British Counterinsurgency Operations in Ireland 1916-1921

A Case Study

Newport, R.I.

Michael R. Fierro
Seminar 1

A paper submitted to the faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction
of the requirements of the Joint Military Operations Department.

The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily
endorsed by the Naval War College or the U.S. Navy.

6 March 1997

Paper directed by
George Jackson, CAPT, USN
Chairman, Department of Joint Military Operations


The Twentieth Century is filled with the stories of a peoples’ struggle for independence from colonial rule, most of which were characterized by unconventional or guerrilla warfare fought by irregulars and revolutionaries. Although the British, and most of the world, did not recognize it at the time, the Irish rebellion against British colonial rule which started in Dublin on 24 April 1916 and ended with the Irish Free State on 6 December 1921 was such a struggle or “war” for independence.1 The British did not approach the problem in Ireland as though it was a “war” (in the Joint Doctrine context of “war”), they dealt with it as a military operation other than war, specifically, a counterinsurgency.

The events which culminated in the Easter Rising are exciting and interesting ones, full of international intrigue, political and diplomatic maneuvering, individual heroism and patriotism, disappointment and relief. However enthralling a story it is, this is not the place for its telling. Accept that for whatever reason, and there were many, the Easter Rising failed. The ship carrying the needed German guns was intercepted by the British, prompting the Irish leaders to call off the Rising.2 British intelligence was surprised when the Rising occurred since word of the cancellation went out to all Irish participants, including the British informants. However, a resolute group of 800 Irishmen, led by those that signed the Proclamation above, carried out the Rising anyway, starting the journey that eventually led Ireland to independence.3

Within three weeks of the Rising, fifteen of the leaders were tried by a secret military court martial and executed, while the surviving captured Irish Volunteers were incarcerated in British prisons. The common perception was that once again, as in the past, another generation of Irishmen martyred themselves in their impotent struggle for independence. And again, the rebellion was successfully quelled and all there seemed quiet. Indeed, as the captured Volunteers were marched to the ships that would take them to prison, citizens of Dublin, which had been damaged extensively during the Rising, lined the streets and jeered at them. There was a demonstrated lack of support for the rebellion by the press and the vast majority of the citizenry, many who had husbands, sons and brothers serving in the British Army on the Western Front. Why should the British government worry further?4


In retrospect, one can see that the rebellion which developed after the Easter Rising was fundamentally different than the previous rebellions that took place in Ireland. Though the indicators were harder to see at the time, there was enough appreciation for the fact that this rebellion, and associated popular discontent which eventually developed, were different than in the past. In 1916 (and subsequently as the crisis unfolded), these indicators were reflected in various facets of Irish life, and many were reported accurately by the local military and government channels. With the government consumed with World War I, it is understandable that great attention may not have been granted to “routine” reports. However, insightful government and non-government individuals reported many of these indicators directly to their high-ranking civil and military friends.5

The politics of the Irish question leaves room for endless debate, but the initial significant failure of the British government in addressing the Irish problem after the Rising was not one of policy. Rather, the failure to either appreciate the significance of these visible indicators, or to even acknowledge them, led the British government to complacency in dealing with the crisis. The British government believed that the situation in Ireland essentially was unchanged from rebellions and uprisings of the past, perceiving neither the different social and political climate in Ireland nor the change in the leadership of the political movements. This complacency by the British government in its initial response to the situation that followed the failed Easter Rising established a policy that denied them the opportunity to usurp the rebels cause and attain a peaceful resolution.6

The British government missed the indicators of this different situation because the net assessment of the situation in Ireland conducted by their political, military and police organizations was inaccurate. Regardless of the worldwide political climate (advocacy of self-determination), external influences upon Britain (primarily from America), and the indicators discussed above, the actions the government decided to take were a result of information provided largely by the heads of military and police intelligence organizations. Separate reports were furnished by the civilian heads of the British government in Ireland but for the most part, they substantiated the military reports. The intelligence organizations did not inspect the situation closely, relied upon their informants, and made grand assumptions which proved decisively wrong. Although the system observed and reported the situation accurately, the senior leadership ignored such reports because they did not fall in line with their preconceived notions.

Had the British closely and critically analyzed the situation, they would have realized they were already in the late stages of an insurgency. This was arguably true for 1916 and is positively true for 1918. There was a withdrawal of domestic support for the government and a lessening of control over the general population.3 There was a growing lack of international support for the manner in which Britain was dealing with the Home Rule issue, and many doubts over the manner in which it was handling the crisis. Also, Britain was having trouble exercising coercive power over the people. Until 1921, they lacked the means and the methods for dealing effectively with the guerrilla insurgency.

Experienced in colonial matters, particularly those of Ireland, the British understood the concepts and ideas that are the foundation of what today is accepted doctrine for MOOTW and counterinsurgency.7 Since the British underestimated the Irish in their net assessment, they did not identify properly the fact that the insurgency was in a late phase of an insurgency. It was not until 1920 that the government started to seriously consider or meet Irish demands for autonomy. In many respects, the Irish political and military leaders had effectively countered the many British actions, forcing the colonial power to accede to their demands.8

Though the manner in which the British handled the rebellion was constrained by a complex political conundrum and a myriad of external and internal factors, this in no way precluded the British from following a course of action which was in line with the principles of MOOTW.9 During the crisis, the British Cabinet was sensitive to the opinion of Parliament and the British public, as well as that of the interested world, particularly the U.S.10 These pressures should have precluded the British from taking actions which violated the principles. The initial actions of the British Cabinet were those of men who were too stubborn, too unwilling to compromise, too superior in their outlook to believe that the course of actions they decided upon would fail. By 1920, after two years of failed policies, the British were desperate for a resolution and finally altered their political approach, seeking a more reasonable political settlement with the newly proclaimed Irish Dail Eireann11 (the Irish Parliament). The government softened its terms despite the fact that the British Army’s revised tactics (and brutality of para-military units) were finally achieving success.12

One of the most significant factors that consistently hampered British activity in Ireland was American public support for the Irish. Particularly before America entered the war, there were painstaking efforts to avoid upsetting anything that would preclude America entering on the side of Britain and France.13 Although the British would have liked to retain the troublemakers from the Rising in prison, the Irish intentionally misbehaved in the prisons, acts for which they drew harsh treatment. Such treatment created outcries in the Irish, British and international press. Americans did not countenance “reported” abuses of the prisoners. Consequently, through the pressures placed upon the government, primarily from America, most of the prisoners taken during the Rising were released in 1917 or 1918. Because the political climate changed since they departed Ireland as prisoners in 1916, more of the general population was supportive of the cause for which they rebelled in 1916. Thus, the prisoners who were sent off to prison with jeers in 1916, were met with cheers upon their return to Ireland less than two years later.14

The British military did not assess the Irish as having the capability to conduct conventional warfare without the assistance of Germany, a slim but real threat in light of the events of 1916. The intelligence agencies knew that the Irish had few arms and no artillery. The majority of the leaders were killed or captured during the Easter Rising and the rebels performance was not considered impressive, despite many incidents of skill and valor. Regardless, any rabble the Irish could put into the field was no match for the British Army, which was definitely thinking conventional war, not a guerrilla insurgency.

