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The Military Raid

The raid has long been used by inferior forces to attack a larger, better-equipped force.
The number one advantage that must be achieved is complete and total surprise, for the
benefit of causing shock, confusion and sometimes even panic among the defenders.
Besides the shock action, the raid also takes advantage of the mobility of light troops and
planned escape routes to inflict a relatively large amount of damage while incurring very
little casualties among the raiding force. The purposes range from merely inflicting
damage to capturing enemy supplies for use by the light force themselves, in the best
Mao tradition.

The U.S. Army Rangers, arguably a "light" infantry force, defines it as such:

"A raid is a combat operation to attack a position of installation followed by a planned

withdrawal. Squads do not conduct raids. The sequence of platoon actions for a raid is
similar to those for an ambush. Additionally, the assault element of the platoon may have
to conduct a breach of an obstacle. It may have additional tasks to perform on the
objective; for example, demolition of fixed facilities."

The U.S. Marines have a pretty slick manual devoted entirely to raids, MCWP 3-43.1
Historically, when World War Two began to go badly for the Japanese, they lost control
of the air and sea and their own artillery could not hope to match the increasingly
overwhelming firepower of the Allies. The raid became an often-used tactic in an attempt
to compensate for their own lack of firepower. While many small raids were successful,
they could do nothing to turn the inevitable tide of the war.

Still, it is always good to look at the tactics of other nations, to see what went right and
what went wrong, to learn lessons, and to pick up little things not covered in American
manuals which could be of use.



The Japs regard raiding parties as small investments that may pay big dividends.
In each case the maximum damage that a handful of troops can inflict is the goal.

Increasing activity in the form of small Japanese raiding parties, which infiltrate
through Allied lines in an effort to launch surprise attacks against materiel and
key personnel, has become a decided trend in the last few months of fighting in
the Pacific.

Clearly intended as a compensation for the lack of artillery and air superiority in
battle areas, these attacks may vary from concerted raids by trained units to
small suicide assaults executed by ordinary Jap service or combat foot soldiers.


Prior to the operations on Morotai and Peleliu, the Japanese have reported, raids
and surprise attacks by small groups had been carried out sporadically, for the
most part, and without proper coordination. Moreover, the effectiveness of these
raids has been momentary. Methods now are becoming more systematic and
uniform, the enemy states. “The Peleliu garrison knew that death awaited,”
Imperial Army Headquarters goes on to say. “Each line officer, of course, and
each technical, finance, and medical officer, as well—everyone worthy of the
name of officer--took his place at the head of a small band of subordinates, and
carried out training and other preparations, determined to create death-defying
fighting units.” Although this statement is extravagant, as are the claims of
success made for these raiding parties by the enemy, it is true that training of
small infiltration and close-combat teams was undertaken by the Peleliu garrison,
and that a number of raids were attempted.

The Japanese especially recommend the use of a flexible unit of small,

coordinated teams, of a type employed on Peleliu. “Although procedures must
vary, depending on the target, Allied dispositions, terrain, time, and changes in
battle conditions, it generally is best to entrust an infiltration raiding attack to a
small number of men operating under cover of darkness. This is especially true
when each team is composed of only two or three men, who try to infiltrate Allied
positions without being detected by searchlights and other warning equipment.”

On Peleliu it was considered that the most promising targets were Allied tanks
(whether on the move or organized into a strongpoint within a bridgehead), fire
points surrounded by simple obstacles (including land mines), signal liaison
centers, warning and searchlight installations, Allied commanders, and bunched-
up troops.

“In counterattacks executed under intense bombing and artillery fire,” the
Japanese said, after Peleliu, “the recommended strategy is to send a large
number of infiltration and close-combat teams to probe into the enemy lines from
many directions and along a wide front. Within the enemy lines four waves of
these teams will attack at night according to a ‘saturation plan.’ It is particularly
important that the enemy’s tanks and artillery, the backbone of his combat power,
be destroyed. In advancing for this purpose, personnel must take all possible
advantage of the terrain—small caves, folds in the land, shell craters, and
thickets. After infiltrating, the teams should keep themselves concealed within the
enemy’s lines for one or two nights, so that the enemy can be caught off his
guard by means of surprise attacks on a subsequent night.”

