Going back in history we can see that World War II UW or unconventional warfare took place in a number of theaters around the world. Most notably in France, the Balkans, and Southeast Asia. In France the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of the United Kingdom and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) of the United States worked in conjunction with the Free French to form up, train, and parachute into France three-man Jedburgh teams. These teams linked up with the French Resistance to assist in the training, direction, equipping, and coordination to assist in the allied invasion of France.
Ben Jones, the author of Eisenhower’s Guerrillas, recently spoke (October 28, 2016) at the Special Operations Association Symposium in Alexandra, Virginia on the topic of World War II UW. He recounts how the Jedburgh teams were formed and employed but also takes a careful look at the strategic arena and the diplomacy involved in the conduct of unconventional warfare during World War II.
He is especially keen to point out that the French Resistance had its own way of doing business and its own set of goals and objectives. The allied generals recognized this and worked within this environment. One statement by Ben Jones is key and applicable to the United States attempt (thus far somewhat haphazard) to establish resistance movements in Syria (to fight either the government regime or ISIS or both) using unconventional warfare.
“The fact that the United States seems to have no clear aim or post-war vision for the middle east today, is in my view, why we have confused our friends and can’t attract guerrilla allies. A clearly understood aim is vital in order to bring guerrillas to our side. After all, people have to know what they are fighting for, before they will be willing to fight.”
Read more about the lessons of World War II UW in “The Jedburghs and Unconventional Warfare”, The Foreign Policy Initiative, November 2016.