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Emermouse
04-03-2014, 06:03 AM
Hi, I'm working on a novel in which my characters engage in guerilla warfare but in an urban area and I'm wondering the kind of attacks and tricks they might use. My characters are mostly teens armed with whatever guns leftover in a post-pandemic world up against a powerful, better-armed force. I've started studying up on the Viet-Cong and other guerilla tactics, but I could still use some expert advice. I know the trick of guerilla warfare is not so much to win, but to draw out the conflict and bleed the enemy dry until they lose the will to fight, a sort of death by a thousand papercuts strategy.

On a lighter note, am I the only one who worries about what would happen if the FBI have a reason to check my search history? 'Cause given the kind of stuff I'm looking up...:D

Telergic
04-03-2014, 06:49 AM
Realistically, without numbers and training, your kids have no chance whatsoever, and will be wiped out by a trained military force with no compunction about eliminating civilians or destroying part of the city.

IEDs is the obvious weapon of choice, since it doesn't expose the user as much as actually shooting at someone. I suppose the kids need to find a depot or warehouse used by a construction company to get their blasting supplies, since they probably don't have the resources and skills to make explosives themselves out of convenience store goods. I doubt a store of explosives will be found in town, but perhaps they can make an expedition to some out-of-town quarry or someplace like that for it. Probably they will blow themselves up a few times figuring out how to make their bombs or mines.

But unless the enemy is encumbered by moral or political restraints (like being forbidden to kill other civilians in the city), I can't see how the kids can possibly survive for long no matter what kind of weapons they have.

NeuroGlide
04-03-2014, 08:08 AM
Hi, I'm working on a novel in which my characters engage in guerilla warfare but in an urban area and I'm wondering the kind of attacks and tricks they might use. My characters are mostly teens armed with whatever guns leftover in a post-pandemic world up against a powerful, better-armed force. I've started studying up on the Viet-Cong and other guerilla tactics, but I could still use some expert advice. I know the trick of guerilla warfare is not so much to win, but to draw out the conflict and bleed the enemy dry until they lose the will to fight, a sort of death by a thousand papercuts strategy.

On a lighter note, am I the only one who worries about what would happen if the FBI have a reason to check my search history? 'Cause given the kind of stuff I'm looking up...:D

Guerrilla warfare is a form of asymmetric warfare, meaning the two forces are unequal in some way. Guerrilla warfare is about attacking where your opponent isn't. Direct conflicts are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employing this strategy harasses its enemy through skirmishes to cause attrition, disrupt supply and affect morale.

Trebor1415
04-03-2014, 08:12 AM
There's a huge amount of material that falls under the umbrella term "guerilla warfare."

I recommend you start by reading the Wiki page on the topic and follow some of the links.

As to effectiveness, it can be a very effective strategy, especially when it is a long term strategy. In that case the goal is to wear away the enemy (the stronger force) over time so that eventually a political victory can be achieved. This political victory might be the enemy deciding that the losses are no longer worth the effort and they leave the battle (the U.S. in Vietnam) or that civilian pressure from the public or the international community finally forces the enemy to go to the bargaining table to negotiate a settlement (the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, the fall of the Rhodesian government).

By "long term" think years or even decades, not weeks or months.

To be truly sucessfull the guerillas need the support of the population and the view towards the long term. Outside support for other stronger parties (other countries, an enemy arm smuggling in arms) is also very important.

In the modern age a small group of people can bring a whole city too it's knees. Look at the results of the Boston Marathon bombing where the whole area was on lockdown looking for just two people. Look also at how the LAPD over reacted when former officer Chris Doerner threatened to kill police and their families.

Those were both unconnected incidents. Now imagine if each of those was done as part of a loosely coordinated series of attacks executed in a short period of time over a wide geographic range. You could really stretch enemy resources thin.

Communication among resistance fighters is important as is operational security. Do some reading on the "cell structure" for guerilla/terrorist activity and the concept of "leaderless resistance." The idea is to limit the damage to the movement whenever someone involved is captured. You can't tell what you don't know. This is why the NSA is tapping everything, but there are still ways to communicate.

As far as specific tactics, guerillas always want to apply violence in the time and place of their chosing. Running out to the woods and playing "WWII resistance fighters/Red Dawn" is a good way to get killed by troops with superior numbers, technology and firepower.

Instead a more realistic approach would be bombings targeting symbols of the government, government officials, and vitally important infrastructure targets. Targeted assassinations of enemy leaders or enemy soldiers, law enforcement officers, or even collaborators is also a valid tactic. (From a military POV, not a moral POV). Look at the IRA in the 70's.