The Peleliu operations led the Japanese to recommend the use of small
amphibious commando teams equipped with small boats (collapsible and other
improvised boats, small rafts, and at times even small landing barges), gasoline
in drums, incendiary equipment, mines, depth charges, and small arms. The
teams attempt to harass Allied landing craft under cover of darkness, while the
raiding parties are launching surprise attacks in beachhead sectors. Also,
amphibious commando teams may be supplemented by “suicide swimmers”.


During the past winter it was discovered on Morotai that certain “fundamental
instructions” had been given to Japanese soldiers who had been selected, or
who had volunteered, to lead small raiding parties in commando operations.

Leaders were to select men who were “daring, quick, healthy, and conscientious”
or were to use experienced men. Uniforms—and presumably equipment, too—
were to be as light as possible. The danger of leaving footprints was stressed,
and the use of rubber-soled canvas tabi was recommended.

Flanks were to be kept moving, and precautions taken not to invite air
bombardment. Raising parties were not to linger in any one place. Everyone was
to be camouflaged. During the approach, parties were to take advantage of
heavy rainstorms and cold weather.

Raiding parties were advised to take cover immediately upon discovering an

Allied force and to make sure of their aim at close range. Allied patrols and
guards were to be engaged by surprise attacks.

The party leader was to instruct his guards to use hand grenades against Allied
gasoline and ammunition dumps. Also, hand grenades were to be tossed into
Allied officers’ quarters.

The principle of making every count was emphasized. When firing upon
an Allied patrol, the first Allied soldier in line was to be killed, and the remainder
in succession. [However, an Intelligence Bulletin reader on Luzon notes that, in
his unit’s experience, the Japanese seldom fired upon the scouts, but waited for
the third or fourth man in the hope that he would prove to be the patrol leader. In
all battle areas, the Japanese continue to regard small-unit leaders as primary

It was pointed out that a raiding party might attack to advantage during an
air raid.

If attacked, in turn, members of a raiding party were to observe the

strength, armament, and equipment of the Allied force—presumably so that all
this subsequently could be reported by survivors. Japanese troops were urged
not to be afraid of the concentrated mortar fire which could be expected to follow
their use of rifles and grenades.

Japanese wounded either were to be hidden, or put to death. It was

stressed that they must not fall into Allied hands. This led to mention of the
necessity of capturing Allied soldiers for interrogation purposes.
When surrounded by an Allied force, Japanese soldiers either were to
break through the encirclement or commit suicide. Nevertheless, provision was
made for conduct in case of capture by Allied troops. In particular the Japanese
were warned not to divulge unit code names or the strength of units. It may be
noted, incidentally, that the Japanese rarely furnish their troops with such
“instructions in case of capture”, lest the death-in-battle-or-suicide tradition be


In Burma, the Japanese are making extensive use of so-called “materiel raiding
parties”, as well as combat and reconnaissance patrols. Parties are not sent out
haphazardly, with general instructions to destroy any materiel. Most active during
periods of Japanese attacks, the raiders try to destroy selected equipment that
may have an important bearing on the course of the battle. Motor transport
bringing forward Allied supplies, as well as artillery pieces engaged in harassing
Japanese attacks, constitute typical targets. It should be noted, too, that the
Japanese avoid the willful destruction of any Allied equipment that they believe
they may be able to capture later on and put to their own use.

Such raiding parties have not hesitated to launch aggressive surprise attacks
against Allied personnel operating, or bivouacked, in the vicinity of equipment
that the Japs have selected for destruction. On one occasion, for example, a
raiding party attacked a vehicle park, drove the defending troops into the
surrounding hills, and then destroyed the vehicles by the simple expedient of
bayoneting the gasoline tanks and igniting the escaping gasoline. On another
occasion, a raiding party succeeded in working its way among some British
artillery gun crews while they were firing at night. The Japs destroyed some of
the equipment by means of magnetic antitank mines, and killed some of the
crews before they could comprehend exactly what was happening. But the
surviving gunners—by rallying and killing most of the raiding party, and driving off
the remainder—prevented the Japs from achieving large-scale damage.

