– Mark Twain
Force ratios are usually on the side of the guerrilla aggressor in underground movements and resistance forces. The force calculus employed by government forces in preserving the statist quo are usually large but bereft of talent. Witness the US and coalition clown posse playing déjà vu in Afghanistan and Iraq. The employment of forces in combating a negligible threat in the Taliban and HQN in Afghanistan has cost trillions and over a decade of investment in what is a failed state riven by patronage networks and the patchwork assimilation of a faux government built on corruption, bribery, incompetence and external support of the most egregious malpractice in the region. But then again it is a simply a demonstration project at it most raw of what all government is without the fancy camouflage and bunting that adorns the Western kleptocrocies.
Two demonstration projects of the force calculus phenomenon are captured within a decade long span of the early twentieth century in Ireland and German East Africa between 1916 and 1922. Worlds and cultures apart, they share one common bond – a self-sufficient band of renegades manages to foil world powers and bring them to their knees.
The 1916 Rising in Ireland to throw off an 800 year occupation by a foreign power and German General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck’s heroic resistance with potentially 65:1 force ratios besting 125 Allied generals and a peak Allied strength of 650,000 troops arrayed against his 10,000 minus Schutztruppe.
Over the years the IRA force calculus would reach a peak strength of 500 paramilitaries against the UK-Loyal Irish forces of up to 52,000.
Both of these exploits come with their own peculiar qualities that led to success. Collins and his Flying Columns would eventually best the British Empire through both feats of arms, selective surgery of the constabulary and a capitalization of imperial exhaustion and defeat on the part of the British. The only undefeated German General on Earth in 1918 would have to receive a cease and desist order from the German authorities in WWI to stop his successful guerrilla campaign that would ironically best the Boers who had become British poodles after giving the UK a run for its money in two bloody conflicts at the turn of the century.