Now if your scenario is just a group of 10 to 20 teens, with a few personal weapons, going up against an established government with an effective military, in small scale fights, yeah, they are going to die, and quickly.

Your heros can be part of a larger movement, and still be the stars of the story, but if they ARE the movement, they won't have enough support or live long enough to be effective.

EDIT: As to the enemy being willing to kill kids in the city, the effective guerilla emerges from the population and blends right back into the population as needed.

If the enemy doesn't know who is a guerilla, and who isn't, they can't just kill everyone in the city hoping they get the "right ones." Look at how the VC operated. They'd often have jobs working with American's during the day and would don the black PJ's at night and lob mortar rounds at U.S. camps. (That's the archtypical story, but there is truth there).

King Neptune
04-03-2014, 04:00 PM
Urban guerrilla warfare is also called terrorism. The Palestinian freedom fighters have been the most consistent users of this form of warfare, so you probably should look at how they have operated over the decades. I believe that there were a few textbooks on the subject written in the 1960's or 1970's.

Hallen
04-04-2014, 03:46 AM
It depends on the objective of the kids.
Do they want the big bad to go away?
Are they just young, dumb and mad and want to cause some damage?
As pointed out above, getting the big bad to go away probably isn't going to happen unless whatever they're after isn't all that important to them.

If you're trying to get the big bad to stay away from an area, then basic IED/land mines and other traps are what you want. Anything that will blow up plus any nasty shrapnel producing material (nails are a good one) will do the job. The trick is in hiding the IED. Making sure your approaches have a suitable camouflage that looks like an IED but isn't until they get complacent and get to the real ones is a good tactic. Road-side debris should be common enough. If high explosives can't be had, then trip wires that release heavy objects from on top of big buildings could work -- but would be mechanically tricky to implement. Toxic chemicals could also be used. Bleach and ammonia will make a nasty combination and so will other basic chemicals that might be readily available in a urban environment. The main objective here is to demoralize the enemy to the point where they might refuse to go there anymore.

If you are trying to drive them out, then you'll need to hit them where it hurts. Bomb their weapons/food/medical supplies. Destroy their supply lines or make it really painful for the people delivering the supplies. Chances are, they don't care about their grunts too much, but they'll be crippled without supplies (which I'm guess is the scarce thing rather than people). So, look for the scarce stuff, stuff that's hard to replace and hit them there. This takes more moxie and better planning because you will have to infiltrate to do it.

In the end, if the bad guys really want what these kids have, and if they are not constrained by modern political realities or public perception, the kids have no chance. The only thing stopping the US from winning in Vietnam was political worries about China and Russia, and the vast negative public perception of bombing Hanoi into slag and killing a whole lot of "civilians". If you have superior numbers and technology and are brutal enough, you will win.

LA*78
04-04-2014, 04:19 AM
I don't know enough about Guerilla warfare to give you much advice in that regard, but your plot sounds a little along the lines of Tomorrow, When the War Began (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/71865.Tomorrow_When_the_War_Began). In it, the kids use their combined skills and resources, knowledge of the local area and strategy to cripple the enemy. It might trigger some brainstorming for you :)

Michael Davis
04-04-2014, 04:18 PM
Check out much of the actions in the revolutionary war. Many citizens were involved in the background, out of sight, hidden from the enemy in what they did. Same is true of the France resistance during WWII. Kids, especially teen girls were viewed as less of a threat than an adult, unless caught in a specific action. Also suggest you watch RED DAWN. Though its fiction, it covers the success and failures and difficulties of teens fighting back against a superior force.

benbenberi
04-05-2014, 03:23 AM
Look up "asymmetric [urban] warfare" and follow the research trail. It's a topic of huge interest to the military these days, and there's a vast amount of research & training material being produced, some of which is accessible if you look hard enough.

And for a primer on guerrilla warfare, you still can't do better than The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence, who laid out the theory & practical principles that have been followed by pretty much all effective guerrilla forces of the last hundred years. (Plus it's a cracking good book that deserves to be read by all writers in any case.)

JoeHill
04-09-2014, 09:07 PM
A lot of US Army manuals, including those about unconventional warfare, are available online for free. Also do a torrent search for a book called Total Resistance by Major von Dach. Supposedly it's a Swiss guerrilla warfare manual, as Switzerland could not hope to hold its own for very long against a major military power. The idea, at least according to this manual, is that a resistance network would work with those units of the regular forces which managed to escape capture, and they would use every possible method to make life hell for the occupier until their allies could aid them.