In any insurgency, intelligence is vital. It was no less true in this one. During this time period, the British had paid informants and spies, as they had always had in the past. Since spies and informants were successful in the past, the government assumed they would be so again. Because of these spies, the government considered themselves well-informed on the state of Irish affairs and the intentions of any troublemakers. However, one of the unique aspects of this Irish rebellion was that its leadership was able to operate in great secrecy by detecting informants and dealing with them harshly. Many spies and informants were assassinated, a fate which discouraged others from such an undertaking. So in the absence of indications of potential trouble from their intelligence networks, the British government and military considered themselves able to handle any problems that might arise in Ireland.


The struggle in Ireland was started by a small number of dedicated Irish patriots who were committed to a desperate guerrilla war against a large, well-trained, well-equipped conventional army, an established para-military police force (the Royal Irish Constabulary or RIC) and local municipal police, the Dublin Municipal Police (DMP). As discussed above, the rebels did not have the support of the general population in 1916. By 1918, the rebels had been released from prison, recruited large numbers of troops and gained the support and commitment of the people. At the same time, they worked aggressively to undermined the legitimacy of the British government. They accomplished these achievements through an appealing ideology, an effective propaganda campaign, aggressive (often violent) actions against non-supporters of the cause, and some ineptitude by the British.

The principal Irish parties in shaping the rebellion in Ireland were Sinn Fein, the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF), and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.15 Sinn Fein was the political party that gained Irish popular support after the Home Rule party failed to achieve passage of the Home Rule Bill. It was headed by its founder, Arthur Griffith, and by 1916, was building credibility and legitimacy on the political scene.16 The IVF was the Irish Catholic militia force founded in 1913 in response to the formation of the Protestant Ulster Volunteer Force.17 Having grown to over 100,000 participants by 1914, the IVF ranks were depleted by the Irishmen who volunteered to fight for the British against the Germans. (The ranks of the UVF were similarly depleted.) The final key party was the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). This secret society was revived in 1912-1913 and its members were fiercely and passionately dedicated to the removal of the British colonial government in Ireland and the establishment of an Irish Republic, by whatever means.18 The IRB’s power and influence was exercised by its fiercely dedicated members which included several of the signers of the Proclamation and leaders of the Easter Rising. Members of the IRB were leaders and participants in the other important political, military and social parties in Ireland. Thus, the IRB eventually influenced and subsumed leadership of all facets of Irish nationalism, commonly referred to as “republicanism.”19

Even within the IRB and the senior Irish leadership, there was serious disagreement over the course of action to take. The President, Eamon de Valera, advocated use of governmental, political and popular measures, or “moral force,” to achieve independence by garnering international and public support. Others favored military or “physical force” to break the British will and drive them to the bargaining table. Unfortunately, when the British rounded up known or assumed Sinn Fein and IVF activists in 1918 (building probable cause on unsubstantiated charges of collaboration with the Germans), they captured and imprisoned the majority of the “moral force” proponents while the “physical force” proponents (Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha) escaped capture.20 Consequently, the “physical force” proponents imposed their will and the Irish rebels embarked on an aggressive, deadly campaign to weary the British government and military.

The primary military component of the Irish rebels was the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF). After the first Dail Erieann met on 21 January 1919, the name changed to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to underscore the “Republic.”21 When the Irish rebel leaders resolved themselves to a military conflict, they acknowledged their weakness and inability to fight a conventional war. Consequently, they committed themselves to a guerrilla insurgency with the goal of breaking down the British will to remain involved in Ireland. The leaders understood that they could not win a war or armed conflict of any kind. Their only objective was to make the situation so miserable and intolerable that the British would reach a political settlement with the declared republic.

The IVF/IRA was structured into brigades by geographic areas, usually the various counties. Members were recruited and trained locally so the number and size of Brigades varied. Officers were elected by the members of each brigade, battalion and company. A nominal company was between eighty-seven and 120 men, including staff and service personnel.22 During the “Troubles” (the period from 1919-1921), the size of the IVF was estimated at 15,000 active soldiers, although they could only keep about three thousand operating at any one time.23 There were many skilled and capable leaders of these units (some being British Army veterans) and under the circumstances, they achieved great success, particularly in the early days. Constantly hampered by a shortage of arms and munitions, having to move in small groups to avoid detection, and lacking proper combat support, the rebels devised an effective style of combat. Since most units fought predominately in their home county, they were intimately familiar with the landscape. Even during operations, soldiers wore civilian dress so that they could assemble unobtrusively, execute the mission, and melt back into the population. In 1920, the IRA formed Active Service Units, or “flying columns.” These small guerrilla bands of 20-30 personnel traveled light and moved swiftly, living off the land or with the assistance of local supporters. They were particularly effective in ambushing British Army or RIC patrols, a fact that further frustrated personnel already stretched to the limit.

The RIC was established in the Nineteenth Century as an indigenous colonial police force. Its rank and file was almost completely Irish (largely sons of farmers) and it operated in the rural regions exclusive of Dublin, which was controlled by the DMP. Contrary to the British tradition, it functioned as an armed police force and its members received military training when inducted. By the late-Nineteenth Century, service in the RIC was considered an honorable and worthy profession.24 Successful in the past as both a police and anti-rebellion organization, the unrest in Ireland after 1916 caused it to be militarized gradually until it was fully a para-military organization by 1920. Still, the soundness of using indigenous police or para-military organizations to control the insurgency can be appreciated. In fact, this is a tenet of successful counterinsurgency.