The Japanese also have been known to try to slip through the perimeter
defenses of airstrips, in the hope that they could place bombs—either of the
magnetic type or equipped with short delay fuzes—in front of aircraft radiators, in
air scoops, in the baggage compartments of aircraft, and so on. Raiding parties
attempting missions of this
type are likely to carry Bangalore torpedoes, for use against wire defenses.

Materiel raiding parties in Burma appear to consist primarily of infantry and such
other troops (generally engineers) as may be dictated by the nature of the
respective missions.


Information regarding the theory of small Japanese suicide assault units, and the
use of Formosans by such groups, was obtained on Luzon.

The enemy envisaged the destruction of U.S. guns, tanks, headquarters

buildings, and other installations as the primary missions of these raiding parties.
The composition and size of a unit depended upon the nature of its mission, but
a three- to five-man group, under a competent noncom, leading private, or first-
class private, was considered desirable under average circumstances. The
Japanese felt that a number of such groups (five three-man groups or three five-
man groups, for example) under a suitable officer or noncom should be used to
attempt raids deep into hostile territory, utilizing gaps in hostile dispositions, and
to launch simultaneous attacks against several such objectives as airfields, tank
assembly points, and so on.

The idea of using Formosans as the “feelers” for a raiding party during concealed
movement was looked upon favorably by the Japanese. The principle behind this
was that the Formosans’ acuteness of vision and hearing, as well as their
physical ability to cope with rugged terrain, made them especially suited for night
reconnaissance. Leaders of raiding parties were ordered to maintain the
relationship of master and servent between themselves and the Formosans.
In most instances a three-man group was considered sufficient for an attack on a
headquarters, a signal station, an assembly point, or a fuel or ammunition dump.
Only explosives which could be carried easily were to be used, and a large
quantity of incendiaries was recommended for the attacks on the dumps.


During the fighting on Leyte U.S. troops in some areas had to deal frequently
with raiding parties bent upon attacking and destroying heavy artillery weapons,
tanks, and bridges.

An average raiding patrol of this type consisted of approximately 20 men under

the leadership of a Jap officer. Each man was armed with a rifle with only ten
rounds of ammunition, and each carried a magnetic armor-piercing mine.
Apparently, these raiding parties carried very little food with them, and depended
for rations upon what they could forage. Because their mission was to attach
their magnetic mines to vehicles and guns, these raiding troops would not
engage U.S. troops in combat except in self-defense, or to further their mission.

A distinction must be made, of course, between suicide assault units and small
aiding parties that are expected to return, is possible, to a parent unit.

It is well worth noting that the Japanese in the Philippines have found suicide
attacks by small raiding parties unusually costly in the loss of key personnel.
Recognizing that such a trend is likely to affect the subsequent conduct of battle
adversely, at least one Japanese army has directed that privates, rather than
officers or noncoms, be assigned to lead suicide patrols consisting of two or
three men.


In addition to surprise and shock action, light forces also take the most
advantage from sheer mobility. In jungles, mountains and, increasingly, in large
urban areas, light infantry type insurgents enjoy a great advantage when it
comes to mobility in places where not even armored vehicles can go, which
provide cover and concealment from aircraft, and which allow them to use their
fleetness to outrun or out-maneuver heavily laden modern infantry of
industrialized nations. Ski troops in mountains or areas of deep snow, such as
Finland and Russia, enjoy unbelievable mobility compared to regular line

From the German Gebirgsjaeger Manual

Because of its mobility the ski patrol is particularly fitted to execute,

besides reconnaissance, minor combat missions to disturb and harass the
enemy. Detachments on skis which are organized for the sole purpose of
executing limited combat missions are designated as ski assault troops.

