CIA Manual – Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare

Carry out group discussions in towns, and areas of operations whenever possible with the civilian population, and not limit them to camps or bases. This is done to emphasize the revolutionary nature of the struggle and to demonstrate that the guerrillas identified with the objectives of the people move about within the population. The guerrilla projects himself toward the people, as the political cadre does toward the guerrilla, and they should live, eat and work together to realize a unity of revolutionary thought are:

The principles for guerrilla and political-cadre group discussions

~ Organize discussion groups at the post or squad level. A cadre cannot be sure of the comprehension and acceptance of the concepts and conclusions by guerrillas in large groups. In a group of the size of a squad of 10 men, the judgement and control of the situation is greater. In this way, all students will participate in an exchange among them; the political leader, the group leader, and also the political cadre. Special attention will be given to the individual ability to discuss the objectives of the insurrectional struggle. Whenever a guerrilla expresses his opinion, he will be interested in listening to the opinions of others, leading as a result to the unity of thought.

~ Combine the different points of view and reach an opinion or common conclusion. This is the most difficult task of a political guerrilla cadre. After the group discussions of the democratic objectives of the movement, the chief of the team of political cadres of the guerrilla force should combine the conclusions of

individual groups in a general summary. At a meeting with all the discussion groups, the cadre shall provide the principal points, and the guerrillas will have the opportunity to clarify or modify their points of view. To carry this out, the conclusions will be summarized in the form of slogans, wherever possible.

~ Face with honesty the national and local problems of our struggle. THe political cadres should always be prepared to discuss solutions to the problems observed by the guerrillas. During the discussions, the guerrillas should be guided by the following three principles:

~ Freedom of thought.

~ Freedom of expression.

~ Concentration of thoughts on the objectives of the democratic struggle.

The result desired is a guerrilla who in a persuasive manner can justify all of his acts whenever he is in contact with any member of the town/people, and especially with himself and with his guerrilla companions by facing the vicissitudes of guerrilla warfare.

This means that every guerrilla will come to have effective face-to- face persuasion as a combatant-propagandist in his contact with the people, to the point of giving 5-10 logical reasons why, e.g. a peasant should give him a piece of cloth, or a needle and thread to mend his clothes. When behaves in this manner, no type of propaganda of the enemy will be able to make a “terrorist” of him in the eyes of the people.

In addition, hunger, cold, fatigue and insecurity in the existence of the guerrilla acquire meaning in the cause of the struggle due to the constant psychological orientation.

Camp Procedures

Encamping the guerrilla units gives greater motivation, in addition to reducing distractions, and increases the spirit of cooperation of small units, relating the physical environment to the psychological one. The squad chief shall establish the regular camping procedure. Once thy have divested themselves of their packs, the chief will choose the appropriate ground for camping. He should select land that predominates over the zone with two or three escape routes. He will choose among his men and give them responsibilities such as:

~ Clean the camp area.

~ Provide adequate drainage in case of rain. Also build some trenches or holes for marksmen in case of emergency. In addition, he will build a stove, which will be done by making some small trenches and placing three rocks in place; in case the stove is built on a pedestal, it will be filled with clay and rocks.

~ Build a windbreaking wall, which will be covered on the sides and on the top with branches and leaves of the same vegetation of the zones. This will serve for camouflaging and protecting it from aerial visibility or from enemy patrols around.

~ Construct a latrine and a hole where waste and garbage will be buried, which should be covered over at the time of abandoning the camp.

~ Once the camp has been set up, it is recommended that a watchman be positioned in the places of access at a prudent distance, where the shout of alarm can be heard. In the same moment the password will be established, which should be changed every 24 hours. The commander should establish ahead of time an alternate meeting point, in case of having to abandon the camp in a hurried manner, and they will be able to meet in the other already established point, and they should warn the patrol that if at a particular time they cannot meet at the established point, the should have a third meeting point.

