You’ll have to excuse the delay – it was a week before we had a bed or an internet in the apartment, and since then Comcast has really, really dropped the ball (cutting my neighbors’ physical lines didn’t help any). Also, still no job, which is less than ideal.
But still! The writing must go on. Writing and reprinting.
And so I have a very special treat for you today: the entirety of Brigadier Charles Dunbar’s “The Military Problems of Counter Insurgency.” Dunbar commanded 66 Commando Royal Marine during the Aden Emergency, and had quite an eye for low-intensity operations. Written in late 1967 or 1968, the document is a far-reaching and detailed analysis of the problems faced by the British in Aden, while also making allusions to contemporary insurgencies in Cyprus and Kenya, intrigue in Saudi Arabia, Anna Karenina, and the idiocy of “that well known Scandinavian, Mr. Rudegeld.”
I took the liberty of retyping it – my aging photocopy was worn, scuffed, and overly stamped. I’ve attempted to reproduce the formatting as exactly as possible, and this includes leaving in misspellings and other errors. You can see, for example, that when he’s talking on page 3 about the Eastern Bloc, interrogation, and Vietnam, that his mind is racing too quickly to accurately transfer all his thoughts onto paper. But you’ll know what he means. And it’s definitely worth knowing.
This document is available at the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London. Box Dunbar 2/5. Enjoy!
My dissertation is done and complete. “Aden in the Balance: Airpower and Counterinsurgency in Aden, 1956-1967” has been handed in, and until I hear or decide otherwise, I am officially finished with school. I’ve got excerpts from that and a lot more goodies from the archive to share with you, but it will have to wait a couple days before I have internet up and running again.
It’s fitting that on the same day my dissertation was due, I am moving to Chicago. I bid a fond farewell to the East Coast, where my heart will always live. And if I ever come back saying “pop” instead of “soda,” please punch me in the face.
I know exactly how these rodents feel; packing has been just like this.
When you have several [intelligence] battalions working this system, it is of course most expensive in terms of man hours. But except against the most highly skilled gang, success is only a question of time. What we are after is not the pistol hidden under the car seat, or explosives in the bicycle pump. It is the man with it who can ‘help the police in their enquiries’. Weapons talk, but nothing like its owner.
– Major-General Sir John Willoughby, “Problems of Counter-Insurgency in the Middle East,” The RUSI Journal 113:650 (1968), 108.
It merely rhymes:
Mk VII mine buried in a detour around an unfinished culvert on the new road being constructed…
Warning of concerted sabotage attempts at prestige targets and the introduction of timing and anti-handling devices…
Well-timed and expertly executed act of sabotage. The nuisance value was extremely effective considering the small effort and explosives involved…
National opinion is perhaps hardening against us.
– 45 Commando Royal Marine Newsletters, April 1966-June 1967
From “The Military Problems of Counterinsurgency” under the heading MILITARY A PART OF WHOLE:
Military operations can only contribute when they are part of the broad plan for the re-establishment of Good Government right across the field of administration. And because the services are as a rule only brought in as a last resort and late, they are so often the only framework on which to re-establish Good Government.
– Brigadier General Charles Dunbar
As true as it ever was.
The British begin their withdrawal from Aden, 1967.
So in case anyone wasn’t aware, I’ve been working on my master’s dissertation – for which I finally have a pretty solid topic. The work right now is all archival research, which I have no problem with, but finding sources specific to my area is proving a little bit of a challenge.
That area is the Aden Emergency of 1963-67, in which the British fought a counterinsurgency in the Aden colony and the East and West Protectorate ‘up country’. Specifically, though, I want to focus on the RAF and the use of airpower in COIN strategy.
Starbuck at Wings Over Iraq has been doing some great work on counterinsurgency airpower, and I definitely recommend checking that out and contributing if you can. Many thanks to Shlok Vaidya for pointing me in that direction. In the meantime, my research is mostly being conducted in Liddell Hart Library at King’s College London, but I’ll also be dropping by the RAF archives and others. Any help would be appreciated.
I’ll also from time to time be posting little gems I manage to unearth, so stay tuned for those.