Organization for Guerrilla Warfare – Mao Tse-tung on guerrilla warfare

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subject. These are:

1. How are guerrilla bands formed?

2. How are guerrilla bands organized?

3. Wha t are the methods of arming guerrilla bands?

4. Wha t elemen ts constitute a guerrilla band?

These are all questions pertaining to the organiza tion of armed guerrilla units; they are questions which those who have had no experience in guerrilla hostilities do not under­ stand and on which they can arrive at no sound decisions; indeed, they would not know in what manner to begin.


The unit may originate in any one of the following ways:

a) From the masses of the people.

b) From regular army units temporarily detailed for the purpose.

c) From regula r army uni ts permanen tly detailed.


M ao Tse”tung on Guerrilla Warfare

d) From the combina tion of a regular army unit and a unit recruited from the people.

e) From the local militia.

f) From deserters from the ranks of the enemy.

g) From former bandits and bandit groups.

In the present hostilities, no doubt, all these sources will be employed.

In the first case above, the guerrilla uni t is formed from the people. This is the fundamental type. Upon the arrival of the enemy army to oppress and slaughter the people, their leaders call upon them to resist. They assemble the most valorous elements, arm them with old rifles or bird guns, and thus a gtterrilla unit begins. Orders have already been issued throughou t the nation tha t call upon the peo­ ple to form guerrilla units both for local defense and for other combat. If the local governments approve and aid such movements, they cannot fail to prosper. In some places, where the local government is not determined or where its officers have all Red, the leaders among the masses (relying on the sympathy of the people and their sincere desire to resist Japan and succor the country) call upon the people to resist, and they respond. Thus, many guerrilla units are organized. In circumstances of this kind, the du ties of leadership usually fall upon the shoulders of young studen ts, teachers, professors, other educators, local soldiery, professional men, artisans, and those withou t a fixed profession, who are willing to exert themselves to the last drop of their blood. Recen tly, in Shansi, Hopeh, Chahar, Suiyuan, Shantung, Chekiang, Anhwei, Kiangsu,


Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

and other provinces, extensive guerrilla hostilities have broken out. All these are organized and led by patriots. The amount of such activity is the best proof of the fore­ going statemen t. The more such bands there are, the better will the situation be. Each district, each tounty, should be able to organize a great number of guerrilla squads, which, when assembled, form a guerrilla company.

There are those who say: “I am a farmer,” or, “I am a student”; “I can discuss literature but not milita ry arts.” This is incorrect. There is no profound difference between the farmer and the soldier. You must have courage. You simply leave your farms and become soldiers. That you are farmers is of no difference, and if you have educa tion, that is so much the better. When you take your arms in hand, you become soldiers; when you are organized, you become mili tary units.

Guerrilla hostilities are the universi ty of war, anci af ter you have fought several times valiantly and aggressively, you may become a leader of troops, and there will be many well-known regular soldiers who will not be you r peers. Without question, the fountainhead of guerrilla warfare is in the masses of the people, who organize guerrilla units directly from themselves.

The second type of guerrilla unit is that which is organ­ ized from small units of the regular forces temporarily detached for the purpose. For example, since hostilities commenced, many groups have been temporarily detached from armies, divisions, and brigades and have been assigned guerrilla duties. A regimen t of the regular army may, if circumstances warrant, be dispersed into groups for the


M ao Tsetung on Guerrilla Warfare

purpose of carrying on guerrilla operations. As an example of this, there is the Eigh th Route Arm y, in North China. Exclud ing the periods when it carries on mobile operations as an army, it is divided into its elements and these carry on guerrilla hostilities. This type of guerrilla unit is essen­ tial for two reasons. First, in mobile-warfare situations, the coordina tion of guerrilla activities with regular operations is necessary. Second, until guerrilla hostilities can be devrl oped on a grand scale, there is no one to carry out guerrilla missions but regulars. Historical experience shows us that regular army units are not able to undergo the hardships of guerrilla campaigning over long periods. The leaders

of regular units engaged in guerrilla operations must be

extremely adaptable. They must study the methods of guerrilla war. They must understand that initiative, dis­ cipline, and the employment of stratagems are all of the utmost importance. As the guerrilla status of regular units is but temporary, their leaders must lend all Possible support to the organiza tion of guerrilla units from among the people. These units must be so disciplined that they hold together af ter the departure of the regulars.

