Direct Action On The Populations of Cities ( From Trinquier’s “Modern Warfare”)


Colonel Trinnquier
Internal warfare within a population, particularly in cities, generally involves an extensive police operation. There is also an intensive propaganda effort, destined primarily to make the steps that are taken understood. A broad social program follows, the objective of which is to give the people the material and moral assistance necessary to permit them to resume their normal activities quickly after operations are over.

We have seen how action against the population is conducted by the enemy, and we stressed the primary role of terrorism supported by a warfare organization. Any actions taken in cities against enemy organizations will be essentially broad police operations and will be performed by the regular police forces if these are adequate and capable. If not, the army may take over the task. The mission of the police operation is not merely to seek a few individuals who have carried out terrorist attacks, but to eliminate from the midst of the population the entire enemy organization that has infiltrated it and is manipulating it at will.

Simultaneously, units of the army will spread their activity throughout the entire city, throwing over it an immense net to overlay the police forces already in place. The police organization will not be disturbed, but will continue to operate within its normal framework while cooperating completely with the army. Without fear of reaction from the enemy, the army will operate in lightdetachments. A highly mobile reserve element, the size of a company, will usually allow the handling of any unforeseen eventuality in even a large city.

The police forces can take advantage of the army’s presence and the protection and assistance that it will afford to undertake without delay (as described in the preceding chapter) the organization and control of the population, the creation of a broadly based intelligence service, and the establishment of an intelligence-action service—all of which ought to start functioning as quickly as possible.

In this way, we can oppose the enemy with our own organization. If we are serious, it will quickly be in place. Working openly in a systematic way and with great resources, the forces of order will often be able to outrun the enemy, who, obliged to operate in secret, has only limited resources at his disposal.

Then, in collaboration with the police services, we obtain as much information as possible on the organization to be destroyed and then reconstruct, if possible, its organizational chart. Since it is adapted to each city according to the city’s importance and the local situation, the organization will rarely be very different in its general structure from that of Algiers in 1956–57, described at the beginning of this study.

The forces of order must simultaneously initiate normal police operations, which from the outset will run into serious difficulties. We know that if the enemy opens hostilities it is because certain preliminary conditions have been met: Principally, he is capable of exercising a strong hold over the populace his attacks have terrorized.

The people know certain key persons in the enemy organization—fund collectors, activists, and terrorists of the armed groups who live in permanent contact with the population. But they will not denounce them unless they can do so in safety. Therefore, assuring this safety is one of the first aims of the inhabitants’ organization and the intelligence service. We cannot wait, however, until an intelligence network has been set up before obtaining from the population the information we need. Operations must begin as soon as the army has taken up its position. The inhabitants are first mustered entirely, by city district. They are quickly interrogated, individually and in secret, in a series of previously
arranged small rooms.

Any noncommissioned officer of the unit can ask them simple questions, the most frequent of which will be, “Who in your district collects the organization’s funds?” As time goes on, we increase the number of interrogation teams. Certain inhabitants, assured that their identities will not be disclosed, will readily give the information requested. After verifying this data, we proceed to the arrest of the individuals who have been singled out. In this manner, we can capture the first-echelon elements of the enemy organization. Except for rare cases of emergency, the arrests should take place at night, facilitated by a curfew. The forces of order can easily watch all the streets of a city with a minimum of troops. Anyone found away from his home at night is suspect, and will be arrested and interrogated.

Numerous small patrols will move about rapidly and securely apprehend most of the individuals sought in their homes. These are interrogated on the spot by specialized teams. They must give quickly the names and addresses of their superiors, so that the latter may be arrested before the lifting of the curfew. During the day, they would surely be forewarned and would place themselves beyond our reach. A series of night raids will cause important elements of the enemy organization to fall into our hands and will disrupt it.There are other effective intelligence and control procedures. When we arrest important leaders, we carefully disguise them and line up before them all persons picked up in the course of police raids. The leaders will be able to point out members of their organization they recognize, whom we can arrest on the spot.

At other times, we may place the leaders in concealed “observation posts,” set up at heavily trafficked points in a city,from which they will indicate (by radio or other means) recognized individuals to surveillance teams who will quickly apprehend them. One of our most effective methods is the census card (already described) issued to each individual. Of course, the important members of the enemy organization always have one or more pseudonyms, but certain inhabitants have met them at one time or other, although they may not know their name, function, or place of residence. However, they can readily recognize them from the photographs on the copies of the census card retained by the authorities. At one time, we can obtain not only their exact address, but also the names of those who are responsible for their movements (chiefs of house-groups and chiefs of sub-districts). But the conduct of a police operation in the middle of a city raises numerous difficulties. We should note the main ones so that we may be able to overcome them.

1. Modern warfare is a new experience for the majority of our fellow citizens. Even among our friends, the systematic conduct of raids will run into opposition, resulting generally from a total lack of understanding of the enemy and his methods of warfare. This will often be very difficult to overcome. For example, the fact that the enemy’s warfare organization in a single city may consist of several thousand men will come as a surprise even to the majority of high administrative functionaries, who thought sincerely that they were dealing with only a few isolated criminals.

One of the first problems encountered, that of lodging the individuals arrested, will generally not have been anticipated. Prisons, designed essentially to accommodate offenders against common law, will rapidly become inadequate and will not meet our needs. We will be compelled to intern the prisoners under improvised, often deplorable conditions, which will lead to justifiable criticism our adversaries will exploit. From the beginning of hostilities, prison camps should be set up according to the conditions laid down by the Geneva Convention. They should be sufficiently large to take care of all prisoners until the end of the war.

