Home Topic Armed Conflict On the Myths of the Strength of the AFP and the Imperialist...

On the Myths of the Strength of the AFP and the Imperialist Forces


(Columnist’s Note: On the occasion of the 51st Year Anniversary of the New People’s Army on March 29, 2020, Chapter 12 of my book, Unholy Allied Mountains, comes to mind. Set in the hinterlands of the Cordilleras in the early 2000s, where Pakistan’s revitalized Communist Party has sent guerilla fighters to learn from the experiences of the New People’s Army, Ding is lecturing on protracted people’s war.)

“There are two myths which we often meet as concerns of the masses on why they are initially reluctant to engage in the armed struggle,” Ding began his lecture, initially feeling awkward. “First, that the government armed forces are well armed, complete with tanks and fighter planes. There is no way we could fight and win a revolution against the government. Second, the United States imperialist armed forces are the best in the world, with highly sophisticated modern high technology weaponry. Again, there is no way we could bring down imperialism.”

“For the first myth,” continued Ding. “True, they are still superior in number and in armament. In the Philippine setting, as of the latest available information, the Philippine Marines number to 8,000 and the Philippine Army is 6,000.” Ding wrote the figures on the blackboard. “Let’s expand these numbers to 50,000 to include the National Police or even to a hundred thousand. Given that the land area of the Philippines is 300,000 square kilometers, by density, there could only be 3 military personnel to cover a square kilometer. Consider, too, that not everyone in the armed forces are combatants with most tied to administrative desks, the density per square kilometer would be less. In short, if they group themselves into a squad of, say nine personnel, that would leave us two square kilometers to operate on. The point is, they cannot cover all areas and we will organize where they are absent. And when they do come to our area of operation, we would just shift to areas they have left uncovered.

“That may sound simplistic but in adhering to this concept for the last 35 years, the NPAs have grown to a mere front in 1969 to around 280 fronts scattered all over the Islands.

“Now let’s see about Pakistan. Can any if you tell me what your land area is?”

“796,000 something square kilometers,” volunteered one of the Pakistanis.

“Good,” Ding wrote the figure on the board. “And Musharraf’s armed forces, anybody knows?”

“A million,” volunteered another Pakistani.

“Good. So, a million divided by 796,000 gives you a density of 1.25 personnel per square kilometer. You make your own conclusion.”

After a mere brief pause, Ding continued. “Of course, we operate first where the enemy has the hardest way to reach us. We cannot prioritize organizing in the urban areas because that is the enemy’s stronghold. We have to initially organize and strengthen our forces in the remotest areas. This is where the most exploited masses could be organized and they know the terrain in terms of guerilla warfare. The enemy will also have a hard time coming in even with their tanks and heavy trucks.

“Thus, we have the concept of surrounding the cities from the countrysides.

“And we have lessons from other countries to affirm this theory. In 1946, Chiang Kai-shek had more than four million men in his armed forces. In just three years, his army was routed by Mao-Tse-Tung’s peasant red army. In 1970, Nguyen Van Thieu had 2 million in the ARVN beefed up by more than half a million American combat troops equipped with the most modern armaments. Yet they proved no match to the peasant army of the Vietminh who the American imperialists derisively called Vietcong.

“Yes, as long as the government is inimical to the interest of the people, as long as we painstakingly toe the line organizing from the countryside, little by little, barrio by barrio, we will surely march to victory.

“Now, about those imperialist forces, with those noted Navy Seals, Delta Force, Green Berets and others, we know that they only win in the movies, right?”

There was a howling laughter from the Pakistanis.

“We note that the imperialists established the Philippine Military Forces so they could keep their economic interests here. Thus, we see during peaceful activist demonstrations the armed forces breaking the rallies. In every miners’ strike, the armed forces are there to help break the picket lines. They are not really the army of the people. They are, though it may not seem directly, financed and maintained by the US imperialists through the Philippine government. That way they could save on salaries and save using American army personnel.

“Yet, when the local boys could no longer handle the situation, such as in Vietnam, where Vietnamization failed, the imperialists sacrifice their army resulting in the death of 58,000 American combatants in Vietnam. Now, because of their oil interest in Iraq and in the region, they are talking of Iraqization while, meanwhile, American troops are dying there to the growing consternation of the American people.

“After the Vietnam war, the armed force of the United States imperialists was basically weakened. It took them three decades to rebuild their armed forces. Thanks to Bush, they are now again squandering their strength as they are being bogged down in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“As all of us, revolutionaries in the Third Worlds, creep towards the cities, encircling them from the country sides, we annihilate the local imperialist puppet soldier boys. When we do that, the imperialists will have no recourse but send in their cavalry but, unlike in the movies, they will be stretched thin and will eventually fall. The current ‘Balikatan’ where US forces now team up with the Philippine local fascists in their quest to quell what they call terrorists in the Philippines, is an indication that our revolutionary forces are really hurting the local forces and now need the support of imperialists soldiers.

“Then there is North Korea, Somalia, Nicaragua, Yemen, the Communist Party of India, you, the South American parties, and others. Considering that the US now has a million and half active armed personnel and another million and a half in reserves, with the total land area of the world to be 149 million square kilometers, less than .02 personnel can cover a kilometer. With the imperialist forces now bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, they could not spare more forces to, say, your country, the Philippines or Somalia or Myanmar.

“You say they have airplanes and tanks? Those could only be effective in conventional combat situations. Vietnam is proof that no amount of conflagrations those bombers caused, the defiance of the Vietminh liberation armies prevailed. Tanks proved to be no match to guerilla warfare where the revolutionaries are masters of the terrain.

“Moreover, war is a bullet and butter economy juggling. The more the imperialists spend on war, the more they will have to tax the American people, they more they will draw funds from school, health, and other people-oriented projects. There will come a time when it will be the American people themselves who will rise up against the imperialists. So, while we surround the imperialists from the world’s country sides, the American people will be the final force that will drive the nails of the imperialists’ coffin to oblivion.

“To reiterate, while we annihilate in stages the local fascists, we create the condition where the imperialists will send in their troops to augment the local troops. In so doing, they will be stretched thin, weakened, and eventually fall. This is how the Prussian empire fell. This is how the Roman Empire fell. This is how all empires in the past fell.

“This is how the imperialists will fall.” # nordis.net

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