Acknowledging the RIC as a potential adversary, the rebels undermined the effectiveness of this force, creating manpower shortages and morale problems within its ranks. The rebels targeted its membership through a boycott (refusing to cooperate with the RIC), threatened and harassed constables, attacked barracks and assassinated particularly troublesome constables or senior inspectors. As the troubles progressed, the nature of the RIC changed and it first became less Irish Catholic, then less Irish overall. The RIC contained just over 9000 constables and inspectors through 1919. From the Spring of 1920 through 1921, manning increased incrementally, to just over 14,000 in 1921 with the addition of the Special Emergency Gendarmerie and Auxiliary Division.25

As the RIC became more involved in the counterinsurgency, they were more out of their element because they were unskilled in conducting the complex military operations necessary to counter the rebels. As a result of the rebel-inspired boycott of the RIC and the harassment and assassination of constables, the RIC was suffering from low morale and manning shortages from low recruitment. To augment the sagging force and enhance its capabilities, two new units were established. The major proponent for these two units was Secretary for War Winston Churchill, whose experience in the Boer War exposed him to the success of such units against local guerrillas. The first unit, the Special Emergency Gendarmerie, was established in May 1920 and was recruited primarily from among ex-soldiers. The second group was established in July 1920 and was officially called the Auxiliary Division of the RIC or ADRIC. It was more popularly known as the “Black and Tans” and was recruited primarily among ex-officers and some non-commissioned officers. The objective of Churchill and other proponents for this latter unit of one thousand recruits was to engage and defeat the Irish rebels in the same style of guerrilla warfare that they were using against the British. This group’s guidance did not advocate leniency for the Irish rebels and encouraged the meanest form of warfare for the new units.26

The Dublin Municipal Police, comprised of approximately 1,100 police officers,27 was a local, unarmed police force responsible for the city of Dublin. Early in the rebellion, when public support started to swing to the rebels, the DMP developed the practice of non-involvement. They largely confined themselves to civic police functions and did not interfere with rebel activity in a manner that was almost comical. The intelligence section of the DMP, G Division, was a vital crown force in combating the Irish rebel activity. This division was a continual thorn in the side of the rebels, meriting their special attention. Through the counter-use of spies and vigorous, aggressive action, principally threats of death and subsequent assassinations, the rebels were able to neutralize G Division during most of this period.28

The third instrument of British force in Ireland was the British Army. Until Spring 1920, there were two British Army divisions in Ireland, the Fifth and Sixth Divisions, stationed in Curragh and Cork, respectively. British Army strength in Ireland varied greatly. During the War, over 110,000 troops were stationed in Ireland. More than half were in training, a majority of the remainder were in convalescence and only 9,700 were available for internal security. In 1919, 37,250 soldiers were assigned to Ireland with less than 10,200 available as operational forces in the South. By 1920, the number of operational troops was increased to approximately 17,000, and 1921 saw that numbered increased to approximately 25,000.29 (At times, the total numbers of troops in Ireland was up to three times these numbers but there were still not enough to effectively institute Martial Law where needed.)

More than just increasing raw numbers, in the Spring of 1920, the British revised their approach to the crisis and established two more divisions, the First Division in Belfast and the Dublin District Division. This restructuring enabled the British Army to better aid civil authorities and provided for better local control.30 Further, their approach to combating the insurgents, particularly the IRA, changed by 1921. (Admittedly, in light of other events, these improvements came too late to “win” the war.) Before 1921, the British Army relied upon brute force. They appreciated the need for mobility and demanded armored cars, trucks and bicycles. Neither proved sufficient because the Irish intelligence network was so good that movements were often known in advance, and the nature of troop movement by those means provided sufficient warning to the rebels.

By 1921, however, the British Army had become skilled in small unit tactics, greatly increasing its effectiveness. These tactics, similar to those of the IRA’s “flying columns,” not only hampered the rebels ability to operate with impunity in the countryside, but netted significant operational results. In two separate incidents, one British Army patrol and one RIC patrol, acting on good intelligence data, surprised and defeated two IRA units. In each, the British came out on top, experiencing few losses and killing, wounding and capturing rebels leaders and troops in numbers greatly outnumbering their own. Also, these British units captured equipment that was irreplaceable by the Irish and documents that were invaluable to themselves.31 These revised military operations and tactics were so effective, that coupled with the effectiveness of the improved British intelligence efforts, the aggressive para-military campaign (“reprisals”) which was weakening popular support for the rebels, and the growing shortage of men and material, Irish rebel leaders acknowledged that they were very near to their imminent military defeat.32 Although by then it was too late for the British to avoid a settlement because of the political situation vis-a-vis the Irish question, it certainly gave them a greater bargaining position, not an insignificant contribution after years of marginal performance.33

These revised tactics and the success of the operations in which they were used underscore the importance of the principles of MOOTW and the subsequent impact tactical operations have on the operational and strategic levels of conflict. Because the soldiers were performing better and achieving real gains, it was easier for them to retain their focus on the objective. There was less inclination to become frustrated and express that frustration through a loss of restraint by committing reprisals or atrocities. The general population saw the new tactics as direct actions against the rebels instead of indiscriminately against the Irish people. Unfortunately, by then it was too late for these actions to improve the legitimacy of the British, but they serve as evidence of the validity of the principles and indications of what may been possible had they been adopted earlier.


In order to assess the British actions with respect to current doctrine, it is necessary to review that doctrine. Although the three levels of war or conflict (strategic, operational and tactical) are apparent even in “peace” operations, this paper is concerned primarily with the operational. At the operational level of MOOTW, Joint Doctrine has established six principles: objective, unity of effort, security, restraint, perseverance and legitimacy.34 Though strategic concerns may be above the level of control of operational commanders, tactical ones usually are of more direct concern. In MOOTW, tactical operations carry greater consequences to the success of operations than they do in a full-scale war because the potential impact of any unit or individual can have strategic consequences. Thus it is worth mentioning the tactical techniques for a successful counterinsurgency, since improvement in these aspects improved the performance of the British forces. These techniques are: small unit tactics, restraints on use of firepower, population control, civil defense/civic action, and civil military interface to support internal development.

In a counterinsurgency, no military effort can succeed for long without the support of its government which must enact sound policies. The military usually can only contain the rebel forces until the government enacts policies or legislation that preempts or usurps particular issues from the rebels. In Ireland, governmental policies did not preempt or usurp the rebels, and as such did not support military operations.

Despite the failure of the government to do its part, there were distinct failures on the part of the British forces as well. Some of the misapplication of force was directed by the government but some was a failure of commanders in the field. Regardless, the British did not follow, with the degree of commitment necessary to achieve a decisive victory, the ideas upon which the principles of MOOTW are based.

Joint Doctrine for Military Operations Other Than War (Joint Pub 3.07) details neat, succinct phrases for the six MOOTW principles. These are:

“Objective: Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.

Unity of Effort: Seek unity of operation in every operation.

Security: Never permit hostile factions to acquire a military, political or information advantage.

Legitimacy: Committed force must sustain the legitimacy of the operation and the host government, where applicable.

Restraint: Apply appropriate military capability prudently.

Perseverance: Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capability in support of strategic aims.”


Objective: Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.

This principle sounds simple enough. Pick the right objectives, exercise sound operational planning, execute them properly. Unfortunately, this principle brings to MOOTW a degree of difficulty that cannot be overcome by force, a fact which is particularly true for counterinsurgency operations. Because of the overarching political nature of most MOOTW’s, military operations must be planned and executed to support the political policies. Since these policies may be the incorrect ones for a given situation, it is very difficult or impossible for the military to find clear, attainable military objectives that contribute to the success of the policies. (Such a convoluted situation compounds the problems encountered when dealing with all the principles of MOOTW.)

