MAJ Brian Jacobson
School of Advanced Military Studies
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
The United States Army is entering an interwar period, forcing an answer to hard questions regarding identity and force structure to face future threats. Unified Land Operations builds upon previous U.S. Army doctrines of Air-Land battle and full spectrum operations.1 Essentially the army’s mantra is to fight anytime anywhere against a near peer threat capable of conducting major combat operations while simultaneously retaining the agility to combat another threat, which may be asymmetrical. Arguably, the tenets of Unified Land Operations (ULO) existed in the British army from 1914 through 1921 as they conducted major combat operations in Europe against Germany in-conjunction with a counterinsurgency in Ireland. This essay examines the British army through the lens of Unified Land Operations by briefly describing the foundation of current Army doctrine, setting the context of the situation through historical analysis of the key players, developing a case study of the period in question and concluding with the implications for U.S. Army doctrine.
The new doctrine is “an intellectual outgrowth of both previous operations doctrine, and recent combat experience.”2 Familiar terms such as offensive, defensive, and stability operations appear as well as defense support of civil authorities. The doctrine places increased emphasis on cooperation with inter-agency and multinational partners as part of the team necessary to defeat current and future adversaries. Unified Land Operations (ULO) relies on collective and individual initiative to gain and maintain the initiative against the threat. Initiative as described in Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-0 allows Army forces to strike the enemy, with both lethal and non-lethal measures, in time, place, or manner for which the enemy is not prepared.3
1 U.S. Department of the Army, Army Doctrine Publication 3-0: Unified Land Operations (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2011).
2 Army, ADP 3-0, 1.
3 Army, ADP 3-0, 5-6.
The Army describes the methodology of conducting land operations as Decisive Action. Each operational environment is different, and thus requires a mix of offensive, defensive, stability operations, or defense support of civil authorities. The purpose of offensive operations is the defeat the enemy threat, seize key terrain, resources, or population centers. Defensive operations focus on defeat of an enemy attack in order for offensive operations to regain the initiative. Stability Operations are more nebulous in the sense they focus on maintaining a safe and secure environment to provide essential governmental services or other infrastructure related services. Defense support to civilian authorities in U.S. doctrine is directed towards homeland specific tasks to establish civil security or control in support of governance. Each element of Decisive Action requires a mix of the two Army core competencies.
The Army core competencies are Combined Arms Maneuver (CAM) and Wide Area Security (WAS). CAM is the application of the elements of combat power in unified action to defeat the threat by way of seizing the advantage either physically or psychologically.4 WAS employs the elements of combat power in unified action to protect populations, forces, infrastructure, and activities. The intent behind WAS is to deny the enemy the advantage while retaining the initiative. Tactical units perform one or the other in contrast to operations or campaigns in which organizations are conducting both competencies simultaneously to achieve strategic ends.
4 Ibid., 6.
Units implement the six tenets of Unified Land Operations when conducting operations and campaigns. This essay will highlight the employment of these tenets: flexibility, integration, lethality, adaptability, depth, and synchronization.5 Flexibility provides the commander the ability to employ a versatile mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment to accomplish the mission. Integration is demonstrated by collaborating and conducting operations with other armed forces, multi-national, or inter-agency elements. Lethality allows commanders to retain the necessary combat power in order to create an unmatched ability to defeat the threat in a range of conditions. Adaptability can be defined by the ability to continue to assess and to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Depth enables the commander to extend operations in space, time, or purpose thus creating a challenge to the enemy throughout the strategic environment in physical, temporal, and organizational spheres. One of the key enabling tenets that allow commanders critical capability within strategic and operational environments is that of synchronization. Regardless of which core competencies are employed, each of the six tenets remains relevant during the development of operational plans.
The core competencies highlight the need of a balanced force capable to meet a threat in major battle, but also defeat an enemy fighting a protracted conflict. This concept reflects a shift in the Army doctrine that once focused on fighting against major land threats such as the Soviet Union and Korea, but also addresses the emerging threat of non-state actors such as Al Qaeda. The balanced concept is not new; in fact, the British Army historically maintained a balanced force to combat major threats while retaining the ability to conduct constabulary functions in their territories. The greatest challenge to British doctrine came early in the twentieth century, and serves as an excellent vignette to examine the new U.S. Army doctrine.
5 Army, ADP 3-0, 7-9.
The history of the British Army in the 19th century illustrates a force capable of fighting against both grand armies and guerrilla forces. Author David French discusses in his books, Military Identities and The British Way in Warfare 1688-2000, the development of the British military. The author highlights how the British fought, reorganized, and trained their force to fight large armies such as Napoleon while maintaining the ability to control their global possessions against rebels in Africa during the 19th century.6 Bryce Poe II examines the transition of the military through reforms in structure and doctrine through reflection after the Boer War, which shaped the British military leading into the First World War.7 Institutional experience and emerging doctrine are some of the reasons why the British displayed flexibility and adaptability in 1916 while combating two different threats simultaneously in separate theaters of war. Ireland’s War for Independence beginning with the Easter Rising of 1916 offers historical insight into the importance of an army’s capability to conduct both major combat operations and constabulary duties.
United Kingdom forces were heavily engaged in Europe with the First World War when Irish leadership decided to conduct a violent uprising with the intent of creating a separate Republic.8 Literature discussing the First World War generally glosses over the troubles within the U.K. discounting the significance of these events. John Keegan mentions the 1916 Irish Easter Rising in relation to the appearance of thirty-one new German Dreadnaughts,9 while David French’s book on British Policy During the First World War addresses the challenges of recruiting in Ireland prior to the outbreak of the war.10 Seumas MacManus on the other hand
6 David French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000 (London ; Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990), 120-159.
7 Bryce Poe II, “British Army Reforms 1902-1914,” Military Affairs 31, no. 3 (1967): 135-137.
8 The countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland comprised the United Kingdom in 1801. Only England, Scotland, and Wales comprises Great Britain., Mandy Barrow, “Project Britain: British Life & Culture” http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/britain.html (accessed 03/20/2012 2012).
9 John Keegan, The First World War, 1st American ed. (New York: A. Knopf ; Distributed by Random House, 1999), 268.
10 M. L. Dockrill and David French, Strategy and Intelligence: British Policy During the First World War (London ; Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press, 1996), 7.
provides an excellent overview of the tension between Ireland and England in his Story of the Irish Race.11 However, the bulk of the details discussing the 1916 Easter Rising and roots of the Irish War for Independence are found in Tim Pat Coogans’s books, Michael Collins and 1916: The Easter Rising.12 The Anglo-Irish War or Irish War for Independence continues with detail covering all aspects of state power in several books including Joseph McKenna’s Guerrilla warfare in the Irish War of Independence,13 William Kautt’s The Anglo-Irish War 1916-1921,14 and The Irish Struggle 1916-1923 by Desmond Williams.15 One of the disagreements between most authors is not only the title of the Irish “troubles” but also when to frame the period in which they occur. This essay identifies some key points of tension between the British and Irish, but for the purpose of the query, the Anglo-Irish war is identified within the time of the April 1916 (outbreak of violent action) thru the treaty with Ireland in 1921 (wherein all hostilities officially ended through diplomatic agreement). The British experience over the past century prepared them well to deal with both challenges. Despite fighting in Europe for two years against a traditional force, the British Army displayed great flexibility as it transitioned to a constabulary force to deal with the guerrilla threat in Ireland leading to the treaty of 1921. This display of flexibility to combat two different types of adversaries with the same force structure serves as the pinnacle of what the United States Army aims for in Unified Land Operations doctrine.