These procedures contribute to the motivation of the guerrilla and improve the spirit of cooperation in the unit. The danger, sense of insecurity, anxiety and daily concern in the life of a guerrilla require tangible evidence of belonging in an order for him to keep up his spirit and morale.

In addition to the good physical conditions in which the guerrilla should find himself, good psychological conditions are necessary, for which group discussions and becoming a self=critic are recommended, which will greatly benefit the spirit and morale of the same.

Having broken camp with the effort and cooperation of everyone strengthens the spirit of the group. The guerrilla will be inclined then towards the unity of thought in democratic objectives.

Interaction with the People

In order to ensure popular support, essential for the good development of guerrilla warfare, the leaders should induce a positive interaction between the civilians and the guerrillas, through the principle of “live, eat , and work with the people,” and maintain control of their activities. In group discussions, the leaders and political cadres should give emphasis to positively identifying themselves with the people.

It is not recommendable to speak of military tactical plans in discussions with civilians. The Communist foe should be pointed out as the number one enemy of the people, and as a secondary threat against our guerrilla forces.

Whenever there is a chance, groups of members should be chosen who have a high political awareness and high disciplinary conduct in the work to be carried out, in order to be sent to the populous areas in order to direct the armed propaganda, where they should persuade the people through dialogue in face-to-face confrontations, where these principles should be followed:

~ Respect for human rights and others’ property.

~ Helping the people in community work.

~ Protecting the people from Communist aggressions.

~ Teaching the people environmental hygiene, to read, etc., in order to win their trust, which will lead to a better democratic ideological preparation.

This attitude will foster the sympathy of the peasants for our movement, and they will immediately become one of us, through logistical support, coverage and intelligence information on the enemy or participation in combat. The guerrillas should be persuasive through the word and not dictatorial with weapons. If they behave in this way, the people will feel respected, will be more inclined to accept our message and will consolidate into popular support.

In any place in which tactical guerrilla operations are carried out in populous areas, the squad should undertake psychological actions parallel to these, and should proceed, accompany and consolidate the common objective and explain to all the people about our struggle, explaining that our presence is to give peace, liberty and democracy to all Nicaraguans without exception, and explaining that out struggle is not against the nationals but rather against Russian imperialism. This will serve to ensure greater Psychological achievements which will increase the operations of the future.


The nature of the environment in guerrilla warfare does not permit sophisticated facilities for psychological operations, and the face-to-face persuasion of the guerrilla combatant-propagandists with the people is an effective and available tool which we should use as much as possible during the process of the struggle.



Frequently a misunderstanding exists on “armed propaganda,” that this tactic is a compulsion of the people with arms. In reality, it does not include compulsion, but the guerrilla should know well the principles and methods of this tactic. The objective of this section is to give the guerrilla student an understanding of the armed propaganda that should be used, and that will be able to be applied in guerrilla warfare.

Close Identification with the People

Armed propaganda includes all acts carried out by an armed force, whose results improve the attitude of the people toward this force, and it does not include forced indoctrination. This is carried out by a close identification with the people on any occasion. For example:

~ Putting aside weapons and working side by side with the peasants in the countryside: building, fishing, repairing roofs, transporting water, etc.

~ When working with the people, the guerrillas can use slogans such as “many hands doing small things, but doing them together.”

~ Participating in the tasks of the people, they can establish a strong tie between them and the guerrillas and at the same time a popular support for our movement is generated.

During the patrols and other operations around or in the midst of villages, each guerrilla should be respectful and courteous with the people. In addition he should move with care and always be well prepared to fight, if necessary. But he should not always see all the people as enemies, with suspicions or hostility. Even in war, it is possible to smile, laugh or greet people. Truly, the cause of our revolutionary base, the reason why we are struggling, is our people. We must be respectful to them on all occasions that present themselves.

In places and situations wherever possible, e.g. when they are resting during the march, the guerrillas can explain the operation of weapons to the youths and young men. They can show them an unloaded rifle so that they will learn to load it and unload it; their use, and aiming at imaginary targets they are potential recruits for our forces.