2. By every means—and this is a quite legitimate tactic—our opponents will seek to slow down and, if possible, put an end to our operations. The fact that a state of war will generally not have been declared will be, as we have already indicated, one of their most effective means of achieving this. In particular, they will attempt to have arrested terrorists treated as ordinary criminals and to have members of their organization considered as minor peacetime offenders. On this subject, the files of the Algiers terrorist organization divulged some particularly interesting documents.

“We are no longer protected by legality,” wrote the chief of the Algiers F.L.N. in 1957, when the army had taken over the functions of the police. “We ask all our friends to do the impossible to have legality re-established; otherwise we are lost.” Actually, the peacetime laws gave our enemies maximum opportunities for evading pursuit; it was vital to them that legality be strictly applied. The appeal was not launched in vain. Shortly thereafter, a violent press campaign was unleashed, both in France and abroad, demanding that
peacetime laws be strictly adhered to in the course of police operations.

3. Warfare operations, especially those of a police nature in a large city, take place in the very midst of the populace, almost in public, whereas formerly they occurred on a battlefield, to which only armed forces had access. Certain harsh actions can easily pass for brutalities in the eyes of a sensitive public. And it is a fact also that, in the process of extirpating the terrorist organization from their midst, the people will be manhandled, lined up, interrogated, searched. Day and night, armed soldiers will make unexpected intrusions into the homes of peaceful citizens to carry out necessary arrests.

Fighting may occur in which the inhabitants will suffer. People who know our adversaries will not protest in submitting to inconveniences they know to be necessary for the recovery of their liberty. But our enemies will not fail to exploit the situation for their propaganda needs. Nevertheless, even if some brutality is inevitable, rigorous discipline
must always be enforced to prevent wanton acts. The army has the means of demanding and maintaining firm discipline. It has at its disposal its own system of justice, precisely created to check quickly misdeeds or crimes committed by military personnel in the exercise of their duties. The army must apply the law without hesitation.

Under no pretext, however, can a government permit itself to become engaged in a polemic against the forces of order in this respect, a situation that can benefit only our adversaries. Police action will therefore be actual operational warfare. It will be methodically pursued until the enemy organization has been entirely annihilated. It will not end until we have organized the population and created an efficient intelligence service to enable it to defend itself. This organization will have to be maintained until the end of hostilities to prevent any return by the enemy to the offensive.

After the battle of Algiers in 1957,the French Government, under pressure from our adversaries, permitted the dismantling of everything the army had built up. Three years later, the enemy was able to re-establish his organization and once again to take control of the population (December, 1960). The victory of Algiers in 1957 had gone for naught.

Our war aims must be clearly known to the people. They will have to be convinced that if we call upon them to flght at our sides it can only be in defense of a just cause. And we should not deceive them. The surest means of gaining their confidence will be to crush those who want to oppress them. When we have placed the terrorists out of harm’s way, the problem of pacification will be quickly resolved. As long as we have not arrived at such a point, any propaganda, any solution, however skillful, will be ineffective on a populace infected by clandestine organisms that penetrate like a cancer into its midst and terrorize it. It is only when we have delivered it from this evil that it will freely listen, think, and express itself. A just peace will then be quite possible.

During the period of active operations, the role of propaganda action of the masses will have little effect. It will usually be limited to making the people understand that the frequently severe measures taken have no purpose other than to cause the rapid destruction of the enemy. With the gradual return to peace, however, propaganda will play an important role in causing the sometimes impatient masses to understand the variety of problems that must be resolved before a return to normal existence is possible. The inhabitants’ organization will be the most effective instrument of propaganda contact and dissemination.

The people know instinctively what is correct. It is only by substantive measures that we will lead them to judge the validity of our action.War has always been a calamity for the people. Formerly, only those inhabitants who found themselves in the paths of the armies had to suffer the calamity. Today, modern warfare strikes the entire population of a
country, the inhabitants of the large cities as well as those of the most remote rural districts. The enemy, infiltrated among the people, will always try to deprive the inhabitants of their means of subsistence. It is among the people that combat operations will take place, and their activities will be limited in many ways. They will have to suffer the exacting demands the enemy invokes to compel obedience, as well as the frequently severe measures the forces of order are led to take. It will be the role of the social services to lessen the miseries war engenders.

But we must not lose sight of the fact that any material aid we give will only profit the enemy if the organization that permits his control and manipulation of the people has not first been destroyed. Aid must be prudently administered until the police operation has been completed; premature, uncontrolled assistance would be of no use to the inhabitants. Once peace has been established, even in a small part of the territory,extensive and generous social assistance will be of prime importance in bringing to our cause many people who are unhappy and often disoriented by the military operations and who will not have always understood the underlying reasons for them.

The conduct of military operations in a large city, in the midst of the populace, without the benefit of the powerful weapons it possesses, is certainly one of the most delicate and complex problems ever to face an army. To carry out effective police work, conduct operations among the citizenry, and cause the inhabitants to participate actively on its side, are obviously tasks for which the military generally has not been prepared. Some feel that these operations should be entirely carried out by the police, and that the army should keep to the nobler task, better adapted to its specialty,of reducing armed bands in the field.

This is a grave error into which our adversaries would certainly like to lead us. The job of the police is only to ensure the protection of the people in time of peace against ordinary offenders or criminals. But the police do not have the means of conducting combat operations against a powerful enemy organization whose aim is not to attack individuals protected by the police, but rather to conquer the nation and to overthrow its regime. The protection of the national territory and regime is quite clearly the essential role of the army. By and large it has the means necessary for victory; there is only the question of will and method.

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