by James Kelly Morningstar
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2021. Pp. xii, 370.
Maps, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 1682475697
Guerrilla Operations in the Philippines
Dr. Morningstar, a retired armor officer and the author of Patton's Way, gives us the first comprehensive look at guerrilla operations during the war in the Philippines, as opposed to earlier works which mostly focused on the activities of particular guerrilla leaders.
Morningstar opens by noting both the absence of, yet suggestions for, guerrilla resistance in Douglas MacArthur’s prewar planning, and then shows how even as the ill-conceived attempted conventional defense of the archipelago collapsed, many American and Filipino officers, as well as some local political, tribal, and even business leaders, began forming guerrilla bands. Despite some early infighting among these groups – some of which were Marxist and some merely criminal – they gradually became more effective. As support from MacArthur’s theatre headquarters developed in early 1943, the guerrilla movement became better organized, armed, and coordinated, and even more effective, a process Morningstar discusses in detail.
While concentrating on guerrilla organization and activity, Morningstar also gives us a look at Japanese countermeasures, making some use of Japanese sources (general rare in earlier books on the subject), and offers a chilling look at conditions under Japanese occupation and the impact of the war on the islands. He does fail to discuss how during the liberation that began at Leyte Gulf, American commanders, not understanding the limitations the Filipino irregular forces, often tried to treat them if they were regularly trained troops in conventional operations against Japanese forces, which usually resulted in a disappointing performance, and led to postwar neglect of their role in freeing their homeland.
War and Resistance in the Philippines is an excellent book not only for its insightful look at the very effective guerrilla campaign in the Philippines but for lessons in how to organize popular resistance.