A raiding party is used chiefly for the demolition or destruction of distant

objectives or for missions behind enemy lines. It must be able to accomplish
combat missions independently, fighting for several days without relying on the
supply installations of the main unit. In particular, raiding parties may be

a. To conduct reconnaissance in force over large areas;

b. To destroy enemy artillery positions, to annihilate troops and reserves

separated from their units, and to raid command posts;

c. To destroy shelters, supply installations, and transport facilities;

d. To intercept and destroy food or ammunition supply columns and to cut off and
interfere with enemy supply and communication lines;

e. To protect wide sectors against enemy guerrillas, paratroops, and airborne


The organization and equipment of the ski assault unit are based on the
requirements of the mission. The strength of the unit varies between a squad and
a platoon. The strength of a raiding party ranges from a platoon up to a company.
As a rule, heavy weapons and antitank weapons are attached. The mobility of
the raiding party, however, must not be impaired thereby.

In selecting equipment to be taken along, the aim must be to achieve the

greatest possible economy in weight. The equipment which will permit the
individual soldier to maintain his fighting strength must be based on the tactical
requirements of the contemplated action. Written orders or maps with overlays
which may be of value to the enemy must not be taken along.

Maximum fire power and mobility are decisive factors in determining the
type and number of weapons with which the individual ski trooper should be
equipped. Therefore, the men must be equipped with the largest possible
number of automatic weapons, rifles with telescopic sights, and a
correspondingly large supply of ammunition.


General Combat Principles

Skill in outwitting the enemy, courage, and a ruthlessly aggressive spirit are
prime requisites for the success of ski patrols, assault units, and raiding parties.
Fast action, in which the element of surprise is utilized, secures superiority, even
against a far stronger enemy. In a surprise engagement with the enemy, to attack
is almost always the right thing to do.

The main principles of combat procedure are:

(1) To get off the roads into the snow, and approach the enemy cross country.

(2) To get out of the villages and march through woods.

(3) To remain mobile.

If the mission leads behind enemy lines, it is advisable to utilize the night
or foggy weather in order to penetrate the outposts of the enemy. Through early
reconnaissance it must be determined where openings in the enemy's defenses
are located and where his flanks may be by-passed.

A meeting with numerically superior, equally mobile enemy units must be

avoided, if the mission can be accomplished without combat. Envelopment or
surprise by the enemy must be prevented by increased watchfulness. Every
commitment demands the exact formulation of an operational plan by the leader.
The plan and mission must be known to every member of the ski patrol, assault
unit, or raiding party.

In general, the plan must cover the following phases of the mission: route
of march, main track, conduct if contact is made with the enemy, execution of the
specific mission, rendezvous after the mission has been accomplished, return to
the main body.

The Approach March

The approach march requires careful husbanding of strength in order to
enable the unit to reach its objective in good physical condition. The return route
will be designated during the approach march and will be marked when
necessary. Ski patrols of squad strength break their own trails. They generally
send scouts ahead. Raiding parties send out one of several trail-breaking details,
which also provide security during the march. Marching on several parallel sets
of tracks reduces the depth of the column and at the same time increases
preparedness for combat. To save strength, it may be advantageous, in certain
areas, to tow ski patrols and raiding parties behind horses or motor vehicles.

Tracks of unknown origin must be treated with the greatest suspicion. They may
have been prepared by the enemy and may be mined or may lead to an ambush.
Small detachments may prevent accurate estimation of their strength by the
enemy by ordering all men to insert their poles in the same places as the
preceding men, or by keeping their poles raised in certain areas. Consequently
the enemy will be unable to make an accurate count of the pole marks in the

The manner of carrying the weapons depends on the degree of readiness

for combat which is necessary, and will be ordered by the unit commander. The
approach is made by bounds from observation point to observation point, using
covered routes. If it is necessary to pass places which are subject to observation
and which are particularly dangerous during daylight, parts of the unit will be
deployed to provide protection until the unit has passed. Then they will rejoin the
units as soon as possible. At night, silence in all movements is an important
factor. The direction of the wind may be decisive in selecting a route of approach.
In moonlight the march should follow a shadowed route as much as possible in
order to provide concealment from the enemy.

