The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H302: Mao and Current Insurgencies

There are a wide variety of insurgent groups who have operated against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Very few, if any, have followed a Maoist strategy. Some analysists believe that this fact proves that Mao’s Revolutionary War theory is not relevant to the type of adversaries faced by the U.S. in the GWOT. Are these analysists correct?

As the US military moves forward many believe that the age of Revolutionary war is past, and even if its not, it does not represent an strategic threat to US national interests. Therefore, the US military should leave revolutionary war to special operations forces, and the bulk of the US military resources, to include doctrine, training and organization, should be focused on opposing conventional and nuclear threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

How important to future war is revolutionary war, and to what degree should the US military establishment prepare itself to fight revolutionary war?

March 16, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I believe Maoist strategy still must be understood. The idea of the long term game still applies in current environment. The strategies under this theory take years/decades to come to fruition. It can’t be assumed that because things have not played out this way in Afghanistan that his theories are not prevalent. As stated above the landscape of insurgency tactics is constantly changing. It would be impossible to stay one step ahead of the enemy, especially and enemy that has yet to be revealed. But understanding the tactics of Mao and the idea of the long-term game is still applicable. Especially when we realize how far back the history of middle eastern countries stretches. What America has dealt with over the last few decades is insignificant to the large scale of history in areas like the middle east.

    Comment by Jeffery Hoover | March 16, 2017

  2. Simply because we have not witnessed Maoist strategy amongst insurgent groups in recent conflicts does not mean that portions of Maoist strategy have not been incorporated into their operations. It would be foolish to assume that the entirety of U.S. military personnel and leadership should focus solely on conventional threats because this would leave them directly vulnerable to tenets of Maoist strategy. Unfortunately, there must be a balance of conventional warfighting and insurgency warfighting. This will continue to translate to training plans which incorporate portions of each style of warfighting. The expected deployment location of each unit should dictate the level of each type of training received. But, as units remain worldwide deployable, the requirement to be able to combat both types of threats is one that will likely remain for the foreseeable future.

    Comment by Justin Reddick | March 16, 2017

  3. Revolutionary war has served in the past as a catalyst to conventional war. Not dealing with insurgencies early enough can in some cases assure the chances of a civil/large scale war among two opposing ideas. In Central and South America groups such as The Shining Path, M-19, and the FARC are good examples of Mao’s ideals. These insurgent groups wanted to achieve land reform by forcing the governing party to create a statutory division of agricultural land and the reallocation to low income citizens as a mean to supplement social welfare programs. Again, whether their effort was successful or not, the idea was to incite violence as a way to achieve change while increasing the support of the people in the process, based on a common idea of equality. Unfortunately, the U.S. is fighting a completely different enemy whose central ideal is based on religion (the caliphate). The U.S. should continue to prepare to face insurgencies based on two opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one end, a nation or stateless actors who might not be able to mass a conventional army therefore guerrilla warfare tactics are employ leading to an insurgency. The order end, facing a nation with capabilities in the “gray area” that would avoid becoming decisively engage in war. The new area focus BCT’s should dictate the level of training needed for that region. GCC’s should have the ability to request forces capable of operating in their designated region. While COIN is a known fight in the middle east it might not be a needed skill set for the PACOM AOR.

    Comment by Diego Alvarado | March 25, 2017

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