May 22, 2011
The ongoing "civil" war in Libya continues, despite "Peace President" Obama's imperialist use of NATO air-strikes and thinly-veiled assassination attempts to support the anti-Gaddafi rebels and his refusal to seek congressional approval for the illegal war. Via the NYT, the poorly armed and poorly trained rebel forces provide some valuable lessons in the conduct of irregular and by extension guerrilla warfare.
The reporter describes rebels armed with ancient Italian-colonial-relics/scars Carcano carbine's (below), a one time Gun of the Day here at TRS, but not having any ammo with which to load them. Submachine guns with no ammo or magazines to house ammo if they did find it are being wielded by rebel fighter (above), apparently to give the illusion of danger. Additionally the author describes bands of fighters forming despite the fact that those bringing ammo to the group are not bringing calibers for which their compatriots' guns are chambered.
And although the article doesn't mention it specifically, I can only imagine the
condition of these ancient sidearms being pulled out of armories and people's closets is less than ideal. The same goes with their ammo; ammunition needs to be properly stored in order to function safely or at all and after fifty plus years of poor storage in the desert, I am going to guess a lot of their ammo sucks too.
More recently the NYT featured an economic analysis of the current Libyan arms market, using the gold standard weapon for global conflicts, the AK-47. According to the article an AK-47 currently costs between $1,500, for a battle-field pick-up to $2,500 for a fresh from the armory, unfired Kalashnikov. Prices are inflated due to wartime profiteering and desirability of small arms over other type of more powerful weapons in conflicts. The result is that rifles in such horrible shape as this are still considered desirable to carry on the battlefield:
To their credit, the rebels have also shown a lot of ingenuity in improvising, repairing and adapting weapons captured from Gaddafi's stockpiles. There has been a lot of attention paid to this fact in the media, this photo essay in The Atlantic is the most interesting account I have seen, although it is mentioned in the first NYT articled linked above. In particular the number of technicals, some rigged with rocket systems meant for helicopters stood out to me.
So the lesson is to NOT emulate the Libyan rebels by:
• Stockpiling munitions and related materials IN advance, including firearms, ammo, spare parts and cleaning supplies. Doing so once a conflict has started will be difficult to impossible and very expensive.
• Using weapons chambered in commonly found calibers, and as many weapons in the SAME calibers as possible. Often this means shooting the same caliber as your enemy.
• Using modern and/or safely-operable weapons. Thinking about those rusty Carcanos reminds me of Orwell's account of anarchist troops in the Spanish Civil Wars having rusty, Frankenstein Mausers blowing up in their hands. Using old guns and guns in disrepair will waste a lot of ammo through inaccurate fire at best and injure or kill the person shooting it at worst.
And follow their lead by:
Oh and don't shoot like the first group of fighters in this video, as aiming can be very useful when trying to hit your target: