used tactics pioneered—or at least used effectively—by Mao Zedong and the Red Army in China in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Mao was a great spokesman for guerilla tactics. “The guerilla,” he wrote, “must move among people as a fish swims in the sea.” He said guerilla tactics are what “a nation inferior in arms and military equipment may employ against a more powerful transgressor.” On guerilla tactics themselves, he wrote:. “They consist mainly of the following points: Divide our forces to arouse the masses, concentrate our forces to deal with the enemy…Arouse the largest number of the masses in the shortest possible time.”

The Red Army had a great deal of success by following tactics outlined in the following slogans: “When the enemy advances, we retreat. When the enemy halts and encamps, we harass him. When the enemy seeks to avoid battle, we attack. Whenever the enemy retreats, we pursue.” The highly mobile Red Army attacked quickly with a sudden concentration of force and then quickly dispersed after the attack was over.

Large battles against forces that outnumbered them were avoided at all costs. Communists in unfriendly territory operated underground and in cells and through united front operations. When a military operation was taken it aimed to follow classic Maoist insurgency theory: overrun police outpost and remote military bases; let the state overreact with human rights abuses; capitalize on the resulting public anger over the abuses to gain support and win new recruits.

Mao was not a great military tactician but he was able to surround himself with talented military minds. He also realized that one of the greatest underutilized military assets was women. Jiang Jee was young female revolutionary who was killed in fighting the Nationalists and made into a martyr.

The North Vietnamese employed spider holes in Vietnam War. “It was very common for Japanese troops to dig very small, one-man concealed foxholes,” William L. Priest, who wrote Swear Like a Trooper: A Dictionary of Military Terms and Phrases, told the Washington Post. The man in the spider hole would wait for an enemy soldier to pass by and then would pop up, often shooting the soldier in the back. “It’s a suicide mission,” Priest says. “Take out as many men as you can from behind before you’re taken out.” The phrase was also used in Vietnam to describe similar underground sniping holes used by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, according to the US army Military History Institute. [Source: Washington Post]

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