The third type of unit consists of a detachment of regu­ lars who are permanently assigned guerrilla duties.. This type of small detachment does not have to be prepared to rejoin the regular forces. Its post is somewhere in the rear of the enemy, and there it becomes the backbone of guer­ rilla organiza tion. As an example of this type of organiza­ tion, we may take the Wu Tai Shan district in the heart of the Hopeh-Chahar-Shansi area. Along the borders of these provinces, units from the Eighth Route Army have


Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

established a framework for guerrilla operations. Around these small cores, many detachments have been organized and the area of guerrilla activity greatly expanded. In areas in which there is a possibility of cutting the enemy’s lines of supply, this system should be usd. Severing enemy supply routes destroys his life line; this is one feature that cannot be neglected. If, at the time the regular forces wi thdraw from a certain area, some uni ts are lef t behind, these should conduct guerrilla opera tions in the enemy’s rea r. As an example of this, we have the guerrilla bands now continuing their independen t opera tions in the Shanghai­ Woosu ng area in spite of the wi thdrawal of regular forces. The fourth type of organization is the result of a merger between small regular detachments and local guerrilla uni ts. The regular forces may dispatch a squad, a pla toon, or a company, which is placed at the disposal of the local guerrilla commander. If a small group experienced in mili­ tary and poli tical affairs is sent, it becomes the core of the local guerrilla u nit. These several methods are all excellent, and if properly applied, the intensity of guerrilla warfare can be extended. In the Wu Tai Shan area, each of these

methods has been used.

The fif th type men tioned above is formed from the local mili tia, from pol ice and home guards. In every North China province, there are now many of these groups, and they should be formed in every locality. The government has issued a manda te to the effect tha t the people are not to depart from war areas. The officer in com mand of the county, the commander of the peace-preservation unit, the chief of police are all required to obey this manda te. They


M ao Tsetung on GuerrillaVar fare

cannot retrea t with their forces bu t must remain at their stations and resist.

The sixth type of unit is tha t organized from troops tha t come over from the enemy-the Chinese “traitor troops” employed by the Japanese. It is always possible to produce disaffection in their ranks, and we must increase our propa­ ganda efforts and foment mutinies among such troops. Immediately af ter mutinying, they must be received in to

our ranks and organized. The concord of the leaders and the assent of the men must be gained, and the units re­ built politically and reorganized militarily. Once this has been accomplished, they become successful guerrilla units. In regard to this type of unit, it may be said tha t political work among them is of the utmost importance.

The seven th type of guerrilla organiza tion is tha t formed from bands of bandits and brigands. This, although dif­ ficult, m ust be carried out with u tmost vigor lest the enemy use such bands to his own advan tage. Ma ny ba nd it groups pose as anti-Japanese guerrillas, and it is only necessa ry to correct their poli tical beliefs to convert them.

In spite of inescapable differences in the fundamental types of guerrilla ba nds, it is possible to unite them to form a vast sea of guerrillas. The ancien ts said, “Tai Shan is a great mountain because it does not scorn the merest hand­ ful of dirt; the rivers and seas are deep because they absorb the waters of small streams.” Atten tion paid to the enlist­ ment and organiza tion of guerrillas of every type and from every source will increase the poten tialities of guerrilla action in the an ti-Japanese wa r. This is something tha t pa triots will not neglect.

Yu Chi Chan (GuerrillaVarfare )


Man y of those who decide to participate in guerrilla activi ties do not know the methods of organiza tion. For such people, as well as for students whq have no knowledge of milita ry affairs, the ma tter of organiza tion is a problem tha t req u ires solu tion. Even among those who have military knowledge, there are some who know nothing of guerrilla regimes beca use they are lacking in that particular type of experience. The subject of the organization of such regimes is not confined to the organiza tion of specific units bu t includes all guerrilla activities within the area where the regi me fu nctions.

As an example of such organization, we may take a geographical area in the enemy’s rear. This area may com­ prise ma ny coun ties. It must be subdivided and individual compa nies or ba ttalions formed to accord wi th the sub­ divisions. To this “military area,” a military commander and pol i t ical commissioners are appoin ted. U nder these, the necessa ry officers, both milita ry and poli tical, are ap­ poin ted. In the military headquarters, there will be the staff , the aides, the supply officers, and the medical per­ sonnel. These are controlled by the chief of staff, who acts in accordance with orders from the commander. In the political headquarters, there are bureaus of propaganda organiza tion, people’s mass movements, and miscellaneous affairs. Con trol of these is vested in the political cha irmen.

