Five Facts about the Basmachi’s Approach to Guerrilla Warfare

The Basmachi was disorganized, disjointed guerilla movement in Central Asia during the Russian Civil War. Despite being led by various different leaders and experiencing varying level of organization and success, every unit used these 5 basic tactics in their war against anyone who threatened their small c, conservative values.

A video about the Basmachi’s approach to guerrilla warfare
Read More: Five Facts about the Basmachi’s Approach to Guerrilla Warfare
  1. Raid the Enemy and Your Own People: Like everyone living in Central Asia during the Russian Civil War, the Basmachi were constantly threatened by famine. Their solution was to raid from the Russians as well as from their own supporters. When they weren’t raiding their own villages, they focused on raiding military supply depots and warehouses. When that failed, they either made deals with Russian commanders or turned against their own supporters
  2. Infiltrate the Enemy’s Territory Whenever Possible: Early in the conflict the Russian forces weren’t large enough or strong enough to prevent the Basmachi from making incursions into their territory. The Basmachi took advantage of this weakness not only to raid supply depots, but also to attack ginning factories, mines, and oil wells. Anything that would harm Russian infrastructure and make it unprofitable to hold onto the region.
  3. Utilize Your Own Strengths. Don’t Try to Replicate the Enemy’s: The Basmachi would experiment with organizing like larger, more traditional armed forces did under the leadership of Madamin Bek and Enver Pasha, but the Basmachi were the most successful when they relied on hit and run tactics instead, exploiting their knowledge of the terrain and local peoples, their superior mobility, and smaller numbers to undermine Russian control.
    1. The Russians won when they controlled the entire region, the Basmachi won every time they prevented the Russians from enforcing or expanding their control over the region. When the Basmachi abandoned these tactics, they were brutality defeated by the Russians.
  4. Embrace The Gray: Even though the Basmachi despised the Russians and Jadids equally, they were open to negotiating with their enemies if it meant survival. Madamin-Bek negotiated several times with Musburo leader, Turar Risqulov, and the Basmachi were known to approach Russian garrisons during the winter, promise to end hostilities, and keep their word long enough to survive the brutal winters before returning to the front during the spring.
  5. Take Advantage of Russian Heavy-Handedness: The Basmachi knew how to take advantage of every mistake the Russians made to swell their ranks. When the Russians were heavy-handed with the food requisitioning, their numbers swelled. When Frunze overthrew both the Khvia and Bukharan Emirates, the Basmachi’s numbers swelled. When Enver Pasha defected from the Bolsheviks to join the Basmachi, their numbers swelled.

References

“The Basmachi or Freemen’s Revolt in Turkestan 1918-1924 by Martha B. Olcott

“Revolution in the Borderlands: The Case of Central Asia in a Comparative Perspective” by Marco Buttino

“Some Aspects of the Basmachi Movement and the Role of Enver Pasha in Turkestan” by Mehmet Shahingoz and Amina Akhantaeva

Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent 1865-1923 by Jeff Sahadeo

The “Russian Civil Wars 1916-1926 by Jonathan D. Smele

Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR by Adeeb Khalid

Central Asia: Aspects of Transition by Tom Everett-Heath

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