Within range of the enemy, it is necessary to decide whether skis should

be kept on or stacked, how far hand sleds may go, and whether snowshoes
should be put on. In order to obtain cover and concealment, it is often necessary
to use detours or terrain unfavorable for skiing. The troops then march on foot or
on snowshoes. An attempt must be made at all times to gain, under cover,
heights from which it will be possible to make a rapid descent through terrain
which is under fire or observation.


Combat and tactical measures depend on the mission and the enemy
situation. The missions of ski assault units and raiding parties generally require
bold and sudden execution. The aim must be to give the enemy no rest at any
time and to weaken and paralyze his fighting power without enabling him to
utilize his numerical superiority.
Skillful and versatile leadership may annihilate a much stronger enemy or
at least inflict heavy losses on him. In woods and at night small detachments may
shake the morale of the enemy tremendously through mobile and surprise
attacks. Careful preparation and lightning action are the basis for success of all
missions of this kind.

The strength and location of the enemy as well as the terrain he occupies
must be carefully reconnoitered before entering battle. Strict care must be taken,
however, to see that the contemplated action is not guessed by the enemy. An
engagement will always be opened by surprise fire. The more suddenly it hits the
enemy and the less he is able to take quick defensive measures, the more
effective it will be. Opening fire too early often means saving the enemy from
complete annihilation.

To deceive the enemy with regard to the strength of the attacking unit, it
may be practical to stage the attack on a broad front or with several detachments
firing simultaneously from several directions. If possible, the combat position will
be established in terrain which is unfavorable for hostile counterattack but which
permits the ski unit to shift or withdraw under cover.

Ski patrols, assault units, or raiding parties are not suited for a prolonged
engagement, because of their usually limited ammunition supply. They detach
themselves from the enemy after forcing a decision, or complete his destruction
in close combat.

Night is generally best for carrying out harassing missions. It facilitates

disengaging from the enemy after completion of a mission in order to increase
his confusion by attacking him again elsewhere. The attack should be made from
a direction that will facilitate the cutting of the enemy's communications with his
rear. If sufficient forces are available, total encirclement of the enemy is most
likely to succeed. If a mission has failed or only partially succeeded, the leader
decides whether or not the mission will be continued, repeated at another point,
or abandoned.

Viet Cong Raids in Vietnam

In traditional set-piece conventional open battles between two armies, Viet Cong
and later North Vietnamese Army forces tended to be immediately stomped flat
by Western firepower. Seeing no survival in following that route, the Vietnamese
changed their tactics. Again, light forces enjoyed mobility, concealment, and local
knowledge operating in jungle terrain. It was hard even for air assault troops to
catch a sizable number of them to do battle with.

The raid provided these light, poorly-equipped forces to utilize their mobility and
the elements of surprise to hit back at much superior enemy forces in static
positions. Although these raids actually inflicted little damage in the grand
scheme of things, they provided huge propaganda and morale victories,
especially when they destroyed aircraft, the largest and most visible symbol of
American might.

Small Unit Raids in Vietnam

It is important to know how the tactics recommended by Giap are practiced by

VC/NVA today. They embody two principal features. First, grind down the enemy
by a series of harassing actions and small scale attacks, and then entrap him in a
situation not of his own choosing.

They are guided by the “Four Quicks and One Slow.” That is, quick
advance, quick assault, quick battlefield clearing, quick withdrawal, and slow
preparation. Emphasis is placed on detailed planning (sand table models are
often used), thorough reconnaissance, and rehearsals. Rarely do they
deliberately risk their resources, except when they believe the probability of
success is high.

Photographs of the destruction of American aircraft such as this C-

130 were disheartening on the Home Front.