11 Seumas MacManus, The Story of the Irish Race; a Popular History of Ireland, Subscribers’ ed. (New York: The Irish publishing co., 1921), 392, 422, 602, 691.
12 Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins: A Biography (London: Hutchinson, 1990), 48; Tim Pat Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising (London: Cassell, 2001), 7, 73-106, 142.
13 Joseph McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland ; London : Eurospan [distributor], 2011), 48-74.
14 William H. Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921: A People’s War (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1999), 64-90.
15 Thomas Desmond Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966), 56-57, 142-144.
British experience in large and small wars during the 19th century developed a military that made flexible transitions from combined arms maneuver to wide area security operations (constabulary) depending on the situation. Two periods of reforms shaped the military leading into the twentieth century. The Cardwell reforms created the regiment system, initiated the dismantling of the aristocratic leadership hierarchy, and modernized the force.16 The Escher committee in the wake of the Boer Wars guided the second significant period of reforms in 1904 which addressed changes to the overall command staff of the military among other important adjustments.17 These periods of reform set the initial conditions for the force leading into World War One and the Irish War for Independence.
Tension with Ireland started in 1171 under Henry II, who invaded to bring the barbarous nation into control under church discipline.18 Though major tribal based conflicts occurred after Henry II’s invasion, the last unified effort (whole of Ireland, non-sectarian) occurred in 1798 to break free of English rule. The Irish loss set in motion several events that resulted in the separated country of today (Ireland and Northern Ireland). The drive for an independent state did not end with the conquering by the English. Smaller uprisings occurred in Ireland in the 19th century, but in the last quarter, a diplomatic movement was set in motion to grant self-government known as the Home Rule bill.19 Tensions surrounding the Home Rule bill affected politics and recruiting for the British army leading into the First World War.20
16 French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 140-141; David French, Military Identities : The Regimental System, the British Army, and the British People, C. 1870-2000 (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 11-30.,
17 Poe II, “British Army Reforms 1902-1914”: 7.
18 MacManus, The Story of the Irish Race, 319.
19 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 7; Jeremy Smith, “Bluff, Bluster and Brinkmanship: Andrew Bonar Law and the Third Home Rule Bill,” The Historical Journal 36, no. 1 (1993): 164.
20 J.H. Campbell, A Guide to the Home Rule Bill (The National Unionist Association, 1920), iii-x; Dockrill and French, Strategy and Intelligence, 20; Brock Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent, 1917-1918,” War in History 5, no. 2 (1998): 223; John O. Stubbs, “The Unionists and Ireland, 1914-18,” The Historical Journal 33, no. 4 (1990): 867-868.
The first major bloodletting in World War I for the British was at Ypres (October-November 1914).21 The tragic loss of life bled the resident knowledge and experience from the Boer Wars within the army.22 The Ypres crisis led to changes within the force in tactics, structure, and organization.23 While the British adjusted to the threat in France, they also maintained a defense force within the British Isles to protect the Islands while supporting civil defense authorities against growing discontent from several parties.24
Diplomatic failure to enact the Home Rule Bill was one of the major causes that led to the Irish Easter Rising of 1916.25 Irish nationalists sought political and financial support from multiple nations only to find Germany willing to provide arms while individual supporters from the United States raised money and limited arms.26 Despite achieving tactical surprise, the Irish were defeated within a week by British military employing combined arms maneuver.27
21 Keegan, The First World War, 129-137.
22 Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, 25th anniversary ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 37-41.
23French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 159; Richard Holmes, Tommy : The British Soldier on the Western Front, 1914-1918 (London: HarperPerennial, 2005), 42; Keegan, The First World War, 129-137.
24 Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent, 223
25 Michael Collins, The Path to Freedom. (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1922), 37-38; Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 105-106; Peter de Rosa, Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916 (Bantam Press, 1990), 14.
26 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 84-87; Charles Townshend, Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (London: Penguin, 2006), 103.
27 Marc Homan, “The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921: A Study in Misunderstanding” (Naval War College, 2002), 5; Keegan, The First World War, 129-137; Michael McNally and Peter Dennis, Easter Rising 1916: Birth of the Irish Republic, Campaign (Botley, Oxford, UK; New York: Osprey Pub., 2007), 81-88; Seán Farrell Moran, Patrick Pearse and the Politics of Redemption : The Mind of the Easter Rising, 1916 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1994), 167-169.
The quick defeat and arrest or execution of several key leaders prompted the Irish nationalists to adjust their tactics in order to achieve their desired ends.28
British leadership adapted tactics, organization, and equipping during major combat operations against an aggressive and capable enemy in World War I. The same leadership failed to employ the same elements of operational art against the Irish Republican Army after the war. The British failed to adapt to the asymmetrical threat that placed increased pressure on political leadership. In contrast, the Irish leadership reflected on their earlier failures and reorganized to defeat English occupation. The I.R.A. maintained a passive resistance until the end of the war, choosing to train, and gain popular support. The end of WWI relieved some of the tension between the population and rebels, but also freed additional British soldiers to join the wide area security mission in Ireland.
British responded to the new Irish tactics but failed to provide a comprehensive solution to the troubles. The hit and run tactics of the Irish Republican Army in conjunction with the deliberate targeting of key intelligence personnel provoked a heavy handed response by the British security forces. The reprisals drew negative press in Ireland and in England adding tension between public and political parties on both sides. Prior to the election in 1921, a compromise between the Irish Republican Army and the British was achieved in the form of a treaty in 1921. Though the Irish did not achieve their goal of a republic, they did acquire self-rule.29
28 Coogan, Michael Collins, 47-57.
29 Collins, The Path to Freedom, 25-29; Colin S. Gray, “The Anglo-Irish War, 1919-21: Lessons from an Irregular Conflict,” Comparative Strategy (2008): 379-380; Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 97-98; McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 252.
The First World War and Anglo-Irish war provides a chronological background to analyze British employment of operational art while conducting both major combat operations and constabulary duties. The monograph will review sources that address the history of the British Army in the 19th century and how it was influenced through wars both large and small. Additional sources will include memoirs and information addressing the changing political and strategic environment for the British and Irish throughout the conflict leading to the political settlement of 1922. This British Army vignette highlights the requirement of a balanced force capable of combating a variety of adversaries as identified in the U.S. Army Doctrinal Publication 3-0, Operations.
This paper briefly chronicles the British Army through the 19th century identifying periods of change leading up to the conflicts from 1914-1921. The first section discusses the British experience in war and the influence on changes in the organization leading up to World War I while also addressing the historical tensions with Ireland. The second section places emphasis on the British Army in World War I and how it adapted to major combat operations while still retaining the capacity to conduct area security operations in defense of the realm. The third section examines the challenges of an army in transition after a major war while also fighting a counterinsurgency within the British Isles. This leads to the final chapter summarizing the indications for current U.S. Army doctrine.