The military areas are subdivided into smaller districts in accordance wi th local geography, the enemy situation locally, and the state of guerrilla developmen t. Each of


M ao Tsetung on Guerrilla Warfare

these smaller divisions within the area is a district, each of which may consist of from two to six coun ties. To each district, a military commander and several political com­ missioners are appoin ted. Under their direction, military and political headq uarters are organized. Tasks are assigned in accordance with the number of guerrilla troops avail­ able. Although the names of the officers in the “district” correspond to those in the larger “area,” the nu mber of functionaries assigned in the former case should be reduced to the least possible. In order to unif y control, to handle guerrilla troops that come from differen t sources, and to harmonize military operations and local political affairs, a committee of from seven to nine members should be organ­ ized in each area and district. This committee, the mem­ bers of which are selected by the troops and the local political officers, should function as a forum for the dis­ cussion of both military and political ma tters.

All the people in an area should arm themselves and be organized into two groups. One of these groups is a com­ ba t group, the other a self-defense unit with bu t limited military quality. Regular combata n t guerrillas are organized into one of three general types of unit. The fi rst of these is the small unit, the platoon or company. In each county, three to six units may be organized. The second type is the ba ttalion of from two to four companies. One such unit should be organized in each coun ty. While the uni t fundamentally belongs to the coun ty in wh ich i t was organ­ ized, it ma y operate in other counties. While in areas other than its own, it must operate in conju nction wi th local units in order to take advan tage of their man power, their

Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

knowledge of local terrain and local customs, and their informa tion of the enemy.

The third type is the guerrilla regiment, which consists of from two to four of the above-mentioned ba ttalion units. If sufficien t manpower is available, a •guerrilla brigade of from two to four regimen ts may be formed.

Each of the units has its own peculiarities of organiza­ tion. A squad, the smallest unit, has a strength of from nine to eleven men, including the leader and the assistant leader. Its arms may be from two to five Western-style rifles, with the remaining men armed with rifles of local manufacture, bird guns, spears, or big swords. Two to four such squads form a pla toon. This, too, has a leader and an assistan t leader, and when acting independently, it is as­ signed a political officer to carry on political propaganda work. The pla toon may have about ten rifles, with the remainder of its weapons being bird guns, lances, and big swords. Two to four of such units form a company, which, like the pla toon, has a leader, an assistant leader, and a political officer. All these units are under the direct super­ vision of the military commanders of the areas in which they operate.

The ba ttalion unit must be more thoroughly organized and better equipped than the smaller units. Its discipline and its personnel should be superior. If a battalion is formed from compan y units, it should not deprive subordina te units entirely of their man power and their arms. If, in a small area, there is a peace-preserva tion corps, a branch of the militia, or police, regular guerrilla units should not be dispersed over it.


M ao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare

The guerrilla unit next in size to the ba ttalion is the regiment. This must be under more severe discipline than the ba ttalion. In an independent guerrilla regimen t, there may be ten men per squad, three squads per pla toon, three pla toons per company, three companies per ba t talion, and three battalions to the regiment. Two of such regimen ts form a brigade. Each of these units has a comma nder, a vice-commander, and a poli tical officer.

In North China, guerrilla cavalry units should be estab­ lished. These may be regiments of from two to four com­ panies, or battalions.

All these units from the lowest to the highest are com­ batant guerrilla units and receive their supplies from the central governmen t. Details of their organiza tion are shown in the tables.*

All the people of both sexes from the ages of sixteen to forty-five must be organized into anti-Japa nese self -defense units, the basis of which is voluntary service. As a first step, they must procure arms, then they must be given both military and political training. Their responsi bilities are: local sentry duties, securing information of the enemy, arresting traitors, and preventing the dissemi na tion of enemy propaganda. When the enemy launches a guerrilla­ suppression drive, these units, armed with wha t weapons there are, are assigned to certain areas to deceive, hinder, and harass him. Thus, the self-defense units assist the comba tant guerrillas. They have other functions. They furnish stretcher-bearers to transport the wounded, carriers to take food to the troops, and comfor t missions to provide

” See Appcndix.-S.B.G.


Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

the troops with tea and rice. If a locality can organize such a self-defense unit as we have described, the traitors can­ not hide nor can bandits and robbers disturb the peace of the people. Thus the people will con tinue to assist the guerrillas and supply man power to our reular armies. “The organiza tion of self-def ense uni ts is a transitional step in the development of universal conscription. Such units are reservoirs of man power for the orthodox forces.”

