The people can be oppressed
by violent measures,
but they cannot be governed by them
--Leo Tolstoy, letter to Czar Nicholas II
Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it
Shall I tell you what the real evil is?
To cringe to the things that are called evils,
to surrender to them our freedom,
in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering
--Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Defiance is a book (1993) and a movie (2008) based upon the lives of the Bielski partisans of World War II. The group was named after the organizers, a family of Polish Jews who rescued Jews from extermination and fought against the Nazi German occupiers and their collaborators in Poland. They saved approximately 1,200 Jewish lives.
The Bielski's story is but one of many amazing wartime stories of average people who endure against overwhelming odds, many of which are probably lost to history. Of the Bielski group, 70% were women, children, and the elderly; about 150 were shooters. The movie delivers a highly romanticized version of a dire existence, replete with the Hollywood sensitive Nazi.
Ranger found the Bielski's behavior links with classic unconventional and guerrilla warfare, though their primary function was to ensure the survival of its Jewish members. His personal SF training was the result of the U.S. adopting UW/GW experience which evolved from the OSS in WW II, reflective of partisan and resistance warfare of WW II. This type of warfare was fought in all theatres in that war, and were aimed if not at destroying, then hamstringing the armies of occupation of the Axis forces.
Partisan units existed to harass, destroy and generally force the occupiers to dilute the combat power of their maneuver units by diverting them to fight the partisans. The titular use of the term in this case is not exactly correct since partisans existed to fight, where the Bielski unit existed primarily to save Jews; they fought only when forced to engage enemy forces.
The regular armies of the Allies provided trainers and support for partisans which enabled the UW/GW forces to exist behind enemy lines. The Bielski unit received limited aid from the organized Soviet partisan units. Though minor, it is doubtful the Bielskis could have endured without it.
Another key point relevant to today's UW/GW scenarios is that the unit would not have survived without the active and passive support -- regardless of how meagre -- of the local population.
WW II is now 66 years old. Can such units still exist in future wars? Will Special Forces maintain their classic OSS/UW/GW orientation in future conflicts? Has Special Forces performed as UW/GW assets in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), or has their performance been a weak approximation of the OSS template?
The OSS types were originally organized to infiltrate enemy-occupied territory to link up with and train UW forces, then task-organizing them for actual combat operations. All UW/GW operations of significance in WW II complemented the Allied Armies' tactical plans.
Partisans were used to target specific objectives and were discouraged and disallowed from random and unfocused attacks upon the Axis forces. Although the UW/GW units were not strictly military organizations, they were compelled to operate in a military manner.
After WW II, the USSF was organized to operate with partisans and dissident groups in areas occupied by the Warsaw Pact forces. In the Republic of Vietnam, the Special Forces supported the government of Vietnam, while in Europe they opposed the governments of the Iron Curtain countries. This shows the SF -- like the sword in our unit patch -- is a double-edged weapon which will cut in both directions.
The question is, will SF retain its original function as an UW/GW force multiplier if the U.S. were to engage in a conventional ground war? Can organizations like the Bielski Partisans survive today's battlefield scenarios? Are partisan units a concept that is still within the realm of military logic?
A good story should provoke such thoughts on the relevance of its topic to the present day.