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Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

My daughters'

guerrilla warfare

I watched my daughters put on a demonstration of revolutionary/guerrilla warfare the other night that was impressive. The events of the past year have turned my personal reading toward the topic guerrilla warfare. Terrorism, by its nature, is a form of guerrilla warfare. The reasoning and logic are the same.

People resort to guerrilla warfare when confronted with a foe too powerful to meet on the field of conventional combat.

My latest selection has been an excellent book by Bernard Fall concerning the French experience in Indochina _ the war we took up after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu _ the war known as Viet Nam. The book is titled, "Street Without Joy."

Mr. Fall was a French partisan during World War II and fought the Germans in his occupied homeland. As a graduate student after WWII he traveled to French Indochina and studied the French efforts against the Communists. He witnessed and/or studied many of the battles, tactics and strategies that lead to the French defeat, the sectioning of Viet Nam into two countries and presents an excellent report and analysis of the conflict.

America would later fight to prevent the northern section from conquering the south.

General Vo Nguyen Giap was the Vietnamese general who engineered the defeat of the French and ourselves in Viet Nam. Except for a few occasions he never strayed from the guiding principals of successful guerrilla warfare.

He understood that he was confronted by forces far superior to his own in firepower, equipment, vehicles, air power and communications.

To meet such forces in a set piece battle is suicide.

He also understood that armed conflict was only part of the revolutionary war equation along with the political and the psychological.

His forces rarely gave battle unless the odds were heavily in their favor and there were political and psychological fruits to be picked as well as tactical. He left it to the French, and later ourselves, to expend huge numbers of men and large amounts of material defending terrain.

He defined his own victory from day to day. So long as the Western powers were expending men and material and failing to gain the support of their publics at home, he was winning, no matter how much of Indochina he could actually control at any given moment.

One evening not too far back I was reading and, as often happens, I was distracted by the antics of my two beautiful daughters: five-year-old Ruby and almost two-year-old Carson Mae.

As I watched I was overcome by the realization that my darling Ruby understands perfectly the tenets of successful guerrilla/revolutionary warfare. Carson was the final piece of the puzzle. As she learned to walk General Ruby-Giap obtained the final necessary element any revolutionary/guerrilla war leader must have _ hard corps assault troops.

In Carson, Ruby got the equivalent of a heavy regiment of crack troops.

Carson possesses all of the characteristics of the perfect revolutionary soldier. She is tough, physically capable, easy to make happy, and utterly devoted to her general. She is Ruby's Storm Battalion.

Whether the objective was the Twinkie on the counter, an extra book about dinosaurs at bedtime, or perhaps the television tuned to a cartoon, General Ruby-Giap and Storm Battalion One demonstrated an unconscious understanding of the situation that would make any student of guerrilla warfare proud.

Political means were always tried first and General Ruby-Giap understands politics. Deep in her heart she knows that the countries of Mom and Dad are not the same place and these powerful allies can be brought into conflict with each other to the benefit of the Cause. While the politics went on the Storm Battalion generally cruised the jungle halls and bedrooms, making only enough noise to distantly distract the Super Power coalition of Mom and Dad as they sat at the bargaining table with their wily foe.

Rarely were the Super Powers allowed to bargain together as a united force. First concessions would be eased out of the Country of Dad, sitting peacefully in Fort Lazy-Boy and distracted by his own prosperity of hot coffee and a good book.

When the Country of Mom took issue with the guerrilla troops suddenly overrunning Mom's cookie jar, General Ruby-Giap quickly redirected Mom's attack on hapless and until-then-happy Dad. While the Super Powers clashed the Storm Battalion pushed her highchair against the ramparts of Castle Kitchen and liberated the revolutionary Twinkies while General Ruby-Giap was no where to be seen.

Of course, the Storm Battalion, in the beautiful almost-innocence of not-yet-two, was the first caught with a half-eaten Twinkie. Like most good grunts she had simply occupied the field of battle and begun enjoying the spoils of the battle. (After delivering Twinkie number two to her fearless leader).

When the armored division of Mom, the most feared fighting force in the land, ran across the happy guerrilla battalion with its Twinkie, Mom's troops were quickly disarmed with the smile of innocence.

Before General Ruby-Giap could be located in her lair all but a few crumbs were gone.

"But Dad said it was okay," General Ruby-Giap shrugged, reverting back to politics.

Beaten and not at all confident in the capabilities of her allies in Dadville, Mom retreated to her kitchen.

The war continued through the evening. I became more amused and less helpful to my ally as I actively observed my offspring's' abilities. My amusement and detached observation did little to improve an already unsteady political relationship with Momville.

Ruby-Giap's generalship was magnificent. Faced with superior forces defending her objective, she simply diverted Storm Battalion One to a new objective, leaving Mom's Armored Division and Dad's powerful but slow Infantry defending a prize that was no longer contested.

Occasionally, when the odds looked good, Storm Battalion One would be sent in to attack _ usually an attempt to liberate some piece of forbidden loot. Sometimes she paid the ultimate price but a few moments later she was combat ready again.

At the end of the day the war was all but lost. The guerrillas stood triumphant on the field of battle. The troops of Momville and Dadville were exhausted and no longer possessed the will or dedication to continue the fight.

The revolutionary Twinkies were pillaged. The revolutionary television was tuned to Scooby Doo with Ruby-Giap and Storm Battalion One quietly enjoying the sticky spoils of war on the beanbag.

I'm not sure diplomatic relations will ever be restored between Mom and Dad.

I do not know whether to be proud or sad. I think I am outnumbered.

Our View

Halloween is when?

Well, Halloween night has been moved again. This year it will be on Saturday night, October 26th _ five days before real Halloween.

Just what is wrong with having Halloween on Halloween? We celebrate other holidays when the rest of the world does? Thanksgiving in Pecos is the same as Thanksgiving in Seattle.

New Years Day is usually on New Years Day.

Halloween ought to be on Halloween. It is blessing when it is on a school night. It gives kids and parents a little incentive to have some fun and then go home at a decent hour.

But, as long as we are going to move holidays around for someone's convenience, lets look at a few others.

I suggest we move them all to weekends. That way there are no work conflicts. New Years Eve definitely needs to be on a Saturday night. Then we can all be hung over at home instead of at work. The Fourth of July is usually inconvenient as well. So what if we celebrate on the 1st or the 9th ?

Halloween is on October 31st.

Well, it ought to be.

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