Another successful Viet Cong offensive tactic is the raid. Careful selection
and reconnaissance of the target is important. Since the conservation of VC
forces is a paramount consideration, the most vulnerable targets are usually
sought; e.g., isolated villages, security posts, paramilitary organizations or
government offices. A raid is often coordinated with an ambush of the relieving

The VC raid force consists of the following:

1. Specialized elements (bangalore torpedo teams, demolition teams, grenade
teams, and ladder teams).

2. Firepower units (automatic rifles, light and heavy machineguns, and mortars)

3. Assault troops (one or two infantry assault units).

4. Liaison, communications, reconnaissance and command.

Captured VC documents and information gained from prisoners and defectors

seem to bear out the fact that two types of raids exist. In one document they are
called “overt and cover” raids. In mother, they are known as “superior strength”
raids and “secret and surprise data” raids. A third document uses the
nomenclature “power tactics and limited tactics.” Whatever names are chosen to
describe them, these two tactics are defined as follows:

1. Power Tactics: The Viet Cong employ forces and firepower more than ten
times greater than that of the adversary in order to overpower enemy positions.

2. Limited (or surprise) Tactics: The VC approach the target secretly and
attempt to breach enemy fortifications and security without being discovered.
This has been a favorite tactic of the VC.

The power raid makes the maximum use of firepower and shock action to
demoralize and paralyze the enemy from the very beginning. With support from
the firepower units, the specialized elements move in first. They clear lanes for
the assault troops by blasting fences and wire, exploding mines, uncovering traps
and underground defense systems, and bridging ditches or moats.

As one member of the specialized element falls, another immediately replaces

him in a human wave type breaching operation. Once the lanes are cleared, the
two assault units begin advancing toward the target, one behind the other, with
the rear unit providing a base of fire. If the lead unit falters, it is replaced by the
second unit. When the assault units overrun the target, the results of the battle
are determined and quick withdrawal is effected.

During the withdrawal phase, all dead and wounded VC, valuable equipment,
and prisoners of war are carried away. The firepower element withdraws first
under the cover of a rear-guard team, which withdraws last. Because it is usually
necessary to begin fighting at a distance, more VC casualties are incurred in
power raids than in surprise raids.

The surprise raid depends primarily upon stealth, not power. First, the firepower
units quietly advance close to the target. The specialized elements go about their
work quietly, cutting fences and wires rather than blasting them, removing mines
rather than exploding them and discovering traps by hand rather than by

The involved nature of the task accounts for the specialized element being larger
than is required by the power raid unit. Once the raid is discovered, remaining
obstacles are blasted and “power” tactics are resorted to. Because the surprise
raid attacks an unsuspecting and unprepared enemy, it usually results in fewer
Viet Cong casualties than does the power raid. However, since the surprise raid
requires a relatively great amount of time to breach fortifications, an alert defense
poses a serious obstacle.

Mujahideen Raids in Afghanistan

Raids against Soviet air bases in Afghanistan also proved to be a morale blow to
the folks back home, and also took out some of the worst threats to Mujahideen
operations. Often their main goal, however, was to supply themselves from the
enemy's larders with arms, ammunition and other supplies.

Long before Chairman Mao ever uttered the words, "Replenish our strength with
all the arms and most of the personnel captured from the enemy. Our army's
main sources of manpower and materiel are at the front." lightning Confederate
raids during the American Civil War by commanders such as Mosby, Forrest, and
Stuart liberated huge amounts of Union supplies...even entire wagon trains...for
use to supplement the CSA's always fragile and often insufficient supply lines
while at the same time also cutting the well-equipped Union's own support

Mujahideen Raids

Raids served several purposes. Such high profile attacks as those on the Soviet
embassy and the DRA KHAD (secret police) headquarters and MoD in Kabul,
and on district HQs demonstrated the ability of the Mujahideen to strike
anywhere, with consequent effects on the morale of both sides. They were used
to destroy enemy facilities and/or to draw government or Soviet troops into
ambush. Raids on security outposts undermined enemy morale. Above all they
were a primary source of arms and ammunition for the guerrillas.

Like ambushes, raids depended for success on good intelligence (often

coming from within DRA/militia ranks), careful recce, covert deployment and
concentration, flank and rear security, surprise and careful co-ordination. Fire
suppression of supporting posts, quick execution and withdrawal were usually
important to negate enemy reactions.