Section I: British Experience in Large and Small Wars: 1798-1916
The British have a long and storied military history comprising of small wars (less than 1000 British casualties) to maintain order in their territories and major combat operations for self-preservation. This study begins specifically in 1798 with the most significant Irish uprising against the British since Edward II’s invasion in 1171.30 The historical examination continues with the impacts of the Napoleonic wars, colonial campaigns, and concludes at the door step of the First World War. The nineteenth century British Army evolved through experience of armed conflict and forced transformations in times of financial restraint. The result of the conditions leading to the First World War created the balanced force required to meet two different threats in separate theaters with a force grounded in the same doctrine.
30 MacManus, The Story of the Irish Race, 319.
British History from the Napoleonic Wars to the Easter Rising
The Empire fought a great many small wars punctuated by large wars to sustain and expand their global empire. The nineteenth century shaped the British Army leading up to the First World War. The Napoleonic Wars served as Britain’s first major test in the 19th Century. The Crimean War (1854-6) defined the modern Army by way of reformations, specifically the Cardwell reforms in 1871. The British rarely experienced a year without war in the nineteenth century as they fought to manage their global territories. The experience in constant conflict shaped a balanced Army capable of meeting the challenges of multiple threats.
The British fought thirteen major wars between 1815 and 1880 known as the era of ‘Pax Britannica.31 These wars included major operations where the British forces suffered 1,000 or more fatalities. Nearly 150 other conflicts occurred during roughly the same period where the casualty figures fell below 1,000. Suffice it to say, leading to the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881) the British forces rarely experienced a time of peace to reflect on their institution.
During the peak of the British Empire in 1853, the English stationed roughly 23,000 troops from Hong Kong to Nova Scotia to secure naval bases, and quell local uprisings.32 Another 27,000 were stationed in India while 50,000 additional troops garrisoned in Australasia, South Africa, and Canada. Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Lord Grey, considered pulling back
31 French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 120.
32 Ibid., 124.
the majority of the forces and relying on local militias led by a small regular army contingent backed by the Royal Navy. This concept did not gain any ground with the politicians based on the experience with the American War of Independence, and other skirmishes in British territories. The global presence would lead one to believe it was part of an international strategy; however, force arrangements were unorganized and responsive only to economic interests in colonial areas.33 Varying purposes behind troop employment were not the only irregularities that existed prior to the Cardwell reforms of 1871. Separate cabinets within the government were responsible for different components of the Army without an established hierarchy to focus, or conjoin their efforts. The thought of passing responsibility to one single entity, such as the Secretary of War, was discarded out of fear that one person would become more powerful than the Commander in Chief.34
The Cardwell reforms marked a significant transition in the British Military. Abolishment of the purchase system, where by acquiring a commission was through procurement, and with it, commands in the military, was one of the first reforms. Another element of the reform was the localization Act of 1872 that established sixty-six territorial districts. Those districts housed and based two line and two militia battalions, both with exclusive recruiting rights within that district. The concept would allow one battalion to deploy while the second remained at home to train and supply drafts for the sister battalion abroad. The idea was sound as long as the number of deployed units equally matched those at home. However, constant small colonial wars in the 1870s employed eighty-two battalions overseas with only fifty-nine in Great Britain.35 The impacts of persistent conflict stretched the army so thin that units at home station were reduced to a skeleton force in order to maintain troop numbers overseas. The strain on regular army forces required leaders to alternate means of conducting security and stability operations overseas.
33 French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 124.
34 Ibid., 140.
35 Ibid., 140
One of the chief reasons the British experienced success in their colonial wars was the employment of local forces. The largest contingent of British forces deployed from 1815-1899 was 35,000 dispatched to Egypt in 1882.36 The British raised and employed local colonial forces to reduce the number of British soldiers deployed, which in turn lowered the number of British casualties that, in turn, reduced resistance to occupation of foreign lands. England redirected the cost of the campaigns to the colonial taxpayers as in the case with India and the East Indian Trading Company resulting in lower resistance on the home front.37
The most significant conflict to test the Cardwell reforms was the Boer War (1899 thru 1902). The military again adapted after the conflict through an internal review called the Esher Committee. Four major categories of change included administration, staff, organization, and education. The administrative revolution occurred with the abolishment of the Commander in Chief (military position) and creating a Committee of Imperial Defense, including both military and civilian professionals. The adjustment in administration placed both civilian and military leaders in a position to conduct the additional reforms required to improve the force. The General Staff, traditionally filled with kinfolk and friends, limited the promotion of those officers proven in action more capable of command.38 Reform to the staff in brigades and regiments was also necessary. The committee identified the need for an Imperial Staff and specified the types of personnel and qualifications to assist the commander. The addition of a functional staff improved organization and planning. Once the reorganization towards a functioning administration and the thoughtful changes to the General staff positions was near complete, the shift of focus was towards the purpose and function of the army.39
36 French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 141.
37 Ibid., 141
38 Poe II, “British Army Reforms 1902-1914”: 135.
39 Poe II, “British Army Reforms 1902-1914”: 136.
Observations from the Boer War led the commission to the conclusion the army did not have the capability to deploy, fight, and win.40 The plan, therefore, was to identify the type and level of unit upon which the army’s organization rested, and develop it into a capable force. The regiment became the focus of British unit reforms, closing bases and forts cut costs, which in turn provided animals and guns to the field force. The emphasis on staff and renewed interest in the regiment pushed the military towards the reform of military education. Britain instituted a policy in 1905 wherein the successful completion of Staff College (Camberley, Surrey, England) became the prerequisite to filling the General Staff positions, and began to change their culture by placing more value on knowledge than that of personal courage and valor.41
Upon the opening of the First World War, the British Expeditionary Force deployed to France, with one cavalry and four infantry divisions, organized into two corps. Their task was to hold the western flank for the French against a German force expected to provide minimum resistance.42 The British organized their force with a prominence on cavalry in World War I based on their experiences in the Boer Wars providing emphasis on mobility. Within the first year, the number of cavalry units more than halved itself due to the requirements of stationary trench warfare. By the conclusion of the war in March of 1918, cavalry units only constituted 1.65% of the Army.43
40 French, The British Way in Warfare, 1688-2000, 159.
41 Poe II, “British Army Reforms 1902-1914”: 137.
42 Richard Holmes, The Western Front (London: BBC Worldwide, 1999), 39.
43 Holmes, The Western Front, 59.
The force entering the First World War was a product of the changes from the Boer Wars. Unfortunately, the high casualty rate in the first year destroyed much of the institutional knowledge within the regiments, and they became shadows of the territorial regiments they once resembled on the onset of the conflict.44 The first battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November 1914) serves as an appropriate example where in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) lost over 58,000 officers and men of the 100,000 deployed.45 Of those units that fought, only one in thirty survived since their arrival in August of 1914 just three months prior to the battle.46 The regeneration of the force required additional officers to fill officer ranks. The British developed some of them out of the remaining force structure, but “dug out” the rest from retirement.47
Irish Escalation 1914-1916 and the Outbreak of the Rebellion
The creation of an Irish Republic was the strategic goal of nationalist leader Patrick Pearse and some sympathizers within the British government. Politics failed to secure those ends for the Irish despite a serious commitment to the British leadership in the form of military support to the First World War. The reward for the Irish commitment to the British was another delay to implement of the Home Rule bill, which allowed Ireland to rule itself similar to that of Canada and Australia. The political delay turned Irish leaders from passive resistance to an active form leading to the development of plans for an aggressive armed uprising to secure their freedom. The latter form of resistance was not new to the Irish cause that had fought occupation by England since 1171 with the invasion of Henry the Second.48
