Roleplaying Violent non - state actors

NOTE: This lecture is addressed to MT role players who like getting into “details” of war RPs.

Welcome, NS world Fair! At first, before I begin my lecture, let me thank several people whom I owe thanks to. Let me thank, at first, to Lamoni, who asked me to do this lecture in here. Then, let me thank the Macabees, an amazing RPing mentor who proven to be both awesome friend and high quality writer. Then, let me thank guys from Santiago Anti - Communist Treaty Organization, my alliance on II: Especially Riysa, Ayeariss, Common Territories or Dewhurst Narcuilis, and many more who made this site so unique. Let me also thank Christ for giving me strength to write it and all knowledge I have.

Many people, for a long time, were asking me to write a guide about role playing so called violent non - state actors - because that is how, so called “terrorists”, guerillas and many other paramilitary formations are called in professional language. Few people actually took liberty to research into those groups and see how they differ among each other. In lecture below, I will be portraying basic knowledge about how such groups should be role played.

Please pay in mind, every detail portrayed in here is common knowledge; and nothing in here will say “how to make bomb and blow up your neighbor school.”

Many people on NS tried to RP asymmetric warfare, but failed, now knowing laws it judges itself. However we name it - with names ranging from insurgency to asymmetric or hybrid warfare - it is a valid phenomena that on large scale appeared in mid - XX century. Certainly, it changed one of basic laws of statesmanship - that after peace of Westphalia, the state claimed monopoly of violence, because wars became too costly for mercenaries to wage on their own, and profit was not proportional. After The 30 Years war, a new type of professional soldier emerged; with clearly defined military culture and drill required to maneuvering in lines and columns when the fire from muskets rained on them. This type of soldiers was costly, thus the commanders usually kept them with big distances between each soldier, to prevent the enemy from simply killing men that were worth a lot by one salvo. Battles became exchanges of salvos, with occasional bayonet charge. This type of warfare persisted upon French Revolution, where the Jacobins introduced concept of “mass mobilization” and begun to destroy the professional armies by using early version of human wave attack, using holes between soldiers and the fact that firearms at that time took several seconds to recharge to rip the arrays by entering inside the holes. “Mass army” model became common after Napoleonic wars, and wars remained primary exchanges of fire, with rule “whoever has bigger guns, wins.”

This type of fighting was prevalent even in World War I, when it became apparent, that old style infantry charges are obsolete because firepower of that time guns, introduction of MGs and other lethal weaponry made human mass unable to get to the enemy’s close range without being mowed down in process. The war became series of “sitting fights” which stalled, because no side had chance to break through firepower means of the enemy. I won’t go further in that, but the further we went, the bigger the guns grew. They turned from simple horse pulled, front loaded cannons, into massive anti bunker mortars of WW I, Railway Canons of WWII, and later into modern Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), tactical ballistic missiles, multiple rocket launchers and various other designs that could saturate entire kilometers within seconds. Not without impact is also appearance of air power, capable of destroying the enemy from above and limiting hiding capability.

Not to however speak more, the phenomena appeared in XX century as counter for the “big guns” that enemies utilized. There were many schools, but I will attempt to explain it briefly, in detail.

Why Guerilla wars happen? Guerilla warfare is as social phenomena as political or military one; one that is always dictated by the fact that certain social group, be it workers, muslims, communists, nazis, tailors (there was such situation, though not in modern era) etc. are willing to use violence to achieve political goals. Their goal has to be supported by at as many people as possible. Pay in mind: In every conflict, 80% of people will sit idly and do nothing, because they won’t be able to fight. Roughly 18%-19% will engage themselves in various kinds of support activity - sheltering the guerrillas, providing them with needed materials, etc. Only less than 1%-2% will actively resist with gun in hand, and very often it is less than 1%. At one point, total membership of IRA’s armed wing were just 300 terrorists, and roughly 10 000 men went through IRA’s ranks between 1968 and 1998 (out of 2 million country). The numbers will, however, vary depending on popularity and control over the area.

Very often irregulars have some political backing - for example Sin Fein and IRA. The population itself can also be inclined to riot, which is actually common tactic.

Where Guerillas operate? First question that many NS RPers RPing guerrilla operations fail to get, is where guerrilla wars happen. No, I do not mean third world here - because cause of that are often social problems in that areas. However the point is, for guerrillas to operate there needs to be sufficient terrain to operate in - hardly accessible areas, such as mountains, dense forests, etc. Ironically, guerilla groups that are in terrain not possessing those characteristics moved into urban areas - the cities. This was for example insurgency of Irish Republican Army (IRA) in northern Ireland, or modern Iraqi insurgency before 2014 ISIL war. Point was, guerillas exist where terrain allows them to operate without being detected and destroyed by enemy’s supporting arms. Going with guerillas into open desert is a way to get them killed instantly.

