Since the current occupant of the White House has suggested that patriots consider arming themselves with F-15s and nukes, and also that my FFL handbook from the ATF seems to indicate that those are not actually items I can sell, the question is what chance does a ragtag group of ten million civilians have against the wokest military ever? Actually not that bad, there are lots of examples of over-matched groups beating (on paper) superior forces in history, in what is called Asymmetric Warfare.
The best domestic example of Asymmetric warfare, where there is a significant difference in the relative military power of two belligerents, is the long war of conquest that we used to call the Indian wars. For centuries, from the first settlement in North America in 1609 until the final resistance was defeated in 1924, Europeans pushed across the North American continent from the East Coast and spreading West. Along the way, we met varying degrees of resistance from the various Indian tribes and nations.
On paper it shouldn't have been much of a fight. The Europeans had professional soldiers with firearms, steel swords and cannon. Wars in Europe were fought with large groups lined up against one another in staggered rows so the front row could shoot while the rear row could reload their muskets. Sheer firepower was the name of the game. In a European style battle the Indians would be slaughtered. That isn't how the Indians fought.
The Indians weren't playing that way. They didn't generally get into pitched battles and then didn't lay siege to the European forts. They attacked wagon trains, led the White men into ambushes, went after lightly defended homesteads. Their lack of sophisticated weaponry meant they could travel lightly. While I am not sure how historically accurate it is, I always appreciated the scene in Last Of The Mohicans where the British were ambushed in the forest and especially this part:
They knew the British would line up to shoot on command, so they ducked out of the way and then charged while they reloaded. They weren't idiots, you don't have a good day lining up and letting the other guy shoot at you so you wait until they fire and then attack.
Of course the end result was that the Indians lost, were conquered and relegated to reservations where they run casinos and drink themselves to death. But for hundreds of years they terrorized the settlers mainly by refusing to get sucked into pitched battle and instead selecting softer targets: homesteads, wagon trains and the like. A book I just started about General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, namesake of my high school, recounts the fate of women and children who accompanied an American army into a slaughter near the site of Kekionga, what is known today as Fort Wayne, Indiana. As the American soldiers fled, they left behind these camp followers to a horrific fate:
He could not forget the dozens, maybe even hundreds, of women and children left mangled and dead on the battlefield. They were the wives and mistresses of the soldiers along with their sons and daughters. Some were even prostitutes. They had followed their men into the wilderness and had been cut down without mercy by the Indians. A few had been carried off, but most had been hacked to pieces with the limbs and breasts of the women cut off and the brains of the children dashed against the trees.
Stockwell, Mary. Unlikely General (p. 13). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
The Americans were attacked when least prepared, the day before they intended to engage the enemy and had failed to dig in before settling in for the night, negating their advantages.
The Declaration Of Independence even specifically mentions this as one of the many outrages perpetrated against the colonies:
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Don't fight your enemy where he is strongest.
Another example, The Troubles, the decades long war between the IRA and the British government. The IRA were deeply embedded in the civilian, non-combatant population of Northern Ireland. While the British had tanks and jets and artillery, they really couldn't simply level entire city blocks full of subjects of the Crown. The IRA tried to pick and choose places to strike and then faded away into the civilian population, a population that might not have always been on their side but hated the British and also were scared to rat on the IRA for fear of retaliation.
The Trouble took thousands of lives, almost 400 from various IRA factions and over 1,000 from the British military plus over 100 Ulster loyalists. Thousands of civilians also were killed and tens of thousands wounded. But still the IRA ended up with a nearly 3-1 advantage in combatant deaths by picking their battles and choosing soft targets. One of the most famous incidents came on August 27th, 1979 when the IRA bombed the boat of Lord Mountbatten, killing him, two teen-aged boys and an elderly lady. I was only 7 but I remember the news about this. The same day the IRA ambushed and killed 18 British soldiers with two roadside bombs.
What is especially interesting about this bombing was the planning. The initial blast only killed two British soldiers but the IRA had been studying the British response and planted a second bomb where they believed the British would set up to respond to the bombing. They were correct and the second bomb killed a dozen more, making it twice as deadly as the initial bomb. By the 1990s the IRA was employing sniper teams using .50 caliber Barrett rifles to shoot British soldiers and had started to shoot down British helicopters. I wonder how many Barrett .50 caliber rifles are in civilian hands in the U.S.?
