The US military’s first full-fledged counterinsurgency campaign took place at the turn of the twentieth century in territory it had acquired following the Spanish-American War. The United States occupied the Philippines as the Spanish withdrew. Emilio Aguinaldo, who had led a revolution against Spain in 1897, aided the Americans during the war with the expectation that his country would receive independence. When the United States decided to remain in control of the islands for the foreseeable future, Aguinaldo realized he had traded one colonial master for another and mounted an insurgency against the new occupiers. The conflict began with an offensive by Aguinaldo’s Army of Liberation in the spring of 1899. With their superior firepower and organization US forces easily defeated the insurgents in open battle and cleared the Luzon plain of them. They also nearly captured the rebel leader, who fled to a mountainous region in the northeast of the island. Realizing his mistake in using conventional tactics, Aguinaldo shifted to guerrilla warfare. He reorganized his forces into semi-autonomous bands of 30-50 fighters, which carried out hit-and-run operations against American units up to company strength. Aguinaldo created what is today being called a ‘shadow government’ or a ‘parallel state’ in the communities he controlled. The insurgents collected taxes, dispensed justice, requisitioned supplies and recruited members. At the height of the insurgency, Aguinaldo may have had as many as 80,000 fighters operating in familiar terrain among people whose language and culture they understood, thus enjoying a significant advantage in garnering intelligence on US forces (Williams 1962: 86-9). American troops responded to the insurgency as conventional soldiers often do. Unable to find and destroy the enemy, they took out their frustration on the general population, punishing entire communities suspected of supporting the insurgents, even if that support had been coerced. Soldiers destroyed property, murdered civilians and summarily executed prisoners. A century before the Abu Ghraib scandal they also tortured suspects for information. To deprive the guerrillas of support from sympathetic (or intimidated) civilians, the Army rounded up ordinary people, most of whom had no connection to the insurgency, and detained them in concentration camps, where thousands died of disease. Such brutality declined as the conflict progressed, though it never entirely stopped, but contrary to popular belief, these harsh tactics did not defeat the insurgents (Gates 2007). The United States had too few troops (24,000 at the height of the emergency) to terrorize a population of seven million into submission (Boot 2002: 127). Only an effective counterinsurgency strategy could accomplish that goal. After its initial failures, the Army developed such a strategy and the tactics to implement it. US forces employed what later would be called a ‘hearts-and-minds’ approach, identifying and addressing the causes of unrest. Washington promised the Philippines eventual independence and offered some degree of local autonomy immediately. The administration of William McKinley created the Philippine Commission to oversee civil administration of the islands and appointed William Howard Taft to direct it. The military and civil efforts combined in what today are known as ‘clear-and-hold’ operations. The soldiers handed control of pacified areas over to the Commission, which appointed and paid Filipinos to run their own affairs. The Army also adapted its approach to combating the guerrillas. Rather than focus on killing and capturing them, they concentrated on breaking the link between the insurgents and their supporters. However, instead of re-concentrating people into squalid concentration camps, they deployed troops both to prevent subversion and to protect the population from insurgent retaliation. The army created four military districts, subdivided into smaller units in which commanders were deployed for extended periods, so that they got to know the area and its people

well (Linn 1989: 163-70). This approach prefigured the French ‘oil stain’ strategy in Morocco and the British ‘framework deployment’ in Malay. General Orders No. 100, which had first been issued by President Abraham Lincoln to govern occupied Confederate territory during the Civil War, provided the legal framework for the counterinsurgency campaign. Although they would be considered harsh by today’s standards, most contemporary legal experts considered the Orders humane (Linn 2002: 63-4). The Orders promoted unity of effort by vesting both civil and military power in a governor general who had the power to impose severe penalties on insurgents and those who supported them, including capital punishment. The Orders also insisted that civilians and captured insurgents be treated humanely. ‘Military oppression is not Martial Law’, they asserted. ‘It is the abuse of the power which that law confers. . . . It is incumbent upon those who administer it to be strictly guided by the principles of justice, honor, and humanity (General Order No. 100).’ In addition to avoiding counterproductive measures, military commanders also took positive steps to win popular support. American soldiers built schools and roads, improved sanitation, and inoculated Filipinos against smallpox. Military commanders appointed mayors and local councillors, empowering them in turn to hire labourers for public works projects. This ability to dole out patronage gave the mayors leverage and credibility with local populations (Deady 2005: 59). This hearts-and-minds effort facilitated military operations by reducing support for the insurgents and inducing people to provide intelligence on their whereabouts. The US Army also employed Filipino scouts, who spoke the local language and knew the terrain. In March 1901, one of these indigenous units finally helped secure the capture of Aguinaldo, who on 1 April swore an oath recognizing American authority over the Philippines. He then issued a proclamation calling on his followers to lay down their arms. A generous amnesty induced many insurgents to surrender. In July 1902, Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act, which called for the establishment of a local legislature and extended the US Bill of Rights to the islands. The insurrection ended that month, and President Theodore Roosevelt pardoned those who had taken part it. The Philippine insurrection required the United States to mount its first full-scale counterinsurgency campaign. While US forces did develop an effective strategy, victory occurred under very favourable circumstances. The insurgency occurred primarily within a single ethnic group and was confined to two islands of the vast archipelago. Naval supremacy enabled the United States to prevent supplies reaching the guerrillas. Because they fought on islands, the insurgents lacked a safe haven across a friendly border. Although its conduct improved as the conflict progressed, the Army never completely abandoned the brutal methods it had employed early in the campaign. However, these qualifiers notwithstanding, the US Army and civil administration devised a sound counterinsurgency strategy and implemented it effectively. Unfortunately, the army did not preserve the lessons of the Philippine insurrection in formal doctrine, and so the lessons of the campaign were largely forgotten.