The Mujahideen generally preferred quite large raiding parties, from

scores to a few hundreds of fighters, rather than the dozen or so used by special
forces. In part, this was due to the need for manpower to carry off spoils and
casualties. Late afternoon and, more commonly, night were the times of choice
for raids as darkness generally inhibited enemy reactions and rendered artillery
and air support ineffectual.

"Look mom! See what we got?"...Russian GAZ jeep, RPG's, a PKM

machine gun, and Kalashnikovs.

Two major problems beset raiders. Protective minefields were effective

against fighters lacking mine detection and clearance means more effective than
a nearby flock of sheep to drive into the obstacle or the use of boulders as
stepping-stones. And lack of radio communications often hindered coordination
of fire support, assault, logistic support and security groups.

Night fire raids were also a popular tactic. The bombardment of outposts,
bases, airfields and city targets with rockets, mortars, recoilless anti-tank
weapons and sometimes howitzers was a daily event. The aim was to destroy
materiel, harass the enemy, deprive him of sleep and demonstrate the
depressing ubiquity of the Mujahideen. Multiple, pre-surveyed fire positions
would be established to enable weapons to "shoot and scoot", avoiding
retaliatory counter-bombardment.

Soviet and DRA failings usually contributed to the success of raids. DRA
and militia posts were always preferred targets as the defenders would usually
run away or give up after token resistance. Both government and Soviet troops
were operating blind as they lacked intelligence, and both, partly for this reason,
suffered from a "bunker mentality", preferring to hole up in their field works rather
than dominate the surrounding countryside.

The Mujahideen owned the night, a precondition for successful approach

marches and withdrawals. Often, fearing ambush if they sallied forth, Soviet/DRA
forces near enough to intervene actually confined themselves to speculative
artillery fire. Counter-attacks were rare and never appeared to be pre-planned,
and withdrawals were not followed up immediately.

These partisans no doubt received detailed intelligence from local


Although reconnaissance is stressed in preparing for a raid, American

reconnaissance depends heavily upon electronic surveillance from its
technological wizardry. On the ground, a scan from a distance through binoculars
or night vision equipment by the patrol leader and an assistant or two is all too
often the only ground reconnaissance available. As George Washington said,
and military leaders like Patton and Rommel adhered to, "No reconnaissance at
a distance will suffice."

Third World forces, lacking firepower, use carefully gathered intelligence, often
collected over long periods of time, not only through careful observation but even
acquired inside the enemy bastion itself, through civilians, turncoats and sappers.

Although dated, this WWII Partisan Leader's Manual provides a detailed list of
just some of the important things to look for when preparing a raid on an enemy


The points on which you should get information are:

a. Strength of the detachment, number of officers, NCO’s, etc.

b. Who commands the detachment?

c. Are the troops active or reserve? Are they old or young men? To what
regiment or district do they belong.

d. What arms and equipment do they carry? Have they machine guns?

e. Is there a reserve of arms in the post? Where are they kept?

f. What are the orders for safe custody of arms? Are they locked up?

g. What means of communication has the post got? Can any of these be
destroyed when necessary?

h. What sentries does the post provide—

a. On the railway, bridge, or store it is guarding?

b. On the post itself?

i. At what hours are sentries relieved—

a. By day?

b. By night?

j. How is the relief carried out?

k. Is there a group of men in the post always ready for immediate action?
How strong is it?

l. How long is each sentry’s beat? What are its limits?

m. What places can these sentries not see except by going to them.

n. Are any civilians allowed to approach or enter the post, selling food,
papers, etc? Can you use any of these civilians to get information?

o. Are there any searchlights in position?

p. Is the post protected with barbed wire? Is this wire electrified? How do
soldiers get in and out?

q. Where does the post get its water supply from? Can the source of water
be destroyed?

r. How often is the post and its guards inspected by someone from
s. How far away is the nearest re-enforcements and how long would it take
to come? Can it be ambushed on the way by another party?

t. Can your destructive work be undertaken while the post is being fired on,
or must the post first be destroyed completely?

u. Can the post be blinded by smoke bombs for long enough to allow the
destruction to be done?

v. Are there watch-dogs, alarms, traps, etc?