Tactical Offensives

[T]he NPA makes them suffer casualties and defeats through ambushes, raids, arrest operations, demolition work and other forms of sabotage. The enemy is like a big monster that cannot protect its body parts and is bleeding to death from many wounds.

Jose Maria Sison, 2021

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Mao Tse Tung, 1927

In 2023, the New People’s Army (NPA) launched numerous victorious tactical offensives causing the fascist enemy to bleed with a thousand cuts.

Recently, the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command of NPA – Rizal successfully ambushed the operating troops of the 80th IBPA in Lukutang Malaki, Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal. More tactical offensives are certainly in the offing.

How does the NPA, thus, prepare for a tactical offensive? Liberation International, on the occasion of the New People’s Army’s 55th anniversary, interviewed a Red fighter to delve into the process of mounting an offensive.

Pre-tactical offensive

Before any tactical offensive (TO) is launched, it is meticulously planned wherein several crucial elements are primarily taken into account, such as political gain, the masses’ gain, social investigation and class analysis and the masses’ readiness.

Based on these considerations, the responsible command determines which kind of offensive befits the masses’ and the NPA’s capacities, existing political situation and other security aspects.

A tactical offensive takes months to prepare, depending on the size of an operation. For instance, big, annihilative offensives entail a longer preparation as it involves orientation and consolidation of forces, stockpiling, and identifying areas to retreat, to name a few. When it comes to small actions, a ‘window of opportunity’, for example, the enemy passes by an area at a given time, prompts swift preparations.

It also depends on the masses. Their determination and assertion can contribute to a swifter preparation. More importantly, without the masses’ unwavering support, there would never be a successful tactical offensive. They play a pivotal role in the entire process—from preparing the place, determining the places to retreat, ensuring sufficient food and supply, investigating the security situation, and monitoring the movement of the enemy, to knowing when to strike.

In carrying out all these tasks, the people’s militia units, who act as local NPA units in the barrio, along with the self-defense units of revolutionary mass organizations are also mobilized.

Actual tactical offensive

In all tactical offensives, every Red fighter deals with a lot of tension and a lot of things play in their minds which is but natural. The NPA though knows how to handle the situation well. They lift each other’s morale, and keep themselves focused on their objective.

During the actual tactical offensive, a great deal of time is spent lying in wait, which can last up to three days or even longer.

Once the operation is mounted, two things can happen— either it is successful or not.

Primarily, a successful TO is measured by the extent of damage inflicted on the enemy or the enemy’s reduced fighting capability. The impact on the enemy is, thus, more important than the sheer number of enemy casualties. To illustrate, it is successful if a sizable number of arms are seized from the enemy or if they lose their morale, even if it is a minor tactical offensive, yielding minimal or zero enemy casualties. 

Contrarily, the effect is the opposite if it is not successful. If this happens (and in any situation), the most important thing to do is to assess the results to form an objective analysis of the circumstances and to draw lessons. Also, it is important to make the masses understand the lessons from their own experiences, regardless of the results of a tactical offensive.

Aborting or stopping a tactical offensive can also happen. One of the main reasons is the extent of harm to the masses and the NPA. This usually happens when the social investigation is incomplete, or the analysis of the data gathered is wrong. Hence, the importance of conducting a thorough study and analysis to collect information on the enemy’s movements, their stop points, the right time to strike them and their vulnerabilities, among others.

Post-tactical offensive

When a tactical offensive is successful, the masses certainly celebrate it. Oftentimes, even the masses who live far from the revolutionary mass base are delighted upon hearing such successes. Resounding and victorious tactical offensives have beneficial effects both on the organized and non-organized masses.

Whether an NPA operation is successful or not, enemy retaliation is always expected. If they can no longer pursue the retreating NPA, they are likely to retaliate against the masses. Even in the preparatory stage, the NPA and the masses prepare for retaliation by ensuring that the masses are ready to face the enemy’s threats, intimidation, and harassment. In the areas where there are organs of political power, revolutionary mass organizations prepare for these retaliatory actions through role-playing. Under any circumstances, the masses must realize that safeguarding each other and refusing any attempt to separate them from their community is vital to protecting every one of them. 

As for the NPA, the most important thing to do during the retreat is to get the masses’ intelligence reports on enemy movements. It is paramount to know, for instance, the enemy’s entry point. If the enemy enters the area, the masses communicate this to the NPA immediately.

Sometimes, when the NPA retreats after a bigger offensive, there is a team that stays behind to delay or deliver another heavy blow to the enemy. The enemy, who usually retaliates to exact revenge, is most vulnerable during this time.

The masses are again actively involved in this process. After a tactical offensive, the masses know that the red fighters are tired and hungry. So, they carry their things and keep safe the materials and some arms that are used for the operation, as well as prepare and serve them food. Next to giving intelligence reports, they also get rid of any trace of NPA presence during the retreat to prevent the enemy from locating the NPA. #