There have been such organiza tions for some time in Shansi, Shensi, Honan, and Suiyuan. The youth organiza­ tions in differen t provinces were formed for the purpose of educa tin g the you ng. They have been of some help. However, they were not vol un tary, and the confidence of the people was thus not gained. These organiza tions were not widespread, and their effect was almost negligible. This system was, therefore, supplanted by the new-type orga niza tions, which are organized on the principles of volun ta ry cooperation and nonsepa ra tion of the mem bers from their na tive localities. When the members of these orga nizations are in their native towns, they support them­ selves. Only in case of mili tary necessi ty are they ordered to remote places, and when this is done, the government must support them. Each member of these groups must have a weapon even if the weapon is only a knife, a pistol, a lance, or a spear.

In all places where the enemy operates, these,relf-defense units should organize within themselves a small guerrilla group of perhaps from three to ten men armed with pistols or revolvers. This group is not required to leave its native locality.

M ao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare

The organiza tion of these self-defense units is men­ tioned in this book beca use such units are useful for the purposes of inculca ting the people with military and polit­ ical knowledge, keeping order in the rea r, and replenishing the ran ks of the regulars. These groups should be organ­ ized not only in the active war zones but in every province in China. “The people must be inspired to coopera te vol­ untarily. We must not force them, for if we do, it will be ineffectual.” This is extremely importan t. The organization of a self-def ense army similar to that we have men tioned is shown in Table 5.*

In order to control anti-Japanese military organization as a whole, it is necessary to establish a system of military areas and districts along the lines we have indica ted. The organization of such areas and districts is shown in Table 6.


In regard to the problem of guerrilla equipmen t, it must be understood that guerrillas are lightly armed attack groups, which require simple equipment. The standard of equip­ men t is based upon the nature of duties assigned; the equipment of low-class guerrilla units is not as good as that of higher-class units. For example, those who are as­ signed the task of destroying railroads are better-equipped than those who do not have that task. The equipment of guerrillas cannot be based on what the guerrillas want, or even what they need, but must be based on what is available for their use. Equipment cannot be furnished

• Unfortunately, this table, as well as Table 6, was omitted from the edition of Yu Chi Chim available to me.-S.B.G.

Yu Chi Chan ( Guerrilla Hf arfare )

immediately but must be acquired gradually. TI1ese are poin ts to be kept in mind.

The question of equipment includes the collection, sup­

ply, distri bu tion, and replacemen t of wea pons, ammunition, bla n kets, comm unica tion ma terials, transport, and facili ties


for propaganda work. The supply of weapons and am-

munition is most difficult, particularly at the time the unit is established, but this problem can alwa ys be solved even tually. Guerrilla bands tha t originate in the people are furnished with revolvers, pistols, bird guns, spears, big swords, and land mines and mor ta rs of local man ufacture. Other elementa ry weapons are added and as many new­ type riAes as are availa ble are distribu ted. Af ter a period of resista nce, i t is possible to increase the suppl y of equip­ men t by capturing it from the enemy. In this respect, the transpor t compa nies are the easiest to equip, for in any successful attack, we will capture the enemy’s transport. An armory should be established in each guerrilla dis­ trict for the man ufacture and repair of rifles and for the production of cartridges, hand grenades, and bayonets.

Guerrillas must not depend too much on an armory. The enemy is the principal source of their supply.

For destruction of railway trackage, bridges, and stations in enemy-con trolled territory, it is necessary to gather to­ gether demoli tion ma terials. Troops must be trained in the prepa ra tion and use of demoli tions, and a demoli tion unit must be organized in each regiment.

As for minim um clothing requirements, these are that each ma n shall have at least two summer-weigh t uniforms, one suit of win ter clothing, two ha ts, a pair of wrap put·

M ao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare

tees, and a blanket. Each man must have a haversack or a bag for food. In the north, each man must have an over­ coat. In acquiring this clothing, we cannot depend on captures made from the enemy, for it is forbidden for captors to take clothing from their prisoners. In order to main tain high morale in guerrilla forces, all the clothing and equipment mentioned should be furnished by the represen tatives of the governmen t stationed in each guer­ rilla district. These men may confisca te clothing from traitors or ask con tributions from those best able to afford them. In subordinate groups, uniforms are unnecessary.

Telephone and radio equipmen t is not necessary in lower groups, but all units from regiment up are equipped with both. This material can be obtained by contributions from the regular forces and by capture from the enemy.