Many of the things it recommends for civilian passive resistance are genius, yet subtle. For example:

-Waiters in cafes and restaurants provide terrible service to occupiers or their lackeys.

-Postmen lose their mail. Postal workers can also secretly deliver messages for the resistance.

-Stationers can make fake stamps for passes.

-Drycleaners can put unusual amounts of starch in enemy uniforms or clothes, along with other additives which would cause itching.

-Farmers can give chemicals which are useful for explosives(ammonium nitrate fertilizer) to the resistance, among many other things such as food, shelter, etc.


Of course the manual is rather dated, but some of the concepts could still apply today, while others would just need some updating.


Since it's urban terrain, the main thing would be IEDs and snipers, snipers, snipers.

KarmaPolice
04-19-2014, 11:27 AM
I've thought about this a little too. The main problem your plucky kids would face is if 'the enemy' had the full apparatus of the technological state behind them. Most advanced nations have enough gizmos at their hands to turn the country into a 1984-esque police state; much of their early efforts would be to simply to drop off their radar - much harder to do these days. How would they organise without phones, email and (possibly) post? How can they dodge the cameras now they're all got digital film and face-recognition software is coming online? Set up safe houses etc when everybody's asking for bank account details and five sets of ID? Just organizing urban resistance in New York, London or Berlin without the authorities getting wise would be real hard these days.

JoeHill
04-19-2014, 09:41 PM
I've thought about this a little too. The main problem your plucky kids would face is if 'the enemy' had the full apparatus of the technological state behind them. Most advanced nations have enough gizmos at their hands to turn the country into a 1984-esque police state; much of their early efforts would be to simply to drop off their radar - much harder to do these days. How would they organise without phones, email and (possibly) post? How can they dodge the cameras now they're all got digital film and face-recognition software is coming online? Set up safe houses etc when everybody's asking for bank account details and five sets of ID? Just organizing urban resistance in New York, London or Berlin without the authorities getting wise would be real hard these days.

Imagine your world is a bit dystopian, where there are large industrial zones and areas going to waste, perfect hiding places for squatters. Typically repressive governments have plenty of places like that. As for digital cameras everywhere, yeah that would be in issue, but many security cameras don't have good night-vision and some have a low frame rate. Masks and hats could protect against these.

As for communication, it would seem the best way would be use innocuous channels to send coded messages. They might be hidden in want ads in free newspapers. Notice boards in supermarkets could be used for communicating in a similar way. For example "Good home needed for four calico kittens," with a special authenticating mark, could mean "weapons waiting for pickup." A particular flag hanging in a window or a poster being made visible through a window from a pre-determined location could signal that a safehouse is still safe. Internet forums about seemingly trivial subjects like car repair or D&D could be used to pass coded messages. Talk about operations could be covered up as online RPG gaming, or resistance members could cover up their ideas by joining a forum for writers and sharing ideas about "novels" they want to write(in other words, a forum just like this one).

WeaselFire
04-20-2014, 10:11 AM
Wolverines!

Congratulations on rewriting Red Dawn. :)

Okay, grab a copy of the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. Kindle has it.

Jeff

KarmaPolice
04-20-2014, 11:06 AM
True, many of your tactics could work - but the hardest bit is jumping from 'group of pissed-off friends' to 'full-scale rebellion'. In history, it's this point where the state often gets wind of such operations, and sends in the spies.

Quite often the more successful movements are ones that have clear ethnic/religious/political lines, a pre-existing structure (say a core of military officers from a disbanded army) and a fair mix of people from different groups of society. Lastly, what is their plan to 'win'? To extract concessions from the state? (IRA), to cause large-scale defections from the enemy (Syria), to make the enemy's position untenable (Afghanistan), to break the enemy's 'home front' morale (Vietnam) or to make the enemy go so overboard with reprisals so everybody joins the resistance (Eastern Europe, WWII - though the Nazis didn't need much help with this one).

The one point I would stress is the importance of supplies. Any remotely successful rebellion needs outside help; weapons, training, cash, safe havens etc. Yes, they could get by on existing stocks for some time, but as they are used up/captured, they'll need more - also, even in the USA anti-tank rockets and landmines are pretty hard to get hold of. So you'd need to think of an external backer for the rebels; either another state or possibly a huge company. Speaking of Red Dawn (the 80's one) - if I remember, it all started going wrong with that Hind chopper; if they'd had a few Stingers or Manpads and knew how to use them, they might have pulled through.