The following excerpt is from a 2007 book titled “Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, And Guerrilla Warfare From the American Revolution to Iraq” by William R. Polk, published by HarperCollins.
“Each of the with which I deal—and others that are too numerous to be fully recounted here—begins with almost ludicrously tiny groups of disaffected people who sally forth against vastly superior armies and police forces. The odds appear impossible—even absurd. Consider the record:
In this preliminary stage, the insurgents are too few to fight as guerrillas so they fight as terrorists. This is what happened in Cyprus, where fewer than eighty men attacked the ruling British colonial government that was supported by thousands of troops and police. In the Palestine Mandate, a tiny group to be known as Irgun Zeva'i Le-umi split off from the Jewish Agency's military force, the Haganah, to attack the British Administration; briefly during the Second World War, the Irgun ceased attacks on the British and Avraham Stern split off to form a new group, known as Stern or LEHI, and gathered a handful of followers, probably fewer than twenty, to continue attacks against the British...In Yugoslavia, for example, Drazha Mihailovic, a Serb who had been a colonel in the defeated royalist army, began the Cetniks with only twenty-six like-minded former officers and soldiers. In Greece, the resistance was formed by only fifteen men. Then, in Vietnam, the first action by the Viet Minh against the French in 1944 involved their total force—only thirty-four Vietnamese. Such small groups could not engage in guerrilla warfare. For them, acts of terrorism were the only possible acts...
As terrorist acts succeed other angry men and women join or form similar small groups. When the dominant government seeks to suppress them, two things frequently happen. Almost inevitably the government disrupts the lives of innocent bystanders and hurts or kills still more. In 1808 in Spain, Napolean's soldiers routinely hanged all rebels they caught and those suspected of favoring them. The relatives and friends of the hanged quickly came to hate the French. Against the Phillipine rebels, first the Spaniards and then the Americans undertook search and destroy operations that killed thousands of people in the 1890s, tortured or humiliated many more, and burned scores of villages. Doing so triggered Philippine resistance. In Yugoslavia during the Second World War, the Germans employed a draconian system of reprisals, executing not only all the partisans they captured but hundreds of civilian hostages in retaliation for the death of each German soldier. The relatives, neighbors, and friends of those killed by foreign troops sought revenge, and the place to get it was in the ranks of insurgents. So from a handful, their numbers grew (while the abuses of the regime are a key catalyst for recruitment to the resistance, I would argue that a successful PSYOPs campaign, focused on building rapport with the civilian population through infrastructure support will accelerate this process, helping to prove to the people, that the resistance truly does have their best interests at heart).
On Cyprus, the insurgent force tripled in a year, from about 80 to 273 active combatants back up by perhaps three times that many part-time fighters. Castro overthrew the foreign-supported Batista dictatorship with a rebel force that grew from a dozen or so to a force of about 1500 within a year. The Viet Minh military force grew from 34 in 1944 to about 5000 in just a few months. In Algeria, the guerrillas began with fewer than a hundred and ultimately reached about 13,000 in their fight against 485,000 French and Foreign Legion soldiers.
Numbers were important because they made possible the spread of insurgency and also because they attenuated the forces of their opponents, whom they forced to protect more territory. More important than numbers, however, was that in their operations, the insurgents came to symbolize the nationalist cause. Mao thought that identifying with the people was the single most important task of the guerrilla. Tito captured the position of national leader because, unlike Mihailovic who temporized, husbanded his resources, and even made deals with the Italians and Germans, he fought....
...some insurgencies never progress beyond this first, terrorist, phase. The reasons are several. Among them, perhaps the two most likely are that the original group fails to capture the aura of legitimacy or leadership and so cannot recruit enough followers, or that it cannot find sufficient space for maneuver into true guerrilla warfare....”
(I tend to think this last section may be the most detrimental to potential future resistance activities in America. One, too many people have been too brain-washed into believing the lie that following orders is being a good citizen and that the government always has their best interests at heart, even if they can't recognize it. Two, let's face reality, there are a LOT of rather disagreeable individuals within the Liberty community. The prevalance of many anarcho-capitalists, with their perceived “Me first! Everyone else, what-the-fuck-ever!” is not going to win friends and influence people in a positive manner, in a Judeo-Christian culture. Until the movement can present a public face that demonstrates its true character in a manner that is palatable to the general public, there will be little reason for Joe Snuffy the Ragman to believe that the Liberty movement offers him anything different than the current regime, with it's socialized health care schemes and welfare-based “free money.”
The final quoted line, regarding maneuver battle-space is the reason that I continually harp on the lack of realistism in the expectation of performing guerrilla combat operations from suburbia. You absolutely HAVE to possess sufficient space—that can be secured from regime encroachment—in order to build a guerrilla base support network.)
Somewhere in the mountains