When the British finally realized that they were encountering a powerful, organized nationalist insurgency, it already was too late for them to stop it. At that time, they could have taken the necessary political measures to appease the population and usurp a portion of the rebels’ cause, but in the long run they would have had to grant some measure of autonomy. Instead, they responded immediately with forceful measures, further alienating the population so that by late- 1918, the Irish people had finally given up on the legitimacy of the British government and were committed to independence. When the British finally acknowledged the situation and the effect of their battleaxe approach to the problem, late-1920, it was really too late for political and military objectives to be met. This initial failure to enact political measures that would win popular support while taking military (forceful) actions that further alienated the population precluded the success of the practical measures instituted in 1921.35

From the military aspect, there was a problem with the objective. The British were forcibly and visibly putting down a rebellion which was taking place in the countryside, cities and towns, in and among the general population. The same mindset that prompted the British government to resort to forceful measures pervaded the military and RIC leadership, such that they indiscriminately applied force to counter the rebel forces. Consequently, while a conciliatory approach could have attained better results, the British resorted to a military policy that was counterproductive to their objective. There was no concentrated effort to take military actions which supported reasonable political objectives. The associated problems are discussed below under the principle which they violated.

Unity of Effort: Seek unity of operation in every operation.

One of the biggest problems faced by the British forces directly involved with countering the insurgents was the lack of unity of effort.36 Though many of the British participants perceived a unity of effort, quell the rebellion, there was no coordinated strategic plan to do this. The lack of a unifying plan coupled with the lack of unity of command, undermined their effective use of force to swiftly resolve the crisis. There was no direct coordination between the RIC, DMP, and British Army units. At only one point in the chain of command did all three come under a common head, the Prime Minister. As the organizational chart below indicates, there was not even a common operational head of all the police forces in Ireland, they were controlled by a civilian administrator. Also, units subsequently raised to augment the RIC, were funded by the War Department and took at least guidance, if not direction, from the War Department. At least the Army had a comnon commander for all army units in Ireland. The initial use of the Army was to augment the RIC and DMP with soldiers accompanying the police on raids, searches and patrols. There was no division of labor and no clearly defined command relationship. In fact, on many occasions, it was unclear to the members of a patrol who was in charge!37 As the RIC militarized and the Army became better disciplined and more skillful at counterinsurgency in that environment, each worker! independently of the other. Again, the problem was that there was no common or coordinated plan for the employment of the forces. The RIC and the Army were often working at crossed purposes, the former trying to work closely with the population to counter the insurgents, while the latter was remaining distant from the locals. After the introduction of the Black and Tans, the situation got worse instead of better since the Black and Tans largely were operating independently of the established RIC organization.

When a campaign or series of relatively large scale operations were undertaken, the lack of unity of effort weakened the impact and enabled the rebels to counter its effect. But more importantly and critical to the success of a counterinsurgency, the failure of a unity of effort undermined the strategic objectives. The fact that the army, police and government were working at crossed means toward their objectives severely exacerbated the problems posed by the other principles of legitimacy, restraint and perseverance.


By 1920, events in Ireland forced the Cabinet to acknowledge the need for a unified commander of the military and the police forces. Consequently, their choice for the new General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOCIC) of all British Army forces in Ireland was General Sir Nevil Macready, a man of unique experience. Gen Macready had served in a General Officer Commanding post in Ireland, as the head of Scotland Yard and head of London Municipal Police. It was the intention of the Cabinet that he would have “broad powers” to command both the army and the police. Gen Macready saw the organizational and operational problems that were plaguing the police, particularly the RIC, and rejected any interest in undertaking the repair of such a dysfunctional command. Instead, he anticipated that operational problems could be solved by working more closely with the police and the Assistant Under Secretary. As it turns out, his reluctance to assume common command and his false hope for a successful, close working relationship proved a major miscalculation. The three individuals key to such an arrangement did not get along personally. Consequently, the poor working relationship and continued lack of unity significantly impacted the ability to resolve coordination problems and achieve operational success.38

The lack of a unified command structure in Ireland created more problems than just those associated with the lack of unity of command and poorly coordinated operations. In the intelligence arena, the lack of a unity of effort eventually drove the British to bargain seriously with the rebel Irish government to end the crisis. Initially, there were seven separate intelligence organizations reporting back to their various headquarters with no fusion center.39 Intelligence was not shared among the various agencies which greatly hampered operations. After the appointment of Gen Macready, through a concerted effort, this problem was rectified and there was marked improvement in this area. More on this will be discussed below in the section on Security.

Security: Never permit hostile factions to acquire a military, political or information advantage.

It is perhaps in this area that the British suffered their greatest operational setbacks. Since the rebels wisely refused to engage the British forces in open combat, their guerrilla war relied upon accurate, timely intelligence. This intelligence was absolutely vital to the success of the rebellion. Without it, the Irish had no chance of winning the conflict or even surviving long enough to wear down the British politically.

From the onset, the Irish seized the intelligence and information advantage and never let up. (Since the thrust of this paper is military, political advantage will not be discussed here). The rebel leaders recognized the essentiality of intelligence for survival and information (propaganda) for promoting and sustaining their ideology while building dissent against the British. As stated above, intelligence is vital to a successful counterinsurgency and virtually throughout the crisis, the Irish maintained superiority in intelligence. In 1920, dedicated efforts by the British to improve and centralize their intelligence system started to turn this tide until by the truce of July 1921, they had overcome this disadvantage and were starting to gain the upper hand.

Based upon lessons learned from earlier rebellions, the Irish rebel leaders knew that their success rested upon the ability to operate unhindered by British spies and informants. To achieve this security, they thoroughly and ruthlessly rooted out informants and spies. For the first time, the British had to rely almost exclusively on their own intelligence capabilities instead of paid informants. Unprepared for this, it took time to build an effective intelligence network. The Irish rebels, on the other hand, had an extensive and highly effective intelligence system. Also, their appealing ideology (not to mention death threats and harassment) eventually turned many Irishmen working for the crown against their employer. In order to operate freely in Dublin, the Irish targeted the intelligence section of the DMP, G Division. When death threats against G Division members went unheeded, the rebels made good on the threats and assassinated them. Eventually, G Division became a vestigial organ in the British intelligence body.

The Irish enjoyed the advantage of fighting on home ground and the support of a friendly population. As the Irish public gradually came to support the rebels, the support was complete and largely unmitigated. The general population took great risks in supporting the rebels, a level of support without which the rebels could not have survived. The breadth of this support was so great that while the British had difficulty even getting people to talk with them much less provide information, many of the rebels operated in Dublin, as well as the countryside, with impunity. Only support such as this could permit Michael Collins and other leaders to pedal their bikes openly through the streets of Dublin, even with British bounties worth several thousands of pounds on them.