44 Holmes, The Western Front, 49.
45 Ibid., 39.
46 Ibid., 49.
47 Ibid., 115.
48 MacManus, The Story of the Irish Race, 319.
The struggle to free Ireland from England started long before 1916. The failed rising of 1798 was the last unified effort of Protestant and Catholic Irish to establish their own free republic. Shortly after the 1798 rebellion, England began to populate the Ulster communities in Northern Ireland with lowland Protestant Scottish to disrupt Irish unity.49 Generations of Scottish were born in Ireland; the British succeeded in driving a wedge between ‘Northern Ireland’ and the rest of the ethnic Irish. The English continued to apply additional pressure to the wedge to exploit the tension between the two entities. The divide has been represented historically as a pure religious conflict rather than ethnic but was truly both. The pressure started at the top with British leadership. One of the chief examples, British politician Lord Randolph Churchill, provoked sectarian violence in Ulster with his speech in 1886 denouncing home rule and equating it to “Rome Rule.”50
Prior to the discussions of a political settlement by way of the Home Rule legislation, the Irish people faced a series of struggles in the 1800’s which resulted in the growth of a new ideology. The most significant crisis was that of the potato famine (1845-1847). The British chose not to assist their constituents, their island neighbor, and protectorate, with agricultural or financial substance. The result of the neglect was over one million people dead and another million immigrated to the American continent. Though 20-25% of the country departed as a spirit or in spirit, an ideology was borne under the hard times. The Fenians fostered and developed Fenianism, which inspired the people through the arts and literature with the intent to fan the flame of nationalism for those who remained in Ireland. This movement served as the active wing of the Irish movement towards a republic while the Home Rule committee pushed from the political side.
49 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 12-15.
50 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 3.
The concept behind the Home Rule bill was to allow Ireland to self-govern while retaining ties to England. The bill was to establish an independent Irish Executive under England but responsible for the Irish Legislature.51 Imperial concerns such as the armed forces, colonial affairs, and currency were to remain the responsibility of Great Britain. Legislation protected Protestants by forbidding the endowment of any other religious denomination in order to ease the fears of politicians like Lord Randolph Churchill. Under these guiding rules, the Imperial Parliament would maintain a constabulary role for two years then hand control over to the Irish Parliament.
The stakes in Ireland were self-rule in the wake of the constant neglect by the British to support their loyal constituents. Finally, the moment arrived in the legal system by way of a bill to take a step toward independence. The Home Rule bill would increase Irish representation in England, and more importantly, allow the Irish to govern themselves. Unfortunately, the Ulster communities did not support the Home Rule bill. Under British rule, the unionists were favored heavily within the government based on their Protestant faith. The unionists or Protestants in general, felt that loss of British control to the Irish, a Catholic majority, would significantly affect their business. Perception being reality in the eyes of the Unionists, they rioted in 1886 in Belfast after a speech delivered by a British politician, Lord Randolph Churchill, who intended to undermine local support for the bill.52 Thus, the politician planted the seed in the heads of the Unionists inspiring sectarian violence at the mere mention of the Home Rule within parliament, which led to the summer of discontent in 1886 where rioting resulted in the death of 32 people and another 371 injured.53
51 Walter James Shepard, “The Government of Ireland (Home Rule) Bill,” The American Political Science Review 6, no. 4 (1912): 564-565.
52 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 7.
53 Ibid., 7
The bill first presented to the House of Commons in June 1886 by British Prime Minister William Gladstone, was defeated and resulted in those supporting the bill resigning from their office in the next election.54 The second attempt at passing the bill was in 1893. Amongst heavy opposition from protestant influenced Unionist parties, Prime Minister Asquith introduced the third Home Rule in April 1912.55
The Irish nationalists faced several obstacles in their path towards a unified republic. This was evident when the senior leaders of the unionists within Ulster would not concede their position within the country.56 Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Unionists in Ulster, viewed himself first an Ulsterman, then a Brit, but not an Irishman.57 Though he had just as much legal power as John Redmond and the Nationalists in politics, he would lose influence in Irish affairs under Home Rule. Prior to the posting of the approved Home Rule Bill to the statute books in September of 1914,58 Carson arranged for weapons and ammunition to support his Ulster militia force for violent protest to remain under British control. The Ulster militia received their weapons unopposed by British officials, on 24 April 1914. The British openly supported Carson and the Unionists by allowing them to form Ulster Regiments to support the British army.59
In contrast, the British denied Redmond’s request to form similar regiments within Ireland to defend itself as part of the overall defense of the United Kingdom and to assist with the
54 Chaib Amina, The Failure of William Ewart Gladstone’s Policy in Ireland between 1868-1894 (Mentouri University, 2010), 30; W.C. Lubenow, “Irish Home Rule and the Great Separation in the Liberal Party in 1886: The Dimensions of Parliamentary Liberalism,” Victorian Studies (1983): 161.
55 Smith, “Bluff, Bluster and Brinkmanship”: 164.
56 Dockrill and French, Strategy and Intelligence, 1; Smith, “Bluff, Bluster and Brinkmanship”: 166.
57 Peter De Rosa, Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916 (New York, NY: Bantam Press, 1994), 14.
58 Smith, “Bluff, Bluster and Brinkmanship”: 177.
59 Holmes, Tommy, 153-154.
war in Europe.60 The British allowed the Irish to join the regular army but denied them the opportunity to organize into Irish Regiments similar to that of the Ulster or any other United Kingdom force.61 Irish interests were directed towards their own self-determination and sought support elsewhere. Some leaders ventured to the United States to gather support from the large contingent that left during the hardships in the 1800s and even from the White House. Without public international sympathy from the United States, they searched elsewhere. That search ended with Germany, as they were the most willing to help the Irish nationalists separate from the United Kingdom.
Section II: England’s Difficulty is Ireland’s Opportunity
The outbreak of the Eater Rising on 24 May 1916 challenged British leadership already deeply engaged in the First World War. The leaders of the rebellion timed their strategic move to persuade British leaders that the Irish problem was too much of a burden; it would be best to settle quickly and maintain focus on Germany. Irish forces seized the initiative through surprise and were able to secure key terrain in Dublin. British forces assigned to a security role in Ireland quickly responded to the event with various arms (cavalry, infantry, artillery, etc.) to quell the disturbance.62 That English forces were prepared for such an uprising was apparent by the arrangement of forces at the time and their swift victory over the rebels.
60 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 73.
61 Dockrill and French, Strategy and Intelligence, 20.
62 Great Britain. War Office. and Great Britain. War Office. General Staff., Field Service Regulations, 2 vols. (London: H. M. Stationery Off., 1912), 14.
