Discretionary Warfare and Guerrilla Operations

By Peter “Vash” Moll




warfare  (wôr fâr)

    1. The waging of war against an enemy; armed conflict.
    2. Military operations marked by a specific characteristic: guerrilla warfare; chemical warfare.
  2. A state of disharmony or conflict; strife: constant spousal warfare in the household.
  3. Acts undertaken to destroy or undermine the strength of another: political warfare.



            Guerrilla warfare is an exploitable potential in support of the goals and objectives of the unified commander and conventional force commanders.  The mission of Special Forces is to develop and increase this potential primarily through assistance, organization and logistics.  Additionally, Guerrilla operatives must be able to perform and execute the following:


  1. Interdiction Operations
  2. Raids and Ambushes
  3. Defensive Operations



Interdiction Operations


    1. General. Interdiction ranges from the destruction of one vehicle by one individual to concerted attacks by a guerrilla force.  By attacking lines of communication, guerrilla strikes at one of the enemy’s vital points.  By their very nature, lines of communication are difficult to protect and thus provide the guerrilla with a highly vulnerable target.


Raids and Ambushes


1.      General. Guerrilla unites habitually avoid engaging conventional forces in prolonged combat, using hit-and-run tactics and limiting their offensive operations to raids and ambushes.  Both are characterized by surprise, shock, and violence, and by rapid withdrawal after a comparatively brief period of action.  A raid is an attack on a fixed installation, whereas an ambush is an attack on a moving or temporarily halted target.  In a raid the guerrilla sets the time and the enemy the place; in an ambush the enemy sets the time and the guerrilla the place.  The primary difference between the two is actions in the objective area.


2.      Conduct of a raid.


a.       Planning and Preparation


3.      The first step is the selection of a specific target.  The general mission assigned by the theater commander (or general, in the case of most scenario paintball games) determines the type of target to be attacked, but the final selection is made in the operational area on the basis of the following considerations:



·        Criticality of the target to the enemy (will this cost them a lot of points?)

·        Accessibility of the target and of critical points within the target (Will you lose half your force doing this?)

·        Recuperability.

·        Vulnerability to the guerrilla and his capabilities (Don’t charge a tank head-on.)


3.      Intelligence. Once the target has been selected, detailed intelligence is required.  This serves as the basis for precise planning of the operation.  The plan must be kept simple and cannot depend on too many contingencies for its success. This means that you should do your best to find out as much as possible about your area of operations (AO) before the mission.  In addition, do not rely on too many extraneous factors.

3.      Raid forces are organized into three basic groups—command, assault, and security; however, further organization may be required of the forces available because guerrilla forces may not be initially organized along conventional lines.  A different organization may be required for each mission. Use this within reason- this is paintball.




3.      Conduct of an ambush. The two phases of a raid are equally applicable to an ambush.  The main difference between them is that in an ambush the guerrillas establish the location while the time of the attack depends on the enemy’s actions.  The successful accomplishment of an ambush requires—


a.       Patience. The ambush party may be required to wait in position for extended periods of time before the action.  Personnel participating must exercise extreme patience.

b.      Camouflage Discipline. The key to a successful ambush is surprise.  Surprise cannot be achieved if strict camouflage discipline is not enforced.

c.       A Well-Conceived and Rehearsed Plan. In planning, every possible reaction of the enemy must be anticipated, and, once this has been accomplished, rehearsals enhance the chance of success. Once again, keep this in context with paintball and short-lived nature of most games.

d.      Prior Knowledge of the Enemy.



3.      Initiative.


a.       Guerrillas rely on their ability to strike when they are least expected at points where the enemy is weakest.  If they are to continue to surprise the enemy, they cannot permit their operations to become stereotyped.

b.      Audacity and a willingness to run risks often serve guerrillas well.




Defensive Operations


1.      Defensive Tactics.

a.       To divert the enemy’s attention, the commander may direct diversionary activities to be initiated in other areas.  He may also intensify his operations against enemy lines of communication and installations (launching a counter-attack against the enemy’s command bunker may force the enemy General to rethink his offensive.)  Full use of underground and auxiliary capabilities assists diversionary measures and tactics.

b.      When faced with an enemy offensive of overwhelming strength, the commander may disperse his forces, either in small units or as individuals, to avoid destruction.  This course of actions should not be taken unless absolutely necessary, for it renders the guerrilla organization ineffective for and undetermined period of time.


In conclusion, discretionary warfare and guerrilla tactics can be an effective tool in a General’s arsenal- if properly employed.  Note that the key word in “Discretionary Warfare” is discretion.   I hope I have provided you with some insight into how one might conduct and interdiction operation in a scenario game.