People's war

From Academic Kids

People's war (also called protracted people's war) is a military strategy invented by Mao Zedong. The basic concept behind People's War is to maintain the support of the population and draw the enemy deep into the interior where the population through guerrilla tactics will bleed them dry. The term is used by Maoists for their strategy of long-term armed revolutionary struggle, and is also an important concept in modern Chinese strategic thought within the People's Liberation Army.

People's war exploits the few advantages that a small revolutionary movement with broad-based popular support can have against a state with a large, powerful, and well-equipped army. Since a tiny force of a few dozen soldiers would easily be routed in an all-out confrontation with the state, people's war avoids such decisive battles. Instead, it favours the strategy of protracted warfare, with carefully chosen battles that can realistically be won. A revolutionary force conducting people's war starts in a remote area with mountainous or otherwise difficult terrain in which its enemy is weak. It attempts to establish a local stronghold known as a revolutionary base area. As it grows in power, it establishes other revolutionary base areas and spreads its influence through the surrounding countryside, where it may become the governing power and gain popular support through such programmes as land reform. Eventually it may have enough strength to encircle and capture small cities, then larger ones, until finally it seizes power in the entire country.

Within the PLA, the concept of People's War was the basis of strategy against the Japanese and also against a hypothetical Russian invasion of China. The concept of people's war became less important with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the increasing possibility of conflict with the United States over Taiwan. In the 1980s and 1990s the concept of people's war was changed to include more high-technology weaponry.

The idea of people's war was dealt a serious setback in the 1991 Gulf War as the United States demonstrated the ability to destroy Iraqi armies quickly using high technology. This lead to an increasing interest in a revolution in military affairs (RMA), which emphasizes high technology and information managed. Much of the theoretical effort within the People's Liberation Army in the 1990s has been to attempt to reconcile the concepts of people's war, RMA, and asymmetric warfare.

The United States intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 also influenced views of people's war within the PLA. Although the United States was able to achieve quick victories in both cases, in Afghanistan, the United States relied heavily on local people for ground support and in Iraq the United States received unexpected difficulties with Fedayeen Sadaam using guerrilla tactics. Both situations influenced PLA thinking in that it seemed to demonstrate that technology alone was not sufficient to win wars and that support from local people was not an obsolete concept in modern warfare.

Outside of China, people's wars have been basis of wars started in Peru on May 17, 1980, and in Nepal on February 13, 1996 (the Nepalese People's War).

The Peruvian Maoists, known as the Shining Path, at times controlled significant parts of the country, but they were dealt a blow by the arrest of their leader Abimael Guzmán in 1992—an event they, however, consider only a "bend in the road." It is important to point out that the Shining Path never counted with much popular support. They gained "support" through intimidation of rural civilian populations.

In Nepal, too, the Maoists have succeeded in controlling most of the country and recently announced the formation of 100,000 troops into 3 divisions in what they call the "beginning of the strategic offensive". In India, it is said that Maoists control major areas in the eastern and southern regions, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand.

It is sometimes claimed that people's wars are also ongoing in the Philippines and Turkey, but evidently those have not yet been very successful.


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