British Operations in the First World War
Historically, heavy British involvement overseas managed to awaken the revolutionary Sinn Fein movement within Ireland. One such case was the revolt in 1796. The Irish began their protest to English trade restrictions on textile exports by boycotting imports from England. The British were understandably weak in 1778 due to their commitment in America when the passive resistance began in Ireland.63 The Irish tried to gain men and material from the French but British bribes changed the course of the French fleet from the coast of Ireland.64 The resistance became more violent in 1798 but the United Irishmen could not secure a victory. The Irish sought international support from other European powers that aligned against the British. The British were able to undermine support from both the Dutch and French leaving the ill-equipped Irish to liberate themselves. The British, recognizing a growing threat from Ireland, continued to suppress them through trade limitations, military restrictions, and land ownership policy.65
The trend of Irish uprising during British deployments led planners to develop Emergency Scheme Z. Though the plan was developed under the umbrella of homeland defense against a German invasion, the design clearly targeted Irish rebels. Scheme Z calls for two infantry divisions with support of two cavalry brigades and two artillery batteries stationed in England to deploy to Ireland.66 Defense planners anticipated the Germans would land a battalion size element with support of two naval gunships. Although the battalion is a relatively small force, most likely the planners assumed the Irish would support the invasion to defeat the security forces in order to seize control of the island.
63 MacManus, The Story of the Irish Race, 494-496.
64 Ibid., 511-514.
65 Ibid., 526.
66 Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent”: 218.
The British maintained a force of 175,000 soldiers on England during the First World War for the purpose of home defense.67 The defense mission served two purposes; defend the coasts in the event of a German invasion, and provide support to civil authorities overwhelmed by local unrest. Discontent in Ireland was nothing new, however, the growing movement within England in the eyes of a similar labor movement that led to the collapse of Russia, caused British authorities major concern. The Irish gained historical attention with their violent rebellion in 1916, but they were not the only reason to keep a large military contingent in the U.K. Labor unrest developed all over the U.K., locations included the Red Clydeside (Scotland), Wales, Tyneside-Teeside (England), Liverpool-Manchester (England), and in London itself.68 Contributing to the tension within the U.K. was the continued success of the German submarine campaign, which destroyed 300,000 to 350,000 tons of critical supplies a month in the winter of 1916-1917 and up to 860,000 in April of 1917.69 The home defense force was required to respond to both civil disturbances and a German invasion.
United Kingdom forces conducted both Wide Area Security within the U.K. and Combined Arms Warfare in Europe in1918 as earlier defined from ADP 3-0. Civil unrest overshadowed the threat of a German invasion and forced British leaders to retain four cavalry divisions within the interior of England.70 The force was employed in the role of wide area security within the U.K., but retained the capability to conduct combined arms maneuver in order to defeat an invasion force or a conventional threat.
Supporting the wide area security mission in the United Kingdom were local security officials. Police chief constables were responsible for maintaining information files to provide to
67 Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent”: 205.
68 Ibid., 220.
69 Holmes, The Western Front, 144.
70 Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent”: 223.
army equivalent officers in the event of social revolution. The result were ‘black lists’ maintained by the police to support raids by the military.71 The connection between local security agencies and military organizations ties back to the Cardwell reforms, and the creation of regional units within the U.K.72
Irish Republican Army Takes the Initiative
Irish Nationalists required an answer, or at least a legitimate discourse with British leaders, to the daunting challenge of securing the Irish Republic. The British suspended enacting the Home Rule bill until the conclusion of the war with Germany. Between political delays and increasing Ulster opposition to the bill, nationalists were skeptical the Home Rule would come to fruition. Irish Republican Brigade leaders, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, sought a way to secure Irish freedom by force of arms. Their action required the employment of several ill-equipped independent nationalist organizations against a well-armed and trained U.K. force. Patrick Pearse intended to provoke a response by the Irish population to rally to the cause, while achieving international recognition of legitimacy. The leaders of the separate organizations (Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Citizen Army, Gaelic Athletic Association, and Irish National Volunteers) created a committee to organize for the resistance and a legitimate government in order to represent the Irish republic in the international community. Their force also required arms and ammunition to fight against the U.K. constabulary forces that were conducting area security as part of defense of the realm in Ireland and Great Britain.73 The rebels additionally required an international ally to recognize their legitimacy and provide support through mediation at the negotiating table when hostilities ceased.74
71 Millman, “British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent”: 230.
72 Dockrill and French, Strategy and Intelligence, 140.
73 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 85.
74 Collins, The Path to Freedom, 37-38.
The nationalists disagreed on some topics, but rallied their separate organizations under the cause of a free and independent Irish Republic. Their disagreement would resurface at the conclusion of the war for independence, but for the immediate future they mobilized their efforts in strategy and tactics to achieve their goals. Many of the leaders published in local papers or distributed pamphlets to educate the population in order to bring attention to their cause. They commissioned overseas envoys to garner political, financial, and material support for their cause. Some went to America; the most memorable was the agreement with Germany considering the circumstances after 1914.75
The Citizen Army led by James Connolly was one of these organizations. Though several Irish leaders were academics and poets, James was once a soldier in the British army and a student of warfare. Specifically, he studied popular uprisings by other nations and then published the lessons learned from those events in the Workers Republic (29 May-24 July 1915).76 The intention of the articles was to inform his fellow compatriots on how to conduct a successful revolution in order to establish their own republic.77
75 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 84-88.
76 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 12.
77 Ibid., 12.
The Irish Republican Brotherhood set the stage for the Easter Rising by arranging for arms, personnel, and developing a plan to seize key terrain. The organization coordinated in secret with Germany to maximize the impact on United Kingdom forces. Sir Roger Casement and Joseph Plunkett negotiated to receive 20,000 rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, and ten machine guns. The shipment would arrive just before Easter by way of a Norwegian ship to reduce the chance of a British intercept. The attack would commence nearly the same time as a major German Offensive in France.78 The IRB planned to seize key political locations within Dublin such as the General Post Office, versus attacking British military posts. During the St. Patrick’s Day celebration (17 March 1916), the organized forces conducted unarmed rehearsals in Dublin.79 The stage was set for Irish leaders to take their place in history, all they needed were the weapons from the Germans the week prior to Easter and they could fight for their freedom.
Sir Roger Casement, a protestant Irishman and financial supporter to the volunteer cause, traveled to Germany in 1915 to secure aid for the Irish rebellion.80 This strategic arrangement provided the Irish with a country that would recognize them as a legitimate republic in the international community. Germany also agreed to provide the Irish with arms and ammunition. The Germans also sought to coordinate the Irish attack with a major operation of their own to create an impact on the British leadership. Sir Roger Casement attempted to secure a battalion or at least advisors for the poorly trained Irish forces, but this arrangement never materialized. He, in fact, boarded a German submarine to pass the message to the Irish volunteer leaders explaining the arms on the ship Aud was all the Germans were willing to provide at the time. Casement was arrested the day he landed in Ireland and unable to pass along the key information to the IRB.81
James Connolly and Patrick Pearse arranged multiple actions in time and space to create the opportunity to achieve the desired outcome. Irish leaders developed a plan to seize key terrain while not directly engaging in combat with the United Kingdom constabulary forces. Surprise was essential to success, since the rebels lacked parity in arms and munitions with the police and constabulary forces. The Easter holiday served as the best opportunity to catch the U.K. forces off guard since they traditionally operated at minimal staffing in observance of the event. Additionally, the Irish could execute rehearsals on Easter Sunday as part of a traditional show of force while building up combat power within the city of Dublin. The arms shipment from the Aud would arrive just days before in order to reduce the chance for the U.K. forces to conduct raids on houses and compromise the operation.82
78 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 84-87.
