Psychological Warfare and the Widely and Wildly Misunderstood Terrorist Tactics of December 1989 in Romania (VI. Hărţuire/Lupta de rezistenţă în mediul urban)
(purely personal views, based on more than two decades of prior research and publications)
Although the following book has been invoked in the Romanian media (e.g. http://jurnalul.ro/campaniile-jurnalul/decembrie-89/manualul-teroristilor-din-decembrie-89-531055.html), its content has not been explored in great depth and it has been placed almost solely within the context of the Army (DIA, Reteaua “R”) as having been trained in these tactics, with the suggestion that it was elements of the Army that executed them in December 1989. Separating for the moment the issue of the tactics from their perpetrators, let us look in more detail at the tactic of harassment (hartuire) discussed in the previous post as an important component of guerrilla warfare. Amazingly, and perhaps as a relic of the Cold War (when it would have been acquired), the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has a copy of this book.
From episode V:
b. Harassment. Harassment keeps government forces on the defensive. If successful, it causes government forces react to guerrilla operations. As a result, the government cannot conduct offensive operations that would prevent successful guerrilla operations. Harassment also weakens the government’s resources and disrupts lines of communication. One advantage of harassment is the image it presents of the guerrilla being able to strike anywhere. Also, the government appears ineffective and incompetent by constantly losing small battles. This affects the morale of the government force.
- (1) Most guerrilla operations are offensive, not defensive. There is seldom an attempt to seize and defend objectives.
“Lupta de rezistenţă în mediul urban” (Ed. Militară, 1983), scrisă de col. Constantin Dobândă, col. (r) dr Pavel Ciuhureanu şi col. Alexandru Ghelmegeanu.
For the purposes of this post, for the time being I will just transcribe some of the most pertinent information in Romanian from the section on “harassment” and will return later in future posts to see what transpired in December 1989. A few points to highlight in passing: this passage suggests that the tactic of harassment has as its “goal to provoke panic and to maintain fear in the ranks of the aggressor and those who collaborate with the aggresor; in fact, the latter is perhaps more important that the material effects obtained by harassment.” The components of harassment discuss this importance of advance preparation, numerous attacks by small groups of forces, the use of surprise, choosing moments when the enemy does not expect it and conditions are unfavorable, the use of attacking at nighttime, attacking during fog, disinforming the enemy about the number and intentions of the resistance forces and of their bases, fracturing enemy forces and exhausting them physically and mentally, attacking poorly defended targets, avoiding confrontation with more powerful enemy sources, rapid retreat, maximum exploitation of the characteristics of urban spaces (fighting underground, putting elite sharpshooters on rooftops, building floors and in basements…
Asa cum demonstreaza experienta, in organizarea si desfasurarea hartuirii in orase trebuie sa se aiba in vedere mai multe aspecte: acordarea prioritatii procedelor si formelor active de lupta (atacuri numeroase cu efective mici, ambuscade, incursiuni, capcane, etc.); realizarea surprinderii, lovind inamicul acolo unde ne se asteapta si in momentele cele mai nefavorabile pentru el: pregatirea in secret a actiunilor, luarea masurilor necesare pentru mascare, folosirea intunericului, a timpului nefavorabil si a conditiilor meteorologice grele (ploi, furtuna, viscol, ceata, etc.); dezinformarea inamicului in legatura cu forta, posibilitatile si intentiile formatiunilor de rezistenta, cu locul unde-si au bazele sau sint dispuse; lovirea agresorului fara intrerupere, pe o arie cit mai intinsa, pentru a-i fraciona fortele si a-l uza fizic si moral; lovirea unor obiective aparate cu forte putine, evitarea confruntarilor cu grupari inamice mai puternice; ruperea luptei si retragerea rapida din fata acestora; folosirea maxima a caracteristiciilor ofterite de mediul urban si adaptarea actiunilor la acest specific (lupta in subteran, instalarea de tragatori de elita pe acoperisuri, la etaje si in subsoluri, plantarea de mine si incarcatari explozive, construirea de baricade batute cu focul armamentului automat s.a.m.d.
Actiunile de hartuire, desi executate cu forte putine, au aspectul unor lovituri de trasnet si se caracterizeaza printre-o mare violenta: ele nu se limiteaza numai la producerea unor pierderi umane si materiale, ci au, in primul rind, scopul de a provoca panica si a mentine o spaima continua in rindurile agresorului si a celor care colaboreaza cu el; de fapt, acest din urma scop este, poate, mai important decit efectele materiale obtinute prin hartuire. (pp. 154-155)