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Guerrilla Warfare - Tactics

Updated on June 9, 2011
Tactics used by Vietcong during war with America
Tactics used by Vietcong during war with America

Strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare tend to focus around the use of a small, mobile force competing against a large, immobile one. Guerrilla focuses on organizing small units that is dependent on the support of the peasantry.Their tactics is to attack the enemy in small numbers but repititive attacks forcing an over-eager response from the enemy which will anger their followers and thus creating sympathy for the guerrilla forcing the withrawal of the enemy.

Guerrilla Tactics

The following are some tactics used by guerillas to fight the opposing force

Human wave

"Human wave" attacks have been used before by regular forces like the Chinese army. Reports suggest that the Indian army used the same tactics for recapturing Kargil. In Korea, the Chinese would overrun a small position with manpower and persevere in the same for larger objectives, despite suffering enormous casualties. For example, in an attack against Fox Company, 7th Marines, at Toktong Pass during the retreat from Yudam-ni, in South Korea, in 1953, the Chinese left 2,000 dead around the Marine position defended by 200!

Using the Human wave tactic can be an advantage when you have a lot followers, but it will also inflict a lot of casualties from your side as it lacks the firepower.

Vietnam's Củ Chi tunnels
Vietnam's Củ Chi tunnels

Củ Chi Tunnels

The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The role of the tunnel systems should not be underestimated in its importance to the Viet Cong in resisting American operations and protracting the war, eventually persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal.

Using this kind of tunnels offers mobility and defensive positions for the vietcongs, as they can easily predict and control where a battle should take place and offer reinforcements.


The foco theory of revolution by way of guerrilla warfare, also known as focalism (Spanish: foquismo), was inspired by Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, based upon his experiences surrounding the rebel army's victory in the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and formalized as such by Régis Debray. Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus (in Spanish, foco) for popular discontent against a sitting regime, and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilize and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements by the late 1960s.


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      Michael G. Gallahan 4 years ago

      Guerrillaism is Surrealism...such is a counter-intel arrangement w/the only limitation being that of the imagination. MG

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      William 5 years ago

      The whole science behind gearrilla warfare is for small enemy engagements on your terms, like who when and where and then a fast complete exit strategy. Picking the enemy apart. Strike first strike hard kind of thing.

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      tom 6 years ago

      good source of info however there needs to be more info on tatics used all over the world and why they are used in relasion to there envorment and what tatics have proven to be effective.

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      lauren 6 years ago

      this realli helped thankyou

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      Ruthiee 6 years ago

      Hey thanks very much, needed to reasearch Guerrilla Warfare for history homework, this helped a lot! Thanks!

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      Andrew 6 years ago

      Useful and very helpful for a research paper on World History which included the comparision of the tactics used in the American Revolution and The Veitnam war...

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      yo 7 years ago


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      brandyBachmann 7 years ago

      great hub, but I think it would be better if you included the tactics used by terrorists in Afghanistan and other parts of the world since it is more timely but still great hub

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      BOB 7 years ago

      my name was bob and the book was "Never Say Die"

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      Bo 7 years ago

      man, this helped needed it 4 a school assignment btw private school 5th grade were doing 10th grade history and also i need this for literature WWll THe book "ever Say Die"

    • profile image

      stewii 8 years ago

      nice needed this 4 assignment 4 yr 10 history...blaa!!

      ty keep up the helping facts

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      july 8 years ago

      great hub.. interesting techniques.. keep it up..