The IRA didn't get together in a big group and march into a field to take on British tanks and helicopters but they killed a bunch of them anyway. More about "The Troubles" to come as I think it is the best parallel to what the most likely next stage in our Cold Civil War looks like.
Study your enemy, especially his behavior and tactics.
The IRA and the Indians both more or less lost. The Indians are basically casino owners and sports mascots and Northern Ireland is still part of the U.K., but how about people who didn't fight fair and won?
Nothing in modern American history, during my lifetime, is more seared into our national memory than Vietnam. Korea was a weird stalemate of sorts but Vietnam was an unequivocal disaster. It happened concurrently with the widespread rebellion against the ease and comfort won for Americans courtesy of our emergence from World War II as the leader of the free world, largely untouched by the war. It also was the first war regularly beamed into American homes on the TV. The imagery of war turned the American people against the war and it ended with first the American forces withdrawing in defeat and then shortly after the South Vietnamese regime collapsing and the remaining American forced to flee.
The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were hardly a professional, well equipped military force. But again they simply wore down their enemy and fought whenever possible on their terms. The other big problem? They were often hidden in plain sight. That was a serious problem in Vietnam but imagine it in the U.S. where the "enemy" would look just like you and share your nationality and race in many cases. Add in that the U.S. military is mostly filled with soft targets. There aren't many officers who don't have extended family throughout the country and they can't all live on base.
It is harder for them to shoot you if they don't know who to shoot.
The example most of us know about because it is the most recent is the debacle in Afghanistan.
After the 9/11 attacks, whoever was behind them, a narrative was quickly agreed upon by all the major institutions, perhaps because it had been predetermined: Al Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden from a base in Afghanistan had carried out the hijackings. Justice demanded we kick down the door and smite al Qaeda. What happened instead was a 20 year war between the U.S. and our allies plus the ridiculous Afghan security forces versus the Taliban and other various Islamic groups.
Thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded, trillions wasted and now Afghanistan is right back where it was on September 10, 2001: under the control of the Taliban and the most radical Muslims in the world.
The war seemed lopsided on paper. The most technologically advanced military the world has ever seen with limitless resources versus a bunch of goat herders using weapons they had scavenged from the Soviets decades earlier. The Taliban had no tanks or armored vehicles, no jets or helicopters, no artillery or drones.
How did the Taliban win? By outlasting us. They knew that sooner or later the Americans would grow weary of the war, tired of the casualties and the cost. They seemed to avoid pitched battles, not running into the teeth of the American military where they would be slaughtered and instead focused on guerilla warfare. They absolutely believed in their cause and the Americans simply didn't match their zealotry. Patience is a powerful weapon and losing your patience can leave you in a dangerous spot.
The end result was what we saw earlier this year, the vaunted U.S. military leaving and the Afghan security forces we spent untold billions equipping and training surrendering and evaporating without a fight. The country collapsed with breathtaking speed. If anything the Taliban are in a better position now than when we first dropped in to say hi right after the 9/11 attacks.
Patience, commitment and attrition can defeat a more powerful adversary
These are just a few examples of how to fight against a foe that on paper is far more powerful than you are. Despite the violence porn rhetoric from many of our elites who are salivating at the idea of using drones and smart bombs to smite Trump voters and the unvaccinated, reality is far different.
One overriding theme of all of these historical events is that it never makes sense to fight your enemy on his terms and where he is strongest. That is a lesson that we need to learn in our Cold Civil War and you need only look at something like the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville as a foolish move into a place where the enemy was far too strong and the results were exactly what one should have expected.
The other is that you most likely will never win if you fight your enemy based on the rules he has established. The Indians didn't line up like gentlemen and exchange musket volleys. The IRA didn't march in lockstep in the streets of Belfast to engage the British forces. The Viet Kong stayed in the jungles where the U.S couldn't effectively deploy tanks against them. The Taliban avoided pitched battles where the American tech superiority would lead to slaughter.
Certainly I am not recommending any actual actions with this intellectual exercise. Just giving you food for thought.
As someone who has never been in a war I can nonetheless say that by looking at relatively recent history it becomes apparent that winning a war is not just a matter of having more men and bigger guns.