In the guerrilla army in general, and at bases in par­ ticular, there must be a high standard of medical equip­ ment. Besides the services of the doctors, medicines must be procured. Although guerrillas can depend on the enemy for some portion of their medical supplies, they must, in general, depend upon contributions. If Western medicines are not available, local medicines must be made to suffice. The problem of transport is more vital in North China than in the south, for in the south all tha t are necessary are mules and horses. Small guerrilla units need no animals, but regiments and brigades will find them necessary. Com­ manders and staffs of units from companies up should be furnished a riding animal each. At times, two officers will have to share a horse. Officers whose duties are of minor

nature do not have to be mounted.

Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

Propaga nda ma terials are very impor tan t. Every large guerrilla unit should have a prin ting press and a mimeo­ graph stone. They must also have paper on which to prin t propaganda leaflets and notices. They must be supplied with chalk and large brushes. In ‘guerrilla areas, there should he a prin ting press or a lead-type press.

For the purpose of printing training instructions, this ma terial is of the grea test impor tance.

In addition to the equipment listed above, it is necessary to have field glasses, compasses, and military maps. An accom plished guerrilla group will acqu i re these things.

Beca use of the proved impor tance of guerrilla hostilities in the anti-JJpa nese wa r, the headq uarters of the Na tional­ ist Covcrn men t and the comma nding oflicers of the va ri­ ous wa r zones should do their best to supply the guerrillas with wha t they actually need and are unable to get for themselves. However, it must be repea ted tha t guerrilla

equipment will in the main depend on the efforts of the guerrillas themselves. If they depend on higher officers too much, the psychological eff ect will be to weaken the guer­ rilla spirit of resistance.


The term “elemen t” as used in the title to this section refers to the personnel, both officers and men, of the guer­ ril1a army. Since each guerrilla group figh ts in a protracted wa r, i ts officers must be brave and positive men whose entire loyal ty is dedica ted to the cause of emancipation of the people. An officer should have the following quali­ ties: great powers of endurance so that in spite of any

M ao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare

hardship he sets an example to his men and is a model for them; he must be able to mix easily with the people; his spirit and that of the men must be one in strengthening the policy of resistance to the Japanese. If he wishes to gain victories, he must study tactics. A guerrilla group with officers of this caliber would be unbea table. I do not mean that every guerrilla group can have, at its inception, officers of such qualities. The officers must be men na turally en­ dowed with good qualities which can be developed during the course of campaigning. The most important natural qual­ ity is that of complete loyalty to the idea of people’s eman­ cipation. If this is present, the others will develop; if it is not present, nothing can be done. When officers are first selected from a group, it is this quality tha t should receive particular atten tion. The officers in a group should be in­ habitants of the locality in which the group is organized, as this will facilitate rela tions between them and the local civilians. In addition, officers so chosen would be familiar with conditions. If in any locality there are not enough men of sufficiently high qualifica tions to become officers, an effort must be made to train and educate the people so these qualities may be developed and the poten tial officer ma­ terial increased. There can be no disagreemen ts between officers na tive to one place and those from other localities. A guerrilla group ough t to operate on the principle that only volun teers are acceptable for service. It is a mistake to impress people into service. As long as a person is willing to fight, his social condition or position is no considera tion, but only men who are courageous and determined can bear the hardships of guerrilla campaigning in a protracted



Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare )

A soldier who habitually breaks regula tions must be dis­ missed from the army. Vagabonds and vicious people must not be accepted for service. The opium habit must be for­ bidden, and a soldier who cannot break himself of the habit should be dismissed. Victory in ‘guerrilla war is con­ ditioned upon keeping the membership pure and clean.

It is a fact tha t during the wa r the enemy may take adva n tage of certain people who are lacking in conscience and patriotism and induce them to join the guerrillas for the purpose of betraying them. Officers must, therefore, con tin ually educate the soldiers and inculca te pa triotism in them. This will prevent the success of traitors. The traitors who are in the ranks must be discovered and expelled, and punishmen t and expulsion meted out to those who have been influenced by them. In all such cases, the officers should summon the soldiers and relate the facts to them, thus arousing their hatred and detesta tion for traitors. This procedure will serve as well as a warning to the other soldiers. If an officer is discovered to be a traitor, some prudence must be used in the punishment adjudged. How­ ever, the work of elimina ting traitors in the army begins with their elimina tion from among the people.

Chinese soldiers who have served under puppet govern­ men ts and bandi ts who have been converted should be welcomed as individuals or as groups. They should be well treated and repa triated. But care should be used during their reorien ta tion to distinguish those whose idea is to figh t the Japanese from those who may be present for other reasons.


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