Of great importance to the Irish rebel leaders was the presence of Irish spies in the center of British operations, Dublin Castle. Though working largely with the DMP or RIC, these spies gained access to information which was vital to the success of rebel operations. (On one occasion, Collins was smuggled into Dublin Castle and spent the night reviewing the intelligence records of the British.)40 It was obvious to the British that they had a porous intelligence organization but it took time for them to locate and stop the leaks. Finally, in 1920, the British Army imported some of its best intelligence officers to Ireland to build an effective network. The progress that these experts were making was so oppressive to the Irish intelligence system, that Michael Collins, the IRA Director for Intelligence, took dramatic action.41

To emphasize the critical nature of intelligence in this struggle, and the superiority of the Irish intelligence organization, it is fitting that the pivotsl event of the war was an intelligence battle. This turning point took place on 21 November 1920, commonly referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” At the nearly precise hour or 0900 (actually between 0855 and 0930) on that Sunday morning, the Irish rebels assassinated 14 key members of the British intelligence network and wounded six others.42 Despite the fact that this was a crippling blow to British military efforts, it proved more decisive than that. Two aspects of this incident had long-ranging affects. The first is that the British intelligence operation was in disarray and it would take more than a year to rebuild it, a situation with which the government could not live. British leaders did not think they could hold off public and international opinion that long and consequently, they started to negotiate with the Irish about greater concessions. But Bloody Sunday had another significant impact on the strategic situation. The complex operation was carried out at a precise hour by six or seven groups of between six and twelve gunmen. The skillful coordination required for such an operation involving over a hundred men was impressive, making it obvious that the IRA was no small time shoot and run operation. The successful execution of such a complex operation finally forced British leaders, including Prime Minister Lloyd George, to reassess their opponents. Until Bloody Sunday, the British had not altered their opinion of the capabilities of the Irish. After that, their outlook and approach changed.

Complementing the effectiveness of their intelligence network, the Irish held the advantage in the information aspect of the security principle, also. The rebels conducted a propaganda and political campaign that was amazing for its time and place. They continuously preempted the British in getting their side of the story told, with far reaching political impact. This ability to stunt virtually every attempt by the British to paint the crisis as they desired kept public and world opinion either pro-Irish or at least suspicious of the British. The Irish information campaign went farther than propaganda news sheets printed by the IRA and Sinn Fein. After breaking out of prison, de Valera went to America to build international support for an independent Ireland through a well-attended speaking and fundraising tour . Though his efforts won great support among the Irish-American community and brought the Irish issue to the attention of the bulk of the American population, it received no support from President Wilson.43 At least raising international awareness, De Valera kept the British aware that the world was watching.44

Recognizing the need to wage the information war better, the British installed a Propaganda Department in Dublin Castle during the Summer of 1920.45 It had some success and was an improvement over the disjointed efforts of the past. The running joke about British policy and propaganda was that you couldn’t tell the difference between them. In fact, the Chief Secretary at the time, Hamar Greenwood, was so defamed for his distortion of the truth, that the term “hamar” had developed into a colloquialism for a lie. Such a perception does not enhance legitimacy.46

One example of the rebels skill in retaining the information advantage concerns an attempted assassination of Sinn Fein founder and leader of the newly declared Irish republican government, Arthur Griffith. When the Irish got wind of the attempt, they called a press conference of sorts, and in a very colorful manner, exposed the plot to them. The manner in which the plot was exposed left the British with no possibility of refuting it. Building credibility such as this enabled the press to be used as an outlet for less accurate information necessary to manipulate public opinion. While the atrocities and reprisal of the British were in the headlines of Irish, British and international newspapers, those of the Irish went unmentioned. Situations such as this are the products of an information advantage and undermines a government’s legitimacy and weakens its perseverance.47
(See the footnote for another insightful example of Irish superiority in the information war.)

The Relationship Between Legitimacy. Perseverance and Restraint

The relationship between legitimacy, restraint and perseverance is probably the most critical aspect of the principles of MOOTW and can define operational success or failure. When forces are not properly prepared for the protracted struggle, they can lose their focus on the problem and start to resort to more basic human instincts, such as vengeance. Worse, the leadership at even the highest levels can feel the need for expedient measures and may tacitly or actively condone such behavior, as they did in this case. Restraint and perseverance go hand-in-hand. Exercising a lack of restraint or authorizing a loosening of restraint usually follows a breakdown in perseverance. When forces no longer have the patience to apply long term measures in the face of trying and stressful circumstances, they resort to more extreme behavior, such as reprisals, atrocities and beatings. (This usually occurs among forces in the field but sometimes occurs even among senior leadership.) Too often, the breakdown follows this scenario: perseverance wanes, the focus on the objective and mission is lost, restraint is loosened in the interest of expediency or vengeance, reprisals occur which severely damage popular support and the legitimacy of the operation. Once this occurs, it is very difficult to regain, and if the enemy has an effective propaganda operation, it can be virtually impossible to regain.

Legitimacy: Committed force must sustain the legitimacy of the operation and the host government, where applicable.

One of the fundamental differences between the Easter Rising in 1916 and all previous rebellions is that this rebellion’s leaders had foregone the prospect of reaching a settlement of the 48 Irish Home Rule question through the legitimate British government.48 Still, at the conclusion of the Easter Rising, this opinion had not yet been reached by the bulk of the Irish people. Further, since the rebels did not have the popular support of the Irish people at this point, the legitimacy of the British government and its use of force to put down the rebellion was still valid.

The execution of fifteen leaders of the Easter Rising after a secret military court-martial angered many of the Irish people, particularly in the South.49 To many of the Irish citizens, these extra-constitutional measures were the first concrete indication that the British government was not giving the Irish question honest, faithful consideration. The culminating point for British political legitimacy was the passage of a bill requiring mandatory conscription of Irishmen into the British Army.50 Thus, the British government embarked on a path that brought into question among the potential constituency of the rebels the legitimacy of British involvement in resolving the Irish question.

Upon this foundation of political discomfort, the Irish republican rebels built a highly successful information and propaganda campaign that gradually won them the political support of the southern Irish people. More than just political support, the rebels won the military service of somewhere between fifteen and thirty thousand men, and most importantly, they won the average citizen’s commitment to the cause. Thus committed, the average citizen subsequently refused to assist the British forces in any way while assisting the republican rebels in every way! The spirit of this commitment was so great tha- the Irish people endured significant hardship and terror to help attain their declared Irish republic.