How guerillas supply themselves? We all heard stories about drug trading Colombian partisans from either FARC or AUC. Why are they trading drugs? Frankly, because they had to. UVF had to spend several millions to sustain one day of combat activities. In such case, asymmetric combatants need money, which never grows on trees and has to be earned. How? Tactics vary. In Malaya, local communists introduced revolutionary tax, but this begun turning population against them, thus other methods had to be applied. In Northern Ireland, local paramilitaries went to rob banks instead, while in Colombia paramilitaries engaged in drug trade. The “criminal - paramilitary oneness” happens often in order to secure funds for Guerilla campaign. Another tactic includes operating proxy companies, or printing money illegally (employed by Al - Queda).

Money is just, however one thing guerillas need. Full formula is MMWAE, which means:

Money: To get remaining items.

Mechanization: tanks, or other conventional vehicles, are useless in guerrilla warfare because they are too easy to detect. Vehicles should be civilian - in modern day, due to heavy traffic even in third world nobody cares about another car, motorcycle, pickup or lorry. Colombian cartels effectively employed two man crewed motorcycle crews, which combined with huge firepower of Ingram MC10 allowed the cartel hitmen to successfully eliminate the target, then vanish among the slums.

Weapons: Weapons category is limited by transportability. Guerrillas operating in city will always rely on short, easy to transport arms - AKS-74U, various SMGs such as Uzi or Ingram MC10, many forms of pistols, etc. are preferred by asymmetric combatants in Urban areas due to being able to be easily concealed. This does not forbid, however, from using heavier weaponry as long as it is transportable. Rural based guerrillas will use more conventional armaments, found often in gear of armies they fight.

Ammunition: Weapons don’t shoot alone. Guerrilla logistics have several limitations. Not everything will be obtained by smuggling - very often guerillas resupply on their enemies, using enemy’s weapons. What is ironic, homemade weapons are often as efficient as officially made one: such as or IRA

Explosives: Those are a bit harder to obtain, but easily home made by the guerrillas.

I have to also note that barriers between terrorist, guerilla and criminal are very loose, and terrorists differ from criminals only that they fight for some ideology. Narcoinsurgencies are popular problems in Latin America, and according to common definition, guerilla can be only separated from terrorist when first one respects international law while carrying his attacks (t.m. attacks purely military targets). The definition is very mobile and very often “terrorists” are used as propaganda term.

How guerillas fight? I have to say it here, not like conventional armies.

There is no element of defense in guerrilla operations because forces aren’t proportional. If guerrillas attempt to defend themselves, they are going to be finished quickly. Therefore, only chance for defense is escape.

Assymetric combatants profit on the fact that they are unknown, and disappear among the crowds of the people. That is why they often wear masks - to prevent the security services from identifying them.

Continuing, major value for guerilla operations is surprise. No irregular will attack if he does not has clear surprise ready for his enemy. Whole point is to shoot using the fact that the enemy is confused, then leave before he gets to himself and can mount up effective resistance.

This of course creates type of organization unknown for conventional forces: we have so called “solid core” group with created structure modeled after the military and with centralized command directly giving orders, and “soft core” groups that operate with decentralized command formulating strategy and local elements operating independently on local level. Advantage of “soft core” system is that it decreases chances of being caught, but creates problems with coordinating operations. A good example of solid core structure are structured are the Italian red Brigades, which were divided into “fronts”: “Mass Work” (Propaganda), “Logistical” and “Military”. Soft Core structures were utilized by Al Queda, and Neo Nazi groups in US, which even adapted idea of “leaderless resistance” bound only by common ideology.

Important aspect of this type of operation are psychological and political actions; Guerillas ALWAYS fight for some idea. A good example would be how groups of hippies, capitalizing on damage VietCong managed to inflict on US forces, managed to put US military out of VietNam. Al Queda, by attacking WTC, attempted to cause a “global war between Islam and Infidels”, which, however, failed. Therefore, if a target is struck, it has to be important enough for people to start speaking about it.

Conclusion: Guerilla wars offer good alternative for huge war RPs. Urban insurgencies, due to their limited scale, allow for better description of characters and individual action. When RPing them, one has to pay attention to details in small units more importantly than in huge war RPs. Additionally, RPers should remember that besides the “armed conflict” there will be also “political conflict” with irregulars attempting to influence policies of said nation’s government or even seize power. Such conflicts are complex and require good, mature RPers, but when RPed properly give amazing results.

WarriorSaint, known also as New Aeyariss or El Cuscatlan is long time denizen of II and member of Greater Dienstad region and Santiago Anti - Communist Treaty Organisation alliance. In real life he leads Paramilitary in Poland and is involved in topics of national security; his aim is to provide high - class military roleplaying and promote defense knowledge in fun and interesting way.