The guerrillas should always be prepared with simple slogans in order to explain to the people, whether in an intentional form or by chance, the reason for the weapons.

“The weapons will be for winning freedom; the are for you.”

“With weapons we can impose demands such as hospitals, schools, better roads, and social services for the people, for you.”

“Our weapons are, in truth, the weapons of the people, yours.”

“With weapons we can change the Sandino-Communist regime and return to the people a true democracy so that we will all have economic opportunities.”

All of this should be designed to create an identification of the people with the weapons and the guerrillas who carry them. Finally, we should make the people feel that we are thinking of them and that the weapons are the people’s, in order to help them and protect them from a Communist, totalitarian, imperialist regime, indifferent to the needs of the population.

Implicit and Explicit Terror

A guerrilla armed force always involves implicit terror because the population, without saying it aloud, feels terror that the weapons may be used against them. However, if the terror does not become explicit, positive results can be expected.

In a revolution, the individual lives under a constant threat of physical damage. If the government police cannot put an end to the guerrilla activities, the population will lose confidence in the government, which has the inherent mission of guaranteeing the safety of citizens. However, the guerrillas should be careful not to become an explicit terror, because this would result in a loss of popular support.

In the words of a leader of the Huk guerrilla movement of the Philippine Islands: “The population is always impressed by weapons, not by the terror that they cause, but rather by a sensation of strength/force. We must appear before the people, giving them the message of the struggle.” This is, then, in a few words, the essence of armed propaganda.

An armed guerrilla force can occupy an entire town or small city that is neutral or relatively passive in the conflict. In order to conduct the armed propaganda in an effective manner, the following should be carried out simultaneously:

~ Destroy the military or police installations and remove the survivors to a “public place.”

~ Cut all the outside lines of communications: cables, radio, messengers.

~ Set up ambushes in order to delay the reinforcements in all the possible entry routes.

~ Kidnap all officials or agents of the Sandinista government and replace them in “public Places” with military or civilian persons of trust to our movement; in addition, carry out the following:

~ Establish a public tribunal that depends on the guerrillas, and cover the town or city in order to gather the population for this event.

~ Shame, ridicule and humiliate the “personal symbols” of the government of repression in the presence of the people and foster popular participation through guerrillas within the multitude, shouting slogans and jeers.

~ Reduce the influence of individuals in tune with the regime, pointing out their weaknesses and taking them out of the town, without damaging them publicly.

~ Mix the guerrillas within the population and show very good conduct by all members of the column, practicing the following:

Any article taken will be paid for with cash.

The hospitality offered by the people will be accepted and this opportunity will be exploited in order to carry out face-to-face persuasion about the struggle.

Courtesy visits should be made to the prominent persons and those with prestige in the place, such as doctors, priests, teachers, etc.

The guerrillas should instruct the population that with the end of the operative, and when the Sandinista repressive forces interrogate them, they may reveal EVERYTHING about the military operation carried out. For example, the type of weapons they use, ho many men arrived, from what direction they came and in what direction they left, in short, EVERYTHING.

In addition, indicate to the population that at meetings or in private discussion they can give the names of the Sandinista informants, who will be removed together with the other officials of the government of repression.

When a meeting is held, conclude it with a speech by one of the leaders of guerrilla political cadres (the most dynamic), which includes explicit references to:

The fact that the “enemies of the people” — the officials or Sandinista agents — must not be mistreated in spite of their criminal acts, although the guerrilla force may have suffered casualties, and that this is done due to the generosity of the Christian guerrillas.

Give a declaration of gratitude for the “hospitality” of the population, as well as let them know that the risks that they will run when the Sandinistas return are greatly appreciated.

The fact that the Sandinista regime, although it exploits the people with taxes, control of money, grains and all aspects of public life through associations, which they are forced to become part of, will not be able to resist the attacks of our guerrilla forces.

Make the promise to the people that you will return to ensure that the “leeches” of the Sandinista regime of repression will not be able to hinder our guerrillas from integrating with the population.

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 | View All | Next -»

Be the first to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.