Obviously, propaganda alone did not destroy British legitimacy, it required political and military activity by both parties to complete the process. By 1918, the Irish were boycotting the RIC, had increased military activity, and were openly campaigning for Sinn Fein. These actions provoked the British into taking greater measures to control the situation:51 stricter controls of movement between Ireland and England, the establishment of Special Military Areas (a compromise of a request for martial law) which caused economic hardship, restrictions on meetings and assemblies, and most significantly, an attempt to establish conscription in Ireland. Seizing upon these actions, the republican leadership undermined them and subsequently destroyed any concept of British legitimacy in Ireland.52

The poorly executed military and police actions of 1919 and 1920 seriously undermined the legitimacy of the British forces. Their apparent indiscriminate disregard for the Irish public, exhibited in the manner in which they carried out operations, reinforced the propaganda put out by the rebels. The public could not see the clear objectives of many of the operations and the fallout from them caused undue grief and hardship. The inability of the British forces to maintain control of areas and the subsequent breakdown of public security signaled their loss of coercive power and credibility. When the reprisals and atrocities occurred, any vestige of legitimacy was lost.

Restraint: Apply appropriate military capability prudently.

It is in this area that inappropriate actions by British forces most directly contributed to strategic failure. The lack of restraint demonstrated by their forces denied them the ability to favorably influence the sentiments of the general population. The dilemma for the British was that their police forces (RIC and DMP) did not have the military skills to carry out the complex operations needed to contain the rebels and the military forces did not have the discipline and training necessary to function as a police force. (Here is a lesson for modern armies who desire to use military force trained for combat in a peaceful enterprise such as law enforcement, which is more difficult than it appears, particularly for the ex-soldiers recruited so freshly from the horrors of the Western Front.) The commission of reprisals was exacerbated when the rebel propaganda machine successfully capitalized upon them, in spite of the fact that the rebels themselves were carrying out their own brutal measures.53

Originally, reprisals and atrocities committed by the British were simply the frustrations of a few soldiers or constables. When Sinn Fein and the IRA had gained the support of the people, they brought the court system to a standstill. No one would testify against the rebels and the court would not pass sentence on any Irishman suspected of a crime related to disobedience to the crown. This further frustrated the British forces, since in some of these cases, they were simply trying to enforce the law and restore stability. Achieving no satisfaction through the courts, they resorted to extralegal measures. After 1920 and the arrival of the Black and Tans, reprisals became fairly commonplace. Homes, creameries or villages suspected of supporting the rebels were burned. Suspected collaborators were beaten or dragged in for interrogation, which often consisted of torture.54 Since habeas corpus had been suspended by then, this could be done with ease. The most widely publicized reprisal committed by the British forces was the burning of Cork City and the murder of the Mayor by Black and Tans on 19 March 1920. (In the subsequent trial, the jury levied a verdict of murder against, among a host of British officials, the Prime Minister himself!)55

The frustrated acts of a few soldiers might be understandable given the tension of the situation. The approval, in some cases direction, to commit reprisals is inexcusable and counterproductive. At the highest levels of government, reprisals were condoned. Winston Churchill, the Chief Secretary, the GOCIC, and arguably the Prime Minister, all endorsed such behavior.56 They had no high opinion of the Irish, considering them an ill-disciplined people. When they had the temerity to pronounce their independence, it drove the British to respond in an extreme manner. This loosening of restraint at the strategic level is the greatest violation of these principles The fact that the rebels were conducting their campaign in a brutal manner was not justification for the British government to stoop to such measures. That this undermined its legitimacy completely goes without saying.

Perseverance: Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capability in support of strategic aims.

As human nature and history have proven in countless insurgencies, perseverance is one of the principles with which it is most difficult for a nation and its forces to comply. More than just the necessity for a government’s policies to be well-planned and executed, popular support must be maintained through an effective information campaign. Cynics may call this “propaganda” but it does not have to carry that denotation. Information and policies can be disseminated in a direct, straightforward manner to an interested populace, advising them of the national objectives and keeping them apprised of the progress. The resolve with which a nation approaches a situation of the magnitude of a counterinsurgency is key to success. National leaders must nurture this resolve and prevent its weakening since lack of popular support or national resolve usually becomes a critical vulnerability upon which the enemy can capitalize.

Coincident with nurturing the resolve of the public to enable them to persevere through the crisis, the leaders must themselves persevere. By following sound, effective policy, they avoid creating a critical vulnerability for the opposition to seize upon, particularly with respect to public support. Too often, over time, leaders sense that popular support is slipping and feel the need to resort to “expedient” measures to resolve the crisis before all support is gone. These “expedient” measures usually include conduct that is illegal, unethical or marginally acceptable. Thus, such measures expose the leaders to the propaganda of their enemy which then further weakens popular support and forces other courses of action that accentuate the failing trend of policy decisions.

Military leaders must prepare their forces for use in the protracted application of a delicate and sensitive policy. The forces must be informed of the strategic aims and the impact their performance has on the achievement of those aims. They must be trained in the specific missions to which they are assigned in order to carry them out successfully in support of the strategic objectives. Forces must be well-led, well-trained and well-disciplined to preclude the onset of frustration. The importance of these measures cannot be over-emphasized since they are at the heart of the principle of perseverance and the link to restraint and legitimacy.

At the national-strategic level, the British government encountered many problems in keeping the public informed. The population was confused about the politics of the issue and the policies being carried out. The British public would not support the level of military involvement that some leaders would have preferred (full scale war).57 Further, it would not tolerate the reprisals that resulted when British forces failed to persevere and lost their restraint, committing atrocities and reprisals.58

Also, these events were taking place just after Britain had fought a major war ostensibly over a people’s right to national self-determination. Indeed, when the military conflict intensified in 1919 after a somewhat dormant period, the victorious and peaceful nations of the world were meeting in Versailles to decide the fate of new nations. (Representatives of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic went to France to seek an audience for their cause. It was unsuccessful.)59 Most of the British public had less interest in the emotion that the various Irish political parties had over the issue of Home Rule and would have preferred to see it passed into law. However, the complexities of Britain’s Parliamentary government precluded this.60


Although Joint Pub 3-07 and the principles contained therein did not exist in 1916-1921, the ideas which form their foundation did. Regardless, of the soundness of these ideas and principles, the British government and military did not comply with them. In some cases it was a willful act of ignoring them, in others it was an unintentional violation. From the start, the British misidentified the situation, neglecting to accurately and impartially assess the situation. Consequently, they had no clear objective upon which to base their operations and their bull-headed, forceful response was counterproductive to resolving the crisis. Although participants perceived unity of effort (quelling the rebellion), as with the command structure, there really was no unity at the operational and tactical levels. Prepared for the guerrilla insurgency, the Irish had a well-organized and extremely capable intelligence and information network. They undermined the British efforts at security and, arguably, maintained the advantage till the end. The British struggled with their ungainly intelligence system until they restructured and re-focused it. Although it improved dramatically, it was too late to prevent the Irish from gaining their political objective. They did not appreciate the difference between counterinsurgency and general conventional warfare, assuming that the well-trained, well armed British Army, with the latest technology in tanks, armored cars, airplanes, communications, and battlefield tactics would prevail easily. They did not prepare their soldiers and police for the protracted struggle. When they lost their perseverance, they became susceptible to the temptations offered by reprisals as the release of their frustrations. Virtually the entire scheme of British military operations, from its unfocused beginnings to its failure to maintain restraint, jeopardized its legitimacy. Only at the end, when more effective tactics and policies were instituted, was any progress made.

