Ending an Insurgency Violently

Ending an Insurgency Violently:

The Samar and Batangas Punitive Campaigns

by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas A. Bruno, U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Army War College Strategy Research Project

25 March 2010

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From 1899-1902, the United States Army waged a successful counterinsurgency campaign in the Philippines. For over two years, Army strategic leaders endeavored to employ a policy of benevolent assimilation to attract the Philippine populace. Due to insurgent resistance, varying levels of attraction and chastisement policies were actually utilized. In 1901, the massacre of a U.S. infantry company at Balangiga, Samar, acted as a catalyst for the Army to end the waning insurgency in the two remaining un-pacified provinces. Resultantly, the Army undertook punitive operations to reduce the last major rebel strongholds in the Philippines—the Batangas Province on Luzon and the island of Samar. Several scholars assert that the Samar Expedition, commanded by BG Jacob H. Smith, was based on a harsh policy of devastation. Smith's expedition undeniably resulted in significant public outrage over charges of excessive cruelty and war crimes. In contrast, the Batangas campaign plan, under the direction of BG J. Franklin Bell, is remembered as a balanced strategy of coercion and attraction. Nevertheless, both campaigns provide an opportunity to analyze the proper balance of attraction and retribution policies necessary to carry out a successful counterinsurgency campaign.

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