Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fighting to Win

The United States occupied the Phillipines from 1898 to 1946, with a brief absence from 1942 to 1944. The war to secure Mindinao took a good long time, but eventually the locals decided (mostly) to support the US backed colonial government. A key event occured when the US paid the local Sultan to give up his sovereignity. The Sultan kept his religious authority. After that event, rebellion against the US colonial government was no longer supported in the Mosques.

Those who fought the US backed colonial government were eventually forced out of the villages to an extinct volcano Bud Budsak. They were taken out by Phillipine Scouts, with a few US units in support, and many US officers among the Scouts.

The Muslims of that time and place didn't trust their women outside their sight. The Muslim Moros of that day fought with their women at their left elbow. This was tough on the US soldiers, so a unique tactic was developed. The Scouts approached the fortified crater, and opened fire, then withdrew, rather than shelling the comingled male and female Muslims.

The withdrawal was to a prepared base camp, and the Muslims sought to exploit their mobility, their courage, and their use of drugs to keep fighting even after taking a fatal hit. The Scouts and US units used well laid out bands of interlocking and overlapping fires to prevent the Moros from breaking into the base camps. .30/40 Krag Jorgensen rifles worked well, supplementing the Colt "Potato Digger" Browning designed machineguns. Officers used mostly Colt single action revolvers in .45 Colt, with a few .45ACP pistols (M1911) focusing their fire on the few Moros who made their way through the outer bands of fire.

After the men of the Moros were shot down, the women were permitted to return to their villages unmolested.

Because the US was steadfast, in 1933 the Moros protested when the US announced its intent to end colonial government in the Phillipines. The Moros thought that submission to the US was honorable, and the US was trusted to not interfere with the local Muslim religion. There was concern that submission to the local Christians would not be so honorable, and there were memories of the Spanish colonial support for Catholicism. The Muslims of Mindinao were not happy with the change.

The US soldiers in Mindinao during WWII were treated well by the local Muslims. That can't be said of the Japanese.

The US fought to win in that colonial conflict. We should fight to win in the current conflict.



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