It is somewhat fitting that in a century marked by struggles for independence from colonial rule, Great Britain, the predominate colonial power of the era, should be the first victim and the first colony lost should be the one closest to the seat of British empirical power. Had the British been more receptive to the idea of Irish independence and more attuned to the changing political and social situation in Ireland, they would have realized that granting some measure of independence was necessary. Such action could have averted the crisis of 1916-1921. Their reluctance to give up any piece of the empire, much less the piece closest to home, induced them to take a series of imprudent actions. This approach was no different than that taken by any number of colonial powers, including the British, in most of the subsequent struggles for independence which occurred in this century. From the political-military standpoint, there are obvious parallels to Egypt, Palestine, India, the Philippines, Malaya, Indochina, Vietnam and Algeria, among others. To the credit of the British, they had finally learned their lesson by Malaya, where they did many of the “right” things during their successful twelve year struggle against insurgency. The principles of MOOTW are timeless and can be applied across the span of time to any situation, and this case study has demonstrated how their violation dragged out the conflict in Ireland longer than necessary. In writing this paper, there were many strong reminders of the pitfalls America experienced in its involvement in Vietnam. America’s leaders in the past did not learn from earlier insurgencies, hopefully, today’s leaders can learn valuable lessons from this case study, avoiding similar failures in the future.