79 Ibid., 77.
80 Townshend, Easter 1916, 103.
81 Ibid., 130-131.
82 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 13.
The Aud never made it to shore, leaving the Irish leaders with a decision to abort the operation or continue against increased risk of failure. Leaders gathered Easter Sunday to debate the topic knowing they did not have modern weapons, and in some cases, only farm tools to fight the U.K. forces. The decision collectively though not unanimously, was to continue with the planned rising. This decision conflicted with guidance given the night before as the Irish volunteer chief of staff, Eoin MacNeill, sent messengers around to cancel the rising.83 Confusion between the orders caused a reduction in forces in Dublin the following day as well as disruption in the attacks throughout Ireland on the day of execution. The Irish seized the General Post Office and several other locations with little or no resistance. However, this was the exception rather than the norm. Lack of personnel contributed to the failure of seizing key military objectives such as Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the Shelbourne Hotel.84 The first being a political icon of British rule and the latter two provided clear vantage points to direct fires within the city. Confusion, lack of arms, and delay of reinforcements provided the opportunity for the British to take the initiative from the Irish.
83 Townshend, Easter 1916, 136-137.
84 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 105-106.
British Counterattack to Defeat Irish Republican Army
The United Kingdom forces regained the initiative and defeated the Irish Republican Army six days after the initial skirmishes. Major General William Henry Muir Lowe employed the navy ship Helga, artillery, and ground forces to overwhelm the lightly armed rebels. The resulting actions were a tactical success, but a strategic failure for the British.
The Reserve Cavalry Brigade at Curragh quickly deployed forces under the command of Major General W.H.M Lowe with the direction to drive a wedge between the fortified rebel positions in Dublin. The forces numbered at 4,650 men garrisoned in various locations in the county of Kildare, but within a couple of hours descended on the scene. MG Lowe received reinforcements two days later by sea. The forces included additional artillery, soldiers, and machine guns. Employing combined arms maneuver, the U.K. force slowly, but deliberately, created a cordon of Dublin city. The overwhelming force defeated the rebel forces within a week.85
United Kingdom forces regained the initiative from the Irish Republican Army through swift action, but lost it with poor leadership. Tactical success quickly resorted to undisciplined chaos as the 3d Irish Rifles (British army) led by Captain J.C. Bowen Colthurst executed a popular local, pacifist and feminist, Sheehy-Skeffington along with two other citizens.86 Soldiers frustrated with heavy losses (300 killed and 1,000 wounded),87 committed other acts of reprisal to include bayonetting and the shooting of unarmed citizens who took cover from the constant artillery bombardments within their cellars.88 Local sentiment initially supported the quelling of the rebel forces, but the mounting atrocities began to sway popular support from the British.
85 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 102-103.
86 Townshend, Easter 1916, 192.
87 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 45.
88 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 142; McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 24-25.
British soldiers mistreated the Irish prisoners in plain view of the public, while escorting them out of Dublin. One such example was the order issued by British Captain Lee Wilson who directed Tom Clarke’s bandages be removed from covering an open gunshot wound. Additionally the Captain ordered Sean MacDermontt’s (disabled by polio) walking stick be removed, and directed the prisoners to relieve themselves where they lay in the streets.89 The greatest impression on the population was the summary execution of the alleged leaders of the Rising. Popular support transitioned so rapidly to the Irish rebels, that a peaceful resolution between the British Prime Minister and Redmond became impossible.90
Section III: The Irish Troubles: Irregular War
The failure of the Irish to seize and hold key terrain during the Rising clearly displayed their inadequacy to defeat the British in a conventional fight. Home Rule and other political measures lost the momentum Irish leaders hoped to stimulate through military action. The problem facing the new leadership was how to achieve independence against a better-armed and trained constabulary force enabled by an excellent intelligence apparatus. While employing Irishmen with small arms, sustaining the momentum achieved in popular support from the Easter Rising. The course laid before the Irish was to either concede to British rule, or continue to fight in a manner that would drive the occupiers out over the course of time. The loss of several key leaders by summary execution degraded the leadership of the Irish rebellion, but the popular support from the local population for the nationalist cause grew exponentially.
89 Coogan, 1916: The Easter Rising, 171-173.
90 Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926, 142-144.
While locked away safely in Frongoch Camp in Wales, Michael Collins and others debated on tactics and strategy of guerrilla warfare.91 Key leaders smuggled military manuals and training articles into the prison and debated on the best methods to defeat the stronger and better-equipped U.K. Forces.92 Along with the physical aim of the movement, the political revolutionaries gained support after the Easter Rising. Three years removed from the failed rising, the people of Ireland elected representatives with direct ties to revolutionary nationalism to their local government offices.93 The overwhelming number of Sinn Fein elected in the Irish parliament was a clear indicator as to where popular support of the country was leaning. Only two seats out of North East Ulster did not support the nationalist movement.
Irregular warfare succeeds with support of the local population to gather intelligence, and create safe havens for insurgent forces. The local popular support sways based on security, and the perception of legitimacy. Insurgents must create a better solution than the established government presents. William Kautt, identifies several parallels to the I.R.A. methodology to that of Mao Tse-tung’s principles where in “a people’s war” guerrillas show respect for the people, their property, and the traditions of their society.94 By gaining popular support, the guerrillas employ the population in protecting information about themselves to deny security forces from defeating their efforts.
91 Gray, “The Anglo-Irish War, 1919-21”: 379-380.
92 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 64.
93 Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926, 56-57.
94 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 27-29.
One of the major lines of effort within irregular warfare is intelligence. Guerrillas and security forces alike identify key information about themselves, which the enemy considers valuable to their effort.95 Likewise, the Irish identified essential information about U.K. key leaders, and operatives in order to target the individual lethally by execution, or non-lethally by letters, or other strategic communication. The advantage of the Irish intelligence system enabled them to undermine the British security apparatus in Ireland.
British Operational Art in the Transition from Major Combat Operations
The Irish War for Independence gained momentum after the end of the First World War. The British Army began to draw down the combat forces and transition back to the global constabulary mission. Similar to other countries, the British started the debate on the importance of new technology and the potential impact on their armed forces. These technologies included the airplane, aircraft carrier, and tank. Before those conversations could truly continue in good faith the leadership was required to deal with the domestic threat in Ireland and shortly a new unconventional threat in Germany.
The troubles in Ireland began to gain momentum at the conclusion of the First World War. The British still viewed this as a civil disturbance evident by the appointment of General Sir Nevil Macready as the commander of crown forces in Ireland. General Macready displayed personal success as the Commissioner of London Metropolitan Police, proving himself as a worthy candidate to lead the policing action.96 One of General Macready’s challenges was providing the right number of forces in Ireland to establish security. He identified the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) as too undermanned to conduct adequate patrolling and raids to quell the disturbances. British Army forces stationed on the Island supplemented the RIC, but Macready identified the requirement for additional paramilitary forces to assist the RIC and military. World War I provided the English with a highly trained and well-equipped force to conduct major combat operations. After the war, the army reduced the number of personnel in the active force providing a recruiting source for the additional security in Ireland.
95 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 87.
96 Ibid., 88.
The requirement for supplementary local security forces in Ireland in 1919 directed recruiting towards ex-military personnel. Two organizations emerged from the additional support to the RIC. One was the “auxiliaries” and the other the “Black and Tans.”97 The auxiliary forces deployed to Ireland in an area security role to augment local law enforcement agencies, but never trained formally in that capacity.98 The only difference between the two was their uniforms. The more famous supplemental security element was the “Black and Tans” (black coats and tan trousers). Their fame is from the unauthorized and undisciplined reprisal attacks on suspected republican civilians and business. They created forward operating bases throughout Ireland, which they used to launch raids, conduct patrols, and initiated reprisal attacks. The “Black and Tans” became notorious not for their ability to conduct small unit operations, but for their reprisal attacks which resulted in civilian deaths.99 Although both the auxiliaries and RIC conducted reprisals as well, it was the Black and Tan uniform which served as a symbol to the community.
The Royal Irish Constabulary role in area security served as a classic example for lack of integration between military and law enforcement. Distrust between local officials and the Black and Tans lead to animosity and poor coordination to conduct security operations. Another contributing factor was the condition of the RIC. The majority of personnel were frozen into position at the onset of the First World War with little or no ability to advance or retire.100
97 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 90.
98 Ibid., 89.
99 Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926, 147-148.
100 Ibid., 176-178.
Reprisals conducted by the United Kingdom forces on civilians and unarmed members of the Irish Republican Army increased popular support and cooperation within the local communities. One of the more famous reprisals came on the heels of a major attack on the British intelligence community directed by Michael Collins on 20 November 1920. The British auxiliaries responded to the murder of their agents by driving armed trucks onto a football (soccer) game in Croke Park and indiscriminately opened fire on the crowd killing fourteen civilians and seriously injuring 62 others.101 U.K. forces also set the town of Cork on fire in response to the assault on their agents. Both incidents provided ample propaganda to Irish leaders.102
Irish Response to British Counter Insurgency Operations
Intelligence tips the scales in the favor of either the insurgent, or their opponent. Michael Collins learned early on from informants in Dublin Castle how the British were collecting intelligence on his organization and their allies. He quickly adapted his methods to counter their intelligence, but also developed his own information network to defeat the British occupation forces. Irish newspapers and social magazines published information on the movement and public interaction of RIC and other people of great importance. Additionally, the I.R.A. goal was to infiltrate every government organization in order to gather information on the opposition.103
101 James Joseph Gleeson, Bloody Sunday (London: P. Davies, 1962), 144-148.
102 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 91.
103 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 74.
The Irish strategy changed in the face of a superior force. They attacked mobile constabulary forces at the place and time of their choosing. The Irish pressed those attacks when they saw success; but drew back at the sense of danger; they disappeared when faced with a counter attack.104 The Irish sought to gain and maintain the initiative whenever possible in order to compel the enemy to end hostilities. These lessons were taught to rebel leaders such as Michael Collins from people like Major John MacBride while in prison after the Easter Rising. MacBride learned guerrilla techniques while fighting in the Boer War against the British.105 The rebels lacked a material advantage, nor did they occupy castles or strong points. Clearly, the leaders reflected on their previous failures, identified their strengths, and adapted their strategy against the British. Their best tactic to maintain the force and continue the fight was to attack when circumstances favored their weapons and tactics.
Intelligence swayed the momentum from the United Kingdom forces to the Irish at the end of 1920. The I.R.A. disrupted the British command and control network by disabling the telephone lines and even intercepting postal deliveries.106 The I.R.A. gained important knowledge of the U.K. force movement routes and the identity of RIC informants. The Irish spent significant energy between 1919 and 1920 to undermine the U.K. intelligence network by eliminating sources or turning them.107 The I.R.A. leveraged every source they could to include acquiring medical records kept in Ireland on members of the Black and Tan force. When a U.K. force burned down an Irish home, the I.R.A. would pass the names and addresses to their contacts in England who would in turn firebomb the houses out of reprisal.108 The Irish targeted intelligence officers and informants. Michael Collins argued that even if those officers were replaced, they would not have the same depth of knowledge of the environment thus giving the rebels the
104 Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926, 60.
105 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 39.
106 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 75.
107 Williams, The Irish Struggle 1916-1926, 72.
108 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 73.
advantage.109 The constant pressure on law enforcement led to compromises by both parties. In the summer of 1920, the rebels made a treaty with the Dublin Metropolitan police to stop targeting one another, and in so doing, undermined the United Kingdom security apparatus.110
Earning and maintaining the support of the population enabled freedom of movement for the Irish Republican Army. Irish volunteers raided government offices on 25 May 1921, and burned financial and all other records relating to British departments in Ireland.111 This action effectively disabled civil administration and displayed clear popular support for the I.R.A. in Ireland. The Irish undermined everything British in Ireland by replacing existing systems with their own, effectively taking control of the courts and civil administration with their own to include courts.112
Irish officers acknowledged the strength of the United Kingdom forces and adjusted accordingly. Tom Barry, a training officer for the West Cork I.R.A. Brigade, operated a camp to develop leaders on small unit tactics. He trained the officers on how to establish a defense and respond to surprise attacks by British raids. The trainees drilled constantly until they were able to respond to an attack in the middle of the night within three minutes without making a sound.113 When given the opportunity, Ernie O’Malley, an operations officer for the 2d Southern I.R.A. Division, developed a five week training course to develop leader skills on assaulting barracks, springing ambushes, administration, scouting, engineering, and night maneuvers.114
109 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 76.
110 Ibid., 77.
111 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 34-35.
112 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 75.
113 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 48-49.
114 Ibid., 49.
The combined British security apparatus struggled to disrupt the I.R.A. allowing them to organize and train in sanctuaries within Ireland. The I.R.A. trained to harass the British when the opportunity presented itself but most importantly, they had to survive to serve as a symbol of the resistance to English occupation. The I.R.A. general headquarters staff did not control the actions of the Brigades. Decentralized operations proved to be the strength of the I.R.A., since the failures of one brigade did not influence another.115 Brigade commanders were responsible for their own areas to include local political support or enforcement.116 According to Tom Barry (West Cork I.R.A. brigade commander), the mere existence of the guerilla force in any area challenged the U.K. force without even striking a blow and thereby chipped away at the morale of the British.117 The Irish “flying columns” presented the British an opportunity to mass their force against the enemy and eliminate some of the best officers and soldiers in the I.R.A. Lacking accurate intelligence to find the elusive columns, some British forces employed mass formations in an effort to ‘sweep’ the countryside to locate the I.R.A.118
Elections in England approached in May of 1921 against the backdrop of the severely unstable Irish state. Multiple reprisal incidents executed by the unconstrained Black and Tan forces in Ireland swayed popular opinion to the Irish nationalist movement. The deterioration of security and constant negative propaganda regarding “outrages” drove British Prime Minister David Lloyd George to negotiate more intensively with the Irish leadership.119
115 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 51.