1. Conversations with Irish men and women and modern accounts of the events of 1916-1921 indicate that the Irish today view this as their “war of independence” and the heroes of that struggle are considered the founding fathers of the modern Irish Republic.
2. Brian Inglis, Roger Casement (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1973), pp. 279-370. Sir Roger Casement was a British Consular Servant who had been knighted for service to the crown. A staunch republican, he helped arrange the purchase of arms from Germany in 1916 for use in the Easter Rising. Also, he collaborated with Germany in an unsuccessful attempt to raise an Irish Brigade from among Irish prisoner of war in Germany. A Royal Navy destroyer detected the German merchant ship which was bring the arms to Ireland whereupon the German master scuttled the ship. British intelligence actually knew of the shipment, as well as the planned Rising. Without these rifles and ammunition, the Irish Volunteer Force leaders decided to call off the Rising.
3. George Dangerfield. The Damnable Question: A Study in Anglo-Irish Relations (Boston: Little, Brown 1976) p 188. Robert Kee, The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement (New York: Delacorte Press 1972), p 570. Led by the signers of the Proclamation, about 800 Irish men and women started out. By week’s end, between 1500 and 1800 participated in the Rising, including many who were to play major roles in the subsequent struggle for independence.
4. Richard Bennett, The Black and Tans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1960) p 14. Charles Callan Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom: 1866-1922 (New York: Devlin- Adair 1957), p 200. Charles Townshend The British Campaign in Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1975), pp. 1, 6. Kee, p 570.
5. Ulick O’Connor, The Troubles: Ireland: 1912-1922 (New York: Bobbs-Merrill 1975), p. 23. Townshend. Campaign, pp. 2-10. Dangerfield, pp. 146-164. These observers noted a growing interest in Irish heritage fostered by the resurgence of Gaelic societies. This growing interest led to a stronger commitment to Irish nationalism and the revival of political societies, secret and open, that actively pursued and promoted Irish nationalism. The resurgence of Catholicism in the last century widened the rift between the Protestants in the North and the Catholics. This rift was evident in the emergence of a powerful Protestant “separatist” movement in the British Parliament and posed an insurmountable obstacle to achieving passage of the Home Rule Bill (the Irish right to govern their own affairs). Still others saw the growth of socialism in Ireland as a bulwark against continued support for the British crown since it underscored the British exploitation of cheap Irish labor. General strikes and labor issues drew larger crowds and greater interest. Astute observers recognized subtle expressions of discontent in the literature, poetry and plays of the Irish. The size of the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF), the forerunner of the Irish Republican Army, grew to over 100,000 participants (though not necessarily soldiers).
6. Townshend. Campaign, pp. 2-10. 200-202.
7. Townshend, Campaign, pp. 2-6, 133-135, 158. Tom Bowden, The Breakdown of Public Security: The Case of Ireland 196-1921 and Palestine 1936-1938 (London: Sage 1977), p. 43, 44-45.
8. Townshend, Campaign, pp. 34-28. Dangerfield, pp. 315, 320.
9. Thomas R. Mockaitis British Counterinsurgency. 1919-60 (New York: St. Martin’s Press 1991), pp.18, 33-34. Townshend. Campaign, pp. 200-206. Bowden, p. 43.
10. Tim Pat Coogan, The Man Who Made Ireland: The Life and Death of Michael Collins (Colorado: Roberts Rinehart 1992) p. xii. William Manchester, Winston Churchill: The Last Lion (Boston: Brown, Little, 1983), pp. 718-720.
11. Dangerfield, pp. 300-301. Dail Eireann is the Assembly of Ireland, the Irish parliament. During the National Parliamentary Elections in December 1918, the Sinn Fein Party won seventy-three of 105 seats. When the elected Irish members were called to sit in Parliament on 21 January 1919, they boycotted the British assembly, and instead, assembled in the Dublin Mission House where they declared their independence. Of the seventy-three elected, thirty-four were “imprisoned by the foreign enemy.” 21 January is the day which is officially recognized by the modern Republic of Ireland.
12. Charles Townshend, Britain’s Civil Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975) p 66. Mockaitis, p. 74. Of course, there is no guarantee that had the practical measures been taken earlier, the British could have put down the insurgency. To a large extent, it was only a matter of time before the Irish would have settled for nothing less than independence. But in the meantime, Britain could have retained a measure of control, hopefully shaping and influencing Ireland as a cooperative, friendly nation (Relations were constrained for many years and are still not as warm as possible.) British leaders should have devised a strategy that would have granted concessions immediately and worked toward a gradual turn over of power to an independent Irish government, the situation that was started in 1921 and eventually played out by the mid-thirties. (This argument simplifies the separation issue which I do not intend to address.)
13. Tansill, pp. 215, 218-220.
14. Bennett, p. 15. O’Connor, p. 207. Dangerfield, p. 258. Tansill, p. 218.
15. Dangerfield, pp. 98-99. The Citizen’s Army was the militant arm of the Irish socialist movement. The army started as the defense organ of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union which was led by James Connolly, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising. About half of its three hundred members showed up on opening day of the Easter Rising. 16. Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA: A History (Colorado: Roberts Rinehart 1993) ppl6-19. Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) was founded by Arthur Griffith in 1903. It was one of several nationalist movement and eventually grew to prominence, particularly after the failure of the Irish Parliamentary Party to gain passage of the Home Rule Bill.
17. Dangerfield, pp. 82-83. The IVF, originally the “Irish National Volunteers,” was a Catholic military organization started in November 1913 in response to the establishment of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) which was founded in January 1913. The UVF was a Protestant militant organization stood up to prepare to defend Ulster from the growing nationalist sentiment in the South and among Catholics in the North. The UVF did not support breaking away from Great Britain. The UVF reached eighty-five thousand members by March 1914. The IVF reached seventy-five thousand members in May 1914.
18. Dangerfield, pp. 93-98. Townshend. Campaigns, p. 7. Military intelligence reported that the new Irish republicans were “peculiarly well disciplined, having regard to organizations in the past.. .Drunkenness is almost unknown…and is severely dealt with. This is…foreign to the usual state of things in similar movements.”
19. Dangerfield, pp. 260-263, 293. Coogan, IRA, pp. 17-19. After the Easter Rising, many of the principal IRB leaders were executed. The survivors included enough capable and passionate leaders to regain control of the movement. Key among these were Eamon de Valera (the principal political leader) and Michael Collins (the principal military leader). When Irish national elections were held by Sinn Fein in 1917, many IRB members were elected, including the President (Eamon de Valera), Chief of Staff (Cathal Brugha), Minister of Finance (Michael Collins), the Director of Communications and General Secretary. The nature of the positions held by the IRB in this elected body attested to their influence in the rebellion and contributed to the dominance the IRB enjoyed among the Irish parties. Although de Valera and Brugha subsequently resigned from their IRB posts to avoid a conflict of interest, the others did not. In fact, while sitting as Minister of Finance and serving on the Supreme Council of the IRB, Michael Collins also was the IVF’s Adjutant- General, Director of Organization and Director of Intelligence!
20. Dangerfield, PP. 263, 288. Coogan, Michael Collins, p. 90. During 1918, in response to a trumped up perception of a threat of another German-Irish uprising, the British government ordered the arrest of all prominent Sinn Fein, IVF and IRB members. To their misfortune, the moderates or “moral force” supporters allowed themselves to be captured and sent to prison in hopes of gaining international attention and outrage. Enough of the “physical force” or militant activists escaped capture and remained behind to carry out the struggle as a guerrilla war.
21. Coogan, IRA, p. 19. Coogan. Michael Collins, p. 105.
22. Townshend, Campaigns, p. 60.
23. Mockaitis, pp. 9-11. Dangerfield, p. 323.
24. Bowden, pp. 20-34.
25. Manchester, pp. 718-720. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 92-95, 211-212. Bowden, pp. 98-101. Dangerfield, pp. 316-317.
26. Manchester, pp. 718-720. Dangerfield, pp. 316-317. Mockaitis, pp. 181-19. Bowden, pp. 98-101. The “Black and Tans” got their nickname because their original uniforms were a mix of dark green and khaki and the name refers to a troublesome pack of wild hounds that roamed the south Irish countryside.
27. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 211-212.
28. Bowden, pp. 98-100. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 41.
29. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 12, 14,216-220. Dangerfield, p. 298.
30. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 44, 52.
31. Mockaitis, p. 152. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 143. Townshend. Britain’s, p.66.
32. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 191-193.
33. Mockaitis, p. 152.
34. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Pub 3-07: Joint operations for Military Operations Other Than War (Washington: 1995), pp. II-1-II-8.
35. Mockaitis, p. 69.
36. Bowden, pp. 43-44. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 133-134.
37. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 54-55.
38. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 73-75. Bowden, p. 43. Mockaitis, pp. 71-72.
39. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 50-51. Bowden, p. 43.
40. Kee, p. 648.
41. Bowden, pp. 132, 135.
42. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 129-130. Coogan. Michael Collins, pp. 158-162. Bowden, 111-135. Kee, p. 695.
43. Tansillp. 213. Dangerfield, p. 309.
44. Dangerfield, pp. 312-313, 315.
45. Mockaitis, p. 69.
46. Coogan. Michael Collins, p. 125.
47. Bowden, pp. 127-128. Here is another example of Irish superiority in the information war. When possible, the Irish manipulated the British or let their own practices undermined them since the extreme partisanship of British parliamentary politics is vicious. When the British tried to portray the Irish as going beyond the pale of reasonableness by attempting biological warfare (introducing typhoid among British soldiers by exposing them to microbes and infecting the horses with glanders), Pro-Irish and other parties opposed to the sitting government ripped apart the argument. Having been tipped off by Irish intelligence sources that the government was going to present false evidence of such accusations, the opposition parties vociferously questioned the evidence, accusing the government of fabricating the story to heighten opposition to the Irish cause.
48. Dangerfield, pp. 19-23. As a result of the efforts of Irish statesmen Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell in the Nineteenth century, the majority of the Irish people accepted that the means of obtaining Home Rule for Ireland lay in following the British Parliamentary process. The failure of this process to run its course by the promised year of 1916, was the start of the people’s disillusionment, however, its delay was understandable in view of the war.
49. Kee, pp. 573-573. Dangerfield, pp. 207-217. There have been many debates over the wisdom of executing so many of the rebels and the fairness of the punishment. Whether or not such punishment may have been warranted, and in view of the potential fallout from such a punishment, the decision to execute the leaders should have been reviewed and analyzed by competent civil authorities, not just the on-scene military commander. In retrospect, only the execution of the three principal ringleaders should have taken place. The excessiveness of this punishment had a profound impact on the Irish people and much of the interested world. Executing only the three principal ringleaders probably have not cemented opposition so solidly against the British.
50. Manchester, pp. 517-519. Dangerfield, pp. 290-291. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 8-10. British intelligence urged conscription to remove the discontented and rambunctious men from the scene in Ireland. In the past, these men had emigrated to America or Australia but wartime travel restrictions precluded this option. Despite the wisdom of more sound arguments against such a course of action, the bill was proposed and passed. It was met with outrage in Ireland.
51. Townshend. Campaigns, pp. 10-12.
52. The greatest example of this success is in the election returns of November 1918. In these elections, Sinn Fein won 73 of 105 Parliamentary seats. But the elected Irish statesmen refused to take their seats in Parliament, bringing that ruling body to a halt. Instead, the elected candidates established the their own Eireann Dail. There can be no greater refutation of the legitimacy of government than to have those elected to it by a popular vote refuse to participate in it, and convene their own government instead!
53. Townshend, Campaigns, pp. 40-57.
54. Mockaitis, p. 19.
55. Kee, pp. 669-670.
56. Manchester, pp. 719-720. Dangerfield, p. 318. Townshend, Campaigns, p.p. 119-120.
57. Coogan, Michael Collins, p. xii.
58. Manchester, pp. 719-720.
59. Kee, p. 630.
60. Dangerfield, pp. 275-278.

Source: Defense Technical Information Center

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