116 Ibid., 51.
117 Tom Barry, Guerilla Days in Ireland; a First-Hand Account of the Black and Tan War (1919-1921) (New York,: Devin-Adair Co., 1956), 30; McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 60.
118 Peter Hart, The I.R.A. And Its Enemies : Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 94.
119 Kautt, The Anglo-Irish War, 1916-1921, 97.
The treaty in August of 1922 between the I.R.A. and British Prime Minister Lloyd George brought the end to the Anglo-Irish War. Both sides achieved limited strategic objectives. The British stopped the Irish short of achieving their objective of an independent republic for the whole of Ireland. The Irish achieved the right to self-rule minus six northern counties. The fact was the Ulster-led counties would never have supported breaking away from Britain because of the deep seeded political and religious ties.120 The treaty allowed the British to focus on other strategic interests around the world (Germany and Palestine) and free up the 57,116 soldiers stationed in Ireland.121
Section IV: Indications for Current U.S. Army Doctrine
The United States Army must maintain a balanced force capable of achieving policy aims against threats in the form of major combat operations, irregular warfare, and integrate to support civil authorities domestically and internationally. The greatest military threat to state survival comes in the form of major combat operations as seen in the Napoleonic Wars, World Wars, and even the Arab-Israeli wars thus requiring an appreciation in doctrine and material. A nation must retain the capability to defeat not only a near-peer threat but also that of a coalition with the capacity to challenge their international interests. More often though, irregular wars manifest for various purposes requiring military support to secure national interests. Recently, army doctrine addressed the requirement to support civil authorities against trans-national criminal and terrorist organizations. Regardless of the type of conflict, the six tenets of Unified Land Operations remain important as seen in the British operations from 1914-1921. The following paragraphs highlight employment of the tenets of Unified Land Operations by both the British and Irish during the same period.
120 Collins, The Path to Freedom, 48.
121 McKenna, Guerrilla Warfare in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921, 252.
Flexibility allows the commander to achieve tactical, operational, and strategic success through the employment of a versatile mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment.122 This tenet is best illustrated in the 1916 Easter Rising where in the first few hours of the conflict the British were able to gather cavalry, infantry, and support units to combat the Irish forces attempting to seize the city of Dublin. Within a week of the outbreak in hostilities, the British led by MG Lowe, were able to bring about the unconditional surrender of the Irish nationalist, but not before employing naval and artillery units in the conflict. The employment of the Royal Navy illustrates the army’s capability to integrate with other services to achieve a combined effect.
Integration describes the army’s ability to operate not only with other military services, but also multinational and interagency. During the First World War, the British army contributed an expeditionary force to support the French against Germany and its allies. The army was effective as a multi-national partner in bringing about the end of the war in Europe. The same army struggled against the irregular enemy in Ireland partially due to integration challenges with local security forces. The army and supplemental security forces were heavy handed in their approach resulting in civilian casualties thus leading to tension between the population, local security forces, and the military. The multi-layered security forces failed to adapt to the changing environment allowing the insurgency to disintegrate over time, the security apparatus which was effective during the 1916 Easter Rising.
122 Army, ADP 3-0, 7.
Army leaders organize, equip, train, and employ their forces to develop the capacity for physical destruction. Lethality is the foundation for a military’s relevance. The British army trained their soldiers for the war in Europe both within the U.K. and in theater. The greater challenge in the development of lethality was placed on the Irish leadership in contrast to security forces operating in Ireland. Tom Barry, in Guerilla Days in Ireland, describes the challenges in creating a sanctuary to train leaders, soldiers, and eventually flying columns. The I.R.A. developed training courses to educate leaders on how to fight the British security forces with the limited weapons available. The training and indoctrination program contributed directly to the success of the insurgency in Ireland.
The ability to change from prefabricated solutions, formations, and tactics describes the tenet of adaptability. This tenet is essential to seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative. Both the British and the Irish displayed the ability to adapt in the face of a crisis but not the ability to anticipate that challenge. The British changed their formations from a cavalry and mobile infantry organization equipped for constabulary operations in their global territories, to a less mobile infantry centric force equipped for the trenches in Europe after the first battle of Ypres. The Irish in comparison, changed in organization and ideology after their quick defeat during the Easter Rising in 1916. Michael Collins and others adapted to fight an irregular conflict against the better trained and equipped British security forces.
Depth is the extension of operations in space, time, or purpose to achieve the most decisive result.123 ADP 3-0 also describes the employment of constant reconnaissance and maintaining reserves to keep the army resilient. The defense of the realm best illustrates the tenet of depth by the British army. The British maintained four cavalry divisions within the U.K. to defend against a possible German invasion.124 The army was part of an integrated defense that relied on county and local security forces that responded to different threats. Each security element supported each other as hostilities increased. Though no invasion manifested itself, the army responded in support of security forces during labor riots and more significantly during the violent uprising in Dublin during the Easter Rising.
123 Army, ADP 3-0, 8.
124 Millman, British Home Defence Planning and Civil Dissent: 223.
Synchronization describes the ability to execute multiple, related, and mutually supporting tasks in different locations at the same time.125 The Irish nationalists during the Easter Rising best illustrate this tenet as they achieved surprise based on a clear understanding of their operational environment. Several organizations such as the Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Brigade set aside individual politics to combined efforts in an armed uprising set for the holiday after Easter when security forces would be minimal. The leaders of each military organization planned the operation and rehearsed it during St. Patrick’s Day (17 March 1916) in plain view of the public. A ship loaded with weapons and ammunition from Germany was scheduled to arrive on the Friday prior to minimize the opportunity for the merchandise to be confiscated in raids prior to the event. Local security forces expected the arrival of additional people to Dublin to observe Easter religious services on Sunday. Irish leaders synchronized the plan to deceive the British security forces and maximize the opportunity for Irish forces to achieve their objectives with little guidance from the military council.
The Irish Republican Army also displayed the capability of employing the tenets of Unified Land Operations. Michael Collins developed a plan adapting the strengths of the I.R.A. to employ against the British security forces. The Irish employed tactics learned from the Boer Wars and the American War for Independence. The I.R.A. organized, trained, and equipped themselves based on guerrilla tactics. They created depth by developing an intelligence apparatus that provided an advantage to their flying columns. Their adaptability, lethality, and flexibility achieved strategic success by way of a negotiated peace with England within two years from the onset of deliberate attacks.
125 Army, ADP 3-0, 9.
The British Army in 1914 thru 1918 was an organization that illustrates the tenets of Unified Land Operations. They adapted in response to the nature of the conflict in Europe and developed operational depth by integrating with local security forces to defeat domestic and transnational threats. The end of the Anglo-Irish (1919-1921) war illustrates an Irish Republican Army also capable of employing the same tenets to achieve their desired strategic conditions in contrast to U.K. security forces in Ireland. The future of the United States Army requires a force that will defeat conventional, irregular, and transnational threats simultaneously while in support of civil authorities. ADP 3-0 reflects this requirement and is a valid document to prepare the force for current and future threats in an ever-changing international system.
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